Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sharmilee: Rakhee Times Two!

In honor of Shashi Week over at Beth's here is an old review of mine of one of my favorite Shashi films... Sharmilee!

You can also check out my reviews of
Shaan, Benazir, and Deewar!

I have a couple more Shashi reviews I will try to get up tonight or tomorrow!

On with the show!

I've been hearing about
Sharmilee for ages, so my expectations were perhaps a little high - underwater fist fight!, Rakhee in fantastic mod outfits!!, THE SHASH! - Sharmilee is that rare film that totally lived up to all the hype.

(I'll get under that dupatta with you, Shashi!)

Sharmilee is the story of a pair of twins - shy Kanchan (Rakhee) and outgoing Kamini (also Rahkee). Kanchan has been overshadowed by her bright and bubbly twin since birth. Her parents obviously prefer Kamini, all of Kanchan's potential suitors prefer Kamini... only the local neighborhood priest sees past Kanchan's shyness to the sweet person underneath.

The trouble comes in when Father Joe (Nassir Hussain) decides to set up a match between his adopted son Capt. Ajit (Shashi Kapoor) and sweet Kanchan. Unfortunately for all involved, Capt. Ajit has already
met Kamini and has developed a huge infatuation with her. When Capt. Ajit meets Kanchan, he mistakes her for Kamini and agrees to the match.

Poor Kanchan is terrified of having all of this attention on her and is unable to set Ajit straight before Kamini returns and ruins the engagement.

What is a girl to do?

It turns out that Kamini is more than just spunky, she's also kind of wild, and the same impulsive lust that leads her to flirt with Ajit comes back to haunt her when one of her past conquests (a decidedly young and HOT looking Ranjeet!!) doesn't understand her transitory feelings and returns to claim (i.e.
rape) her. She fights off his attack and in the process, runs him over with her car - repeatedly. Kamini panics and drives off over a cliff with the body in a frenzy.

INTERVAL!!! The second half of the film deals with one of my favorite story lines - falling in love after marriage, as Kanchan and Ajit are tricked into getting married by Kanchan's awful parents. Ajit isn't told that Kamini is dead and Kanchan isn't told that Ajit thinks she's Kamini.

At the behest of Father Joe, Kanchan puts herself on the line for Ajit - who tries to kill himself with ennui and drinking - and pretends to be Kamini, so that Ajit will recover and want to live his life.

She appears at his hospital bed in one of the film's best scenes - she doesn't say a word, just lights his cigarette. Kanchan appears to find a bit of relief in shrugging off her massive shyness. She doesn't act anything like Kamini - for example in one scene when Kanchan and Ajit go to see a cabaret show at a hotel, Kanchan is startled by the dancer and kind of clings to Ajit -

That is
not something that Kamini would ever have done! Kamini cling?! Kabhi nahin. So what does this all mean? What I took away from this second half of the film was Ajit getting to know Kanchan without the baggage of a) her crippling shyness and b) the prejudice expressed by all the other characters and finding that she's a sweet girl.

While it would be easy to ascribe Kamini's eventual downfall to her being a "modern woman" and Kanchan's successful shaadi with Ajit as the triumph of the traditional wife but I don't think that's quite right. Kanchan was the bane of everyone's existence as her ultra-conservative original self. It wasn't until she developed the ability to look people in the eye and to master that crucial skill of speaking in public that Kanchan found happiness. Kanchan reminded me more of Dilip Kumar's shy and mentally traumatized Ram in
Ram aur Shyam than self-sacrificing Seeta in Seeta aur Geeta. Kamini's problem wasn't her education, it was her lack of self-control. No person will have a successful life just flitting from interest to interest. How long would she have really loved Ajit if she had married him? We'll never know.

Not only does
Sharmilee have a great story, it also has two other things going for it: great clothes and great songs!

Check out this nice selection of Rakhee's mod clothes!

Anyone for ruffles?

Rakhee's one-piece swimsuit was adorable!! I couldn't get a great screen cap due to the modest angles they shot everything except her bosom with, but it has these cute little cut-outs on the front. I really want one!

How about a cute polo-shirt style mini-dress? Perfect for meeting a beau in the park!

The song picturizations were FANTASTIC! Kishore and Lata sang for Rakee and Shashi. I think I like Kishore-da paired with Shashi much better than any other playback singer.

My favorite song was the first one where Kamini and a bunch of her friends - who were all make-up artists and hair stylists in their real lives, which just makes it that much more wonderful - sit and listen to Shashi sing for them.

(I like the expression on the girl taking tea from the tray!! You can practically see the hearts coming from their heads... I've helped you visualize it!)

The cabaret dancer (Sujata?) wasn't that great - I guess they couldn't afford Helen after all the money spent on Rakhee's wardrobe.

Finally, let's all give a big cheer for Ranjeet, who did
years and years worth of rapist roles after this movie. It's a thankless job but somebody has to do it!

And I wonder if he wears his own necklaces because we see the same on in
Victoria No. 203.


myrna-nora said...

Happy Birthday to Shashi!

I bought Sharmilee on DVD yesterday, and I've watched up to the interval, so I stopped reading your review at the appropriate non-spoiler part. Like you said it lives up to the hype. I loved Rakhee's blue plaid coat she wears in the snow.

Filmi Girl said...

Yay!! I hope you enjoy the rest of it as much as I did!! :D

Bollyviewer said...

Thats certainly a very charitable view of Kanchan vs Kamini. I personally tend to go for the Ajit-is-a-dope and Kamini-is-bad-because-she-wears-pants argument. But I like your reasoning so much better. It makes me feel less guilty about loving this film! :-)

The cabaret dancer is Jayshree T (or her sister Meena T - I always confuse the two). And yes, three cheers for Ranjeet, inspite of his rather odd onscreen proclivities...

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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