Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Safar" - an unforgettable journey

Whenever asked about my favorite movie- Asit Sen's 1970 hit "Safar" always tops the charts. It's a story of ordinary people scuffling with staggering challenges and compromises. But in this refreshingly non-melodramatic fare - a murmur of protest, an escaped sob and a half-concealed smirk are the only emotional luxuries its characters [Avinash, Neela & Shekhar] can afford themselves in the inexplicable odyssey of life.

A famous song from this film emphasises the primordial requirement for coping instead of moping: 'Nadiya chale chale re dhara, chanda chale chale re taara, tujhko chalna hoga (The river flows on, as does the tide; the moon goes on, as do the stars; you too will have to move on)'

Asit Sen's Avinash [played by Rajesh Khanna] seems more real. He experiences pendulum-like swings from fierce optimism to brooding pessimism as he sings, 'Phool aise bhi hai jo khile hi nahee, jinko khilne ke pehle hi fiza kha gayee (There are flowers that never bloom, autumn sets in even before they can blossom)'

There is this stirring scene in "Safar" where you realise the import of the visual vis-à-vis, the spoken word in cinema. When Avinash asks his doctor Chandra (Ashok Kumar) if he will live long, Chandra places an hourglass on the table. Avinash stares at the rapidly falling grains of sand - he doesn't need an answer.

The film affords a fascinating study of the link between worldly success and male self-worth in the sequences that follow . Rajesh Khanna beautifully conveys his character's desperation and his conviction that surviving by a slender thread is not really living.

If only the motivations for Sharmila's character weren't so often left to the viewers' interpretation, Safar would have featured higher on the list of all-time classics. But nevertheless, this continues to be my all time favourite.

A piece of advice- Don’t opt to watch this one in case you are already somewhat glum ;)

Saw it once more this evening on television, though have lost the count now :P


  1. @ Rajeev

    Cool! Not many ppl seem to like that one as much :)