Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guddi: A Fangirl's Dream Come True

This is a re-post of a review I wrote on Guddi some time back! Here it is again in honor of 70s Week!

This was an interesting film. I'm not quite sure how to take it. It's the story of a teenage girl's fannish obsession with a movie star overlaid with some very cranky griping about how superficial the film industry is.

Oh, Dharmendra... you're every 15 year old girl's dream come true!

Guddi is just your average high school girl. She's spunky and lives to torment her sister-in-law, the defacto mother of the household as her actual mother is MIA. She prefers short skirts to saris and movies to homework. Her happy teenage existance is shattered when her sister-in-law's brother stops by for a visit. All of a sudden, matchmaker bells start to go off in sister-in-law's head and she takes it as her life's work to fix Guddi up with her brother.

Navin - or Morti, as Guddi prefers to call him - treats her very much like a kid,
until he sees her in a sari! Well, the friendly outing to the movies becomes a 'romantic' visit to some ruins - at least in his mind.

Guddi would rather be at the new
Dharmendra flick. Also, he makes her sing a classical song. One of just three tunes in the whole film - 2 of which are these dull, classical ones. She is extremely unhappy with the whole affair. Navin doesn't seem to understand that 16 year old girls do not usually prefer ruins to movies.

(Note the x'ed out face of the lady on page 2 here.)

Perhaps forgetting how impressionable young ladies can be, Guddi is assigned to write a paper on
spirtual marriage. Oh, adults, how do you forget that teenaged girls can be ridiculous. I, myself, may have been a little obsessive about certain male celebrities when I was 16. Heavens help me if I had known about spiritual marriage.

Navin clumsily declares his intentions, but Guddi shuts him down with an, "I'll never ever get married because my heart already belongs to
Dharmendra - as played by Dharmendra" speech. Not having encountered a female youth of the human variety before, he takes her words as face value and proceeds to mope for the REST OF THE MOVIE!

Fortunately for him, his uncle is a lot brighter than he is and hatches a plan to cure Guddi of her infatuation by having her spend all her time on movie sets watching
Dharmendra film. Dharmendra gamely agrees to go along with this.

Only after an excellent fantasy sequence and the only real filmi song in the movie.

(The scratch on this print of
Guddi makes me sad. Why doesn't anyone care about these old films?)

The novelty of film-making slowly wears off as Guddi is forced to endure marathon sessions of cameos and
Dharmendra in some ill-advised badminton shorts that make not one but two appearances.

Instead of using this time to his own benefit, Navin sits like a bump on a log - moping - and as we later find out, thinking Emo Thoughts that he records in his Diary. Guddi gets a little nervous when she sees Pran and worries that he is up to no good.
Dharmendra makes a point of telling her/the audience that Pran really is a good guy! He's just drawn bad!

In fact, we are told that the real genius behind movies is the directors, writers, electricians, and there are even a few kind words for the film press.

After all this moralizing, Guddi is understandably tired of movies. Yet, instead of picking up on this fact and playing the "I'm not in films" card, Navin MOPES!

What else could "I'm bored of film shoots" mean, Navin?

She read your Emo Thoughts on the superficiality of the film world and hasn't run away! What more of a hint could you need? Are you mental?

The final straw is when he a) doesn't show up for her birthday until super late, b) does so without a present AND disavows knowledge of the flowers sent for her in his name by Dharmendra, and c) tells her he is leaving that night, ignoring her obvious distress.

Of course, it all works out and they get married.

I couldn't help but take away a stuffy, condescending moralistic feeling away from the film. Despite Jaya's excellent performance as Guddi and Dharmendra's thankless role as
Dharmendra the film is lifeless. In fact, the more I saw of the complexity of the film world and the effort it takes to make the 'broken pieces of glass shine like emeralds' (to quote Emo!Navin) the more I was interested. Dharmendra reveals himself to be a kind, thoughtful, and somewhat insecure man as Navin mopes and broods throughout the piece. While Guddi becomes disillusioned with the Hero who doesn't exist, I can't help but feel sorry for Dharmendra who must burst this young girl's dreams.

There is a scene near the end where we see
Dharmendra order the flowers for Guddi in Navin's name. He looks so tired, that I wonder why he took this role. It's humanizing, for sure. Perhaps even Dharmendra became tired of Dharmendra. I'd like to read a good biography on him. I wonder if there is one.

Without Jaya's very teenaged performance, this film would be unwatchable. Although, I wonder how many children watching this took away an interest in the nuts and bolts of film making.

While I am against re-makes that serve no purpose, re-makes that improve upon a flawed film or at least attempt to improve upon a flawed film are certainly welcome. I'd love to see Farah Khan take this one on.
Dharmendra could become Shah Rukh Khan. A few more songs and a GOOD actor playing Navin could do wonder for this story, which at it's heart is an honest look at teenaged girl infatuation.


myrna-nora said...

The concept sounds neat; too bad the hero "mopes" the entire time. It makes me think of a movie from the late 1940s where Cary Grant's character was ordered to "date" Shirley Temple's character for a week in order to break her crush on him.

bawa said...

Watched this as a pre-teen and absolutely adored Jaya as did my teen elder sister and cousins.

It was so good to see a heroine that "looked" like us, just think if there is another Hindi movie where a young girl (even if a bit OTT) is anywhere like the real thing?
We didn't notice any of those things you have rightly pointed out at all.

Amaluu said...

Oh Kara ... BORING CLASSICAL NUMBERS???? About Bole Re Pappihara, one of the most beautiful songs in Hindi Cinema history - and sung by Vani Jairam - the one singer that made Lata & Asha nervous about their place in the industry? Wow ... I just ... wow. I mean I knew our sentiments on films were different, but now I know just HOW different.

Filmi Girl said...

@amaluu Yes, we have different tastes. :) You also have to understand that I'm coming from a place of zero knowledge of traditional Indian music, which makes these kinds of songs a big void for me when it comes to films. I suspect the reverse would be true for somebody with no background in Western art music listening to a chamber quartet or something.

Also, this review was from years ago - I've learned to become more diplomatic, although I suspect I'd feel the same way.

Hans Meier said...

Fully agreed that this film has boring songs - and with very boring visuals to boot.

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
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