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Flashback: Basu Chatterjee’s Jeetendra, Neetu Singh’s ‘Priyatama’

Priyatama is about how a couple handles a hasty marriage.

Priyatama, Neetu Singh, Jeetendra Priyatama is about how a couple handles a hasty marriage.

One beautiful rainy Mumbai morning, Dolly (Neetu Singh) suddenly tells her boyfriend Ravi (Jeetendra), “Hum aaj hi shaadi karenge (We will get married today itself).” He wants to wait a bit but the giddy-in-love Dolly overrules him. She has a simple philosophy, “Shaadi karni hai toh kood pado, kar lo shaadi… baad mein jo hoga dekha jaayega (If you want to get married, jump into it right away, we will see what happens later).” Dolly preps Ravi in a mock interview drill to impress her strict father, Justice Sinha (Utpal Dutt). Ravi impresses his father-in-law with his simplicity.

But his naivete — “Hum dono mein itna pyaar hai ki kamzoriyon ki taraf dhyaan hi nahin jaata (Both of us love each other so much that we never bother to look at each other’s weaknesses)” — earns him his father-in-law’s snigger too. Ravi’s words come back to haunt the couple later as they navigate the side-effects of a hasty marriage.

Basu Chatterjee’s Priyatama begins where most love stories end. In Dolly and Ravi, he offers us a cool ’70s couple, who balance their Mumbai life with friends and work. In true Basuda style, the romance is in all those chhoti chhoti si baatein (little things). On their wedding day, Ravi’s best friend Vicky (Rakesh Roshan) sings Koi roko naa deewane ko. In the beginning, it’s all hunky dory: she buys stuff on installments and makes “Hungarian goulash Indian-style” for him (which he promptly pukes into the napkin). She refuses to hire a servant, preferring to make daily phone calls to her family cook in Bangalore for recipes. Ravi freaks out when he sees the first telephone bill, Rs 975. This leads to their first fight and he sleeps on the couch. The honeymoon period soon gets over, and there are frequent disagreements and personality clashes between the young lovers.

The charm of Priyatama is that it still feels so real. “Basuda never put pressure on his actors. He made it so easy for all of us. He didn’t want us to act, he wanted us to be natural and give real reactions without any pretensions,” says Neetu Singh. The actor remembers the famous birthday party sequence when Ravi gets late for the dinner, and Dolly drinks by herself waiting for him. “Before this, I had never had alcohol. Basuda wanted me to get it right in one shot so I finished the full bottle and became totally talli (drunk). I have no idea how I finished the shoot but the scene turned out well,” she says, with a laugh.

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In Priyatama, a bad fight turns ugly, thanks to bad advice from friends. Hearts break and egos get hurt when lawyers are brought into the picture, and friends are forced to take sides. Roshan and Asha Sachdev who play the couple’s best friends also get their moments. Sachdev, who plays the plain-Jane Renu in love with the commitment phobic Vicky, also won an award for her performance. In an interview, Sachdev said, “Basu Chatterjee had someone else in mind for the role and had even shot some scenes with her, but he wasn’t satisfied. Even when he came to me, he was not sure I would be able to deliver what he wanted because all this while, I had done glamorous roles. But after I gave the first shot, he was convinced that I would be able to do exactly what he wanted.”

Rakesh Roshan’s music adds to the film, Koi roko naa being the pick of the lot.

Film: Priyatama (1977)
Director: Basu Chatterjee
Cast: Jeetendra, Neetu Singh, Rakesh Roshan, Utpal Dutt, Asha Sachdev
Music: Rajesh Roshan
DVD: Ultra
n Cham cham barse: Asha Bhosle
n Koi roko naa: Kishore Kumar
n Naa naa jaane naa doongi: Mohd Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar
n Tu jo bole: Kishore Kumar, Usha Mangeshkar
n Tere bin kaise din: Lata Mangeshkar

First published on: 18-01-2015 at 07:00:48 am
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