Thursday 17 June 2010

Dosti (1964)

As a big fan of Laxmikant Pyarelal, Dosti was a movie i knew i had to check out, as it was the film that cemented or should i say catapulted Laxmikant Pyarelal into the big league of Hindi Film Music Composers, and also with all the Mohammed Rafi loving that has been going on in blogland i knew it was time to dig out this classic movie as it was an album where Mohammed Rafi was the main vocalist with the exception of one song

Following the death of his father Ramnath (Sushil Kumar) and his mother (Leela Chitnis) are left struggling, they both expect to receive compensation from his father's company as he had died while on duty

Things however go from bad to worse as Ramnath gets dismissed from school when he's unable to pay his fees (Tragedy #1)

if that wasn't enough sorrows for poor Ram he receives news that his father's company won't be paying out any compensations as a result they're kicked out of their flat (Tragedy #2)

If all this wasn't enough for poor Ram already, his mother dies (Tragedy #3)

Yet still If all that wasn't enough Ramnath gets hit by a car thereby losing his leg and becoming a cripple
(Tragedy #4: Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed, how the hell did Ram keep sane, i would have lost it mentally)

Life as a cripple isn't any easier as Ram comes to find out, but he finds solace when he meets a blind boy Mohan (Sudhir Kumar) whom he had helped cross the road

the two strike boys become best friends and are constantly on the look out for one another. Ram starts playing the harmonica which in turn inspires Mohan to sing which leads to passer bys giving them alms, Ram is reluctant at first but Mohan urges him not to hide his talent

They meet and befriend a wealthy girl called Manju (Baby Farida) who becomes a fan of their music her overprotective uncle (Sanjay khan) though is none too pleased about her forming friendship with lower class citizens like Ram & Mohan, they hope their friendship with Manju would help raise money for Ram's school fees

Mohan is also on the lookout for his sister Meena (Uma Rajoo) who is a nurse, incidentally or shall we say coincidentally she is the same one who has been appointed to Manju as her carer

Tragedy strikes once more when Manju dies of her illness, the boys are then left to rely on their singing to bring in enough money to pay for Ram's school fees. They raise enough money and Ram returns to school

Mohan comes across his sister Meena but she disowns him feeling ashamed of him because he's a beggar, she later meets with him in private but Mohan finds it hard to forgive her

Following a stealing incident in their slum Sharmaji (Nana Palsikar) who is Ram's school teacher bails Ram out & gives him an ultimatum of choosing between coming to leave with him in the suburbs and as a result excel in his education or staying behind in the slums, Ramu is reluctant but he leaves with Sharmaji thereby leaving Mohan alone and broken hearted

So will Ram & Mohan ever be reunited? How will Mohan cope without the support and love of his friend? Will Mohan ever forgive his sister? Will Ram be able to well in school without the love and support of Mohan?

This film is considered a bollywood classic and upon its time of release it became a blockbuster which is very impressive given that it had no big stars, no glamour or glitz about it, if such a movie with quite a good storyline and great songs were to release in our present times without any real stars backing it, the film would flop without doubt. I guess it shows how far the dynamics of the Hindi film industry has changed from one driven by content to a heavily celebrity/brand based one

Dosti's strength lies in its story telling and its loving and sympathetic characters as well as great acting from its lead stars Sushil and Sudhir Kumar (Does anyone know if they're related), the movie gets a bit too melodramatic and strenuous at times, but it was hard for me to dislike Dosti, what with its lovely insight on friendship & triumph through tribulation, even when the odds are stacked against you.

That as well as its message of keeping your character intact even when others fail and being true to yourself struck a major chord with me and helped me love the film even more. At the heart of the film's theme is the morale of no man being an island, no one succeeds on their own, we all need the love and help of another person to succeed in life, another interesting reading on the film by an article titled 100 Queer films of India over at filmi impression notes that

"Director Satyen Bose, as in his earlier film Jagriti, invests the friendship between two young men with as much tenderness, empathy, and felicity as romantic love. The film resonates for gay audiences at so many levels from the alienation felt by the two disabled men (one is blind, the other a cripple) acting as a cipher for homosexual repression, to instances of affection so physically demonstrated, to the alternative hospice in which they take refuge, replete with androgynous dancers and women wrestlers (which for all purposes could be a gay ghetto)"

The music from Laxmikant Pyarelal with lyrics from Majrooh Sultanpuri without doubt helped make Dosti the classic status it enjoys today (i really need to do a post on them sometime) all the songs on here are winners and i could go on about them forever, there's the lovely 'Gudiya humsi Roothi Rahogi' (which was the only song on the album not to have Mohammed Rafi's vocal) and many wonderful numbers by Mohammed Rafi like 'Raahi manwa dukh ki chinta', 'Koi jab raah na paye' , 'Jaane walon zara' , 'mera to jo bhi kadam hai' and my utter favourite being the tearjerker that is 'chahunga main tujhe'

Paisa Vasool Rating: 7/10

For more Information on Mohammed Rafi's Imapct on Dosti check out Nasir's write up

But the dvd here



though havent seen d movie,heard loads abt it..wud surely chk it out as d review really moved me..

Unknown said...

Very interesting review. I came across a Movie Review Contest on and found it very interesting. Its a great platform for Movie Reviewers.

Nasir said...

First I would like to invite you to an article written by in my Blog:

The above explains how Rafi Sahaab was the actual creator of the Dosti Mania in 1964 and the influence it had on me, and how it went on to win filmfare awards, especially for songs and music against so many outstanding songs of that year, notably YEH MERA PREM PATRA PADH KAR from Sangam.

Idealism went on to survive the Nineteen Sixties too. Dosti is one such movie. The critic's view about Dosti resonating for gay audience is just a hogwash and an exercise in sterile and puerile imagination. Viewing friendship between the same sex as gay attraction is generally a recent phenomenon. It's a gross insult to the innocence embedded in the friendship as shown in DOSTI. The hutment (Zopadpatti) scenes depicted with realism as they are common in such settlements.

Much can be written on this subject but suffice it to say that Rafi Sahaab's songs are a moving spirit behind the movie. This was also a movie that was exhibited to school students for a number of years for motivating them to study hard and steadfastly despite the overwhelming odds. An earlier version was a Bengali movie.

harvey said...

A nice write-up BD! You make me nearly want to watch it! And that is something!
This is the advantage of not having had to watch Hindi movies in your childhood. Having been badgered with this film at a tender age and to hold the leading characters as role models (Nasir is right about the film and schools), I've grown sort of a phobia for it. I saw it a child and had a bad conscience for not being blind and cripple.
Though I've read about the gay angle, I just can't muster up enough courage to watch the film.
Alone I'm surely not going to do it.

@ Nasir: You are right in that "Viewing friendship between the same sex as gay attraction is generally a recent phenomenon." But one should keep in mind that gay relationships are not a recent phenomenon. It would have been near to impossible to show any such relationship in the 60s. That is why authors and writers have always found means and ways to show gay relationship. A very informative film on this topic dealing with Hollywood is 'The celluloid closet'. Moreover how people percieve a certain story will always be different. Saints of India dressing as women and praying to Krishna will make some people think it is cross-dressing and/or erotic love towards God. Others will see sublime devotion. Depending on the angle, which you look at it, you see something else.

And at the same time it is very much true that many men, though they would describe themselves as heterosexual may have sex with other males. A good example is the friendship between Maan and Firoz in Vikram Seth's 'The Suitable Boy', where both have their female love interests, but don't mind at times 'messing' with each other. Sexuality is much more complex than compartmentalizing in Homo- and Heterosexuality.

According to rumours, both the stars couldn't cope with the sudden stardom and ended up looking to deep inside the bottle. A sad end, if true!

Nasir said...

@harvey: When I say "recent phenomenon" I don't mean that homosexuality never existed at all. What I mean is that when two boys held hands, or kept a hand on other's shoulders or even embraced each other or slept in the same bed, these were never considered suspicious acts. Therefore, we have so many Indian stories and movies based on friendship. For example, the song: YEH DOSTI HAMM NAHEEN CHHODENGE...from Sholay, or DOST DOST NA RAHA from Sangam, etc., never smacked of homosexual relationship. Thus we have so many titles as Yaar Mera, Do Yaar, Chaar Yaar, Yaaron ke Yaar, Dost, Do Dost, et al denoting true friendship.

Suspicions arose when a man was seen having interest in eunuchs who have existed since time immemorial. Indeed, I am personally of the cases when some preferred to have them as their keeps. In mumbai too (as elsewhere) there were red light disticts demarcating them from the usual brothels. Such associations were always frowned upon. Indeed, a very hardened serial killer in Bombay - a real terror in that sense - killed them on the spot when a couple in a compromised position.

In Hindi movies, it is only in 21st century that we no longer use the innocent English line: HAPPY AND GAY. Bollywood has become notorious in this matter what with some top stars suspected of gay relationship. Casting couch is openly discussed. A TV Channel had had a sting operation on the subject. Quite a few of them were exposed. Saif Ali Khan and Shahrukh Khan even performed their "KAANTABEN" role in a film's award function. Delhi High Court has made such relationship almost legal, whereas the Victorian Indian Penal Code has a penal section where such acts against the order of nature as a culpable offence inviting rigorous imprisonment of ten years. Yes, today the subject of same sex is no longer a taboo. Those days of innocent friendship, it seems, are over.

bollywooddeewana said...

@ The Bard Its an enjoyable flick, definitely give ita try

@ Mayank Thanks for stopping by and commenting, i'll check out the site

@ Nasir Indeed Rafi's contribution to the movie helped make it the classic status it enjoys today, thanks for the linking that in, i've included it in the main post.

Regarding the Critics view of Dosti he was just offering his view on how the characters handicap being looked down upon could be related to the way gay individuals have been/and still are looked down upon as abnormal, i've commented more on this on your post. Harvey's response best reflects my thought on the matter

@ Harvey Thanks a lot and thanks for expatiating even more further than i would have been able to for Nasir. thanks for bringing the celluloid closet to my attention, i've added it to my list and for those who want to see it a kind soul has uploaded it onto dailymotion

I had no idea about the lead stars, there seems to be little/no information on them

Anonymous said...

For me, the best thing about Dosti was the music - especially Jaanewalon zara mudke dekho mujhe, followed closely by Raahi manwa dukh ki chinta. Both songs I heard much of when I was a kid, and have loved ever since. As for the film itself, I'm a little ambivalent about it - the spate of tragedies in the beginning seemed a bit OTT, and the melodrama in the latter half got too much. Especially what happened to Baby Farida's character!

sophy said...

Bombay in the 60s was a modern city for those times and since I wasn't around, it's always nice to read Nasir's posts. I myself have spent a large chunk of my life in places like San Francisco, West Hollywood etc... where everyone has an oversensitive gaydar. So I appreciate what he is trying to say.

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Dusted off I agree that the music more than anything was a big factor, elevates it, the ending plus the message was what stopped me from writing it off as an OTT melodrama. on the other hand the spate of tragedies however much OTT don't seem far fetched according to The bible, Job suffered a much worse fate

@ Sophy I agree about people misreading/over-sensitive gaydar and Nasir does have great points which i appreciate too, but i believe what the critic was saying was that the film/scenario might be applicable to prejudice around sexuality

Veen said...

HI BD, thanks for the post and I will be posting the LP in the very near future. Will definitely link my post to yours.

harvey said...

@ Nasir: I agree with you that the story of Dosti has always been part and parcel of Hindi movie stories.
And sexual attraction between male friends has never been shown. But at the same time a thing which is prohibited by law can not be shown.
Take for e.g. Sohrab Modi's Sikander. Everybody agrees that it has a strong message for Indians fight against the British. But in the film no
mention is made of the British at all. The same thing is with homosexual love, if an author wanted to show same-sex love, he could show it only at the level of Dosti.
A platonic Dosti!
Now let us take a different example: a person familiar with the inequalities and hardships of the rural life will see behind the curtain
of romanticism shown in, let us say 'Palko ki Chaon me'. Similarly a gay person sees behind the curtain of platonic dosti shown on the screen.
Now that doesn't mean that people in villages don't rally around and help each other like in Palko ki Chaon Me, nor does it mean that
inequalities and hardships aren't an integral part of rural life. Both are true. This is also true for the stories of Dosti in Indian films and lore. When a
heterosexual man looks at the story he sees in it a platonic story but a homosexual person, who has experienced the other side will see his experineces
reflected in such stories

Homosexuality can not be classified under 'sexual acts against the order of nature' since homosexuality abounds in nature from the lower organism (on the
ladder of evolution) like fungi and also insects to the dolphins and also the apes. Thus it is quite natural that homosexuality is to be found in human race as well.

And I completely agree with your comment 'The only sad part to the episode was that Rafi Sahaab's "Yeh Mera Prem Patra Padh Kar..." which was from Sangam and
easily the most romantic song of 1964 lost out in internecine competition'. That was a pity for sure! I wanted to leave a comment on your site, but
somehow I couldn't with my wordpress account.

@ BD: Thanks for the 'Celluloid Closet' Site. I didn't know that it was available online. I saw it ages ago on the local TV channel and was blown away by it.

@ dustedoff: How True!!!

Nasir said...

@Dustedoff: Indeed, I too love that song, JAANE WAALON ZARAA with the mouth-organ embellishment. By the way, that R.D. Burman playing the harmonica. Quite a philosophical song!

@Sophy: Thanks Sophy. The best of Bombay (now Mumbai) was regarding its cosmopolitan nature, seldom found in any other Indian city. I liked the old city a lot devoid of its modern skyscrapers.
But it has been the most of neglected of the cities considering the revenue it generates.

@harvey: In my opinion, acceptance of gay stories and those of incest in Bollywood are still a long way off. We know the fate of FIRE – a lesbian plot. Now NISHABD was just a smattering of LOLITA story but it failed miserably despite Amitabh Bachchan. I watched this movie on the first day of its release at the Regal Cinema, and found 70% of the hall empty! But the scenario is changing very fast nowadays.

Of course, I agree that homosexuality has been in existence for a long long time. Otherwise Sodom and Gomarrah would never have been destroyed by God. I also know how rampant it is in certain parts of the asian countries that include India and Pakistan. But the definition of it being against the order of nature was coded in the Indian Penal Code in the mid-19th century by Lord Macaulay, the author of Indian Penal Code. So the Britishers were responsible for classifying of section 377 IPC, that actually is much wider than just covering homosexuality. India still follows that Code in the 21st century. As a matter of fact, even heterosexual but illicit sex was much frowned upon even in progressive Britian as late as 1921-22. D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned on grounds of obscenity, and is a case in point. Maybe, stories such as DOSTI will never be written without inviting the same-sex censure from the conventional lot.

Yes, YEH MERA PREM PATRA PADH KE was a casuality. What a musical year 1964 was!

@bollywooddeewana: Thanks for including my writeup on Dosti!

bollyviewer said...

I've always wondered what Sanjay Khan's role in this film was. I thought maybe one of the kids grows up to be Sanjay. Now I know! :D

The songs were such big hits that even in the 80s and 90s, radio stations used to play them all the time. As a result, I am afraid I don't like any of the Dosti songs as much I should except for Mera to jo bhi kadam hai and Gudiya humse roothi rahogi - probably because they weren't as popular as the others.

Nasir said...

@bollyviewer: Sanjay Khan was a rank newcomer and most probably this was his first movie. To me, he seemed very attractive being tall and lean with puffy hair, as I try to remember the 1964 scene. Secondly, how perfect are your observations on the two songs: MERAA TOH JO BHEE QADAM HAI and GUDIYA...viz., that they were at the lower wrung of the ladder of popularity compared to the other songs of Dosti which naturally in later decades must have had a "cloying effect".

sunheriyaadein said...

The most popular aspect of this film - it's songs are the first association of mine with this movie. My Dad has huge collection of Cassettes and Gramophone records of movies of 50's to 70's. And Dosti was one of them. I grew up listening to it's songs and hear my dad narrate the story of two friends - a blind and a lame.
It was only when I was around 15 that I finally got to see this movie. I had quite liked it when I saw it the first time. Saw it couple of times later on on tv, but now I feel it's too tragic for my liking....see how taste changes over the years :-)

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Harvey Bahut Bahut Shukriya for expantiating more than i would have been able to

@ Veen Thanks, look forward to getting the LP

@ Nasir You're welcome

@ bollyviewer i can imagine ho grating it must be, i like Nasir;'s choice of 'The cloying effect', its the same way i feel towards Queen's Don't stop me now, it was payed to death at Uni and i can never enjoy that song again

@ Sunehriyaadein Indeed taste for some things does change over time, Dosti is not a movie i'll watch over and over again in its entirety the songs yes, but not the whole film. As tragic as the whole film seemed the ending made it a bit lighter, glad it ended on a happier note

Ava said...

I saw this movie as a small child and was totally overcome by the sad story. The songs, as everyone says, are pure gold.

The song Gudiya was often sung to me as I was the baby of the family.

bollywooddeewana said...

How sweet Avdi everyone seems to have some dear memory of this film

yves said...

Hello Bollywooddeewana,

First you may want to erase the latest contribution?!
Then I'd like to attract the honorable crowd to the fact that the story never gives the spectator any indication whatsoever as to the possibility that it may have been made with the tacit intention of evoking homosexuality... I don't find it shocking that 2010 spectators see the movie in that light (it's always possible te revisit movies and enjoy them from another angle), but I believe it's simply artistically wrong.
There is probably a political reading, though, that could be more arguably made, one that says that education and social success in 1964 India had to come from the people, that the rich classes were failing in their contribution to the building of the nation.
I believe there's also a Christian reading to the film. For those who are interested:

bollywooddeewana said...

Hello Yves apologies about my late reply i was away from my internet for days

I thought about removing it too, but i thought future readers who come here and read the comments won't get a sense of the arguments plus i think the writers at filmi impressions meant the film could be related to the struggles of gays, its a personal interpretation i think, and irregardless of how a filmmaker makes his story known individuals choose to read it in a personal way i.e. how the film relates to them or what life experiences from theirs they can relate it to. I'm off to check out your review

anindita said...

i saw this picture wil i explain what type of picture is this 'songs r heart touching.ramu,mohan i like u so much

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Anindita thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments, ramu and Mohan are lovely and the songs are just too beautiful

Anonymous said...

saw DOSTI after an bsence of nearly fift is not so much the acting/direction that catapulted the film to cult status.but the sheer melody that LP gave to that soundtrack, is as fresh as yesteryear.....this was the true turning point for that composing duo

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Anonymous You're indeed right, the music is unforgettable, thanks for stopping by and commenting

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Where those two guys disappeared....... Never ever seen again in any other movie even after giving such a masterpiece to Indian film industry......

Anonymous said...

they have been killed and no info available on net thats sad

Anonymous said...

I was living in India when I discovered this movie, and I fell in love with it. If I had to choose only one movie from Bollywood, it'd be this one...
But as "Anonymous" said, there's no information about the 2 leading actors on the net,
Some friends told me they were assassinated, in a conspiracy due to the envy about their huge sucess... is that true? I cant find any trace about their lives online... and that's something really weird and unfair also, as they are the main stars of this wonderful movie.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kk sharma said...

Check out the latest collection of friendship songs. You must listen to these songs and dedicate your favorite song to your best friend.
Friendship Songs in Hindi