If anyone asks me which is THE romantic drama movie I have seen, my earliest memory will take me to Aradhana. The movie which propelled Rajesh Khanna to become a super star to becoming a phenomena with 15 hits in a row! The chocolate boy of the late 1960s /70s – girls, ladies even grannys were crazy about him. This was the era prior to the phenomena called Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Aradhana released in 1969, directed by The legendary Shakti Samanta. It grossed Rs 17.85 crore at the box office.
I remember watching it on a new year evening with my parents in Roxy Theatre in Mumbai as a young school going kid. Those were the days when one had to pre-book the tickets a week in advance. Boy, that was another ball game – standing in a long queue much before the ticket window opened a week in advance, jostle with the crowds desperate for tickets, the pleasure of getting to finally book the tickets…..and then the wait for The D-day when you would dress up in your best clothes and go to the theatre to watch the movie. The whole week would be filled with anticipation .That excitement is no match for booking tickets online at the last moment.
So enough of a rant. Lets get down to the movie. Aradhana means worship. It follows the journey of Vandana (the graceful Sharmila Tagore) from youth, when she meets an Indian Air Force pilot, Arun Verma ( Rajesh Khanna), romances with him, secretly marries him. The pilot dies , leaving Vandana pregnant. The rest of her journey to old age follows how she faces the world, takes responsibility of her son Suraj as his nanny and years later how Suraj publicly acknowledges her as his mother.
For any romantic movie, the music has to the strong point. In Aradhana, music by the legendary SD Burman and lyrics written by Anand Bakshiji tugs at your hearstrings and are still popular e.g. Mere sapnon ki rani, roop tera mastana, chanda hai tu mera suraj hai tu, bagon mein bahar hai, saphal hogi teri aradhana.
So lets see the performances. Rajesh Khanna was a charmer in both the roles- as father and son. Sharmila Tagore had a tailormade role. It was rare for female leads to get a meaty role in those days and boy did she excel – especially the older Vandana- not to forget the makeup artist also.The lead pair was ably assisted by veterans Ashok Kumarji, Sujit Kumar, Farida Jalal, Abhi Bhattacharya, Madan Puri, Pahari Sanyal, etc. who played their parts to perfection.
So, if you are a die-hard romantic and want to go on a nostalgic journey, Aradhana is just for you. And for all you Gen-next, compared to the elaborate movies dished out currently with remixed music, Aradhana wins any time . So go on a trip – go watch Aradhana.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.