This is SUCH a fun movie! And, Shashi wears an army officer’s uniform almost the entire time. Also, I know I am a day late on this review, but it kind of works well that I am writing it on Holi, because it fits with the kind of fun silly and a little flirty feel of the holiday.
It’s just such a happy movie! If it were made now, it would be all serious and dark, but back then romance could be romance and masala masala, and nothing really had to make sense, either emotionally or logically. If you had a good central surprise twist to the plot, and plenty of fun song ideas and gorgeous costumes, that’s all you needed! None of this silly nonsense about the inner truth of a character and making a social statement and BLEH. No realism either, who needs realism? It’s the movies!
And yet, it also made me feel real things! More than a lot of the modern movies that are actually about real things. Raakhee’s performance, both her performances, made me care about and worry about her characters. And Shashi, besides being gorgeous, also sold a nervous breakdown. I worried about them and I wanted them to be happy. And I was so excited when we got to the happy ending.
Part of the reason it worked was that the structure was so good, and so traditional. Big twist right at the intermission, big finale action sequence, slow intro to the characters at the beginning, and so on. There’s a reason this is the structure, it just works, driving the audience forward through the plot and keeping the characters’ emotional lives up and down and up and down and then up again.
(okay, seriously don’t read the Spoilers this time! The plot is so twisty it’s amazing, and you will enjoy the film so much more not knowing what is about to happen)
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We start with two sisters, Raakhee 1 and Raakhee 2. Raakhee 1 is sweet and painfully shy. Not shy like proper and correct, but like it is an actual behavorial issue. She wants to get married, her parents keep bringing her prospective grooms and she keeps being so shy that she can’t even look up, and the engagements don’t happen.
Raakhee 2, on the other hand, so a thrill seeker, so confident and wild that it can get her in trouble. She goes off for a weekend in a ski cottage with her friends and forgets to bring food, and so volunteers to sneak into the nearby officers club and steal food from the army. She gets in, gets caught, and runs out, only to fall in the snow. Shashi saves her and takes her back to her friends, brings food too, and sings them a song. Love Happens!
Shashi then goes back home to talk to his Catholic Priest uncle because he wants to get married. His uncle takes him to see Raakhee 1, and there is a misunderstanding, Shashi thinks she is Raakhee 2 because they look the same and chalks up her shyness to embarassment in front of her family. He confirms the engagement, and Raakhee 2 is over the moon! Especially when she catches him singing a love song in the trees. Until the mistake is discovered, Shashi is embarrassed and talks to his uncle, his uncle talks to the Raakhees’ family, and Raakhee 1 agrees to sacrifice her love for the happiness of Shashi and Raakhee 2, plus because it is the right thing to do, Raakhee 1 only got a confirmed engagement because of a mistake. Shashi and Raakhee 2 are united and happy.
They even have a fun little moment by the hotel pool when a sleazy dude sees Raakhee 2 swimming and comes on to her, and Shashi fights him while Raakhee cheers. Sleazy dude complains to the big boss, who ignores him. It’s all in good fun, it’s all silly and a little wild but mostly just fun, hanging out at pools and getting into fights and so on.
It’s also fun when Raakhee 2 gets flowers at the house, delivered with a mysterious note, and rushes off thinking she is going to secretly meet Shashi. Only to discover, SLEAZY DUDE! He tricked her, he is waiting for her, and then he attacks her. It’s a very well done attack, you want her to fight him off, and when she gets to the car and tries to run him over, you are cheering for her. Until reality arrives with the police and she suddenly realizes she just killed someone. And we, the audience, are right there with her! Fear at the attack, triumph and anger as she breaks free, cheering her to kill, and then terror as she realizes she has a dead body on her hands and starts speeding down the highway away from the police. And then DEATH! Raakhee 2 is DEAD!!!! And that’s how you do an interval!
Post-interval, there are so many questions! How will Raakhee 1 react? What about Shashi? What will HAPPEN??? And we get right into it. Wedding preparations dramatically interrupted, sobbing parents, etc. etc. And Raakhee 1 trying to do the right thing, writing a letter to Shashi explaining the thing and making sure he is okay with them still being married. A letter which GOES ASTRAY!!!! And leads to a truly amazing scene of the kind that only a movie that fully commits to the BONKERS would do.
See, the last minute bride swap, that’s a common plot moment. The last minute bride swap where the new bride is secretly in love with the groom, also common. Last minute bride swap where the new bride is secretly in love with the groom and the groom doesn’t even know that something has happened because the two brides look identical? TWIST! And the bride thinks he does know and is okay with it? DOUBLE TWIST!
And then the hits just keep coming! Shashi reacts in horror and goes running off into the night when he learns Rakhee 1 isn’t Raakhee 2 and Raakhee 2 is dead. Rakhee 1 attempts suicide. She is saved, but the marriage is still in trouble with Shashi living in the officer’s quarters. But then Shashi gets in an accident! In his delirium, he keeps calling for Raakhee 2, he doesn’t seem willing to come back to life. Devoted wife Raakhee 1 has no other choice. She appears that night dressed and acting like Raakhee 2!
Except, not quite. This is a silly silly movie, but it does something kind of brilliant with Raakhee 1. She doesn’t change herself, not exactly, she fixes herself. The version that she is when she is pretending to be Raakhee 2 isn’t really Raakhee 2, it is just Raakhee 1 inspired to overcome her crippling shyness and be her real self. In her love song with Shashi, she soothes his head on her lap, smiles at him, dances for him, all the things that Raakhee 2 was too bouncy and modern to do, and just plain didn’t care enough to do. The woman that Shashi falls in love with isn’t Raakhee 2, it’s Raakhee 1, just a Raakhee 1 who has the courage to be herself. These two crazy kids might have a chance!
And then, TWIST! Raakhee 2 NEVER DIED! Instead, she has been living in sin with the boss of the sleazy man from the hotel! The whole thing was a set-up, to get her out of her life and let her start fresh! Which also means that she never loved Shashi, it’s not really a love triangle, it is Raakhee 1 and Shashi being perfect for each other but Shashi being too blind to see it because Raakhee 2 is so much more outgoing and exciting.
Oh, and it means that this movie is super silly and fun. We find out that Raakhee 2 is alive thanks to Shashi getting a briefing from his superior officer about SPIES. Raakhee 2 is now working for a spy ring for unclear reasons, sneaking into offices and stealing secrets and stuff. Shashi is heartbroken, thinking his beloved wife is the spy, but goes home and checks her for a scar and discovers she is a different woman. And also begins to suspect that there is something funny going on with Raakhee 2 versus Raakhee 1 and he may not be married to the person he thinks he is married to.
This whole thing is so perfectly logical and yet illogical. Raakhee 2 catches Shashi’s attention because she is sneaking in to steal food, we know she is a thrill seeker and a good liar, taking these traits and turning them into her being a spy kind of makes sense. Shashi is an army officer, which is how he and Raakhee 1 can have this odd marriage where he is gone a lot without it seeming odd. And it also ties in neatly with why Raakhee 2 would have flirted with him, and why he would get the briefing that tells him she is a spy. It’s all perfectly reasonable, so long as you throw out stuff like “why would an anti-spy person be in the regular army? Why has his superior never even seen a photo of his wife and learned it is the same woman as the spy they are chasing?”
My favorite part is what this says about Raakhee 1 and Raakhee 2 as characters. The “shy traditional” versus “wild outgoing” female character double part is done a lot. Only in this movie, they show that it’s not contrasting personality types so much as contrasting dangerous personality issues that have to be overcome. Raakhee 1 has a crippling shyness, but her love for Shashi forces her to overcome that. Raakhee 2 has a dangerous desire for thrill seeking, she doesn’t overcome it until it is too late for her, she is already in too deep. Both Raakhees could have had their lives destroyed by their problems, Raakhee 2 isn’t fully evil, and Raakhee 1 isn’t fully good, they are both just flawed.
Oh, and then my other favorite part is the BONKERS ENDING!!!! Raakhee 2 is beginning to get scared that she is in too deep, and at the same time sees Raakhee 1 and Shashi on a date at the nightclub/hotel where she is hiding out. She figures out that Raakhee 1 stole her life, her perfect fiance, her everything.
She sneaks away and goes to their house to confront Raakhee 1, who feels terrible guilt for what she has done, because she really did steal Raakhee 2’s life. Raakhee 1 goes off pretending to be Raakhee 2, so Raakhee 2 can be with Shashi. But Shashi has by this time begun to figure out what is happening, picks up on the clues that Raakhee 2 is a different woman immediately, and challenges her to tell him where his wife is. Very interesting identity bending at this point, the whole Raakhee 2 versus Raakhee 1 thing doesn’t matter any more, Shashi just knows there is a woman who is his wife and he loves and this woman isn’t here. Raakhee 2 ends up dying accidentally, which is a surprise. She is morally ambiguous until the end, she doesn’t live long enough to redeem herself, or to be punished in court, she just dies unhappy and confused. It would be sad, except that we move right along to the AWESOME ENDING! An out of control plane, with a bomb, a gun, two men fighting, an open door, and the whole thing is heading to the side of a mountain. Now THAT’s an ending!!!!!