Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) or Sholay Lite

As part of Beth Loves Bollywood‘s international mandate,  7 days of 70’s, a week-long festival of any and all things 70’s from Bollywood, I offer to you my readers, Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1970) somehing I like to call Sholay Lite!  

This film is a delightful mix of  some of the 70’s most delicious masala staples: orphans, dacoits, bandits, dancers, damsels in distress, amputated limbs, music by Laxmikant-PyarelalAnand Bakshi as lyricist,  playback singing by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi, and starring Dharmendra, Asha ParekhVinod Khanna, Laxmi Chhaya, and Jayant.

Now let me take you on a visual walk through Mera Gaon Mera Desh.  We start with Ajit (Dharmendra) as a pick pocket, caught and put on the stand, explaining his fate to the judge and jury…

Ajit gets a chance after serving a light sentance to start over in a small village to where he’s been summoned by  a one armed Hawaldaar-Major Jaswant Singh (Jayant).  Ajit carries a coin that he flips to help him make major life decisions, and it flipped to the side that made him agree to go to the little town. But why?  Why would the one armed man want orphan?

Maybe to help him with some farm work.  That seems to be the reason. Then Ajit hangs out partying with the villagers, and Jayant’s character doesn’t like this and dekh what happens:

Such ugliness! Such mean words!  That’s the limit!  So he tells Ajit to leave, but then has to change his mind:

Enter bad guy, dacoit, and bandit extrodinaire, Thakur gone bad, Jabbar Singh! I’m telling you Vinod Khanna was delicious in this part.  Look at the sideburns and the scoul on his face. Hot!

So as it turns out, the one armed guy sought Ajit for the village (gaon) not for farming alone, but instead to take the lead in fighting off the band of dacoits who have long been terrorizing the villagers. Luckily Ajit finds a double agent in Munnibai (Laxmi Chhaya) who was sent by Jabbar to find out about Ajit, but ends up falling for him instead.

Munni does her spy duty, finds out what’s going on in Jabbar Singh’s dacoit camp and reports back to Ajit.

Ajit informs the authorities, Munni’s mom get’s upset at her indiscretion because like all villagers she rears the wrath Jabbar Singh and his bandits.

In the song, Hai SharmaonLaxmi Chhaya‘s character alerts Ajit to what disguises the bandits are wearing to the fair so that he can catch them.

After some of his men are captured by police at the full moon fair, Jabbar Singh suspects a traitor among his flock and conducts a threatenging interrogation fitting a bandit.

Thing get a wee bit misogynistic.

Meanwhile, back in town, Asha Parekh’s character, Anju, freaks out when Hawaldaar-Major Jaswant Singh (one armed guy) is killed by the bandits. I love it when Asha breaks down. She of course needs a tight slap to the face in order to get a hold of herself.  To make matters worse, now poor munni is thought by Ajit to be responsible for the bandits’ attack on the gaon village.  So she’s once again subject to some man handling, and once again, things get just a tad mysoginistic.

Oh no he didn’t!  Ajit can verbally abuse her, choke her, shake her, and shove her down into the river two times, but what sets her over the edge is that he doesn’t understand that she did not betray him, and that she loves him!  He pushed her over the edge in so many ways, and now look at the face of a woman scorned! DEKH! LOOK AT IT!

Jabbar Singh cointinues with his dacoitery and kidnaps Anju to lure Ajit into his evil den, where he proceeds to tie them up for torture.  Any chance I get to screen cap a scene with the word enmity in it I do, so here:

NOW here is the scene and song that compelled me to see this film in the first place: Maar Diya Jaaye Ya Chhod Diya Jaaye, Bol Tere Saath Kya Sulook Kiya JaayeRaj and Pablo, the charming and lovely radio hosts of BBC Asian Network’s Love Bollywood,  posted this video from the film on their Facebook page. It starts off with Dharmendra tied to a pole getting slapped in the face, and that was only the beginning of this outlandish number, featuring him, Laxmi Chayya and Asha Parekh.

Spoiler moral message ending alert! In the end the lesson is learned: The village must take responsibility to self govern and not rely so heavily on the government, meaning it’s a joint effort, but this effort must first begins at the grassroots level.  As it’s said it takes a village to raise a child, and in this movie, it takes a village to eliminate a dacoit. So now that title makes more sense: Mera Gaon Mera Desh = My Village My Country.

EXTRA CREDIT:  Here’s why Mera Gaon Mera Desh can be called Sholay Lite

Since Asha freaks out so beautifully, I shall end on this note:

Check out all the other groovy 70’s week posts HERE and HERE.

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37 thoughts on “Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) or Sholay Lite

  1. I love the ‘Sholay Lite’ bit!! :-D So true. And Vinod Khanna is to die for – and thank heavens Laxmi Chhaya had a relatively substantial role in this film… I do like her so much, and she usually ends up just dancing a bit and not doing much else.

    • dustedoff-ji,
      Glad you like the Sholay Lite part. ;) Vinod was very, very attractive in this one indeed, and I loved Laxmi Chhaya too. This was the most acting I’ve seen her do and she was great, prior to this I’ve only seen her in lighter roles, and dancing. Thanks for stopping in to comment yaar.

  2. And, of course, you do know that Jayant was Amjad Khan’s father! Raj Khosla was one of the very best.

    Salim-Javed were really the worst plagiarizers but effective. As a friend notes: “Salim Javed movies are scene to scene copies of Italian spaghetti westerns and police thrillers of the 1965-72 period which were all over the screens of Regal and Stirling , Metro and New Excelsior in Bombay” :-)

    • Suhan-ji,
      Thanks for stopping it to comment. Yes, I knew Jayant was Amjad’s dad and thought of working that into my Sholay Lite part, but didn’t/ I should go back in to revise that. :) I’d rather see the bolly-copies, since they are more fun than originals.

  3. Hey Gorgeous One

    We love your iin depth review of this classic!!…….So glad you enjoyed it – its movie magical masalla!!

    R&P xx

    • Raj-ji & Pablo-ji,
      I rush to touch your BBC Asian Radio Network feet in respect! Thanks for stopping in to read, comment and inspiring me to see this film in the first place. Wait, isn’t this Sholay? I kept thinking throughout. I do think that if you held the kick ass songs of each movie against each other in friendly competition; Mehbooba VS. Maar Diya Jaaye, Maar Diya Jaaye may just win. Magical is right! Jai BBC! Love Bollywood! Thanks for all the great shows, providing me hours of enjoyment.

  4. Oh my goodness. So super wonderful!!!! I must see it! The cast alone is tempting! I’m a little disturbed by Dharmendar’s man-handling of Laxmi, though. FROWN.

    The subtitle “The rest will be completed when my beauty and his youth clash” is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever heard. It’s certainly a wonderful summary of the attitude of some 70s vamps. WONDERFUL.

    • Beth-ji!
      Thanks goes to you for organizing a web shrine to the Bollywood films of the 1970’s! Shabash! Oh, don’t worry about that man handling, look closely, you can seen the tentativeness in Dharmendra’s hand, na? He’s not really digging the fingers in with force. He was just so upset over a mix up that resulted in his de facto dad (who has one arm) being killed, etc.. He was so upset, he didn’t mean it, gave her roses after, and chocolates, cried, said “It will never happen again!” ;) But seriously, I bet such scenes were uncomfortable to do, and there may have been a lot of laughter too. Glad you liked that subtitle, it was marvelous! It does indeed sum up the 70’s vamp. Thanks for visiting and commenting dost.

  5. I basically like this film as much as I like Sholay. It’s smaller in scale but so effective and of course my girl Laxmi gets a considerable amount to do :) And Dharam-Asha are lovely (I love their song as the rain is coming)…

    • memsaab-ji,
      Me too, it’s also sort of “Sholay for Girls” which I was going to title it, before I thought of “Sholay Lite.” I love Laxmi and would like to see her in some more meaty roles. Suggestions? You like this one:

      I did too! I liked how her top was designed with the panels which could hide sweat.

      • Another film which gave Laxmi Chhaya a bit of a role was the Sanjeev Kumar starrer Insaaf ka Mandir. A strange sort of film (rather offbeat, actually) which mixes mystery with child-separated-from-parent. Laxmi Chhaya, while not the heroine, has a substantial role in it.

  6. Firstly, Im lovign the blog header- beautiful. And of course, the “Sholay Lite” title is brilliant. Dharam and Vinod look so gorgeous here Im getting dizzy!
    You know, that screen cap with Dharam spewing the orphan dialogue- the brown leather ajcket looks similar to Abhay’s jacket in manorama- maybe he was giving a shout-out to uncle ji.

    • shweta-ji,
      Thanks! From “An Evening in Paris,” but I’m sure you already know. The both looked great, especially Vinod in my opinion. I’d like to think sporting that jacket was a shout out. Still need to see him in Dev!

  7. In the Sholay vs Mera Gaon Mera Desh comparison, you shouldnt put “stars Dharmendra” – it should be “stars Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna”. getting Vinod K to act the evil guy plays hell with the movies moral message – I know I would be confused about who to root for the good guy or the bad guy. With Gabbar, you know you have to root for the good guy! ;-)

    PS: Me too, to loving your header. I wish I knew what was keeping Sharmila up in the air!

    • bollyviewer-ji,
      YES! That moral message mind game casting is fantastic, hadn’t thought of it that way. I don’t know there are some twisted people out there, present company excluded of course, that would root for the bad guy. ;) How SICK! All this Sholay talk make me want to see Sholay again.

      I wonder if Ted Lyons and his Cubs are holding her up in that image? I just love how it starts, with the name being Suzy and all…

  8. I adore the chart of comparison, that’s brills. I didn’t realize there was also amputation going on in Mera Gaon Mera Desh.

    And Vinod as a villain in this is aweeesome.

    • veracious-ji,
      I know, it’s a subtler amputation, being one armed and all, but an amputation nonetheless. I am believing it’s implied that it was done as a result of Jabbar Singh, but I missed if that was said straight out in the film. Vinod was and excellent villain, and a very handsome villian too.

    • bollywooddeewana-ji,
      I believe this movie i right up your alley! It’s indeed worth the rent and I think it’s “buy worthy” bhi. Thanks for stopping in yaar. :)

    • Anirban-ji,
      Thanks for the visit. This made me want to see Sholay again. Thanks for the “well researched” comment, LOL, sort of more like a “what the heck!?! I’ve seen this before and I’ll make a list on a post-it note” list. :) All the best, yaar!

  9. Far out, Sita-ji! I have literally never heard of this film till now. On a completely superficial note, how gorgeous is Laxmi? I covet her nose ring, too.

    • ajnabi-ji,
      It’s way out man, far out. Laxmi is HOT! Hey “on a superficial note” is all I’m about, if nothing else, I pride myself in the superficial nature of this blog! :) Thanks for commenting, dost.

  10. A most entertaining movie by Mr Raj khosla. Super duper hit of 70s. Super performance by Vinod Khanna as Jabbar Singh even more dashing than Gabbar Singh of Sholay.
    This is best film of century. Vinod versus Dharminder clash remembered for ever. All songs are super hits

    • Kailash-ji,
      Thanks for stopping in to comment. I thought Vinood’s performance was fantastic too, and you’re right, of course Jabbar Singh is so much more dashing than Gabbar Singh! Vinood was very handsome, even playing this brute he came across as attractive. Glad you are a true fan of this film and its fantastic songs.

  11. Kailash-ji,
    Thanks for stopping in to comment. I thought Vinood’s performance was fantastic too, and you’re right, of course Jabbar Singh is so much more dashing than Gabbar Singh! Vinood was very handsome, even playing this brute he came across as attractive. Glad you are a true fan of this film and its fantastic songs.

  12. Mera gaon mera desh is excellent is a better movie than sholay. Sholay is a remake of mera gaon mera desh. Both movies belong to dharmendra where he the life@soul of both movies.

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