Masterly Build-up of Trite Theme
Raj Kapoor's "Sangam".
Produced, directed and edited by Raj Kapoor.
Written by Inder Raj Anand.
Lyrics: Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri.
Cinematography: Radhu Karmakar.
Art Direction: M R Acharekar.
Cast: Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala, Rajendra Kumar, Lalita Pawar, Achala.
Extraordinary length, spectacle, lush colour, eye-filling decor, handsome parade of top-notch stars and a story of the widest possible appeal with a good springkling of sex and romance go to make a block buster. A tremendous amount of advance publicity goes into it. It is generally pre-sold and released on what is known as "hard ticket" or "road-show" basis. The purpose of the block buster is to break through audience resistance.
Raj Kapoor's colour opus "Sangam" comes close to this category. Its lavish colour, beautiful photography, rich decor, excellent exteriors and appealing music have a sweeping impact, giving one the illusion of witnessing a Hollywood colour opus.
Impressive though it is in this way, it falls short of expectations. Its blurbs have compared it to "Gone With The Wind." Only where length is concerned does the comparison stand. But one wonders whether that length was necessary at all. For the four long hours it is stretched, what is spun out is a mere triangle drama, Shorn of the visual grandeur of the unfolding, the experience is disappointing.
Highly reminiscent of films like "Andaz" and "Chaudhvin Ka Chand," the story told is that of two friends, Gopal (a prosperous advocate) and Sunder (an Air Force officer), and their love for the same girl, Radha. The consequences are not unimaginable. But what is seen is hard to believe. These two pals, responsible men though they are, act irrationally in the belief that their friendship is more sacred than their love so that they may play with the life of the woman they adore. One feels that, in their hands, Radha is a pitiable victim of a "friendship-at-any-cost" fixation rather than an object of their professed, ardent love.
Strangely, Radha meekly submits to a marriage with a man whom she doesn't love and that too, at the instance of her own fiance! Gopal who loves Radha, and is loved by her, is man enough to live with his sorrow; it is Sunder and Radha who make it impossible for him to do so - the persuasive screenplay establishes this effectively. Not so Sunder's strange, dumb incomprehension of the fact that Radha and Gopal love each other; have done so since their very childhood - this is the screenplay's weakness.