Monday , 19 November 2018
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Undressing relationships

Film: Libaas

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Raj Babbar

Directed by: GulzarWatching ‘Libaas’ (1988), the film written and directed by Gulzar, on which he based a short story ‘Seema’, published in a collection titled ‘Raavi Paar’, is nothing short of revisiting vintage works of this celebrated filmmaker. The fact that the film was never released made the watching experience more poignant as it effectively showed how far the exercise of filmmaking has come from that of the classical works of those masters who knew the power of cinema.

Like Gulzar’s films ‘Aandhi’ and ‘Ijaazat’, which tackled the topic of human relationships in general and marital discord in particular, ‘Libaas’ narrates the tale of a married couple, Sudhir (Naseeruddin Shah) and Seema (Shabana Azmi), who follow a career in theatre. They subsequently drift apart over a period due to the discontent that brews in Seema. The entry of Sudhir’s wealthy friend T K (Raj Babbar) widens the chasm between the two, resulting in her divorcing Sudhir and marrying T K.

The extreme step, however, fails to satisfy Seema, as she is unsure of what she wants. As a result, she constantly oscillates between her past and present husbands on many occasions, sometimes deliberately and at other times accidentally. It takes a short separation from T K for Seema to realize what her actual desire in life is.

Though the film has some technical flaws, its fluid narrative and the first rate treatment in the departments of acting, writing and direction lift it. The simple yet effective dialogues, which are Gulzar’s forte, are the highlight of the film. The film has many interesting scenes of which the one in which neo-playwright Mukulda, brilliantly portrayed by Annu Kapoor, makes a satirical statement on present day stage writing, stands out.

Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Raj Babbar impress with their effortless acting, while the supporting cast of Utpal Dutt, A K Hangal and Sushma Seth aptly fits the bill.

‘Libaas’ also marks the last collaboration between music director R D Burman and Gulzar, with songs like ‘Sili hawa’ and ‘Khamosh sa afsana’ reiterating the mastery of Burman over melody. The film in short is a work that yet again displays the power of a filmmaker, who has successively enthralled audiences with his novel films with innovative themes.

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