Monday, September 13, 2010

Neetu Singh-Along!: Bacche Man Ke Sacche: Do Kaliyan (1968)

What better way to kick off Neetu Singh-Along than with one of my favorite films of hers, Do Kaliyan (supposedly 1968, but I am skeptical). It is really difficult for me to imagine that this film was only a few years before she danced with so much teenage abandon in "Lekar Hum Deewana Dil" in Yaadon Ki Baraat. She is truly a child-star in this movie - they even billed her as 'Wonder Child' Baby Sonia.

Do Kaliyan is a Bollywoodized version of The Parent Trap, yet another one of my favorite movies! I have watched the Hayley Mills version countless times (and I scoff at the Lindsay Lohan one), and I absolutely adore it, but Do Kaliyan truly takes the story and mixes in some turmeric, ginger and garam masala. We have to have romance of course, so the story goes all the way back to the parents in their college days.

They have the traditional Bollywood boy-meets-girl-at-college-and-they-hate-each-other-but-then-in-a-prank-gone-wrong-they-fall-in-love episode which results in the one well-known song from this movie - "Tumhare Nazar":

This song was featured in the popular Maine Pyar Kiya "Antakshari" scene too.

But of course, Girl aka Kiran (Mala Sinha) is the rich daughter of a wealthy family run by her drill sargeant mother, Kamala, and Boy aka Shekhar (Biswajeet) is a happy-go-lucky regular guy. When Kiran's mother "interviews" i.e. GRILLS him for permission to marry her daughter, he gives proud and firm answers and ends up impressing her. She agrees to the marriage and makes Shekhar manager of her bus company, Kamala Transports. Still Kamala controls every aspect of their lives, from arranging their honeymoon to naming their twin daughters, Ganga and Jamuna. Even her own husband, Kiran's father, is ineffectual and simply lives according to her rules.

Soon after, Shekhar's friends (including the fabulous Mehmood as Shekhar's best friend Mahesh) are insulted at a Kamala Transports function, and for Shekhar, it is all too much. He tells Kiran that it is time for them to leave, and that he cannot bear being controlled by her mother any more. Kamala insists that Kiran is her daughter first and will not go with Shekhar. She throws Kiran into a small room and shuts the door, not realizing that she shoved her in with so much force that Kiran banged her head against a chair and is knocked out cold! Shekhar calls through the door that he is leaving and if she wishes to come with him to say so immediately. She of course, cannot answer, which he takes as her decision to stay with her mother. He grabs one of the twins, saying that at least one of his daughters will stay with him. Kamala wants to call the police, but for once she listens to her husband, who insists that Shekhar will return with Baby Ganga once he calms down.

Shekhar leaves for Singapore though, and through a generous benefactor and friend of his grandfather's, finds a lucrative job there. Ganga grows up (to be Neetu) under his loving care in Singapore, until the benefactor decides to retire to Africa and sends Shekhar back to India, gifting his own home in Bangalore to Ganga and entrusting the entire business to Shekhar. Back in Bangalore, Kiran cries every day over the picture of Shekhar and weeps for her missing daughter. This is a VAST change from the bold and spoiled young girl she was when she met Shekhar. Jamuna (also Neetu) has been raised to be every bit as bossy and arrogant as her grandmother, but clearly has picked up her father's temper!

The two girls meet at school, where Ganga is admired by all the students for her sweet and friendly personality. Jamuna is jealous of Ganga and attacks her for looking exactly like her. Neetu's acting in these scenes are INCREDIBLE. Ganga is clever and cheeky, and Jamuna is snobby and bratty. The two personalities are incredibly distinct! Ganga sings the adorable "Bacche Man Ke Sacche" in this scene, and her expressions, as well as Jamuna's (who is making faces at her the whole time) are tremendous!

In Ganga's household, there's a new cast of characters that bring some wonderfully funny moments. Shekhar's BFF Mahesh has joined the household as chef and manager.

Mehmood's character Mahesh is working as a barber on the streets until Shekhar finds him and asks him to join his household.
Shekhar also hires a dance teacher (Menaka, played by dancing starlet Gitanjali of Parasmani fame) to work with Ganga, and invites her and her mother (Madhumati, played by Manorama, not to be confused with the AMAZING Tamil actress Manorama) to live-in with them. Madhumati has a plan ... to snag wealthy, handsome Shekhar for her daughter (the plan may or may not involve getting Shekhar drunk, singing/dancing the fabulous "Sajna O Sajna", and pretending that he has stole her izzat)! Mahesh is automatically suspicious of Menaka and Madhumati, and there are some wonderfully funny scenes between Mehmood and Manorama.

Gitanjali as Menaka, the Dance Teacher/Shekhar's household eye candy. Seated is lil' Neetu and Manorama as Menaka's scheming mother Madhumati aka Madhu-makhee!
Instead of the camp scenario from Parent Trap, the girls go on a school picnic, which is a overnight trip. They get into an actual physical fight, and are locked inside a "cabin" together until they learn to get along. These are some of the best scenes in the movie, where Neetu completely shines as Ganga and Jamuna arguing and making faces at each other. Then their friends have a group campfire sing-along (Singh-Along?) of Ganga's song "Bacche Man Ke Sacche" and the words starts to sink in for Ganga and Jamuna. They feel a bit sheepish about how they've been treating each other.

Finally the girls bond when Ganga saves Jamuna from a centipede (which honestly does look pretty frightening). Eventually Jamuna pulls out a picture of her parents, and they figure out that they are twin sisters (because looking IDENTICAL didn't give it away). Like the Parent Trap, they decide to switch identities so that they can spend time with the opposite parent.

From here is a joyous, melodramatic ride that takes you far beyond Sharon & Susan's efforts in Parent Trap. Jamuna and Mahesh (who has figured out that she is not Ganga) work to keep Shekhar from marrying Menaka, and Ganga deals with her manic-depressive mother and Hitler-esque Naani (Nana is just comic relief throughout). Will the girls successfully bring Shekhar and Kiran back together? Can Kiran finally break away from her mother's controlling ways?

We all know the answers to these questions, but it's still fun to watch it all play out. Neetu is an utter delight in this movie - she's fresh, bright, expressive and genuine throughout. Mala Sinha is definitely annoyingly weak and pathetic in most of this movie,

but she was fiery and lovely in the beginning of the movie as spoiled college-student Kiran! I can CLEARLY see that this age's style of acting (overdramatic eyes and pouty lips, excessive turns to the camera, wrinkling the nose in a cutesy way, etc.) has influenced Karishma and Kareena Kapoor - they TOTALLY act with this style.

Biswajeet is handsome and firm as Shekhar and Mehmood is of course a laugh a minute, but also shows some genuine warmth. Nigar Sultana is incredibly tough and crusty as the formidable Naani and head of Kamala Exports. Om Prakash adds lighthearted moments throughout as the bumbling but kind Nana.
Gitanjali and Manorama are wonderful as the "villains" of the tale ... Manorama is deliciously funny and Gitanjali sizzles on-screen (and reminds me of a young Glynis Johns). But above all, Neetu is the star of this movie ... times two!

It's a great avatar of the classic Parent Trap tale and a wonderful movie to watch with kids. They will be entranced by Neetu! But you might have to send them out of the room when Geetanjali does the sultry "Sajna" number ... it's a little PG-13.

For some lovely Baby Neetu picspam, I recommend Bollywood Deewana's post about this movie! And definitely visit Beth Loves Bollywood, Totally Filmi and A Fairy Filmi Ending for more about our week-long celebration of all things Neetu!

Coming up on Bollystalgia - Rani aur Laalpari, Chorni and hopefully Parvarish! Maybe even some Kabhi Kabhie action if I get around to it.


  1. My overwhelming memory of this movie is the makeup. Holy mother of God! Then comes Neetu and her cutesy performance which in any other kid in any other era I would have deemed too precious by a length and a half, but in this case I thought was just perfect! (Yes, I'm biased. Your point?) I completely forgot Mala Sinha and Biswajeet. :(

    Hooray for NeetuSquee!

  2. OH! Little Neetu is ADORABLE! I TOTALLY want to see this.

  3. Amrita - you're totally right. I didn't remember it from watching as a kid, but this time around I was totally overwhelmed by the make-up. It was really garish! The blue eyeshadow, heavy pancake and red lipstick on little Neetu was totally unnecessary.

    Ness - it's a fun one!

  4. Somehow I have never seen Parent Trap in any of its incarnations! This looks delightful! I'm so enamored with the idea of Neetu being able to create two separate characters AS A CHILD. Awesome!

  5. Thanks for the link back and i'm so with you about the Karisma and Kareena style of acting being influenced by old school bolly. i would have liked this a whole lot more had it not been for the painful to sit through windy ending

  6. Good Summary. There is also a Tamil (Kuzhandaiyum Deivamum) and Telugu (Letha Manasulu) version of this movie too. They were made by the same directors. Gitanjali (the actress whose role was the dance teacher) is also present in the Telugu version.

    1. I agree! and Isaw the telugu version of this movie first..and then came to know about this one.. Awesome movie! :D