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Waqt is an iconic film in Hindi cinema for various reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first Hindi films that comprised a multi-starrer/ensemble cast. It pioneered the concept of 'lost and found' films which set the trend for countless others to replicate. Besides just giving the viewer, unforgettable dialogues and legendary songs, the film also gave director Yash Chopra his first big success in the industry.
The film set in post-independent India of 1960s, begins with Lala Kedarnath (played by the brilliant Balraj Sahni) and his family reveling in the success of their business fortunes. Kedarnath is a hard-working man, who started out as a laborer and has prospered, thanks to his diligence and dedication and not owing to luck and fortune. He slights astrology saying nothing can come between a man and his mission, not even fate. He is a happy-go-lucky man who wishes the best for his family, wants his three sons (Bablu, Raju, Munna) to become a barrister, a businessman and an engineer, and serenades his beloved wife (Laxmi) with all the love he can, sings for her too!
Fate plays a cruel game with the Kedarnath family as an earthquake strikes their town and their world comes crashing down. Everything that Lala Kedarnath had built in all these years has vanished in a jiffy; what's more, he loses his family too! The film is about how the separated members of the family move on from this travesty and several years down the line, how their lives strangely reconnect with each other.
Balraj Sahni, who plays Lala Kedarnath acts brilliantly throughout the film. Having to play a flourishing businessman, a prison-inmate, a homeless man and a troubled father/husband in the same film is indeed a challenging proposition and Sahni truly does justice to his character. His chemistry with Achala Sachdev in the song Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen is marvelous, and has an old-world charm about it. Sunil Dutt, who plays the adopted son(Bablu/Ravi) in a well-to-do family shines in his role, playing the effervescent charmer in some scenes, acing the lover-boy act in some and eventually bringing out an intense dimension to his character in the courtroom scenes.
Raaj Kumar, who had won a Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the conniving Raju/Raja, steals the show. Akhtar-ul-Iman, the dialogue writer has given Kumar the best lines. Kumar has performed with abandon and the all-consuming swagger that he was always been associated with. Shashi Kapoor plays the reticent Munna/Vijay Kumar with such sincerity that even with an understated role; he manages to excel despite the limitations.
One thing the film should be lauded for is its representation of women. Fortunately, no stereotypes exist in the film. There are no instances of a housewife being troubled, a rich girl throwing tantrums or any scene that show women to be the weaker sex. The women in the film, be it the mother Achala Sachdev or the leading ladies Sharmila Tagore and Sadhana, are independent, confident and strong willed, besides all of them look breathtakingly beautiful. They have been given powerful characters and are not sidelined in the film. The supporting characters in the film too have given brilliant performances hence uplifting the quality of the cinematic experience.
The editing by Pran Mehra is crisp. There's barely a lull moment in the movie. The music composed by Ravi Shankar Sharma is melodious and some of the numbers in the soundtrack are still instilled in the minds of the viewers. The song Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen has become one of the most memorable romantic songs of all time. Composed by Ustad Abdul Ghafoor Breshna from Afghanistan, crooned by the brilliant Manna Dey and enacted by the outstanding histrionics of Balraj Sahni, the song has become a cult in the annals of Hindi cinema. The script penned by Akhtar Mirza is entertaining and thought provoking at the same time. The only flaw the reviewer could possibly find with the plot was there are simply too many co-incidences in the film. However, without them Waqt would not be the stroke of genius as it is, so the leaps of faith are well and truly, acceptable.
Finally, the star of the show is beyond doubt, the director Yash Chopra who manages to bring together this eclectic group and delivers a cinematic genius that has been marveled for decades and will continue to be for many more to come. This film has everything in it - comedy, drama, romance, suspense, good music and more importantly a message. Words said by Lala Kedarnath in the final few moments of the film, Waqt Hi Banaata Hai Aur Waqt Hi Bigaadta Hai give the viewer so much more to think about. This film is for the archives and merits a more-than-once viewing. The reviewer gives Waqt 3.5 stars and recommend it as a must watch. Waqt is your time, well-spent!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars