What to do when you’re missing Amitabh in Chicago? Watch Abhimaan (1973)


You may be wondering like I am, “Sita-ji, why aren’t you in Chicago tonight enjoying Amitabh and everyone else in The Unforgettable Tour?” You see there was a time not too long ago when one could fly from Minneapolis (blog headquarters) to Chicago for $100 or $200 round trip. Now with the poor economy, the airline troubles, and many of the charters that serviced the MSP-Chicago route being shut out of service and our poor corporate citizen airline, NWA somewhat monopolizing the route, flights now routinely cost between $500-$800! I could fly to NYC for less! NWA, did you forget the state of Minnesota graciously bailed you our with millions and millions of dollars($245 to be specific), I mean lakhs and crores of rupees? You forgot to pay us back NWA! I digress, let me swallow that bitter pill and move on, teekay? But you see, we are all related and everything is connected to everything and I choose to partially blame NWA for me missing this show. :) So I had some tentative plans to make a spur of the moment driving pilgrimage to Chicago with a Bollywood buddy pending on how the vibe felt this morning. It was not vibing, so we settled in to watch the next best thing to seeing Amitabh performing on stage: we watched Abhimaan (1973) instead, where Amitabh plays a singer who performs on stage before the masses. Sort of the same thing, without having to make the 12 hour round trip drive.

Amitabh seemed to be speaking to me throughout the film, asking Sita-ji what she wanted (to see The Unforgettable Tour, duh!) and then trying to comfort me by showing he understands the disappointment:

Thanks Amitabh! Here’s the lowdown on the film:

Abhimaan(Devanagari: अभिमान, Nastaliq: ابھمان, translation: Pride) is a 1973 Bollywood film starring Amitabh Bachchan; his real-life wife, Jaya Bachchan, Asrani, and Bindu. It was directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee.The film is perhaps best remembered for its songs, composed and arranged by the late S D Burman, written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, and sung by famous playback singers Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, and Mohammed Rafi. The movie takes inspiration from A Star Is Born(1954). When it was released, audiences found similarities between real-life couple Amitabh and Jaya and the couple they portrayed on-screen—as Jaya’s career was stronger than Amitabh’s at the time. She won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for Abhimaan. Subir (Amitabh Bachchan) is a professional singer whose career is soaring. He does not plan to marry—until he meets Uma (Jaya Bhaduri), a sweet village girl who also sings. Subir falls in love with Uma and marries her. He returns to Mumbai with his new bride. Subir continues as a singer and also fosters Uma’s singing career. His career falters, however, just as Uma’s singing career begins to thrive. Eventually, she becomes more famous than her husband, sparking jealousy from Subir. His pride and jealousy tear the marriage apart. The question becomes whether Subir can overcome his jealousy? (wikipedia)

For a nice blog review of the film, I direct you to The Bolly Blog. And now on to my more shallow reflections of Abhimaan! Amitabh (Subir) and Jaya (Uma) look fabulous in this film. Her saris are gorgeous! In nearly every scene she wore a new, more lovely sari! Amitabh’s shirts were just are beautiful, with a funky 70′s twist. I said to myself, “Costume designer? Kaun hai?” So let me give a shout out to whoever found the beautiful fabric and made it into those outfits and got those guys looking so great:

Shalini Shah, Ramlal, Farida and Shyam Khandekar, nice job! I like your style! I think Amitabh even looks smokin’ hot smoking and drinking:

One thing that surprised me was the sexual tension portrayed between Amitabh and Jaya. Since I am a good Hindu-Catholic-Muslim-Buddhist-Sikh-Jain and sometimes Parsi girl, I was a bit embarrassed by Amitabh tugging on Jaya’s hair and pointing to his lips for a kiss. Bachchans, keep that sexy stuff behind closed doors please! See! Bas!

The movie taught me some new things like this. Who knew men were jealous of women?

Another delightful part of the movie for me was seeing Bindu, who gave a great line said with confidence and love, that we all should consider using if ever dumped. So classy, dekho:

Bindu’s character drops some bollywood wisdom on Amitabh’s Subir. I love it!

Well he’s not ready to hear all that, nor her urging him to lighten up on the whiskey, since he’s trying to drown his sorrows vs. facing them head on. His retaliatory statement:

Snap! Oh no he didn’t! If what Subir says here makes no sense to you, go see Devdas!

For me this was a movie about they style and the music, since that’s what I enjoyed most, rather than the story itself. Not my favorite Amitabh movie, but a great one to see nonetheless, especially as a cheap subsitute to missing seeing him live in Chicago tonight. But I think the Chicago show of The Unforgettable Tour may have been a bit like this tonight; from Abhimaan, Kishor Kumar singing for Amitabh, Meet Na Mila Re Man Ka, with music by S. D. Burman, who won the filmfare award for his work here:

Here’s the remix, from Dr. K Chaudry, who is very devoted to Bollywood.

If you’d like to hear yet another marvelous tune from the film, take a detour to TheBollywoodFan’s great blog to hear Tere Mere Milan Ki.

Really how lucky we are to live in a time where we have these films at our disposal, hai na? No this isn’t a photo outside of The Unforgettable Tour, it’s from Abhimaan, showing that then and now, Big B as an actor and as himself is filling the house!

Chicago Unforgettable Tour attenders, post your review here. I’d love to hear about what I missed! Mr. Bachachan reported the following on his own blog: I have to say it. . Chicago was amazing.. Everyone was just awesome and the audience to die for. . Sold out stadium. . And India just won a gold in shooting..  Read more at his blog about this on day 109.

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15 thoughts on “What to do when you’re missing Amitabh in Chicago? Watch Abhimaan (1973)

  1. meri priya Sitaji: I happen to LOVE this film and was thrilled to see this tonight! I’ve had the soundtrack for a couple of years (such great music!) and have seen this film 3x. What really fascinates me about this is the “life imitates art” aspect: they weren’t even married when they started the filming of this picture. And wouldn’t ya know it, hmmm, once the shaadi took place, where was Jaya? She was “Jenny” (yeah!) in “Kal Ho Naa Ho”, and of course the good patni in K3G, but she had such a beautiful, sweet style about her, that who knows without the (dare I say it) patriarchal Indian Film Industry (or rather, Indian cultural expectations?), who knows how many more films she would’ve made before producing Shweta aur Abhishek? And, well, as a parallel, where’s Aish? Yeah, “Jodha Akbar” (which I haven’t been able to see yet), lekin, aur kya? IMHO. this is one of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s best (but I really like his style and the actors he uses: have you seen “Gol Maal”, “Chupke Chupke” (Jaya was preggers with Shweta on that one!)…

    And if I didn’t have a performance of “Aida” next Friday night I’d be right there with you in NYC! GO FOR IT, meri saheli!

    p.s. just finished “Khuda Gawah”: worth seeing for many reasons, not the least of which is to see Kabul and its gorgeous surroundings before it was bombed… by the US… ugh -

  2. jen-ji!
    I’m so glad then that I did this post if only for your appreciation. Yes it is a GREAT group of songs in this film. True about Jaya’s missing years in the IFI (don’t want to offend Amitabh by using the B-wood term) ;) I adored her in Zanjeer as that spunky little knife sharpener. Right, the women tend to step down after marriage and children, which of course is time consuming. And there’s not the expectation for the men to watch over and steward their children in the same way as women pretty much worldwide. I mean just look at all the Saif Ali Khan galavanting around with Kareena, lekin what about his kids hai? I know it’s all publicity and spin, and stars want to protect there dealings with their kids from the media, etc., but I can’t help but think more time and effort may be being spent on the new young love, instead of with the kids where it belongs, even more so after a divorce. And his ex., Amrita Singh, well she’s not in films too much nowdays. And then of course there’s the whole thing about aging to throw into the equation. Bas! Yes, it seems more magnified in the IFI though for sure, which is unfortunate because some of these fabulous women’s parts leave you thirsty to see more of the actress, then POOF! After winning Miss Universe or Miss India, making some great films, she gets married and is gone! (Sonali Bendre) “Gol Maal”, “Chupke Chupke” are now on my list jen, along with “Khuda Gawah.”

    Best of luck with Aida, thanks for your encouragement and kind words and as always,
    All the best!

  3. Adab Sita-ji: Abhimaan and Haathi Mere Saathi being the first films during which I shed a tear (don’t recall which I saw first, but they were very close). And this is the closest I have come to shedding a tear while reading a blog post, and it’s not because of Abhimaan :’(

    Loved the film, and should see it again for I know my reaction would be very different now that I am better equipped to appreciate it with more years of living experience. With you on the music — here’s a recent post with a song from the film:

    http://thebollywoodfan.blogspot.com/2008/07/unforgettable-week-amitabh-and-jaya-and.html

    Agree with Jen on Khuda Gawaah being worth seeing! And why oh why does everything of late seem to point to Sonali Bendre?! I miss her (if only for the way in which she said “don’t mind” in Sarfarosh). Others in that category are Raveena Tandon and especilaly Neelam :’(

  4. How cute! That’s what I do too. When I miss a Bolly star, I rewatch some of their films. I’ve never seen Abhimaan. Shame on me. I need to. In all honesty, growing up a lot of Hmong people weren’t huge fans of AB.

  5. Sita-ji,

    Don’t worry, we’re going to the next concert! I don’t care if I have to take a horse and carriage to it, I’m going!

    I was also on the fence about this until the last minute. Had I had the funds, I would have went with you, hands down! I live in Milwaukee, we could have met halfway and taken the train or something?

    Anyways, next time, dost!

  6. This WAS a fantastic movie- Jaya was a wonder, and Bindu was a revelation- too bad she got few roles like these. Amitabh was SO unlikeable here- which speaks to his brilliant acting in this one.

  7. You missed seeing Big B live and so decided to see the movie where he is completely unlikeable! lol

    I loved the movie but Jaya’s pain felt a bit too real for me to ever re-watch.

  8. BollywoodFan, Adab nawab!
    Thanks for your visit and I’ve amended the post to include a link to yours covering the film. I especially liked the story about the Jaya and Amitabh sizes for the drinks at that place in Bombay. And Haathi Mere Saathi is a tear jerker, especially if you saw it as a kid. I had the luxury of being a jaded adult when I saw it, and the savior of the remote, to skip over the unbearable elephant scenes. I could even take when Tanuja misunderstood the elephant.

    Nicki,
    Thanks for that information about the Hmongs and their lack of fandom for AB.

    nida,
    Thanks for that. We’ll get to the next one girl. We could have met for this one at the Ho Chunk casino, the Dells or the House on the Rock. :D

    shweta,
    I agree, and especially liked Bindu’s work. I think she was the favorite for me in the film. Amitabh unlikable?

    Thebollyviewer,
    Again I say Amitabh unlikable? Impossible. ;) See it’s actually genius, I could watch that and think, “See, now I’m so glad I didn’t go and see that JERK in Chicago.” LOL

  9. Reviewer and Never Mind, thanks to both of you for your visit! Also, you both have nice blogs that I was able to link to check out. I hope to be checking back into them regularly. And yes, the soundtrack to the film is fantastic. :)

  10. quand je voit jaya and amitabh ensemble j’une sentation bizar dans mon coeur je veut étre cm eux par se que pour moi il sont cmkajol et srk la défirence ses que amitabh nad jaya il sont marier tout sinplement je vous aime et je veux vraiment que rekha soit hors de votr vie

    • rym-ji
      My trusty google translator tells me you said something sort fo like this:
      Translation: French » English

      when I saw jaya and amitabh sentation bizar all I changed in my heart I want to be cm by them is that they are for me and srk cmkajol the défirence its nad jaya amitabh that they are all married sinple I love you and I really want Rekha is out of your life

      Yes, these stars are all married in real life, but regardless of their marital status, we are all able to enjoy their wonderful work in films, n’est-ce pas? I thought it was sad that Rekha and Amitabh had an affair back in the day, if that indeed is a true story.

      Merci bien pour votre visit mon ami!
      A bientot!

  11. You write:

    “For me this was a movie about they style and the music, since that’s what I enjoyed most, rather than the story itself.”

    I like this assessment, because like you, but unlike most other reviewers, i didn’t think the story and the dialogues very special. Of course, going for style, other Bollys from the 60s and 70s might be much more spicy; but then, the not-so-over-the-top style of Abhimaan has its own merits.

    • henrik-ji,
      Thanks for stopping in to comment. There are a log more unique and time pass worthy films, but still this is worth a watch, especially to chip away at Amitji’s filmography, na?

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