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Akshay Shah Reviews KUDRAT (Hindi, 1981)
akshay shah | May 31, 2008, 7:21 AM | 69 comments | 0 views


Akshay Shah Reviews KUDRAT (Hindi, 1981)

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The reincarnation genre is one I have a great weakness for, not only does it make up for a riveting watch if done correctly, it’s a genre that has given Hindi cinema one of it’s finest films. Chetan Anand’s KUDRAT is without a doubt the finest entry in to the genre (alongside Roy’s MADHUMATI and Ghai’s KARZ). An eerie, haunting and suspenseful murder mystery executed to utmost perfection, enhanced by excellent performances and featuring one of the finest album’s music albums EVER in a Hindi film….KUDRAT is a bona-fide classic. And yes, despite 22 years passing since it’s release the movie is just as exhilarating now as it was back when it released.

The film revolves around Chandramukhi (Hema Malini) who with her parents goes on holiday to Simla. Chandramukhi’s mum runs in to her childhood who lives im Simla with her psychiatrist son Naresh (Vinod Khanna). There is instant attraction between Chandramukhi and Naresh however their joy is short-loved as Chandramukhi has a horrific nightmare on her first night there where she’s chasing a man who. The night mare occurs again on the second night which prompts Naresh to hypnotize her , he starts by walking her through her adult years, then younger years and before he knows it he’s taken her back to her previous life where her name was Paro! Inexperienced in the field, Naresh stops the hypnosis immediately. However Chandramukhi’s situation keeps on getting worse as slowly she starts recollecting bits and pieces of her previous life as she spends more time in Simla. She also finds herself getting strangely attracted to Public Prosecutor Mohan Kapoor (Rajesh Khanna) who is to marry Advocate Karuna (Priya Raajvansh). Karuna is the daughter of Simla’s wealthiest and most respected man; Choudhury Jannak Singh (Raaj Kumar). Chandramukhi is convinced that Mohan is her lover Madhao from a previous life however Mohan doesn’t believe in reincarnation at first, though eventually something clicks in him and he realises that Chandramukhi is telling the truth and he breaks off his engagement to Karuna. Choudhury Jannak Singh decides to announce the engagement of his daughter to Mohan regardless, Chandramukhi is also invited to the party, and when she meets Choudhury she reacts with a blood-curdling scream. Skeletons now tumble out of the closet one by one as an age old investigation is taken to court. The crime? Rape and murder of an innocent village girl called Paro by Choudhury Jannak Singh. The race against time is on as Mohan and Naresh start trying to gather evidence to prove that this heinous crime did actually occur.

Chetan Anand’s story is simply a work of art. Anand is no doubt a passionate writer who has taken his time to painstakingly craft this remarkable tale with total conviction. Like any great story-teller Anand doesn’t rush in to his tale, and takes his time in establishing the core crux of the story and allows the viewer to completely become involved into the proceedings. It’s hard to slot KUDRAT in to a genre as such, as unlike other reincarnation tales, this is one that truly brings out the “horror” of reincarnation, and genre’s flawlessly merge in to one. There are parts of the movie which has enough chills to give most Hindi horror films a run for their money, the suspense is spellbinding and riveting at the same time, and this is without a doubt one of the greatest murder mysteries ever told in Hindi cinema. At the same time, Anand ensures there is enough heart in his love story for the viewers to really become attached to Madhao and Paro. The story of KUDRAT is a benchmark for directors still as it’s a tightly woven , multi-layered, highly complex tale which doesn’t falter once, and manages to only get better and better with each passing frame.

The screenplay of the movie much like Anand’s story is again a work of a master craftsman at the very top of his game. Right from the start when Hema Malini is first entering Simla, the viewers know they are in for a experience like no other. The first half of the movie keeps the viewer in tenterhooks throughout as one never quiet knows where the story is going. The manner in which the mystery is built-up slowly as each piece of the puzzle is revealed with each subsequent flashback is a brilliant touch. The sequence at the party when Hema Malini comes face to face with Raaj Kumar is a classic one, and one that is still used as a reference point, or copied until today. From that point the movie again takes a number of sharp turns which leaves the viewer breathless right up to the finale.

As a director this in my view is his finest film to date; a exemplary effort which remains completely unmatched. As a story-teller his narrative is like reading the most gripping novel one could imagine. He takes his time and reveals each layer of the story one by one leaving the viewer completely engrossed in the proceedings. The shift in genres, the use of flashbacks in the narrative and the subsequent twists and turns in the story are all perfectly done. Anand’s understand of the complex theme at hand is commendable, and while other film-makers have attempted the subject before, it’s Anand’s unique fusion of terrifying horror, chilling suspense, pounding murder mystery, poignant love story and above all a dramatic fight for justice which sets KUDRAT aside from the rest. It’s evident in each frame that Chetan Anand was a passionate film-maker, and quiet frankly one whom was clearly a cut above a number of directors in the industry at that time. His work is classy, elegant and certainly very polished. He pushes the envelope constantly and avoids clichés throughout. Even taking the story to the court-room finale could’ve come across as staged however again this is a refreshing touch here which is a perfect narrative device. Also his ability to visually transport the viewer to different era’s too is simply amazing. The entire British Raaj sequence is simply surreal and an absolute pleasure to watch.

Another thing which Chetan Anand must be given full credit for is taking a A-list multi cast and giving each and every cast member an unforgettable role. Much like Ramesh Sippy’s SHOLAY, KUDRAT is a film where every cast member, not matter how big or small, is given a role that the viewer simply can’t forget.

Raaj Kumar as an actor is one who I’ve always found relatively overrated. No doubt one of the most stylish men to ever grace the silver screen in Hindi cinema, his unique voice, and unmatched style made him an immense pleasure to watch, however on the acting front I found him relatively wooden a lot of the times. In saying that KUDRAT is quiet easily one of my favourite Raaj Kumar performances ever. His diction and delivery is absolutely amazing here, and his presence simply electrifying. He brings out the negative shade in his character with aplomb and ignites the screen each time. Be it the flashback sequence when he’s shown as the younger and devious rapist or scenes like his verbal showdown with Rajesh Khanna (“ehsaan faramosh”); this is a unforgettable performance.

Rajesh Khanna is great here too. He plays both the dual roles of Madhao and Mohan with aplomb and leaves his mark. Though he doesn’t have that much to do in the first half (which is only 1 hour 9 minutes); but he comes forth in the second half with a dynamic performance. He ensures that both Madhao and Mohan are completely contrasting and is convincing in both roles. His courtroom sequences in the finale are dynamite!

This is quiet easily one of Hema Malini’s best performance. Overall she’s an actress who always annoyed me quiet a bit with her whiney delivery, however in KUDRAT she is fabulous. As the troubled an disturbed Chandramukhi she plays out the inner complexities of her character perfectly.

Vinod Khanna’s performance here is one of my favorites, and one I can rank quiet highly. Despite being a supporting turn Khanna manages to steal quiet a number of scenes he’s in with a natural performance as the helpful Dr. Naresh. He looks dashing as ever, and his confidence, presence and delivery are all exemplary.

If there is one huge flaw in the movie that stands out like a sore thumb, it’s Priya Raajvansh. The character she plays is crucial to the movie, however her performance is one that grates on the viewers nerves, and in many scenes it’s as annoying as nails on a chalkboard. Her voice modulation and delivery is very poor, and she sticks out like a sore thumb. She does surprise in a few scenes in the climax, however in the hands of a more capable actress this role could’ve been something else.
As I mentioned earlier, each and every smaller character stands out with a class act. Infact, the cast features quiet a number of my favourite performances. Aruna Irani is delightful as Satto and this is no doubt one of her finest. Satyen Kapoo is reliable as ever. Tom Alter is fantastic in a brief role. Devan Verma leaves his mark. Keshto Mukherjee is a knock-out in his part. Ditto for A.K Hangal who features in one of best sequences in the whole movie. Despite only being on-screen for a few minutes, his “deewarr ke peeche” sequence is piece of cinematic gold.

KUDRAT also features what is quiet easily the best soundtrack to ever feature in a Hindi film. Never has a soundtrack been so complete, so perfect and so absolutely legendary as R.D Burman’s evergreen tunes in KUDRAT. Each and every song is so diametrically different. HUMEIN TUMSE PYAAR KITNA is a “anthem” of sorts in the music world, and one that is still looked up to today. The song itself is very simple, and that’s what works for it. It features in the movie a number of times, and each version is absolutely amazing. TUNE O RANGEELE is again a soothing romantic number which is gold. CHODO SANAM is a personal favourite, a club number which quiet easily gives most of today’s club numbers a run for their money. SAAWAN BADHO is a splendid rural song which is lilting and foot-tapping. And finally, my favourite, the title song which plays at various intervals throughout the movie, again a haunting number which acts as part of the narrative as it tells it’s own story.

Technically KUDRAT surprised me after al these years. The movie is slick, classy, and very elegant. Each and every shot is a visual delight, and in today’s modern age it holds it’s own like a classic vintage painting. The camerawork by Jai Mistry deserves a standing ovation. The entire landscape and surrounding of Shimla has been magically captured. Sudhendu Roy’s art-work too is a feast for the eyes. Keshav Naidu’s editing is slick.

All up KUDRAT is a bona-fide masterpiece. A fully accomplished piece of work from a master-craftsman which has aged like fine wine.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10.0

A.Shah

http://aakshayshah.blogspot.com/

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69 COMMENTS
  1. satyam

    An older comment of mine on Kudrat:

    “Kudrat has another bit of interesting politics to it because here the truly horrifying past is laced with a colonial history. And more than this the full extent of this ‘unconscious’ cannot be fully interpreted without the evidence of a present system of signs (the skeleton in the closet). Since there is a constant debate between science and myth in the film it is only the skeleton that can conclusively tilt the narrative conclusively in the direction of the myth. And in another vein the ‘real’ of the post-independence Raj Kumar is the horrifying other of his repressed, colonial self.

    Chetan Anand additionally also uses the theme of madness to highlight the destructive nature of such ‘remembrance’.”

  2. akshay shah

    Satyam: SHOOL I visit once a year, this is a film which I simply love, and though I have a great weakness for Bajpai here, I felt Sayaji Shinde was the highlight in a neglected performance. Bachchu Yadav in many ways is a darker and more relentless (and less likeable) of Bhikhu Mhatre. Both have the same dark persona’s merged with bouts of humour…while Mhatre is more humane, Yadav in many ways is inhumane……this to my mind is Shinde’s finest performance to date. Bajpai too was brilliant in a silent performance.

    I plan to catch GANGAJAL and APAHARAN before the year end too, both Devgan flms which are a class apart. As for Vivek, I found his performance overrated on my last watch, infact i’ve found Vivek overrated on the whole since he started, but COMPANY belongs to Ajay and Mohanlal……

    Brilliant set of thoughts on KUDRAT…those British Raaj scenes I loved and wished there was more of them. Raaj Kumar in the flashback was truly eerie..

    Do let me know your thoughts on SHOOL as well as APAHARAN and GANGAJAL after you finish.

    A.Shah

  3. akshay shah

    As for BHRAM…..its evident Pawan Kaul is a fan of KUDRAT, there is a scene in the movie which is a direct take-off and the narrative and structure of the scene even draws an instant reminder to KUDRAT that it’s hard to over-look!

  4. KaveetaaKaul

    Hi Shetty,

    Some bloggers win me over completely..consider yourself in that cabal. Why? It tickled me no end to read “.. Pavan Kaul, Director of BHRAM is Kaveeta’s husband.” Elsewhere it would be ‘Kaveetaa is Pavan Kauls wife”..Grant me my moment of silly indulgences…Oh the perks of being a blogger!

    Yes Raaj Kumar was Dads ( my father-in-law Surendra Kaul) brother ( first cousin). However Dad has been recognised for more than just that. He was the writer of Namak Halal and the creator of Amitabhs character with those memorable dialogues ” I can walk Engliss..” Dad, few know also directed ‘Sapnon ka Saudagar’ since he was associate Director with Mahesh Kaul his uncle. I believe Mahesh Kaul was ill throughout the shoot, so Dad took over.
    His knowledge of films and its craft was spell binding. Not just cinema, he was a wiz at politics, history, literature, maths.In fact he was invited to be a guest lecturer at St. Xaviers College Mumbai, to teach Maths.I never ever could compete with him in cryptic crossword…perhaps the only person I have met who solved the TOI cryptic everyday..no matter how long it took. His English lexicon and power of oratory as well as erudition always enthralled me.

    He was a Clark Gable look alike, with an enviable body structure, since he was a gym enthusiast, at a day and age when it was hardly a fad.

    We lost him almost a decade ago.A friend like no other and who I miss terribly. Had he been here today, I am sure he would have been a most prolific blogger, with his treasure trove of anecdotes and wondrous power of expression. We have carefully guarded his hand written scripts, which are such a delight to read even today. So incisive, humorous, philosophical, emotional, all at once. Hopefully some day at least some of these will be made into films.

    I can go on.. since memories come flooding..his charm, his smile, his simplicity, his affection..but will keep that for another day or maybe a post.

    Akkipedia.. Kudrat and Bhram? Seems unlikely. I asked Pavan he hasnt seen Kudrat. Maybe some strange coincidence. What scene are you referring to? The writers, I dont know if they have.. seems unlikely..it was too far back.

  5. Ravi

    Thanks for posting info on your father-in-law Kaveeta, that was very enlightening.

    So, is Kaveeta’s husband directing any more movies? I need to catch “Bhram” atleast for this.

  6. ILG

    Hmmm. I didnt know this, Kavita. It is indeed touching, seeing you reminisce so fondly about your dad. May his soul rest in peace and all the successes come your and your family’s way.

  7. rudresh

    “May his soul rest in peace and all the successes come your and your family’s way.”
    Aameen

  8. SHETTY

    “Some bloggers win me over completely..consider yourself in that cabal.”

    Thanks Kaveeta. Waiting for your post on Surendra Kaul.

    Pavan kaul did direct some 7-8 video movies starring Aditya panscholi in most of them for Hiba films in late 80s. I had few VHS untill recently.

    I loved his Debut film Chor Aur Chand, which had some beutiful tracks like Lagne laga mujhe aaj kal… and Sapno mein aana…

    He did announce JAADU with Sharukh & Raveena ( I guess audio of that film did also release) but it was stalled mid way for the reasons best known to Pavan

  9. Aarohi

    He did announce JAADU with Sharukh & Raveena ( I guess audio of that film did also release) but it was stalled mid way for the reasons best known to Pavan

    I used to like a song from the Jaadu soundtrack very much, ‘Mere Dil Ko…’ sung by Assha Bhosale. Wasn’t Jaadu being directed by Mani Kaul?

  10. KaveetaaKaul

    Thanks Ravi.Unfortunately Bhram didnt get an overseas release for reasons unknown!! It is a film made for the large screen simply because the technical aspects lose much of their punch on dvds. It would be a pity if the background score,colors sound get watered down..the whole team has worked so hard. Each technician behind the scene has done a good job..putting it mildly.
    Art is subjective by nature. Creative expression demands unrestricted expanse of flight..which can only happen if one is the producer and/or the writer. In the case of Bhram, Pavan was neither the producer nor the auteur. But all said and done..what should I say..a film meant to be watched seriously. Maybe not perfect due to various nebulous criteria, but good despite warts et al..even if I may say so.

  11. KaveetaaKaul

    ILG..thanks so much. Your comment was so warm.. as was Rudresh’s. This is the thing about blogging.. one tends to open bare ones soul, if emotions take over and like minded soul mates respond with as much openness.. Thank You.

  12. SHETTY

    “I used to like a song from the Jaadu soundtrack very much, ‘Mere Dil Ko…’ sung by Assha Bhosale. ”

    I remember thaat Track and also ” AAj akele…”

    “Wasn’t Jaadu being directed by Mani Kaul?”
    oh okie. I must have confused Pavan with Mani

  13. KaveetaaKaul

    Yes Shetty..the video films were quite popular and pathbreaking in their subjects, some were written by Pavan. He happened to introduce so many new comers in the process.. right from Aditya Pancholi,Urmila Matondkar, Kanwaljeet singh, Neeta puri, jeet upendra, Anita kanwar, Sujata mehta..Supriya pathak ( I am not sure if it was her debut) I dont remember the others. We must be having the films somewhere I think.. lovely songs too. He had Jagjit singh sing for almost all his films.

    “Chor aur Chand songs became an instant hit..If you recall the songs were picturised without a choreographer, so to speak, which was a first those days. Nobody shot songs on the Goa beach or darjeeling roads, or on railway tracks, there had to be a hundred dancers and drill taking place. After Sapnon mein aana, Baat kya hai kaise keh doon by Bala and Lagne lagaa hai, it became quite a trend.. Baazigar took it up later and so many more.

    Actually Pavan is quite a singer. He’d dislike me saying this.. but he sings ghazals really well. In Bhram Sonus song is his personal favourite’ Jaane kyun tanha ho gaye’.

    For ‘ Jaadu’ SRK and Pavan shared a great rapport and SRK had given him bulk dates.. the film was to have been completed in four months. The Producer in his own wisdom kept canceling one schedule after another and finally stalled the film due to financial constraints. So…thats that.

    Yeah the songs were out and were liked. The title song of the film’Tum Bin” was one of Jaadus tracks, which was recycled, called ‘Yaadein teri yaadein’.. my absolute favourite.

    Hi Aarohi..yes ” Mere dil ko kare bekaboo sajan tere pyar ka Jadoo”.. by Asha Bhonsle had been playing all over. No Mani kaul wasnt the director .. It was Pavan.

    “Jaadu.. the magic of love” as the tag said was quite a known project. Soon after the announcement of this film came the wonderful song by YRF ‘ Jadoo teri nazar”.

    Some day I will talk more of the film.. and its writer :)

  14. Aarohi

    Kaveeta: Thanks for clarifying.

    That was one catchy track. It was played farely regularly on radio.

  15. satyam

    On chor aur Chand there was one track that was shown in the previews but was never a part of the soundtrack (perhaps it was added later). I was never able to find it — door kahin lehron main, chand ka basera tha, phool bhari raahon main, rehta chor tha.

  16. satyam

    But yes Chor aur chand was a good soundtrack

  17. satyam

    Kaveetha: Agreed with ILG.. some interesting stuff you’ve shared with us..

  18. KaveetaaKaul

    Satyam.. Pavan is incidentally at home and I read out your comment. You see this song it represented the core/ soul of the film. The song was written with great care and much involvement.It was one of the saddest days for Pavan when he could not include it in the movie.

    I quote Pavan verbatim “The song was never shot. What happened to it? Simply.. Life happened..with all its unpredictabilities”

    Satyam ..your memory is awesome.

  19. akshay shah

    “Akkipedia.. Kudrat and Bhram? Seems unlikely. I asked Pavan he hasnt seen Kudrat. Maybe some strange coincidence. What scene are you referring to? The writers, I dont know if they have.. seems unlikely..it was too far back.”

    Kaveeta–firstly thanks for the info..how very cool! Some nice memories about your father here….may his soul rest in peace, and THANK YOU for sharing with everyone at NG…I feel special it’s on my review…on a side note.. I love NAMAK HALAAL, and that dialogue is priceless..simply priceless!!!! I m referring to the scene where Millind is recognised at the party, but could be a concidence.

    Keep blogging

    A.Shah

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