Reccos: Junoon

This is a slightly edited version of a review that I wrote a few years ago.
Director: Shyam Benegal
Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Nafisa Ali, Naseeruddin Shah, Jennifer Kendal

Junoon, based on Ruskin Bond’s novel A Flight of Pigeonsis the story of Javed Khan (Shashi Kapoor), a pathan, who is smitten by Ruth (Nafisa Ali), a British girl and his obsession for her. Ruth’s father is killed by Sarfraz Khan (Naseeruddin Shah), an indian revolutionary and brother-in-law of Javed. Ruth, her mother and grandmother are all kidnapped by Javed Khan from a money lender’s home where they had taken refuge. Javed Khan, wants to marry Ruth and take her as a second wife but her mother Mariam opposes the marriage by laying out a condition. The rest of the movie is whether Javed keeps his word or will his obsession get the better of him.

The movie is basically a love story set against the backdrop of the Indian mutiny. It is a movie about relationships between people of different cultures, the prejudice, the hatred, love and obsession. Javed is obsessed with Ruth while Sarfraz is obsessed with driving the British out. Mariam is obsessed with protecting her daughter whereas Firdaus is obsessed with her jealousy and anger towards Ruth and her family.

Some scenes are excellent like the one where Ruth’s father is killed by Sarfraz or the scenes where Firdaus displays her resistance to Javed’s second marriage and her jealousy of Ruth. Some scenes stand out like the scene where Mariam lays out the condition for her daughter’s marriage, the silent war between Javed and Mariam and the scenes where Ruth starts to fall for Javed. The best scene of the movie is the one where Sarfraz attacks the pigeons saying “Hum Dilli Har Gaye” – Sarfraz’s heartfelt lament as to the cause of the loss is just brilliant.

I had posted this scene once on NG as Scene of the Week.

Shashi Kapoor is brilliant whether in his display of obsession or his vulnerability. Shabana Azmi is excellent as the angry jealous wife and her expressions in the final scene are marvelous. Naseeruddin Shah is excellent as the angry revolutionary and Jennifer Kendal is like a tigress in the role of a protective mother. Nafisa Ali looks gorgeous and acts well as the naive young girl and Ismat Chughtai, the famous author, acts well as the grandmother of Ruth. The performances by the rest of the supporting cast are good too.

Shyam Benegal’s direction is brilliant. Almost every scene is a gem. This is definitely one of his best movies and one of the best literary adaptations ever made in India. Dialogues by Pandit Satyadev Dubey and Ismat Chughtai are excellent. Cinematography by Govind Nihalani is excellent. Being a period film, the havelis and the costumes are very authentic. The song “Ishq Ne Todi Sar Pe Qayamat” sung by Mohammad Rafi is very good and picturized very well too. The movie won the Filmfare Awards for Best Film and Best Director for Shyam Benegal. It’s a classic not to be missed.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 (Brilliant).

The movie won the following awards according to wikipedia.

1979 National Film Awards awards

Best Feature Film in Hindi – Shashi Kapoor
Best Cinematography – Govind Nihalani
Best Audiography – Hitendra Ghosh

1980 Filmfare Awards awards

Best Film – Shashi Kapoor
Best Director- Shyam Benegal
Best Dialogues – Pandit Satyadev Dubey
Best Editing – Bhanudas Divakar
Best Cinematography – Govind Nihalani
Best Sound Recording – Hitendra Ghosh

  1. Avatar Author
    sputnik 6 years ago

    Imtiaz Ali interview with Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Naseeruddin Shah, Nafisa Ali and Kunal Kapoor about making Junoon.

  2. Avatar Author
    sputnik 6 years ago

    Shashi Kapoor gets Dadasaheb Phalke Award

    Charming Shashi Kapoor, whose nuanced acts in memorable films like “Deewar”, “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”, “Trishul” and “Kabhi Kabhie” captivated Hindi film buffs, will be conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2014, it was announced on Monday.

    The veteran actor-producer, 77, is the 46th winner of the honour, conferred by the government for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian Cinema.

    “Yessssssss! Shashi Kapoor to get the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke award for contribution to Indian Cinema. Well deserved uncle. God Bless,” his nephew, actor Rishi Kapoor, tweeted soon after the news broke.

    “Third Padma Bhushan and third Phalke award in the family. Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor being the other recipients,” he added.

    Born in 1938, Shashi is a well-known actor and producer from the famous Kapoor family, a film dynasty in Bollywood.

    The younger brother of late Raj and Shammi Kapoor, who were both actors par excellence, he started his tryst with acting at the age of four, with plays directed and produced by his father Prithviraj Kapoor.

    He started acting in films as a child in the late 1940s. His best known performances as child artist were in “Aag” (1948) and “Awaara” (1951), where he played the younger version of the character played by his elder brother Raj.

    When he grew up, he made his debut as a leading man in the 1961 film “Dharmputra”, and went on to appear in more than 100 Hindi films.

    A popular name in Bollywood during the 1960s, 1970s and until the mid-1980s, Shashi was one of India’s first actors to go international. He is known internationally for starring in many British and American films, notably Merchant Ivory Proudctions run by Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, such as “The Householder” (1963), “Shakespeare Wallah” (1965), “Bombay Talkie” (1970) and “Heat and Dust“(1982).

    He also starred in other British and American films such as “Siddhartha” (1972) and “Muhafiz” (1994).

    In 1978, Shashi set up his production house Film Valas, which produced critically acclaimed films such as “Junoon” (1978), “Kalyug” (1981), “36 Chowringhee Lane” (1981), “Vijeta” (1982) and “Utsav” (1984).

    He also produced and directed a fantasy film titled “Ajooba”, which had Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi in the lead role.

    In 2011, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, and he is also a proud recipient of three National Film Awards.

    The Dadasaheb Phalke Award entitles him to a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs.10 lakh and a shawl.


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