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Film Review - Babul

Priya Kumar

                                     Baabul: A father’s love
                                           By Priya Kumar

     B.R. Chopra has a distinctive style of filmmaking that makes him stand out from others. From his first film Afsana to the latest Baabul (directed by son Ravi Chopra), B.R. Chopra has always made socially relevant films that convey an intellectual message to the audiences. Chopra's films go beyond the typical boy meets girl, they fall in love and start singing and dancing around scenic meadows story that happens in a lot of Bollywood movies. Let us look at Naya Daur (1957) for example, in which a traditional rural community is threatened by the rise of machinery. Although this film is filled with colorful dances and melodious songs like "Maang Ke Saath Tumhara", Naya Daur shows the triumph of good over evil when a horse carriage drivers defeats an automobile driver in a race. Later, in Ittefaq (1969), viewers see a heroine murder her husband with her lover’s help. Then, he brings up the topic of divorce is brought in Nikaah (1982). In India, where divorce and love before marriage are considered taboos, this was no easy task for him. Baabul looks at another taboo, a widow’s second marriage.

      Baabul is a story about fatherly love. Amitabh Bachan as Baldev Kapoor is "Baabul" who gave up all relations and put age-old traditions aside for his beloved "bahu" Malvika, or Millie (Rani Mukherjee). Baldev Kapoor was an affluent businessman who had the perfect life. He had a beautiful wife Shobhana (Hema Malini) and son Avinash (Salman Kapoor). When Avinash met Millie, they fell in love and got married. They have a son and the Kapoors are the epitome of a perfect family until Avinash is killed in an accident. Unable to see Millie’s unhappiness, her father-in-law tries to connect her with her best friend and Rajat (John Abraham). He is first faced with opposition from his wife and Millie. When he finally convinces them, his love for Millie is again put to test when his elder brother (Om Puri) condemns Bachan's actions at the wedding. "How can you marry a widow? It is a sin, a widow should not even be present during wedding rituals!" are his insensitive lines.

     Baabul brings back memories of painful times, when being a widow was a curse. She could not wear colorful clothing, laugh with friends or go to community events. For her, the otherwise colorful world was gray and gloomy. And this seemed appropriate, because Bachan's sister in the film had lived such a life for twenty years without fail. "I receive two square meals a day and white clothes to cover myself in. I am breathing, so I am living also," she said, when asked about her life as a widow. Baabul also brings up the topic of "sati", an outlawed practiced in which a widow would be burned with her husband at his funeral. "Sati is still being practiced today," said Bachan, refering to his daughter-in-law and sister Baabul tells viewers that a widow is like any other woman; she also has a right to be loved and live happily While a "bahu" easily becomes a "beti" to her in laws, seeing a father-in-law becoming a father was a beautiful sight. The song "Kehtaa Hai Baabul" , rendered by Amitabh Bachan himself, added to this experience.   

     Musically speaking, Baabul has an above average soundtrack with "Ga Re Mann Piya" and "Bawri Piya Ki." “Come On”, a peppy Bhangra number centered on Amitabh Bachan and Hema Malini, is certainly a treat for the older audience. Salman Khan’as performance is average, as he uses fluffy lines to impress Rani Mukherjee. Other times, he overdoes the kissing scenes, from his parents to his servant Panchhi. John Abraham as Rajat is excellent as a supporting character. He is always there for Milli, as he sings “Tanhaiyaan bhi do, parshaniyaan bhi do”.  While Rani Mukherjee and Hema Malini played characters with substance, Bachan was the star of this film. He truly did justice to his character, and the audience could leave this film smiling.

     Priya Kumar, 22, is a graduate student in journalism at Harvard University. She is a writer for Swadharma Hindu magazine, and performs Hindi dances and songs in her spare time. She moved to Boston from California a summer ago.

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