Saagar reminded me a lot of Rangeela (though reminded is the wrong verb since Saagar preceded Rangeela by a good decade), minus the brilliant Pyaar Yeh and minus Jackie Shroff's bikini. You win some you lose some, I suppose. Saagar has a very similar love triangle: childhood friends Raja and Mona live in a fisherman's village where they have everything they need despite being poor. In comes Ravi, the rich heir to the developing fishing business, and falls in love with Mona. Ravi and Raja become friends without realizing that they love the same girl. And the story goes on from here.
Part of the reason why I can't stand older films is because they rely so heavily on silly plot devices to create over the top melodrama. So the whole time while watching Saagar I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. When Raja and Ravi start becoming friends and singing songs together I thought: Oh God, any minute now they'll discover they love the same woman and they'll start competing for her and turn into assholes. Luckily this fabulous song was not ruined by such a follow-up.
When Raja later confesses his love for Mona to Ravi asking for his advice on how to express his feelings, I thought: Here we go, cue in lame scene where one character confesses someone else's love while secretly confessing their own. And I know you know exactly what I mean which is why I won't even bother to clean up that sentence and make it intelligible. Surprisingly, that doesn't happen.
Finally, about halfway through the film, when Raja finds out about Mona and Ravi and he's running heartbroken on the beach I thought this is it, for sure he'll trip on one of those rocks, hit his head and fall into a coma that will prompt a guilty Mona to give up Ravi. And imagine my surprise when that didn't happen either! As it turns out, the entire movie was written with common-sense and, barring the occasional "nahiiiiiiin" and "yeh shaadi nahin ho sakta" scene, the filmi tropes didn't poke their ugly noses into the story in an offensive manner.
What I liked most about Saagar was that all the main characters make their choices based on their own moral compass. Not because of the family honour, not because of the societal pressure and certainly not because of emotional blackmail. Actually, for once, the emotional blackmail goes the other way! Do you have any idea how refreshing it is to see a movie like this coming out of the 80s? I mean, sure it has the required twists and turns later on, and yes, some of them employ some of those pesky tropes, but it is Bollywood after all, not even I would expect it to be completely devoid of melodrama. What's important is that the three main characters keep it real and honest, they speak their minds when needed and don't leave room for misunderstandings and silliness.
|Dimple is so gorgeous in this movie, even more so than usual!|
For once I never felt the need to yell at the TV or throw shoes at it. Believe me, this is a first for me while watching a movie older than 2001. Well, I did get bored towards the end when all the drama-shrama was happening (and coincidentally, that was also the time when Kamal wasn't around for a good half hour of the film), but hey, it's a small price to pay. Especially when you're bribed with exquisite filmi moments such as this one:
Saagar surprised me in more ways than one. It's also the first movie where Rishi Kapoor was completely out-charisma-ed by his co-stars. Dimple is always a joy to watch, especially when she's looking as glamorous as she does here (despite her "common girl" status, but hey, what's Bollywood without the designer clothes?), but the real star of this movie is Kamal Hassan who steals every scene, every song, every frame. He has these little gestures, this light in his eyes, these little eyerolls, chuckles and smiles, I tell you, I was mesmerized. Of course it helps that he was so easy on the eyes too back in the day.
For crissakes, he even pulls off the all-demin + unbuttoned shirt outfit! How many other actors can do that without looking like complete fools?
I don't think I'll ever subscribe to the belief that old is gold, but if a movie ever came close to swaying me, Saagar was that movie. And it feels right for it to be the first oldie to get a full blogpost around here. I wish more people would talk about it, but maybe it's not melodramatic enough. Oh well, it was just the right amount for me, so if you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend it!
Saagar (1985, Hindi)
Director: Ramesh Sippy
Starring: Dimple Kapadia, Kamal Hassan, Rishi Kapoor
Music: RD Burman