Films that are 50

Films that are 50: ‘Do Badan’ is an overlooked Raj Khosla tragedy

Best known for crime and suspense films, the director worked well across genres, as is evident from the Asha Parekh-Manoj Kumar starrer.

The mid-1960s saw actress Asha Parekh court success in a big way. Having started out as a child actor, Parekh had to suffer the ignominy of being replaced by Ameeta in Vijay Bhatt’s Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) before filmmaker Nasir Husain gave Parekh her first leading lady role in the musical hit Dil Deke Dekho (1959). Parekh subsequently became a regular in Husain’s films, starring alongside Dev Anand, Joy Mukerji and Shammi Kapoor in the musical extravaganzas that were Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai (1961), Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963) and Teesri Manzil (1966). The period between 1964 to 1967 saw Parekh work with almost every top-notch filmmaker in the industry as she starred in a spate of hits such as Ziddi (1964), Mere Sanam (1965), Love In Tokyo (1966), Aaye Din Bahaar Ke (1966) and Upkar (1967).

One such film that Parekh starred in alongside Manoj Kumar, Pran and Simi Garewal in this golden phase of her career was the Raj Khosla-directed Do Badan (1966). The film was a moderate hit of its time. It doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as some of the bigger films from that year, such as Teesri Manzil or Phool Aur Patthar, but deserves a relook nonetheless for its fine performances in what was essentially a doomed romantic drama.

Play

Do Badan had all the classic staples of Hindi cinema from that time. Vikas (Kumar) and Asha (Parekh) fall in love with each other, following very much in the tradition of romantic liaisons between poor boy and rich girl. The villain in the puzzle, Ashwini (Pran), gets in the way of their relationship and engineers a chain of events that leads to Vikas meeting with an accident and losing his eyesight. Ashwini first tells Asha that Vikas is dead, but then persuades Vikas to convince Asha that his love for her was a sham in the first place. Ashwini gets married to Asha. But Vikas’s exit from her life is too much for Asha. When she realises Ashwini’s devious ways, she turns into a recluse and withers away.

The film played out predominantly in the picturesque Kashmiri countryside. It had all the familiar themes of Hindi cinema’s encounter with modernity, class conflict amid a feudalistic backdrop and almost all the lead characters (except Ashwini) willing to sacrifice their own love interest for someone else’s sake. The comic pairing of Dhumal and Mohan Choti gave a few laughs, but were all too episodic in their appearance.

Do Badan’s appeal, nonetheless, lay in its sensitive storytelling within the melodramatic genre. Instead of resorting to the usual routine of the villain receiving his comeuppance at the hands of the hero, Do Badan made a rare departure by highlighting a change of heart in Pran’s character. Parekh, Kumar and Garewal came up with nuanced performances, with each of them ably demonstrating the pain and anguish each that their characters experience through the vagaries of life and love. Garewal took home a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

The film’s dialogue gives a maudlin and emotional tinge to the film without allowing it to degenerate into a hackneyed, over-the-top weepy affair. Lines such as “Hum ko toh gardish-e-haalaat pe rona aaya, roney waaley tujhey kiss baat pe rona aaya” borrowed suitably from the world of high Urdu poetry to bring out each character’s pathos.

Complementing the emotive storyline was a strong musical score by Ravi. The lyrics were penned by Shakeel Badayuni. Why didn’t the film’s producer, Huda Bihari, get his brother, the lyricist Shamsul Huda Bihari (of Kashmir Ki Kali fame), to write the songs? Nonetheless, with numbers such as “Jab chali thandi hawa” and “Lo aa gayee unki yaad,” Badayuni was able to do full justice to what was expected of him.

Play

The pièce de résistance of the film was the Mohammed Rafi sung, “Raaha gardishon mein har dum.” In Rafi’s voice, the song evocatively captured the tragic essence of the film.

Play

Ultimately, Do Badan was yet another triumph for ace filmmaker Raj Khosla. Although known most for his noir films and crime dramas such as C.I.D. (1956) and Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), Khosla seemed to be at ease working across genres. That he made an intense, melancholic film like Do Badan right in the midst of his three suspense films, Woh Kaun Thi (1964), Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967) showed his remarkable dexterity. Do Badan makes a great case for revisiting Khosla’s work and putting it through a more detailed examination.

Akshay Manwani is the author of Sahir Ludhianvi: The People’s Poet (HarperCollins India 2013). He is currently working on a book on the cinema of writer-director-producer, Nasir Husain. He tweets at @AkshayManwani.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

Play

During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.