Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Movie 04/50 Tere Ghar Ke Samne

Tere Ghar Ke Samne     fiftyfiftyme category: Major

 I was about 12 when I first tried kulfi and I spat it out in disgust. If anyone had told me then that I would come to love it, I would have dismissed the idea as inconceivable. But perhaps that word does not mean what I think it means, because something similar happened with this film.

I have a real issue with Dev Anand. I don't get why he's viewed as some sort of legendary "it" man of Hindi cinema, and I really, really hate the egotistical narcissism that oozes from him in the films of his I'd seen before this one. In Kala Bazaar and especially in Guide,  I get the overwhelming impression that Dev & Vijay both think Dev IS a god, and so he preaches and preens his way through them. Just thinking about his role in Guide is enough to make me mad, so it was a  big challenge for me to take the plunge and buy this movie, largely on the strength of recommendations from filmiphilic friends, especially Carla at Filmi Geek. I am in their debt, because I can now say of a Dev Anand film something that I would have thought inconceivable just a few weeks ago:   I love this film!

Tere Ghar Ke Samne is like good kulfi, sweet, light, with a melts-in-your-mouth deliciousness that simply compels one to smile. But that's what makes this such a remarkable film in my opinion. Sweet, happy Hindi films are about as rare as rice, so why does this one make such an impression? 

The answer lies in what's missing: Drama. Many, if not most, sweet and happy Hindi films incorporate some element of drama, some darkening of the horizons with clouds of gloom. Those clouds might be family opposition, an unwelcome arranged marriage proposal, or any number of other impediments to the inevitable happy ending. Although most of the films I like are oldies, two of my favourite films from this century, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na  and Jab We Met both follow this revered and time-honoured filmi convention - make them sad before they make us glad. Adding this sort of element only makes sense, providing something against which the ultimate happiness can be contrasted. Without it, a film should be a sappy mess, unrelentingly, cloyingly sweet, like Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! I like HAHK, but it is, as one IMDb commenter aptly said "just a shaadi cassette".

Somehow, Tere Ghar Ke Samne pulls off the remarkable feat of being almost drama-free yet remaining an engaging, involving film to watch. That's what makes this a special, remarkable film for me - it's basically pure confection, but it's not sickly sweet. How it manages this is what I've been trying to figure out since I watched it, and I've come to the conclusion that it's chemistry. 

Someone who is much more knowledgeable about films than I am said recently that  "chemistry" was really mostly just  a matter of good script and and good direction. That's  paraphrasing, but I do largely tend to agree with the the idea that films are, after all, about acting, and that if the director and writer(s) have done their job, any onscreen pair should be able to have chemistry. Nevertheless, some films prove that casting is an important part of the mix, and that there is an elusive intangible that can make a movie either more or less than the sum of its parts. I'm a huge fan of Audrey Hepburn, but I prefer the Harrison Ford remake of Sabrina because he and Julia Ormond clicked in a way that Audrey and Bogey didn't - he was awful for that role. Tere Ghar Ke Samne  is definitely more than the sum of its parts, and I say that with conviction because I dislike some of its parts.

I've long thought that Vijay Anand was an enabler, facilitating his brother's ego and letting him make their films all about him, so that in every film it was Dev onscreen, not whoever he was playing. You can't forget it's Dev because he doesn't want you to  and won't let you. In the modern era, this phenomenon is most clearly seen in Shah Rukh Khan - it's always SRK onscreen, not his character. Somehow, the Anand brothers managed not  to do that with this film, and so even as a devout anti-fan, I really liked Rakesh. He wasn't Dev being a preachy self-righteous self-appointed (reformed) Messiah figure as in Kala Bazaar, or Dev being a preachy self-righteous self-appointed Messiah figure as in Guide, he was Rakesh, a suave, charming and funny character, quite irresistibly likeable. The scene where he's cutting back forth between his family and Sulekha's, staging carefully modulated dialogues to give each group the impression he wants, had me in stitches.  The same star, the same producers, the same director as in films I intensely dislike, but the chemistry transformed it. Which brings me to Nutan.

She was perfect! It may have been a light role, not requiring a lot of range, but that presented its own challenges. How could she bring something to the story when there was no dramatic arc involving loss, separation and/or personal growth?  She owned the role by providing the perfect amount of mock flounce. For me, one of the best examples of this is in the superb song above,  dil ka bhanwar. The song itself is a gem, but the picturisation was a triumph. Not only did I, for the first time, see why some might find Dev "all that", but Nutan played off him perfectly. One of my favourite scenes in the song is when Rakesh is singing "aaj mere to guu.Nje dil kii aarazuu, tujhase merii aa.Nkh jab mile" - very traditionally filmi, but the way she "met his eyes" was both funny and very sweet. If Nutan can help me really enjoy a Dev film, when a favourite of mine, Waheeda, could not, that marks her as very special. 

Dil ka bhanwar  provides an example of something else that raises this film from more recent candy floss films - the songs. A major difference between then and now is the quality of the songs, and this film illustrates that perfectly. I have liked Dil ka bhanwar  for several years, and listened to it often, not having any idea that it came from a Dev Anand film(!) Then there is the title track, which has to be seen to believed. The combination of good music and engaging lyrics add substance to the froth of the film, and fact that the songs advance the story, rather than interrupting it for a pointless trip to some epilepsy-inducing nightclub, further sets this film apart from more modern fluff pieces.


Perhaps chemistry really is another word for casting, because certainly the cast in this film all added to its charm. Dev and Nutan were great together, and the supporting cast simply were their characters. Om Prakash's bluster was so wonderfully proto-Puri and Harindranath looked disconcertingly like all the photos of I've seen of my stern, remote grandfather, making his performance very believable.

I have gushed enough about this film: Old is gold - watch it! If you're looking for a film to make you smile, maybe even laugh, a film that shows that it is possible for Hindi cinema to do a perfect sweet soufflé of a film, then you really don't have to go far, just look to the house opposite. 




    See. You need more films of Dev's to see the full picture. (I wasn't too fond of the end of Kala Bazaar - I much prefer the love triangle-ish thingy, but this is coming from someone who loves Dev blindly. (I'm telling you, everyone is saying that he was wrong in Guide! But you don't like Guide so I won't talk about it here)) ;) Let me see... have you seen Solva Saal? Stay away from Love Marriage, though. The ending made me recoil a little bit, and perhaps for you, a LOT. Munimji too is good... Baazi and Bombai Ka Babu are nice bets...

    Or maybe I'll let you revel in the love of this film for a while. :D

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Bombaynoir! I'm sorry, but I'm an old man and set in my ways with the inflexibility of the aged, so it's extremely unlikely that I will ever share your enthusiasm for Dev. ;^D
      I still have 46 movies to get through this year, those 46 are all either with me now or in my shopping cart at, and the only other Dev film in the mix is Nau Do Gyarah. I do want to rewatch CID at some point for my Waheeda, and might one day consider Paying Guest, but that's it. I have too many films I want to see, and 47 more books to read this year, to give Dev more of my time. This film, though, I will watch many times, I'm quite sure of that. :)

  2. I have to remember to keep an eye on this blog too, Stuart - I generally only look at Likhaavat.

    That said, what a good review. I like Tere Ghar ke Saamne a lot too, and that is certainly because it all adds up perfectly - the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And this down-to-earth Dev Anand is the reason I like films like CID and Nau Do Gyarah too - he's not the deified megastar that he is in Guide or Jewel Thief.

    P.S. Have you noticed the fact that the picturisation of Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar reflects the lyrics in places? For example, when he sings "Chaahe tum mitaana, par na tum giraana...", it's just after she's shoved him down a flight of stairs. :-)

    1. How could he not trip? :O

      Once my time machine is done I'm going to ask him that. Especially in the Qutub Minar. Shove you down one flight of steps, roll down the rest of the tower. Not very pretty. For the love of Dev's movies, I wouldn't like to try. No, not even if he did it himself.

      Or maybe I will. But I don't think he's too fond of getting himself hurt too.

    2. I hadn't notice that meshing of lyrics with picturisation before, thanks dustedoff! That's a perfect example of why songs should be seen in context I guess! Also, that's a very impressive set they built for it, too, thanks for sharing that tidbit.

      Likhaavat is still my primary blog, and I actually meant to post this there. This blog is to record my progress through the fifty books, fifty movies challenge, and a lot of the entries will be not much more than title and a link to the movie or book in question. The things that want to really waffle about will normally go up there, as this one was supposed to, and as my reaction to A Suitable Boy will.

  3. @ Stuart (My computer isn't co-operating so I can't reply to your latest comment) - Nooo! Don't go for Paying Guest. It can't make up its mind which genre it is! Even though the songs are lovely. If you have to, check out Solva Saal! Waheeda's there too. ;)

    If you ever want to check out any of Dev's good films, ask me. :D But whatever you do, do not check out his 70's films. They're hideous. Even by my standards.

    1. Too late! I've already seen Johny Mera Naam and Haré Raama Haré Krishna. Well not all of the latter, I gave up barely halfway through. :)

    2. I think Johny Mera Naam was okay. (It was the first film that introduced me to him, and I liked him there without any inkling of his 50's and 60's work!)

      What are your favorite scenes from the movie? I especially liked it when Rakesh was with Sulekha and then Lalaji comes in and he has to juggle them both, and she suddenly becomes the granddaughter of the Queen of Ayodhya. And when Rashid Khan comes in with the Coke and then Om Prakash says, "No, I'll only drink lassi."

      I also like it when Rakesh said, "If he's better than me, then he's his father's son. If I'm better than him, then I'm not my father's son." He really was referring but no one could understand!

      Actually, I like all of the movie! All of it! Alllll of it! :D

      Except for Hare Rama Hare Krishna. That... made me cringe and cringe and the song he sings after Dum Maro Dum, well, I had to get up and sit somewhere else, not facing my laptop because I couldn't stand to see him making a fool out of himself.

      Yes, I like him so much that I can't stand to see him making a fool of himself. :P

    3. I think one of my favourite scenes was the one where he is running back and forth between both families, speaking loudly then quietly to make each side think he is running the other down.

    4. LOL. I love that scene too! And when he bangs his hand on the table, then they ask, "What's wrong?" And then he says, "I got angry." I love that! Well, I tried to do it once. All I got was a sore hand (wouldn't his hurt too?) and weird looks.

      As Dustedoff said, about time I realized that I'm not a Hindi film hero.

  4. I am very glad you enjoyed Tere Ghare Ke Saamne Stuart! On my list of all time favourite movies because of the very reason you describe - it's sweet and lovely through and through, a charmer for the ages. I enjoyed both Dev and Nutan's characters a lot and their romance, like the romance in Nau Do Gyarah, just clicked so well. Perhaps it is that chemistry you spoke about. Also the dialogues were genuinely witty - be they between the lead couple or Rakesh with one of the two fathers.

    When Rakesh is flirting with Sulekha, I could genuinely sense that the romance isn't just some flimsy thing that is happening because they are the hero and heroine - they genuinely had fun back and forths and enjoyed each other's company.

    "aapne Qutab Minar to kafi baar dekha hoga - ek baar humare saath bhi dekhiye, shaayad zyaada ooncha lage"

    (you must have seen Qutab Minar many times - do see it with me one time, maybe it will seem taller)

    "agar woh apne baap ka beta hai to mujhse accha hai aur agar main usse accha hoon to main apne baap ka beta nahin"

    (if he is his father's son then he is better than me, and if I am better than him then I am not my father's son)


    I just found the dialogues so delightfully droll

    The songs are each and every one of them a gem as well. I too could watch this one over and over!

    1. Thanks, nakhrewali! ""aapne Qutab Minar to kafi baar dekha hoga - ek baar humare saath bhi dekhiye, shaayad zyaada ooncha lage" was a favourite of mine, one I caught properly, with my ears rather than my eyes. The next time I watch it, I'll turn the subs off to make sure I give the witty banter the attention it deserves.