Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reshma Aur Shera

Friday the 27th September was difficult for me because I was feeling depressed and down.  On top of that the internet was playing hookey.  I was in the process of changing my connection and fell between two stools of the old connection which I scrapped and the new connection which was having teething troubles.

I decided to bring out a DVD from my pile of 'to-be-watched'.  I picked 'Reshma aur Shera'.

I picked 'Reshma aur Shera'.

I have heard only good things about this movie, I loved the music, I love Sunil Dutt and Waheeda.  I was eager to see for myself if the movie lived up to my expectation.

It did.

The movie is set in the magnificent, stark sand dunes of Rajasthan.  Reshma (Waheeda Rehman) is the beautiful daughter of the Chief of Pochina and Shera (Sunil Dutt) is the son of the chief Sagat.  The two clans do not get along and their rivalry has claimed a good number of lives.  Shera is visiting a fair which culminates in ritual sacrifice of a goat for the Devi Ma.  This year he has the honor of wielding the sacrificial sword.

Reshma and Shera run into each other at the fair.  Shera is captivated by the girl and kind of stalks her.  She is curious about him, attracted too, but hesitant.  A little later Shera's younger brothers Vijay (Vinod Khanna) and Jagat (Naval Kumar) get into a scuffle with the Pochina crowd and are on the point of killing their Chief's son Gopal (Ranjeet) when Shera steps in and saves him.  He thrashes his brothers for creating ruckus at Devi Ma's door and sends them back home.

This act of his endears him to Reshma.  She loves her brother and her one wish is to see him unharmed.  Shera wants to end the enmity between their clans and wants to marry Reshma. For the moment they have to be content with a little courting and meeting secretly at nights in the sand dunes.

Shera's pacifist ways are not met with any enthusiasm by his bloodthirsty brothers and father, the Chief Sagat (Jayant).  Shera has one more sibling, the youngest, Chotu (Amitabh Bachchan).  Chotu is a crack shot and dumb. He loves his eldest brother Shera and follows him around.  He is a bit cowardly and weak too.  But a good person.

Shera wants to start the peace talks between the families by a visit to the Chief of Pochina (K N Singh) on the occasion of Gopal's marriage.  His father disowns him for wanting to do this.  There is a very touching scene as Shera is driven away without taking the bundle of food that his mother had packed for him.  Chotu picks up the food and runs after Shera to give it to him, but is dragged back, weeping and helpless by his brothers.

Shera's families now hatch an evil plan to making Chotu shoot the Chief of Pochina and Gopal dead.  Just as Shera manages to win over the Chief of Pochina too.  Now the heart-rending scene at the site as the newly wed bride (Rakhee) finds she is now a widow, makes Shera swear vengeance.

A bloodbath is unleashed as Shera tries to find the person who pulled the trigger.  Where will this vengeance end?  What will happen to Reshma and Shera?

The story is told in a taut manner, there are no unnecessary scenes and no diverting into CSP, which was the bane of many movies of the time.  The starkness of the tale is complemented by the starkness of the desert landscape.  The homes of the people are in mud-huts with thatched roofs, not some fancy havelis, as the movies these days often have.  

The characters are quickly delineated by deft dialogues and actions.  Hence we know early on that Shera is a pacifist, and so is Reshma. Shera's mother (Sulochana) wants peace too.  Shera's brothers and father are bloodthirsty. Chotu is simple soul who would not willingly hurt a sparrow.  The story moves along at an even pace.

The songs by Jaidev are sublime.  Ek thandi si agan, shot brilliantly in Hawa Mahal is gorgeous.  Tu Chanda Main Chandni, shot in the shifting sand dunes is captivating.  There is a qawwali at the start Zalim meri Sharab me where a very young Sanjay Dutt also performs along with Sudhir.   Ek to yeh bharpoor jawani is a mujra performed by Padma Khanna to celebrate the killing of the enemy.

All the actors have put in a wonderful performance.  Waheeda stands out as a young girl in love at the start and later as a troubled young woman who must make some tough choices.  She deserved the national award she got that year.  Another standout performance in the film was from Amitabh Bachchan who was magnificent as Chotu who is brings out the nuances of his character to perfection.

The movie gets a little too melodramatic at times, but in face of such brilliance elsewhere, I am willing to let it pass.  This is one movie every film lover should see.


  1. I also am looking forward to this fil. It sounds very much like Romeo and Juliet except for the ending.
    I personally find that Waheeda and Sunil Dutt look too old to play a pair in thier late teens or even early twenties for that matter. The songs are surely fantastic.
    All the same I would love to watch the film.

  2. I want to see this movie too. Thanks for a great review !!!
    I have seen Mujhe Jeeno Do, and although I do not remember all of it, Sunil Dutt & Waheeda Rehman made a great pair.

  3. I haven't seen Reshma aur Shera yet, except for that one scene where Rakhee discovers that she's widow... I saw that on TV ages ago when I was a kid, and it totally stuck with me.

  4. This is indeed a superb movie.
    And a wonderful review of it too, Ava.

  5. Harvey, haan it did remind me a bit of Romeo and Juliet at the start. And yes, the lead couple is not as young as they should have been.

    But hey, the film is really really good.

  6. Samir, Madhu

    You have not seen this film! But not a thing to wonder at, there are so so so many films that I have not seen, even when I have a dvd/vcd handy.

  7. Raja,

    I take it you have seen the film :)