Reviewed by Amin Meghani
Mili (Jaya) is the life and soul of a Bombay apartment building. The kids
adore her, and the grown-ups give in to her every desire. One fine day,
the complex is abuzz with speculation about the mysterious new tenants who
have moved into the penthouse apartment. It is determined by the official
complex gossip (Shobha Khote) that they are Shankar (Amitabh), young,
rich and handsome heir to the Sharma fortunes; and Gopi, his manservant.
The news spreads like wildfire, and has all the ladies of the building
scheming to introduce their eligible daughters to the young man.
Until of course the Gossip (whose sister-in-law is received less than
cordially by Shanker) "volunteers" the information that Shanker has a
closetful of skeletons, which causes all the ladies to shake their heads
knowingly, and beat a hasty retreat from the penthouse.
Meanwhile, Mili has an unpleasant encounter with Shanker when the latter
refuses the children access to his terrace. One of them blurts out the
dark secret from which Shanker has been running away for a long time. Mili,
however, manages to rectify the situation, and gradually draws Shanker from
his shell. He responds eagerly, and Cupid strikes the unlikely pair
in the form of written messages hidden in flower bouquets. Alas, all is
not perfect: Mili suffers from pernicious anaemia, and the doctors offer no
hope of survival. What effect does the news have on Shanker? Does Mili die?
If you think I'll tell you, then you're mistaken! But this much I'll surely
say: The ending is one of the most realistic ones I've ever seen (in Hindi
cinema). And that's saying a lot...
Jaya assumes the character of Mili in totality, and carries it off with
aplomb. One can't help but admire her elegant simplicity: there is nothing
false or ambiguous about her. As Shanker observes, her heart is pure and clean.
[This was the secret of Jaya's success in her hey-days: The men loved her
because she was the girl-next-door. Women had no reason to fear her because she
was not a maneater; in fact, they admired her clean image.]
With Hrishida's support, Amitabh delivers another strong performance,
metamorphosing convincingly from a brooding, boozing introvert to an affable,
sociable person. From the easy rapport the two share, it is plain to see that
Amitabh and Jaya were truly smitten by the love bug, and not just on screen.
Another highlight of the movie is of course the wonderfully melodious score by
S.D. Burman, which spans across the entire "emotional spectrum": The rich,
pining baritone of Kishoreda singing 'Aae tum yaad mujhe' evokes such a strong
feeling of utter loneliness as to send a chill down the spine;
on the other hand, Lata's cheerful rendition of 'Maine kaha phoolon se' makes
one realize how good it feels to be alive. Truly an awesome score by SD.
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