A Guide to ShashiThis part features Sharmilee (1971) as well as two of the 13 (according to IMDb) films in which Shashi acts alongside Sharmila Tagore: Aamne Samne (1967) and Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973). Let's start with Aamne Samne, a love story and thriller starring Shashi and Sharmila Tagore. The film starts on a sinister note: Deepak was accused of having murdered his wife but has been acqitted because there was no evidence. He changes his name and moves to a new apartment. His neighbour is Sapna, who is not only beautiful but also rich. And engaged to Prem (Prem Chopra). Of course that's not a problem and soon they get married in secret.
Not long after somebody tries to murder Sapna ... After the initial romantic bit, Aamne Samne quickly turns into a thriller. Shashi's character is delightfully shady and you really aren't sure if he's a bad guy or not. Shashi's performance is fantastic as is Sharmila's and the two actors are definitely the best thing about the film. Director Suraj Prakash manages to create some real suspense but there are also lots of scenes, especially too much unneccessary comedy, that disturb the pace of the film and the climax is a wee bit too over the top. However, it's definitely worth watching and of course, the music is great. (Lots of psychedelic 60s head shaking! Yay!)
Next: Sharmilee (or Sharmeelee) , in which we get to watch Adorable!Shashi (in a uniform!) and equally cute Rakhee (in a double role!). Kanchan and Kamini are twins but totally different in character. While Kanchan is pathetically shy, friends with all sorts of small, furry animals and unfortunately also sort of boring, Kamini is the exact opposite: she's the epitome of the westernized girl, lots of fun and very likely to get in trouble.
Which she does right away, while on a trip to Kashmir. Luckily, the soldiers whose kitchen she tries to raid are nice blokes and don't try to shoot her on sight and so she gets to meet our dashing hero, Ajit. Who writes poetry. *sigh* Of course soldierboy is completely fascinated by Kamini - but doesn't manage to get her adress or anything. India is a small country after all ... Visiting his foster father Ajit is asked to consider marrying the neighbours' daughter - Kanchan, who he of course mistakes for Kamini. And trust me - he's not happy when he finds out the truth ...
Sharmilee is quite enjoyable to watch (and not just because Shashi is extra good-looking), the songs are nice, the fashion is fantastic and the actors are a real pleasure, especially as the chemistry between Shashi and Rakhee is wonderful. However, the characterizations, the morals and the overall message might be a bit difficult to digest from a point of view that is as far removed from the context of the film as mine is for example. There are great posts by Beth and Carla on that question and also a really interesting article over at Bollywood501 - go read them now! (Okay, you can wait until after you finish this post ...)
And finally: Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) is definitely even more fun: Shashi! Sharmila! Rollerskates! Manmohan Desai! RD Burman!
Shashi plays Prem, a rollerskating teacher who isn't the luckiest of people. He has just lost his job and is pretty broke when he meets Preeti, who is studying medicine. Of course she thinks he's an idiot, he falls in love with her etc. When Prem has to save Preeti's life by warming her up one night, she gets pregnant (for an in-depth-discussion of that crucial scene read Beth's post at Desicritics).
Everything could be perfect if it wasn't for Preeti's dad, who doesn't want her to marry just any poor guy. His chosen son-in-law is the good-looking doctor Amar (Shatrugan Sinha) and so he does everything in his power to tear our happy couple apart. And he's successful. For the time being. The music is great fun, there's rollerskating galore, the lead actors are great in their roles (I especially liked Shatrugan Sinha's character) and this is one of the few films which have a child actor (Master Tito) I not only manage to tolerate but actually really like. Manmohan Desai manages to combine the plot of a romantic comedy with some great lost-and-found masala fun into a highly entertaining package. If you're prone to sentimental tears - make sure you have a few boxes of Kleenex ready!