There are some movies that can be watched again and again – not necessarily because they are classics, but just because they are light, breezy, sweet and great fun. Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, 1963 Navketan production directed by Vijay Anand, falls under this category.
I remember watching it way back, the year Nutan passed away, when Doordarshan aired most of her ‘hit’ movies. Over the years, it has kind of become my comfort movie. Partly because it is such a sweet movie starring a charming Dev Anand and an amazing Nutan, and mostly because it is set in Delhi, the broad, expansive Delhi of the sixties. After all, as one gets older and if one is far away from home, there is a tendency to revisit familiar, loved landscapes with more fondness than before!
Tere Ghar Ke Saamne is a remarkable film – in that it is a sweet film, with not much of a drama, and yet is not cloying, where you want to whack both the hero and heroine! It is light, airy, cheerful and a lot of fun.
Today is Dev Anand’s third death anniversary and instead of making a post on his top 10 songs (which I would not be able to come up with, to my own satisfaction), I thought of watching my favourite Dev Anand movie (while this may not be considered his best, I did like him very much in this role.) Yes I love this movie – it has my favourite actress and is shot in Delhi.
As the credits roll, images of Delhi’s roads and recognisable monuments flash across the screen.
The story begins with a government auction of plots of land, which is attended by wealthy businessmen of Delhi. Among them are two rivals, the conservative Lala Jagannath (Om Prakash, endearing as always) and the modern Seth Karamchand (Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, soft and stern to the right measure, lovable!) In a bid to outdo the other, these cantankerous old men pay insane amounts (especially Seth Karamchand) for two plots of land. Seth Karamchand comes home, to a disapproving wife who points out his foolishness and a doting daughter, Sulekha (Nutan, at her charming best!). The father-daughter hire a talented architect, Rakesh Kumar (Dev Anand – in one of his most likeable roles) from a reputed firm to build a house. Sparks fly when Rakesh and Sulekha meet, typically, not without some skirmishes! Her brother, Ranjeet / Ronnie (Rajendranath) takes a shine towards Jenny, Rakesh’s secretary (Zarine Khan in a rare movie appearance) and there is a love story right there.
Dev Anand and Nutan shared a fabulous on-screen chemistry – evident in the four films they did together. This is heightened in this movie, thanks to the excellent script and Vijay Anand’s direction.
I am not a big Dev Anand fan per se. Oh I do adore his earlier work but cannot stand him in his post-1965 avatar (Guide, a movie I did not like, and later). But he did win me over entirely in this movie and a couple of other older ones. His Rakesh is very likeable – suave, charming, with just the right amount of swagger and attitude – simply charismatic.
As for Nutan in this movie, well, what can I say? She was the reason why I probably watched this movie in the first place. While I am not fond of her overtly melodramatic, Devi phase post-1965 (again!…exactly what happened that year that these artistes changed?), I am smitten when it comes to her earlier roles. She had a natural charm, a quiet intelligence coupled with dignity and grace that came forth in every scene. And in Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, she was just perfect. 1963 was a momentous year for Nutan – she got back to acting after a break (marriage and childbirth) in two diametrically opposite roles – in Bandini and Tere Ghar Ke Saamne.
In terms of acting, there was not much scope in playing Sulekha – not much drama, separation, nothing. But here is where her immense talent shone through – she was sweet but not cloying, chirpy but not frivolous, and so very delightful.
A special mention must be made here of the entire Qutab Minar scene. Ronnie invites Rakesh and Jenny to join them for a picnic the next day at Qutab Minar. Rakesh accompanies Sulekha to the top of the Qutab Minar and the camera follows their ascent to the top – and the shot is peppered with mirthful jokes, flirtatious banter and light moments. Nutan and Dev Anand are at their best – capturing the bashful, flirtatious mirth of such a situation. This is during the early stage in their relationship – they are attracted to each other, but they haven’t yet fallen in love.
The descent is an example of why the movies of fifties and sixties, no matter how light and feel-good they are, do not end up as cloying candy-floss. It is the quality of the musical score and their picturisation that marks them apart. Dil Ka Bhanwar Kare Pukar is, in my opinion, one of the best picturised songs in Hindi films ever. Vijay Anand is brilliant when it comes to this – just see the songs of Nau Do Gyarah, Kala Bazaar and Teesri Manzil to get an idea. (And do watch this song carefully, he is very much there in a small cameo!)
As they climb down the stairs, exchanging glances, looks, smiles, a love story begins. We then find out that Rakesh Kumar is the son of the conservative Lala Jagannath. Lala Jagannath, irritated with Rakesh’s modern ways (read smoking and drinking), has thrown him out of his house. But that does not stop him (well, he is forced by his wife) to get Rakesh to build the house on the purchased plot. So Rakesh now gets enlisted by both the cantankerous men to build a house on the two adjoining plots. Worse, they even select the same design! And Rakesh is instructed by both parties that their house should be better and bigger the one next door!
Poor Rakesh is caught in the middle, as he worries -“Yeh Makaan Bante Jaayenge aur Meri Tabiyat Khasta Hoti Jayegi!”
What follows is a bunch of cat-and-mouse, juggling, scenes, where Rakesh is caught right in the middle – proving to both the parties that he does not know the other! There is a hilarious sequence in the club where he yells at the Karamchands (or so Lala Jagannath thinks) and another in the office, where Rakesh is with Sulekha and Lalaji comes in. The juggling act is hilarious with Sulekha being passed off as the Maharani of Ayodhya! Also, the two parties land up at the plot at the same time expecting Rakesh to take them through the construction plan. Only Rakesh and his assistant Madan know the extent of this subterfuge.
The construction of the houses begin. And so does the juggling. Rakesh runs from one to another, covering up his presence with excuses. He does try his best to make the crazy old men see some reason and end their dushmani. But to no avail. He is firmly put back in his place by both. They are as stubborn as ever. The love story also progresses, interspersed with brilliant songs like Yeh Tanhayi Haye Re Haaye. And so does Rakesh’s frustration. He loves his father’s rival’s daughter – she loves him too but does not know who he is. The fathers have a scuffle and almost come to blows as the frustrated Rakesh looks on.
What follows is the brilliant title track, Ik Ghar Banaoonga, where a frustrated Rakesh promises to himself, that no matter what happens, he will build a house for Sulekha.
Rakesh takes off to Shimla where Sulekha is spending her summer. A few songs and happy furtive meetings later, he tells her the truth and their relationship comes to a standstill. Ronnie comes home from Shimla and invites Rakesh to his birthday party.
Sun Le Tu Dil Ki Sada, croons Rakesh in a bid to make up to a sulking Sulekha. She melts (who wouldn’t? Oh, Rafi’s voice!) and they decide to change their fathers’ minds. Thirty two years before Shahrukh Khan played Raj in DDLJ and refused to elope with Simran and instead marry only with the blessings of their parents, Dev Anand had spouted exactly the same lines. (Mujhe Yakeen Hai Ki Shaadi Hoti Hai toh Buzurgon Ke Aashirwaad Se“)
The respective fathers like their children’s choice and want to meet the parents. Now this obviously cannot be arranged and there is some more merry-go-round at this point. The truth comes out in an ungainly manner when the two old men get into a big fight at their club. All hell breaks loose when the deception is out. Matters come to a head, when Rakesh and Ronnie send wedding invites to both the fathers informing and inviting them to the wedding of Rakesh and Sulekha on a particular day – the day that the houses would be complete. The mortification of the two grumpy men was complete. The D-Day arrives, the identical houses are now complete and the stage is set for the wedding. In a last ditch effort, Ronnie and Madan try to put some sense After some tearful scenes (Rakesh and Sulekha simply refuse to get married without their fathers’ blessings; the wives try to make them see reason) and a song (Part 2 of Sun Le Tu Dil Ki Sada), the old men melt and the hero and heroine get married!
The ending is a bit of a let-down as it is unrealistic, but is largely in keeping with the overall tone of the movie. It thankfully was short and not that melodramatic.
The performances are pitch-perfect. Both Om Prakash and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya are effective as crazy, cantankerous, whimsical, grumpy old men. Rajendranath is good as Ronnie and so is Zarine Khan in her brief role. Dev Anand gets it spot on – he is suave, smart, and charming. And so does Nutan – in her comeback role, she is girly, cheerful, sweet, stylish and simply adorable.
The screenplay is tight and the dialogues are pithy and witty. The music by SDB is delightful. Each number is worth a mention – be it the Rafi solos, Dil Ka Bhanwar Kare Pukar, Tu Kahan Yeh Bata (this is where he goes around looking for Nutan in the streets of Shimla) and Sun le Tu Dil Ki Sada. Lata gets to sing a sweet solo, Yeh Tanhai haye Re haye (Mehrauli area in 1963 was so not like the Mehrauli of today!) and two duets with Rafi – the title track and Dekho Rootha Na Karo. Oh yes, and Asha Bhosle sings that nice cabaret song – Dil Ki Manzil Kuch Aisi hai Manzil.
This timeless movie remains as delightful to watch as it had been the first time – Sweet, light and very entertaining.