This is one of the superhit remakes of a South Indian film in the '80's, these southern type films were very melodramatic in nature and usually starred Jeetendra, Sridevi and Jaya Prada with the music being composed mostly by Bappi Lahiri. These potboiler melodramas became a winning '80's box office success formula with movies such as Himmatwala, Mawaali, Justice Choudhary, Maqsad, Swarag Se Sunder etc all becoming box office hits. Tohfa (Gift) is one of these films, it was a remake of the Telugu film Devatha (1982), the film became the highest grosser in 1984 at the Indian box office
Janki (Jaya Prada) is a self sacrificing person who always helps and keeps a smile on everyones faces
She even sacrifices her own education so that her sister Lalita (Sridevi) can attend college without worrying about fees
Even Ram ( Jeetendra) the first person in the village to gain a law qualification attributes this to Janki, as he could only study due to Janki's help caring for his mother
Things take a turn when Janki falls in love with Ram, but Ram on the other hand loves Lalita but Janki does not know this
Many villagers come to seek Ram's hand in marriage for their daughters, but Ram's mother wants Janki to marry Ram, while Ram himself had promised to marry Lalita
When the two sisters's realise they're both in love, they decide to tell each other and in a game of 'no you go first' Janki reveals to Lalita that she's in love with Ram and their marriage has been planned by his mother
When Lalita finds out she keeps schtum and doesn't reveal her feelings and the fact that she's been dating Ram to her sister
Lalita out of desperation and heartbreak then marries a local tout kamesh (Shakti kapoor) in an attempt to get rid of her feelings for Ram
When her sister finds out about her marriage to loudmouth Kamesh she's disappointed and when she voices her opinion, Lalita accuses her of jealousy. Janki disowns Lalita and the two sister's part ways
Ram is disappointed when he finds out about Lalita's marriage to Kamesh
Lalita moves out of the village with Kamesh, while on the train to Mumbai kamesh gets in a fight which results in murder, he's sentenced to 7 years in Jail
Also Lalita is now carrying Ram's baby but Ram does not know this. Following their marriage, Ram and Janki also move into the same town but they find it hard to have a child of their own
Soon enough Ram comes across his son Gopi but he doesn't know Gopi is his son, soon enough Gopi takes him home to introduce him to his mother Lalita
Will she reveal Gopi's identity to Ram? Will she and her sister ever speak again? Will Janki ever learn of lalita's baby with Ram?
This melodrama while entertaining in some way was quite annoying at times, i hated the self sacrificial nature Janki was often subjected and praised for, but i still i enjoyed the melodrama, i loved the way it explores the consequences of what we might think are our good actions often wrecks havoc in the lives of others. For instance Lalita thought that by keeping her love for Ram quiet she was giving her sister happiness, but of course this complicated their relationship even further and both of them were never truly happy in their various lives
The music by Bappi Lahiri is superb they all had a hindi peppy folk touch to them, the picturisations of the songs were amazing to behold, from the carefully arranged steel pots and carefully lined dancers in a Busby Berkeley kind way in the catchy 'Gori Tere Ang'
the Busby Berkeley style arrangements of steel pots and dancers
Sridevi and Jeetendra in karma sutra style pose close to the carefully arranged pots in 'Gori tere ang'
to the car with colourful balloons in the breezy tuneful 'Albela Mausam'
and my favourite picturisation of all has to be 'Tohfa Laya' where saris were draped to form tents and maypoles (see below) and as one imdb commenter cleverly puts it "the best sari exhibition you'll ever see in bollywood" The producers even made it a point to thank Bombay dyeing
Jaya prada and Jeetendra in the tent made of sari's
Jaya and Jeetendra in the Circular tent made with Sari's in 'Tohfa Laya'
And my other favouite is the peppy 'Ek aankh Marun toh' with Sridevi and Jeetendra's doing some amazingly synchronised even if somewhat cheesy dance steps
Total Score: 6/10 ( An entertaining even if somewhat annoying in parts hyper melodrama)