Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Jai Dharmendra"

That's the last line of Guddi (and the guy who says it even folds his hands as if in prayer, very funny). And yes, he means Dharmendra, who stars as himself in this occasionally preachy but mostly adorable romance about a starstruck teenager.

The future little Jaya Bachchan plays Kusum (Guddi to her friends and family). She's mischievous, but good-hearted, and loves films more than pretty much anything. While her friends swoon over Jeetendra (understandable, despite his Elvis hairdos) and Rajesh Khanna, Guddi's crush is on Dharmendra, and it exacerbates when he comes to town to shoot a movie, giving her an autograph and admitting he used to skip school too.

When she turns down an eligible marriage proposal because she loves someone else, but can't marry him either because "he's already married," hindsight can't help MST3K'ing in one's ear that it didn't stop Hema. Especially when Guddi says she doesn't grudge Dharmenji's first wife, who she thinks of like a sister. Eee, Big Love!

Since this is a large chunk of the team that will bring us Chupke Chupke, it will probably not surprise anyone that Jaya's "uncle" tracks down Dharmenji and talks him into showing Guddi the real life behind the scenes (boredom, exploiting the poor, people getting hurt doing stunts) and helping to make her suitor look more heroic than the characters in the movie world.

Om Prakash ("Gosh!"), Ashok Kumar, and Rajesh Khanna also play themselves. The most delightful cameo is by Pran, who gives Dharmendra a nice watch, causing Guddi to say "he never does anything without an intent!" They reassure her that, despite playing villains, Pran is "always doing good."

The film-in-a-film heroine is played by Vimi, about whom all the IMDB has to say is "Her death is still considered a mystery today." Which is, in fact, quite mysterious.

An interesting aspect of the movie, besides all the filmi stuff, is that the "real-life" romance is between Guddi and her sister-in-law's brother. The two have a clear rapport from the beginning, and probably are at the point where they're starting to "like" each other. Without their family trying to fix them up, the suitor would probably have never said anything (he's unduly reticent throughout, and seems to be in the shy guy loop of not wanting to declare his feelings, since he doesn't know how she feels about him). But because their family is trying to fix them up, it brings an awkwardness to their previously warm relationship.

Overall, it's a pretty realistic picture of the uncomfortable point where friends are becoming something more, or might be, or one of them thinks they might be, or the people they know think they should be. Boy, if that doesn't sound like college!

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