The word association I have with leprosy is Mother Teresa, India, and Jesus. After reading this,
Many doctors view leprosy as a scourge of Biblical times or faraway places, but there are still thousands of U.S. cases, with more diagnosed each year, experts say (source)
maybe I’ll associate leprosy with the U.S. now too. This map shows that I wasn’t too wrong to associate leprosy with India. The WHO has all the latest leprosy statistics HERE.
With all the Bollywood movies I’ve seen, you’d think I would have run across a leper sooner than now, but it took Desh Premee (1982) to expose me to my first Bollywood leper, Shamila Tagore, as Bharati. Finally! And speaking of me associating Jesus and lepers, Amitabh breaks out with the most Jesus looking parts in this film. Just look at him suffering here. —————>
If that doesn’t remind you of Jesus and his crown of thorns, I don’t know what will. I know with Christmas right around the corner it’s baby Jesus time of year and not crown of thorns Jesus time, but still, I’m technically working in a Christmas theme.
Since it’s a Manmohan Desai film, I’ll save my self a lot of explaining and refer you to this SYNOPSIS. An extra bonus to the film is Shammi Kapoor playing a lovable, chunky Sikh. You can see a bit of Sikh Shammi in this number.
More and more I’m loving Kader Khan as a villian. Have you seen him in Tawaif? In Desh Premee Khan plays Sher Singh who snatchs Bharati from her freedom fighter, patriot husband (Amitabh) as part of a revenge plot. Sher Singh lusts after Bharati for years, yet she remains faithful to her husband who believes her to be dead. Bharti is repulsed by the scoundrel and tells him:
Careful what you wish for Bharati! Evil Sher Singh puts Bharati up in a filthy rat infested hovel and she comes down with leprosy. I don’t think leprosy is passed by rats, but you get the point watching the scene in her new home when a rat crawls out of a hole in a wall: Rat = dirty = bad = leprosy. As a means to depict how depraved Sher Singh is, he’s shown frolicking with trashy goris. Look! One gori is drinking, the other is smoking, while one clutches his leg. Dirty! Bad!
When I see them, I lose track of the film and am instantly plopped into reality and think stuff like, “Are these German toursists? They look German. How did they get these parts? I wonder why they were traveling in India? Are they friends?” OK, back to the film. After years Bharti returns, in the midst of Sher Singh’s debauchery. He thought she’d never come around to his advances and that this is finally his lucky day!
Then she says what he’s dreamed of hearing her say…
HA! Tricked! Take THAT Sher Singh!
Have you seen leprosy in any Bollywood movies? I would also like to include the image of another one of the bad guys from the film, just because I wanted to show the world his shirt and scarf.
OK, to end on a happy note, forget about the leprosy and check out Hema Malini and Amitabh in blackface performing Gori Nahin Hum Kaali Sahi, with music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The playback singers are Asha Bhosle and the song’s writer, Laxmikant. This video either needs no introduction or a really big one, I can’t tell.
If you click on the video and it says embedding disabled, just click it again to get there.
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