Writing up these older films is tricky - especially when Memsaab and Sita-ji have done such a thorough job. I will do my best and highlight a few of things that stood out for me while viewing.
Completely unintentionally, I purchased Kati Patang (1970) and Phool aur Patthar (1966) at the same time – two films about widow remarriage in which the heroines spend most of the film swanning about in voluminous white saris.
Kati Patang was not at all what I expected. The previous Rajesh Khanna films I’d seen had all featured him as an annoyingly noble and macho jerk. And the one song that I had seen (many times) was “Mera Naam Hai Shabnam” – which features the heroine, Asha Parekh, in that sour white sari and a sour look on her face as Bindu bounces around. I had put off watching this for so long because I was afraid of a humorless, izzat-filled film… with some killer songs.
Imagine my surprise when I found that Kati Patang is actually a heroine-driven film with some progressive values, superb melodrama, grown-up romance, a big masala heart… and some killer songs.
Asha Parkeh plays Madhu. Now, Madhu runs away from her arranged wedding – before even seeing her future husband – because she decided to chuck it all in for true love with her boyfriend.
Her boyfriend PREM CHOPRA.
You and I know that immediately this is going to be bad news due to the shirt open to the navel, the giant gold medallion, and the PREM CHOPRA .
Madhu takes a little longer to catch on but having already severed her family ties, she wanders aimlessly until she runs into her recently widowed friend Poonam, who is on her way to her in-laws house with her baby. Poonam has never met her in-laws before. You see where this is going.
Circumstances arrange themselves so that Madhu has no choice but to masquerade as Poonam at the in-laws. And guess who is Poonam’s husband’s childhood best friend Kamal…
Yup. That’s right, enter Rajesh Khanna! And we’re only 20 minutes into the film!
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the plot for you, so let me just run through some of the things you have to look forward to when you dust off your DVD of Kati Patang (or watch it legally online).
1. Asha Parekh reacts to stuff. This film is a tour-de-force of Asha Parekh making excellent facial expressions. No wonder she won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for this role!
Bindu hiding behind the curtain!
Attempting to stop a cabbie from driving off with her money!
Listening to a romantic song!
Disbelief at seeing Bindu in her “Mera Naam Hai Shabnam” outfit!
Asha Parekh is so lovely…
2. Madhu and Kamal have a very grown-up and very sweet romance.
This was the first film that I finally got Rajesh Khanna. Look at that dreamboat expression!
I love romances where neither party can admit their feelings.
They become close but can’t break the taboo against widow remarriage and it’s extremely hot.
3. Bindu and Prem Chopra are awesome.
They just are.
Look at that face! Do you trust that face? No. But thank goodness the heroines always seem to, because sleazy Prem Chopra is so much fun to watch!
4. “Mera Naam Hai Shabnam” is outrageous! They do not make them like this anymore. The vocals are all Asha Bhosle breathing and rhythmic sing-songy taunts and Bindu’s squeezes her voluptuous curves into an outfit that needs to be seen to be believed - it's essential a nude body stocking with some scraps of orange and green fabric covering her important bits.
There are no rear views like that in Bollywood today!
Not to mention whatever that is on her head!
My favorite part is, obviously, the delightfully Sapphic undertones to the song lyrics – in which Shaboo teases Madhu about “secrets” that they share and a night spent together while bridal music played.
Anybody else hot under the collar?
What other film involves a heroine getting hipchecked by a vamp in a spangly bodysuit and spilling her tea?
5. Whoever did the casting for Kati Patang is my hero. There are so many excellent bit players to watch!
The most hideous child I’ve ever seen!
This lady in a party scene – she must have been somebody wife and she was clearly just really excited to be next to Rajesh Khanna.
THE Honey Irani (to the far left) as a giggly prospective bride.
Any film with Honey Irani as a crabby teenage girl is clearly doing something right.
6. The songs by R.D. Burman are simply amazing – superb even. And the picturizations are really good, too.
Watch the picturization for “Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar” to see what I mean – notice how the strings swell as Rajesh Khanna rows each stroke. That right there is some really classy scoring.
The whole song is beautiful; the whole film is beautiful and I’m so happy I saw it today!
Note from Filmi Girl:
I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.
If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.
xoxo Filmi Girl