Valentine’s Week of Sex: Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Peak Sharmila and Shashi Get Naked in a Cabin

Woo-hoo, first new review! Starting on top with arguably the two most attractive people in 1970s Hindi film, Sharmila and Shashi. Get them naked in a cabin, and you’ve really got something!

Oh the 1970s in Hindi film! When heroines had professions, and bouffants. And men had shag cuts and tortured backstories. And most of all, when a wee bit of sexual indiscretion was par for the course and we all kind of didn’t care. Oh, and also Om Prakash was there.

Image result for aa gale lag jaa poster"

The world of this film is just a fun fun world. There’s rollerskating and costume contests and a game of musical chairs at a society party. On paper this is a story that has a kind of Russian tragedy sweep to it, but in presentation it’s just silly. Even when Shashi is swooning around biting his knuckles, it’s still happy. And Sharmila may go through terrible things in her life, but it never effects her hair or fashion sense.

Can we have a moment for Sharmila’s AMAZING clothes??? And it’s not the 70s, it’s her! Other actresses just don’t look so dang fabulous. On the other hand, Shashi was fine for me in the first bit, but freakin’ awesome in the second bit. Has there ever been a Hindi actor better at playing kind and mature but with a big beating heart inside of him waiting for just one woman than Shashi? When he cheerfully turns away young Roohi Berde because he can only love one woman, or smiles through the pain at Sharmila, I DIE. Really, they are just the best couple.

Not the best couple for chemistry necessarily. Not necessarily the worst, their fine. But definitely a couple that is so awesome on their own, I don’t necessarily need to see them together that much. I suppose that is why this isn’t the bestest sexest movie, I think Sharmila would have as much fun having sex with pretty much anyone, and same for Shashi.

Which brings me to Shatrughan Sinha. No one should have sex with Shatrughan Sinha. He is fun, super super fun, but not sexy. Kind of inhumanly perfect and always alone with a mustache.

Oh, and there is arguably a “consent” controversy with the sex scene in this one, but I am landing on “totally consensual” for reasons I will explain below. Enjoy!

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Shashi meets Sharmila in a resort town where she is a med student and he is unemployed. He chases her around while she dimples at him, and then while roller skating in the mountains, they fall down a mountain and Sharmila lands in an icy lake and gets hypothermia. Shashi sends his friend for a doctor, but the friend gets distracted. Shashi tries to light a fire, but the gosh darn matches don’t work. He has no other choice but (as recommended by Sharmila’s professor in a class Shashi overheard) to strip them both naked and get in bed with Sharmila to share body head. Cut to the two of them sitting awkwardly on opposite sides of the room while Shashi apologizes and Sharmila starts to smile and cheerfully agrees to marry him. But Sharmila’s rich father Om Prakash is not thrilled. He intercepts a note from Shashi to Sharmila and makes it appear that Shashi just wanted a pay off to leave Sharmila alone. Sharmila refuses to speak to Shashi and leaves town to return to her fiance Shatrughan Sinha. And then faints and learns she is pregnant. Luckily, Shatrughan is leaving to study overseas for years and years, which gives Om Prakash time to work out his plan. He tucks Sharmila away at a friend’s nursing home and plans to take her baby away, lie it was still born, and then give it to an orphanage. But coincidentally, Shashi’s mother is at the same nursing home and Shashi sees Om with the baby. He begs to raise the child himself, Om convinces him that Sharmila didn’t want him or the baby and Shashi promises never to bother her.

7 years later, Shashi is a skating instructor in Bombay with an adorable son who is crippled (for some reason), and young Roohi Berde is his student with a crush on him, and coincidentally Shatrughan Sinha’s younger sister. She invites him to a party to welcome Shatrughan home, and he meets Sharmila again, and Sharmila meets her son for the first time (without knowing it is her son), and Om Prakash meets Shashi and his grandson and knows EVERYTHING. Sharmila is confused by her feelings and starts seeking out Shashi to try to understand him. Shashi is clear to her and Roohi that he loves his “wife”, the mother of his child, and will never love anyone else. Om Prakash softens as he starts to know the boy, and Shatrughan declares he will use his Foreign Knowledge to cure his crippledness. Sharmila finally confronts Shashi with the fake letter and he realizes that if he reveals the truth to her, it will hurt Shatrughan who is going to make his son walk again, and so lies that it is true. Shatrughan finds out part of the truth and thinks Shashi is a seducer of rich woman and warns his sister away from him. But his sister goes off to meet Shashi secretly, only to discover it was a trap and she is really meeting evil Prem Chopra and gang who attack her. Shashi appears and saves her but is injured. Shatrughan is the only doctor who can save him. Before he goes into surgery, Shashi gives his son a photo of “his mother” to open if he dies. Sharmila finds the photo and realizes SHE is the mother!!!!! And then Shashi comes out of surgery and is fine, their son can walk again too, and it ends with everyone roller skating together (Om Prakash, Roohi Berde, Shatrughan, the son, Sharmila, and Shashi).

Okay, let’s back up and consider if “sharing bodyheat” is rape or not. I say, NO! Here is my reasoning. We see that Sharmila is not unconscious when Shashi crawls under the blanket with her, although she is shivering and confused. Earlier when she started to fall asleep, he woke her so she wouldn’t slip into unconsciousness. Presumably he continued that policy and Sharmila was conscious for the whole night. If she was conscious, then sexual intercourse without consent would have been a traumatic experience, right? But the next day while she starts thoughtful, she quickly turns very very smilely. I am getting less “traumatized” and more “very sexually satisfied”. Going right to her beaming at him and saying “All I need is love” as she manouvers him into a proposal.

It’s largely performance, and my interpretation. You could look at the same basic data and assume a rape and a woman sacrificially deciding to make the best of it. But Sharmila is just sooooooo goofy happy, and Shashi switches to “happy” from “guilty” with a speed that says “I had sex with a girl I wasn’t married to…but she liked it so it’s cool” more than “I raped someone but now I am marrying her so it’s cool” to me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Sharmila and Shashi were flirting, ended up in bed naked together, natural things occurred, the next day Shashi felt bad because he is a good boy and knows good girls aren’t supposed to do that stuff, but Sharmila felt great because good girls really do like doing that stuff.

Image result for aa gale lag jaa sharmila tagore"

Now what I really love is that Om Prakash’s reaction isn’t “the horror! My daughter is ruined, I will throw her out” but instead “blech, I hate Shashi! She’s gonna marry someone else, virginity-smiginity”. Really, everyone is supes cas about this whole accidental sex before marriage and then pregnancy plot. Sharmila and Shashi are heartbroken, but not because they had sex, because they are in love and think they were betrayed by the other one. Sharmila gets pregnant and is all “woo-hoo! A baby!”. Doesn’t even feel ashamed or guilty a little bit. Om’s whole thing with hiding her and hiding the baby doesn’t seem to be so much about protecting “honor” in the abstract as protecting Sharmila’s engagement to Shatrughan by removing any messy obstacles.

Of course taking the baby away and lying to Sharmila about it is a really sucky thing to do. And the film doesn’t turn away from that either. Sharmila is devastated to lose her baby, and is still sad about it years later. Om’s evil plan works, in that Sharmila is so upset about the whole thing that it is easier for her to just pretend it never happened, like Om wants.

The true genius is in the Shakuntala gender flip with Shashi. Shakuntala, the Ring Cycle, Sleeping Beauty, Ramayana, all those stories of the prince who sleeps with the beautiful stranger, and then leaves her to raise their child alone until years later when they are all reunited. It takes Om Prakash doing complicated things, and some crazy coincidences, but it ends with Shashi being ever faithful to the wife who abandoned him and their child, while Sharmila goes on to live a life of glamour and ease and move on to a new love. Until at the last minute she discovers her forgotten husband and child. Every other version of this story has the woman as sad and alone and struggling while the man goes off and lives happily unaware, this time Sharmila gets the palace and Shashi gets the crib. HA!

Plus, there’s roller-skating! So much roller skating. Sharmila and Shashi meet at a roller rink when they are paired for a skating contest and win, Shashi chases her down on skates and is there to help her skate down the mountain when her car breaks down, then he becomes a skating teacher to support their child, and finally has a skate-fight to save Roohi. Roller-skating, babies, good sex, single father, Sharmila wearing outfits that I would kill for, it’s the perfect movie.

Image result for sharmila tagore aa gale lag jaa"

7 thoughts on “Valentine’s Week of Sex: Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Peak Sharmila and Shashi Get Naked in a Cabin

  1. I’ve seen that same consent interpretation before, and it’s valid, but to me it reminds me of too many irl harrassment situations to roll with it. I’m not into Shashi’s character the entire first half, because I hate the chasing dynamic, then it’s his fault she even falls into the lake, then the consent thing… I just pretend the first half doesn’t exist except for the “freeze me like chicken or ice cream” moment.

    The rest of the movie is amazing. Skate fights! Psychosomatic polio! Sharmila and Shashi look amazing! And that song where he heart-brokenly plays the accordion while roller skating is one of my favourite scenes in all of film history. I think it was in that bio of Shashi that he nearly got injured so many times during the skate action scenes, and he phoned his wife to cry about it, which just makes it even more hilarious.

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    • Oh oh! I just had another thought! I also don’t like the chase dynamic in the first half, but it does lead into the misunderstanding. Sharmila believes that Shashi is a gigolo and a golddigger because he chased her so hard, knowing she was rich. And Shashi believes Sharmila never really loved him because she didn’t chase him.

      But yes, the second half is amazing. And I love that Shashi story, thank you! Of course he called Jennifer to cry about it, poor little Shashi needed his Jennifer. She probably gave him permission to have one sweet with his lunchtime salad, just this once, to feel better.

      On Tue, Feb 4, 2020 at 2:22 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • True! And he gets punished enough for it. But I just hate watching it, and it makes the consent issues automatically worse for me.

        lol it’s so perfect, like a child calling their mum because they’re homesick staying over.

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  2. I’ve avoided watching this movie because of the problematic sex scene but your rationale convinced me to give it a chance. The first half is indeed very problematic and I don’t know how forgiving I’d be if Shashi Kapoor wasn’t doing all the crazy-stalker stunts his character pulls here but the second half makes up for it. Bonus for cute little Kunal Kapoor.

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    • Is that Kunal? Wait, is he the son or just a random skating kid?

      And yes indeed, the second half is great! Basically everything post the decision to get married is delightfully Masala, including the Dramatic Death of Mother moment.

      On Wed, Feb 5, 2020 at 2:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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