The post the other day on Sanjeev Kumar made me want to watch a couple of his movies – preferably ones I had not watched before. So the search began. Gustakhi Maaf and Charitraheen were ones that were on my list. Both are difficult to find – I had looked for them in the usual places where I buy DVDs. The last week, I found both of them online. Out of the two, I watched Charitraheen first. So here is a review.
A Shakti Samanta movie, Charitraheen (1974) starred Sanjeev Kumar along with the Samanta favourite, Sharmila Tagore. A typical seventies movie, it opens with a court scene. Indrajee is standing trial for deceit and Utpal Dutt plays the lawyer with a crooked mouth accusing him. And a very young Raza Murad is defending him.
The credits begin and the story shifts to a wet, rainy day in Darjeeling. Indrajeet gets wet and looks to get shelter and promptly finds a large house, where a young woman is playing the piano and our hero shamelessly peeks and watches her! Of course the curtains aren’t drawn!
He is invited inside of course the girl’s henpecked father (the rude stepmother is also there) and love happens faster than Maggi noodles can be made. Our hero is smitten. But step mother ensures meeting ends abruptly.
Hero and heroine whose name is Rama Sen meet at a temple the next day – and hero comments about the aptness of the place! He drops her home, gives her his phone number and sits waiting for her call. A coquettish Rama smiles, flashes her dimples, calls him and day 3 they are cooing Dil Se Dil Milne ka mausam aaya and promises of eternal love are made!
Fate has another turn coming – Day 4, Indrajeet gets a taar from Calcutta and off he goes, without meeting Rama. He does give her a letter giving her his address. But the zaalim rain wets the letter and wipes the address. Prior to this, the evil stepmother has threatened to marry Rama off to a do-bachchon ka baap, so our lady is very sad.
The scene cuts to Indrajeet’s family. His dad dies, after having lots of scary fits! His mom (Dina Pathak) and brother (Asrani) and he all cry suitably. The comedian Asit Sen is also a part of this family – he is some kaka. Indrajeet works hard and wants to expand father’s business. But Indrajeet is one character – simple, honest and frankly idiotic. He meets a shady character at a moneylender and is lured to a brothel on the pretext of meeting that man’s wife!
He gets drugged, loses all the money he has borrowed from the moneylender. He regains consciousness and tracks the scumbag down and guess who he meets! Dear old, much suffering Rama, who is this man’s wife!
She is no less stupid; in a bid to escape marriage with that old man with two kids, she lands up as an easy prey for this man who promises her love. The girl is too happy to oblige and they wed in the temple! and now this poor lady gets beaten and tortured every day. Some drama ensues; the good Rama gives Indra a suitcase and tells him to go. The bad Ajit is hell-bent on hitting her and Rama tries to commit suicide. Good Indra saves poor Rama and brings her home. Mamma darling does not approve!
The mother packs Rama off to Vrindavan (as any destitute Bengali woman or widow should be!) and our smart hero has no clue. Oh by the way, when he does find out, he does nothing but look shocked. He does not hesitate to open the briefcase handed to him by her and looks at the jewellery in horror for a minute and then proceeds to use it!
Life gets better for Indra. With the factory in place, on his mother’s insistence, he gets married to Kamla (Yogita Bali) and proceeds to romance her. The mother in due course dies and three years pass. Indra goes to Delhi to clinch an Indo-German project, not before, stupidly handing his scheming brother-in-law (Madan Puri), some blank cheques and the reins of his business.. He has just become a rich guy, not a smart one. And yes Kamla is as innocent or stupid! And guess who he bumps into at the party in Delhi! Yes, Rama who is now Rosie – the most famous call girl in Delhi! He takes the drunk Rosie/ Rama to her palatial home where she tells him of her sordid tale.
After being packed off to Brindavan, it so happens that the lady falls asleep on the train and misses the stop. When the ticket collector comes to check, she is naturally in shock and is penniless and yet again trusts a bad man who is lusting for her. She manages to survive that rape attempt but apparently has a couple more such experiences, and also has a baby (of course the baby is her husband’s) and then decides to sell her body and is now Rosie!
Anyways, he lends her a sympathetic ear and then tells her why he is there in Delhi. She uses her contacts and gets him that contract! He is happy to get that help of course and doesn’t bat an eyelid.
As they are leaving, Indra is seen by an old friend, Ashok Babu (Chandrashekhar) who promptly shoots a letter off about our hero’s kartootein. Kamla has a sobbing fit – Nahiiin! Meanwhile, Indra accompanies Rosie to Shimla. She brings him to a school and our man is still clueless! She then tells him that she wants him to meet her daughter. And casually informs him that the name of the father in the school records is Indrajeet Mukherjee. The hero is surprised but understands and touched by the milaap scene of maa-beti, he even introduces himself as “tumhara daddy!” Rama/ Rosie is shocked at his goodness! Meanwhile, that brother in law, Avinash babu is busy swindling the money. Finally Indra gets an inkling and he gets back to see his professional and personal life in shambles- factory workers refuse to work and wife accuses him of infidelity!
Moreover, Avinash babu reveals his true colours and turns Indra’s younger brother and wife against him. Poor Indra – he does what any bechara man would do – get drunk! Anyway, matters get from bad to worse. Kamla leaves him and his brother Debu takes him to court and the court case begins. Everyone testifies against poor Indra. Dear Rosie/ Rama gets to know of this case via the newspapers and she comes to testify. She tells her sad tale, paints Indra as a devta, accuses Kamla of not understanding her mahaan husband and Indra is acquitted! Kamla faints, begs forgiveness and wants to adopt Rama’s daughter. They go to the hotel room and find the little girl. But Rama/ Rosie the Charitraheen lady has gone away!
No, I did not like the film. It was too melodramatic. The characters were also silly and stilted to evoke any sympathy. Sharmila simpered and Sanjeev looked shocked primarily. Yes some scenes were done well… but these are not that many. I would have preferred if Sanjeev Kumar’s character was less of the devta and if he had been the cad who dumped Rama to marry a rich Kamla! But well…
The only high point still remains the lovely Asha solo, Teri Meri Teri Meri Yaari bahut purani!