Sonntag, 26. August 2007

Sarphira (1992) - Review in English

About the story: Judge DK Sinha (Shreeram Lagoo) has sentenced a murderer to a long-year term in prison. In despair, the culprit’s wife takes poison and, dying, entrusts her baby Rajkishan to the judge and his wife (Sushma Seth) who take the baby in. Soon, they get two own sons too, Suresh and Deepak. Raju (Vinod Mehra) and Deepak (Sumeet Saigal) grow up to sincere young men; Raju becomes a lawyer, Deepak a police inspector. Whereas Suresh (Sanjay Dutt), who was preferred by his mother since childhood, becomes his father’s bitter disappointment – he is insubordinant, tends to violence and doesn’t care for conventions: Without hesitation, he professes his love to dancer Prema (Madhavi) who works in Balli Seth’s (Anupam Kher) nightclub, but only in order to earn the livings for her younger sister Neetu (Kimi Katkar) who is in love with Deepak. One night, Suresh gambles with Seth’s son Rocky (Shakti Kapoor), and when the latter cheats, Suresh starts a fight with him wherein he, unintendedly, kills Rocky. To avoid a report to the police and to keep his family out of this mess, Suresh accepts blackmail by Balli Seth who demands a large sum of hush money from him. To get this money, Suresh starts stealing and thus becomes a despicable criminal for good in his father’s implacable eyes. When he disinherits Suresh in public, the latter leaves the house in anger. In his bitterness, Suresh even breaks with Prema, not knowing that her life too has been shattered completely – and which part Balli Seth really plays in their lives...

Sarphira (= out of mind) is a similar case to Adharm, being shot over a term of several years. Some of Sanju’s hair-style changes in Sarphira are really funny this time, e.g. in a fight scene where every film-cut shows another hair-cut, or when Sanju with mullet jumps from the balcony and with short hair lands on the street. But obviously at that time neither makers nor public really cared for such continuity flaws, and ultimately, a film’s worth doesn’t depend on such hairy questions but on its story and how it’s told. And here, Sarphira is not quite as stringent as Adharm, it rather looks randomly patched up sometimes. Especially the role of Deepak gives an impression of having been added to the story afterwards for, together with Neetu, providing it with some youthful romance (before at least she quietly disappears) as the leading couple Prema and Suresh was responsible more for the dramatic than for the romantic element. And here we arrived at the advance Sarphira has in comparison with Adharm: It tells the better and more thrilling story with the more interesting characters.

"A mother’s love is like nectar for a child, but when blind, it becomes poison", states judge Sinha with regard on his, in his opinion, useless son Suresh who always has been pampered by his mother. This may be right, but on the other hand, thus the judge takes the easy way out. For what or who is the reason that Suresh feels not understood? Even Raju, whom I believe if he says that he loves Suresh, in case of doubt insists on prestige and conventions. No one even tries to understand Suresh, no one accepts that Suresh is a freethinker. Of course, this doesn’t per se make him an angel of innocence, but it doesn’t automatically make him a criminal either. Suresh has a good heart, he admits his mistakes if he makes them; he may not keep the best company, but these friends can rely upon him hundred per cent. Even if the stories are completely different, Sanjay’s Suresh often bewilderingly reminds me of James Dean’s Cal in East of Eden: rebelling against the conventions, but with a tremendous inner yearning for love and acceptation – and very vulnerable...

In short: Suresh is a perfect role for Sanjay, and he owes nothing to this character; anger, despair, rebellion, love, bitterness, remorse – nothing means a problem for him. (That he in one scene listenes to his own Saajan song "Mera Dil Phi" is a nice insider gag.) Madhavi delivers a powerful performance, too; she creates a forceful portrait of fate-battered Prema whose sado-maso dance in that nightclub has all potential of being a heart-stopper. Too bad that the final scene was so wasted – how many people have become guilty against the others, and then with one quick hug everything is said and done? Suresh by himself, just to name one example, would have to sort out so many things (especially with one person where his distanced behaviour is absolutely inexplicable)... but obviously this has been left to our complementary phantasy. Sure, to do this you first have to watch the movie – and I won’t prevent you from doing it.

Produced by B.L. Khaitan; Directed by Ashok Gaikwad
150 Min.; DVD: Baba, English Subtitles (not for the songs) which only seldomly stay as long as the actors talk which is a bit irritating, and often they appear rather coincidentally; bad image quality.
© Diwali

P.S. Vinod Mehra (Raju) was only 45 years old when he unexpectedly died with a heart attack in 1990. So this too might have contributed to Sarphira's delay and continuity problems.

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