Cult film

Rajkummar Rao isn’t the only one who is trapped – he shares his agony with Sunil Dutt in ‘Yaadein’

Both films document the travails of men stuck in an apartment.

The March 17 release Trapped, about a man stuck in an apartment, and Sunil Dutt’s Yaadein (1964), a solo-act drama about a man returning to an empty house, couldn’t be more dissimilar. The characters are in a house arrest situation, but their efforts to break free aren’t alike.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped is the story of Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao), who finds himself locked in an apartment he cannot break out of. In Yaadein, Anil (Sunil Dutt) returns to his apartment after work and is shocked to find out that his wife Priya (Nargis Dutt) and child have left him.

While Shaurya panics and tries to escape the apartment because he has a date to keep with his girlfriend Noorie (Geetanjali Thapa), Anil loiters inside his spacious apartment and doesn’t step out to look for his family even though he is free to move.

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Trapped (2017).

Unlike in Trapped, where the camera follows Shaurya around the apartment, we stay with Anil for the duration of the 113-minute Yaadein. The narrative has experimental layers and jumps between genres. The movie becomes one long show reel for Sunil Dutt’s capabilities as an actor, producer and director.

After appearing in BR Chopra’s multi-starrer films such as Gumrah (1963), Waqt (1965) and Humraaz (1967), Dutt’s career had flourished enough to encourage him to branch out as a producer. His first production, Yeh Raastey Hain Pyar Ke (1963), was inspired by the sensational Nanavati adultery and murder case.

In his next production, Moni Bhattacharjee’s Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Dutt played a hot-headed dacoit. Emboldened by the movie’s success, Dutt embarked on Yaadein the following year.

The opening credits of Yaadein proudly champion it as the “World’s First One-Actor Movie”. Dutt took a big gamble with Yaadein. The movie’s mix of arthouse and commercial elements divided critics and moviegoers.

Som Dutt, the actor’s brother and production manager, was apprehensive about the project. In Kishwar Desai’s book Darlingji, a biography of Sunil and his wife Nargis, Som Dutt told the author that he had advised his brother against Yaadein. An undeterred Sunil Dutt said, “You don’t know, it will definitely run.”

In the opening scene, Anil returns to an empty house and begins to fret and fume. He then sobs and prays for Priya to return home. He launches into several lengthy monologues, revealing in one about an altercation he had with Priya the night before. Cartoonist Mario Miranda’s murals appear in flashback scenes along with balloons standing in for real actors.

Yaadein is devoid of formulaic elements, but is a Hindi film ever complete without a song? Lata Mangeshkar croons Dekha Hai Sapna Koi, giving Yaadein its dreamy ending.

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Dekha Hai Sapna Koi from Yaadein (1964).

The film was inspired by incidents from Dutt’s life. Nargis was attending the Karlovy Vary Film Festival as a judge, and had taken their children Sanjay and Namrata with her. Dutt was consumed by the silence in the house. The experience encouraged him to explore the idea of whether loneliness and grief affect men the same way they do women – and whether these emotional states have been depicted in a solo performance in cinema.

Raaj Grover, who worked on the film’s production, told Kishwar Desai that the unit shot for 47 days in Kardar studio in Mumbai. Everyone, including Nargis, wondered what Dutt was up to, but the stubborn actor was confident. “I will achieve wonders with this film,” he predicted.

Dutt shot the film in black and white at a time when colour film was popular. With an unconventional plot, little room for multiple songs, and no co-stars, the film was a box office risk. The reviews didn’t help – the influential Filmfare magazine called it a “worthy experiment”.

A Hindi newspaper wrote a ditty about the film:

“Suni Dutt! Sunil Dutt!! Sunil Dutt !!!
Duniya uski soojh par, jabki de rahi hai daad,
Kalakaar chotey karen ro ro kar fariyaad!
Ro ro kar fariyaad, haath kya unke aaya?
Saheb ney apney matlab ka chitra banaya!”

“(While the world is paying tributes to his intelligence
All the junior artistes are crying and pleading before him!
For what have they got out of his film?
He has made a movie meant only for himself!)”

Friends and colleagues appreciated Dutt’s brave experiment, but moviegoers were less enthusiastic. “We found out that the film would be removed in a week,” Grover told Desai. The panic-stricken team decided to invite dignitaries from Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka to watch the movie and talk it up in the media.

Yaadein was selected by the Berlin International Film Festival for a screening. The hype helped the film run in theatres for five weeks. Yaadein later won the Grand Prix at the Frankfurt Film Festival in 1967, and was mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records in the category of fewest actors in a narrative film – a record that Trapped comes close to but still cannot beat.

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Yaadein (1964).
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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

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For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.