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17 October 2011

Faraar (1975)

Directed by: Shankar Mukherjee
Starring: Sharmila Tagore, Amitabh Bachchan, 
Sanjeev Kumar,Master Raju, 
Sulochana, Agha
1975 was a great year for Amitabh. Even if his films received a mixed reaction at the box-office (Sholay and Deewar were mega-hits; Mili and Chupke Chupke did better than average business; Zameer and Faraar were average though they more than recovered their investment.) his roles were completely different in each film. Slowly, surely, he was carving out a place for himself that would entrench him as a mega-star in the decade to come. Fresh on the heels of Deewar and Sholay came Faraar, his first film with Sharmila Tagore.

The film opens (promisingly) with a court scene. Tarun Kumar (Rajan Haskar), a rich and notorious playboy is in the docks for having raped and killed his secretary Geeta. Despite the public prosecutor’s valiant efforts and the circumstantial evidence against him, the defendant’s wealth and his battery of lawyers overturn the case – they cast Geeta as a woman desperately in love with her employer, who, when her attempt to seduce him fails, commits suicide by drowning. Her brother makes his own attempt to bring the case back on track, but his impassioned pleas fall on deaf ears. The jurors, giving the defendant the benefit of the doubt, bring a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’.
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Distraught at the verdict, Rajesh returns home even as Tarun Kumar walks out a free man. His mother tries to console him, but Rajesh cannot forget his sister’s fate. And the deliberate miscarriage of justice. It haunts him until he takes an oath to clear his sister’s reputation and avenge her murder.
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From then on, he is like one obsessed, dogging Tarun Kumar’s footsteps. Tarun Kumar is more than a match for him, though, and his first attempt ends in disaster. His luck turns, however, and Tarun Kumar is finally at his mercy. Rajesh has no mercy to offer, and Tarun Kumar dies at his hands.

As he hears footsteps approaching, Rajesh runs away leaving the body behind. Meanwhile Inspector Sanjay (Sanjeev Kumar) is planning on a duty-free evening with his wife Mala (Sharmila Tagore). Unfortunately, duty is a hard task mistress and murder does not wait.
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While his wife is annoyed but resigned to a usual occurrence, his man (Agha) is terrified by the fact that the murder occurred in the vicinity. Inspector Sanjay launches a manhunt in the neighbourhood. The murderer is wounded and cannot, must not be allowed to escape. Rajesh is a hunted man, and he too knows that he cannot run very far. However, two loose-lipped constables give him an idea.
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Inspector Sanjay gets a clue about the deceased; he visits Tarun Kumar’s alleged mistress. As he searches her rooms, she picks up the telephone. Only things do not turn out quite as she expected.
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Mala is putting their son Bobby (Master Raju) to bed. As she finishes singing him a lullaby and is putting off the lights, she hears the news of the murder and the murderer.
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Before she has time to worry, he is in the house. He forces her at gunpoint to take him on a tour of the house so he can reassure himself that they are quite alone. Holding her son hostage, he forces her to remove the bullet from his arm. His first sight of her shocks him. He tries to hide his face from her, but yells out a name in pain.
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When Sanjay comes home, Mala cannot hide her distress. The murderer is their house, and is holding their son hostage. The inspector is livid, but Mala is terrified. What if he hurts their son? And when they hear a shot from inside the room Mala breaks down.
For their son’s sake, Inspector Sanjay is forced to turn away the policemen who come in hearing the shot. As the murderer, face masked, comes out, Sanjay keeps him engrossed in conversation hoping that his little boy will be able to escape. Unfortunately, a gun is a very persuasive argument.
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Even as a helpless Sanjay is fuming downstairs, little Bobby and his captor are forging an unusual friendship.

Sanjay and Mala discuss the unbearable situation, but they are no closer to finding an answer. What can they do?
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A child’s world is remarkably black and white. When Rajesh asks him what he would do to anyone who took his gun away and broke it, Bobby says simply ‘I’ll kill him!’ Rajesh smiles sadly – that is just what he did. Bobby is sympathetic – he will protect anyone who tries to take Rajesh away. His whole-hearted acceptance melts Rajesh’s heart. And he readily agrees to sing a song to put Bobby to sleep. 

And he is not the only one surprised when he begins to sing.
The song draws Mala inexhorably toward her son’s room. As the song ends in a question, she unconsciously answers…
When the door opens, she sees a face from her past. As Rajesh shuts the door in shock, Mala's remembers how she had been on the verge of committing suicide. Rajesh had saved her and had taken her home to his mother and sister; as days pass, their acquaintance ripens to affection, and then to love.
She breaks down sobbing. Sanjay has not given up; as night falls, he tries to enter the upper rooms through the windows, only Mala stops him. She begs him to forget his duty just once. He is adamant. Now, it is not just his duty that will keep him on this track; it's also his pride.
Mala doesn't care; she wants her son’s life at any cost, even if she has to pay with her life for it. Sanjay is stunned at the solution which appears in front of him – the murderer must also have someone who loves him? Maybe he could strike a deal?
In the meantime, there has been an order from above to lift the police blockades. Will Inspector Sanjay agree? Where will this end? Will Mala ever know why Rajesh turned to murder? What will happen when Sanjay begins to delve deep into Rajesh’s past? Who is Asha? Will Rajesh let Bobby go free? Old sins have long shadows – it is not only Bobby’s life that is at stake here.

As an outlaw on the run from the police, eventually hiding out in the house of the very police officer deputed to hunt him down, Amitabh’s stunning (and extremely sympathetic) performance had the audience rooting for him; and there was an audience outcry when he died in the film. This was his third successive death onscreen, in the same year. Unlike Sholay, they actually shot two endings – one where he is shot, but removed to hospital; the other, where he is shot and killed. The latter was a more believable end, and a more apt one. (Even though, personally, I didn’t want ‘believable’ at the time; I just wanted Amitabh to live.)

While script and direction could have been better, this film is worth watching solely for the performances of the leads – Sanjeev Kumar, Sharmila Tagore and Amitabh Bachchan. This is definitely one film where the performances lifted a lacklustre film and made it better than average. However, the shots where the police inspector and the murderer face off were shot very well. One can feel the tension between the two men as, constrained by their respective circumstances, try to achieve a compromise.

Sharmila's Mala was a strong character; her disturbance when she realises who it is who has taken refuge in her house; her deeply buried feelings for him; her refusal to compromise either her own dignity or her husband's self-respect; and later, her cutting response to her husband's accusations - there was more to Mala than just eye-candy. Wonderful, wonderful characterisations, but that is only to be expected - it's Gulzar's story.

My only quibbles? It could have been tauter; a couple of songs and dances could have easily been cut without making any difference to the film (in fact, it would have made it better); Jayashree T's character was totally unnecessary (except for the above mentioned two songs); and the whole sister's track, while integral to the plot, was shoddily done. Still, definitely worth a watch.


  1. Oh, Anu. You're not going to ever let me get any work done. You keep reviewing all these films, with synopses that make my mouth water (though yes, here the idea of Amitabh dying doesn't appeal to me)... now I have to go off and order this one too!

    By the way, do you know if this one was based on another film (possibly a Hollywood one?) Or was it remade? The story somehow seems very familiar, though I'm positive I haven't seen Faraar - the only Faraar I've seen is the Dev Anand-Geeta Bali one, not this.

  2. Madhu, :) I bet you're wondering how *I* get any work done! I'm warning you, I have a whole backlog of reviews lined up - some reviewed specifically with *you* in mind, so stay tuned. I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms from your blog anyway, so it's high time you posted one of *your* reviews.

    I don't know that Faraar is based on any other film; I certainly haven't come across any, forget having seen anything similar. But that's not to say that it wasn't. The story is credited to Gulzar. But yes, apart from the first 15 minutes or so, and the Jayashree T section, this was a movie worth watching.

  3. I saw this in the morning, but didn't have the time to read it before I went to work. (I'm now taking a well-deserved break). I hadn't even heard of this until you mentioned it on your earlier post on Amitabh's best roles - I had put this on my to-watch list then, and coincidentally watched it yesterday night. :) I would have liked the movie to have been chopped by about half-an-hour; I think it would have made the film much better. The scenes between Amitabh, Sharmila and Sanjeev Kumar were really, really good. It said much for the leads that they kept up the tension. And I *really* like Sharmila Tagore in this one!

  4. Early lunch. :) Actually saw you had a new post and decided to see what new goodies you had come up with. Faraar was an interesting film actually. I do wish it had had a better director though. I agree with you and the other poster that it could have done with the services of a good editor and a pair of scissors. I have always considered Faraar one of Amitabh's (and Sanjeev Kumar's) best performances, but I think its failure at the box-office meant that it is often overlooked.

  5. Oh definitely half an hour cut would have made for a better product. And except for Main pyaasa, tu saawan which comes in thrice (male solo, female solo and a duet) and is quite pleasant on the ears, the other songs weren't all that great anyway. I'm glad you liked it, though. I've just had the experience of a friend who didn't quite like one of my recommendations. Well, not as much, anyway. :(

  6. Definitely needed a better director; actually, all through the movie, I kept wondering what Vijay Anand, for instance, would have done with this material. Or BR Chopra.

  7. "I have a whole backlog of reviews lined up - some reviewed specifically with *you* in mind"

    Oh, goodie! But yes, I have some reviews lined up too. And more. :-) And I think you might like them...

  8. Madhu, waiting eagerly for them. And (suspiciously) what is the 'and more'??

  9. Faraar looks interesting, but if the first half an hour bores me, I tend to skip the film completely. I might still give it a go now that you say the rest of the film is good.

  10. No do give it a try. Use the FF button judiciously until Amitabh enters the court. :)

  11. I saw it many years ago on DD, and I liked it a lot at that time, but somehow felt, Sharmila was not really suited for the role. She just didn't convince me. Sanjeev Kumar was really good, though his looks didn't really suit the role. And Amitabh was fabulous as usual.

  12. I liked Sharmila everywhere except in the flashback scenes where I felt they were trying to make her look younger than she was. Haribhai had begun to go to seed by then, but he is such a fine actor that one overlooks his pysical appearance!

  13. Hi its my first time commenting here,and what a lovely blog you have. I actually loved this film the way it was, i remember feeling that slap Amitabh gave Master Raju looking frighteningly real plus i loved all the songs especially main pyaasi tum sawan

  14. Welcome to my blog, bollywooddeewana (nice name, by the way :) ) and thank you for the compliment. I remember flinching during that scene too, and the look of self-disgust on Amitabh's face when he realises what he has done was excellent too. This is one of those movies that should have really seen a lot more commercial success than it did. I really could have done without the requisite mujra / seduction dance. Thanks once again, for dropping by and commenting.

  15. Finally! I managed to find your blog, but I am sure I have come across it before, but didn't go through it properly. You have great reviews here, and I will have to go through all of them one by one.
    Faraar was a good movie, from what I remember, considering I saw it over 30 years back, and Yes, it reminded me of the movie Desperate Hours, where the three fugitives are holding the family hostage, and there are children in the house, so the husband and wife want their safety at all costs. Of course, the daughter's boyfriend becomes suspicious and takes up a position across from their house to observe what is going on there, and ..., but this movie is nothing like that one. It was good in its own way and it probably didn't become a big hit because it didn't have all the trappings of one. I don't remember the slapping scene, but the song was very good (main pyaasa tum sawan ...).

  16. Hello, Lalitha, der aaye durust aaye :) Welcome to the blog. You're right that Faraar did not have the trappings of a blockbuster; it's sad when good movies do not do as well as they should. That's what makes the bad (yet successful) movies become endemic. Main pyaasa tu saawan was such a beautiful song, especially the Kishore Kumar solo.

    Thanks for the compliment, and I do appreciate the feedback.

  17. The 'similar' film DO is alluding to could be 'Prem Kahani' starring Rajesh Khanna,Mumtaz and Shashi Kapoor. It is reviewed on Memsaab's blog I think.

  18.  Is it? I haven't heard of Prem Kahani but I shall definitely go and take a look at Greta's review - that should be fun in itself. :) Thanks for the tip.

  19. Prem Khani is a much better movie. The biggest problems with the movie were Sharmilla who was passed her prime and Sanjeev Kumar. The single worst most overrated actor in the history of cinema, anywhere. His manic head popping and crazy eyes were what has always passed in Indian as "acting" His portrayal of a mentally challenged guy in Kilonna was the worst insult to the Handicap until SRK' in my name in khan. Another over actor! Up to this day he ruins any movie he is in for me including the overrated Sholay!

  20. Prem Khani is a much better movie.

    Well, that is subjective, isn't it?

    And we'll have to agree to disagree on both Sholay and Sanjeev Kumar.


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