Directed by: Gulzar
Mark my words if I wasn't itching for a movie to show-off Sharmila Tagore's acting chops after Aamne Saamne and I got one!
Mausam totally hit the jackpot for me, it had feeling, depth of emotion and characters I ached for. Their pain was so tangible that it seeped through the screen and into me.
The synopsis on Netfilx Watch Instantly led me to believe that this film was going to be Masala-tastic, what with the promise of long lost daughters, prostitutes, broken promises, angsty student affairs...etc, but it was nothing along those lines. The film was clean, real, honest and meticulously fine-tuned. Sharmila and Sanjeev Kumar give beautiful performances that come to life and are relatable.
Gulzar was not only the director but also wrote the story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics (he is, in fact, an amazing lyricist responsible for other pristine works like Paheli, Dil Se and Asoka, to name a few) for the film. That sort of across-the-board involvement is what helped to make this film move with such fluidity and grace.
Mausam is also loosely based on the book The Judas Tree by A.J. Cronin, which is totally on my list of "must reads" now. Comparing synopses I'd say the movie took about 80% from the book's plot.
Dr. Amarnath Gill (Sanjeev Kumar) is an aged, wealthy doctor who visits a rural town in Darjeeling for relaxation and solitude from his stressful profession (he designed some kind of "cure-all" pill... that he himself won't use, ironically). However all he can think about is the time he spent in the same small town 20 or so years ago when he was a medical student. He had met and fell in love with the local doctor, Harihar Thapa's (Om Shivpuri) daughter Chanda (Sharmila Tagore).
He had promised to return to marry Chanda after he finished his medical exams and became a doctor (on Chanda's fathers orders) but never returned due to extreme circumstances. He learns that Harihar has died and that after many years of protesting against marriage in case Gill was going to return Chanda was married to a lame, crippled old man.
He goes from town to town tracking her down only to discover at last that she had been driven mad by her longing for Gill and died. He also learns that Chanda had a daughter with her lame husband, whom she had wanted to pursue a medical degree. Gill in turn hunts down the daughter, Kajli (Sharmila), to discover that she works as a prostitute after being raped by her mother's brother-in-law and sold to a brothel.
Gill pays for Kajli to stay with him the entire time he is in Darjeeling in an effort to "Pretty Woman" her. He buys her beautiful sarees, reminds her she is a woman, and becomes the father figure that she never had growing up. Gill cares for her out of remorse for the "sins" he committed against Chanda. He seeks his own redemption in the saving of Kajli. We see Kajli transform from rude, crude, swearing and smoking hooker to a refined, calm, beautiful young woman. While Gill offers no affection outside of parental concern Kajli finds herself caring for him.
When Gil goes to pay to take Kajli away forever she protests and runs back to the brothel. The brothel's Madame (Dina Pathak) urges Kajli to accept this way out of the business, forcing Kajli to see the changes within herself that have resulted from Gill's care. Kajli returns to Gill and tries to seduce him, but Gill reacts violently and throws her out of the house, during the action reveling himself to the be doctor that had abandoned her mother so many years ago.
The next morning Gill leaves Darjeeling only to meet Kajli standing by the gate, holding the picture he had given Chandra*. He admits his faults, asks for forgiveness, not from Chanda who could never forgive him, but from Kajli, who he could give a respectable life to. Kajli agrees to go with him and they drive off together back to the city.
Sharmila was stunning as she morphed from Chanda to Kajli. They were both so dynamic, so different. It was hard to believe that they were played by the same actress. I'm so hardcore on the Sharmila wagon now, I'm defiantly going to be watching for more of her stuff from now on. Oooh, she just sparkles! I was however distressed by her missing eyebrows... but after about ten minutes I hardly even noticed the lack of them, she did such wonderful things with her eyes and body-language that they were hardly a negative.
Sanjeev also played the youngster and the older man to perfection. I actually had to check IMBD and Wikipedia three or four times during the course of the movie becasue I just couldn't believe that the older Gill was played by him. At all! His costuming, change of body-language and the cerebral, wealthy sort of patience in his demeanor was mind blowing. They aged him better than they aged Shah Rukh in Veer-Zaara! And it was the same amount of years! He also looked like he was about 30 lbs. heavier when he was older... WILD! My hat to Sanjeev!
Mausam is defiantly going on the "Must Buy" list! ASAP!
*I totally thought (bless my crazy heart) that Kajli was holding a gun and was going to shoot Gill. There were mere seconds left in the film and I just didn't see a resolution to the drama... thankfully I was wrong but I was extremely tense for about 2 minutes.