Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Dilip Kumar & Leena Chandavarkar in Bairaag (1976)

by Nasir Ali: 
This is not a review of the movie but merely some information for the dear readers about Bairaag.

Bairaag was released in 1976. This was Dilip Kumar’s next movie after Sagina (1974) which itself was the next movie after Dastaan (1972).

Dilip Kumar was acting in a triple role for the first time: A rich father (Kailashnath) becomes blind. His wife dies delivering twin boys, one of whom is blind. He retains only one, and asks his doctor to kill the blind one. The kind doctor (played by Nasir Khan) abandons the blind infant at a temple far away in a countryside. The two sons grow up in their respective environments. The city-bred becomes a playboy (Sanjay) and the other (Bholenath) the visually-impaired simpleton, lives the life of a Bairaagi (Ascetic) whose prime duty is to serve Lord Shiva at the temple, and the secondary duty is to serve the daughter of the house Tara whom he respectfully addresses as “Chhoti Malkin” or Little Mistress (Saira Banu), in some remote countryside home.

Dilip Kumar, as usual was able to do full justice to the three full roles. “Full” because others had attempted such roles before but they were in bits and pieces. Dilip Kumar, despite his 54 years, looks very handsome and charming in both the sons’ role. How many of our heroes can carry off such a role at that age? His pairing with the lovely Leena Chandavarkar was so attractive and flirtatious, with Sexy Helen in tow! PEETE PEETE KABHEE KABHEE YOON JAAM BADAL JAATE and SAARE SHAHAR MEIN are simply unforgettable numbers by Mohammed Rafi. As for Saira Banu, she had the serious role, except when she teases Bholenath or when she sings the number, CHHOTEE SEE UMAR MEIN LAG GAYAA ROG...which song has been exploited in a number of remixes. Then we have Madan Puri and Prem Chopra doing their villanish bits among others. The young Paintal doesn't suit a bit.

Despite the shortcomings, Bairaag proved to be a cult movie. Dilip Kumar’s performance in the triple roles actually set off the trend of triple roles as when Amitabh Bachchan did a triple role in Mahaan. This was repeated by Rajnikant in John Johny Janardhan, and by Kamal Hassan in Apu Raja. Just as Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Kumar, and Rajendra Kumar derived inspiration from Dilip Kumar for their mannerisms and many of their roles, Govinda, too, seems to have derived lots of inspiration for his roles where he portrays himself as a country bumpkin.

I learnt that a business magazine, “Economist” had the Dilip Kumar-Saira Banu filmshot of Bairaag on its front cover in 2001 while publishing the story of ten-years of liberalisation in India. Bairaag was not a flop as some would like us to believe. Dilip Kumar was nominated in the Best Actor category of Filmfare Award. Yes, by Dilip Kumar’s standard it didn’t do too well. The cine-goers were used to seeing his films celebrate silver and golden jubilees at the theatres. Anyway, let’s come to our main story.

The city was Bhopal. The citizens were impatiently waiting for the release of Bairaag at the Krishna Talkies. There was a delegation from one of the city’s localities, Shahjahanabad Mohalla, before the Manager of the theatre. They had come to his office for the advance booking of Bairaag. After the Manager assured them, the delegation left the theatre. All were eagerly waiting for the day of release of Bairaag.

On the day of the release, a full crowd of some 300 dwellers of that part of the city alone made themselves ready to leave for the Krishna Talkies where Bairaag was to be screened. A big banner carried by the bearers unabashedly screamed: BAIRAAG KE BAARAATI. What they really meant was “Dilip Kumar ke Deewaane.” A musical band was employed to accompany these crazy ones all the way to Krishna Talkies. People thronged the way to have a glimpse of this motley crowd. It looked as if the bridegroom was on his way to bring back his bride. Such was the joyous air around the city of Bhopal. That was the day when Bairaag was released in Bhopal.

Remember, those were not the days when such promotions as we find today are done. Nor was there any TV around. It was only by 1977 that the TV stations began functioning for the common public entertainment. So my Bhopali friend took the Urdu newspaper cutting all the way from Bhopal to show it to Saira Banu at her Bungalow. We all know that adulations, reverence, hero-worship and idolization are what Dilip Kumar has been used to all his life, especially after the 1947 flick, Jugnu. My friend was carrying with him a humble tribute and sentiments of the citizens of Bhopal. When the cutting was shown, Saira Banu asked him to show it to Dilip Kumar. He looked at it, smiled gently, nodding his head in approval, and sent him back to Saira Banu who asked him to read out the news item. Her infectious smile told him how much she appreciated the sentiments of the Bhopalis. The fact remains that the entire nation loves Thespian Dilip Kumar.


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