Sooraj Barjaatya has directed some good movies over the period spanning from 1989-2006 but his work includes one let down also in the form of Main Prem Ki Deewaani Hoon (2003). With too much unnecessary glamour, body expose, theatrical performances and average musical score, MPKDH did not have anything worthwhile to offer to the audience who approached the theatres with high expectations and quite naturally, it bombed on the box office. However anybody who has been following the movies of Soorajs banner (actually his grandfathers banner) - Rajshri Productions, could easily see that MPKDH was actually an urbanized remake of an old classic of this banner which kept the flag of simplicity, high values of life of our reviewers recommend us and Indianness high in Hindi cinema for around two and a half decades. The original classic movie in this context is Chitchor (1976).
Chitchor (heart-stealer) is a lovely movie which got turned into an unforgettable one by the brilliant performances and the excellent music. This movie has been directed by Basu Chatterjee, one of the pillars of the middle-of-the-road cinema in India whose movies contained stories of simple, middle class characters from everyday life and were made with modest budget. Chitchor is a movie which effortlessly conquered the heart of the audience when released and became a huge success throughout India. Set in a rural milieu, the movie stars Amol Palekar, Zarina Wahaab and Vijayendra Ghaatage in lead roles.
The pivotal character of Chitchor is Geeta (Zarina Wahaab) who lives with her parents in a small town. Her father, Pitambar Chaudhary (A.K. Hungal) is a schoolmaster who alongwith her mother (Deena Paathak) is concerned about her marriage (like any traditional Indian parents). Her married elder sister, Meera (Ritu Kamal) informs them from Mumbai (then Bombay) a suitable boy who is an engineer, is coming to their place for work and he should be welcomed and treated properly by them to woo him for consenting to marry Geeta. The parents do the same. The arriving person is Vinod (Amol Palekar) who does not know the background behind his welcome and hospitality but through his nature and behaviour he is able to win the hearts of all including that of Geeta (and also loses his heart to her). But the twist in the tale comes when the case turns out to be that of mistaken identity. Actually, the person who was suggested by Meera as the prospective groom for Geeta is actually Sunil (Vijayendra Ghaatage) and not Vinod who is not engineer but his subordinate overseer. Sunil also arrives at the place and now Geetas parents are in a fix as to how to deal with Vinod whom they had been treating as their prospective son-in-law because quite naturally, the (more) suitable boy is the engineer and not the overseer, forgetting the fact that the heart of a girl once gone for a boy, its gone. She cannot change her feelings according to the posts and the statuses of the boys. After an emotional drama, the movie reaches its happy ending when Geeta asserts herself and disallows others to decide her destiny.
This simple yet highly touching love story has been penned by Subodh Ghosh which ace director, Basu Chatterjee has adapted for the screen with finesse by writing the screenplay and the dialogs himself. The story is realistic for that time period (seventies) when there was no internet and even telephones were in the homes of the wealthy and high profile people only. Hence a case of mistaken identity was probable in case the photograph of the concerned person was not sent with the letter telling about him. However in Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon, Sooraj Barjatya forgot that in the age of internet (with the characters being extremely rich), such case of mistaken identity was not possible. Besides, he set the story in a lavish setting, abolishing the simplicity embedded in the original product which was the biggest strength of the story. No wonder, he fell flat on his face. Its the simplicity of the story, the characters and the complete milieu which makes this movie a winner all the way. The characters are innocent ones with hearts of gold and they effortlessly take the viewer away with their talks, gestures and activities towards the desired culmination of the story. The spectator becomes a part of their psyche, desiring the same which is bound to happen ultimately.
This was the first movie of Vijayendra Ghatage whereas Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahaab too were in the initial phase of their respective careers only. And all three have delivered outstanding performances with ample support from seasoned character artists like A.K. Hungal and Deena Paathak and also from the number one child artist of his time, Master Raju. The movie, according to the Rajshri tradition of simplicity-filled social milieu of small towns, contains some other supporting characters too who make you laugh as well as emote in the scenes involving them. This is one of the most popular movies of Amol Palekar who had become the perfect choice for the role of a middle class youth in that period and also the most happening movie in the careers of Zarina Wahaab and Vijayendra Ghaatage. It was a nationwide success on the box office.
This movie despite Rajshris penchant for the traditional social values prevailing in India (which expect the daughter of the house to bow before the decision of her parents regarding her marriage), surprisingly makes the audience hear the footsteps of the woman-lib movement in which the girl wants to decide her groom herself because her love is not a radio or TV which can be switched on and switched off at will. Zarina Wahaab with her girl next door looks, delivered a highly confident performance in her role which, in the climax, set the bells of woman-lib ringing for the middle class Indian girls who wanted to be the decider for their fate but could not, being caught in the shackles of social tradition where the parents only could decide whats good for them. This way, it was a path-breaker in the regular Bollywood cinema.
In this low budget movie (again in sync with the Rajshri tradition of simplicity sans all pump and show), the art director Jadab Bhattacharya and the regular cinematographer of Rajshri movies - K.K. Mahaajan have left no stone unturned in exasperating the impact of the script through their admirable work. Length is also in order (quite unlike the excessively lengthy MPKDH).
The movie could not be such a grand success as well as considered a classic if not for the unforgettable music of Ravindra Jain. This blind music maestro not only composed great melodies based on classical Raagas but also wrote heart-soothing lyrics of high literary quality of our reviewers recommend us for them viz. Gori Tera Gaaon Bada Pyaara, Tu Jo Mere Sur Mein Sur Mila Le and Aaj Se Pehle Aaj Se Zyaada Khushi Aaj Tak Nahin Mili. If you ask for my favourite song from this movie, its Jab Deep Jale Aana, Jab Shaam Dhale Aana which is based on Raag Yaman. Ravindra Jain introduced K.J. Yesudaas and Hemlata as playback singers from this album who have sung these songs with utmost delicacy and emotion in their voices, keeping the quality of both the lyrics and the compositions intact. This album is a precious gift for the lovers of not only Hindi film music but also the lovers of all types of Hindustani music.
True to its title, this movie is a CHITCHOR which will steal your heart.