Safar – 1970

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Safar (1970)

Safar is one of the famous Rajesh Khanna movies from his super-stardom phase. A musical drama that has philosophical undertones, it is one of those ‘it was good while it lasted’ kind of movies. The plot of the movie, directed by Asit Sen, is slightly reminiscent of another Rajesh Khanna classic Anand, with him playing the role of a man who remains jovial and level-headed despite being terminally ill. The major difference between Anand and this movie is that while the former focused on the idea of living your life to the fullest, this movie has romance at its forefront.
Avinash (Rajesh Khanna) is a college student who is more interested in bringing blank canvasses to life using his skill with the brush. There is a face that comes repeatedly in most of his paintings, and he soon discovers Neela (Sharmila Tagore) who shares a striking resemblance with that face. Neela is a diligent college student who aspires to become a successful surgeon. After an initial misunderstanding she treats Avinash to good health after he falls ill. They strike a delightful friendship that extends to Neela’s family comprising of her elder brother and his wife. This results in some of the most sparkling moments in the film, with a candid Avinash joyfully pulling the leg of Neela’s wannabe playwright brother. Soon this friendship translates into love, but fate has something else in store with Avinash soon realizing that he suffers from disease that cannot be cured. At the same time a rich businessman Kailash (Feroz Khanna) too falls in love with Neela, who is also the tuition teacher for his younger brother. When Avinash gets to know of this, he asks Neela to sacrifice their love and marry Kailash who promises a more secure future for her.

This entire premise is very similar to Shah Rukh Khan’s 2004 super-hit ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’. In fact it is hard to ignore the possibility that Karan Johar/ Nikhil Advani would have been inspired by Safar while writing their movie. And this is not it; the second half of the movie is structured in a way that is very reminiscent of another Shah Rukh Khan starrer from about the same period ‘Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam’, in which he had Salman Khan for company. After Neela gives in to Avinash’s plead and marries Kailash, there begins a family drama with Kailash suspecting his wife of infidelity with Avinash. He finds it very hard to accept their friendship (much like how SRK finds it tough to accept his wife’s companionship with Salman in HTHS).

In fact with such turn of events, the movie changes color dramatically and becomes more melodramatic with the earlier focus being relegated to the background. In fact the culmination of the movie is the most confused part of the movie. It ends on a philosophical note with Neela’s sacrifice coming to prominence. In fact this is one movie where the central focus shifts between three characters- from Avinash in the first half, to Kailash in the post intermission portion, and to Neela in the culmination. When I come to think of it, I find it difficult to remember any other such movie. To the credit of all the three actors playing these characters, they don’t let this aberration become too obvious through the strength of their performances.
Now for the point that I was waiting to make- the songs of this movie are simply delightful. Each and every song is a classic and is truly memorable. In fact, this movie can deserve the tag of a classic just on the strength of its musical score by Kalyanji-Anandji.

Parting with my favorite song from the movie.

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