CASD -DEV ANAND -MUMTAZ-HEMA MALINI
MUSIC -SD BURMAN
A.J.CRONIN while writing CITADEL would have deemed it improbable that the definitive film adaptation of his very English prose will come from the imagination of an Indian auteur but that the world is bizarre and Vijay Anand took upon himself the ambitious task of bringing home the tale of medical corruption and commercialised health care being treated like a corrupt demimonde with professionals running a consumer bazaar akin to pimps and prostitutes ,where patients become victimised items to be profited with like trading goods in an immoral trafficking of ailing human bodies .
The plot evolves as a young doctor sets up a rural practice with lofty dreams and pristine ideals to serve humanity with his pretty wife in a small indian town ,but the dreams are cruelly shattered when a local landlord almost runs over the wife ,aborting her pregnancy and then a corrupt cop is bribed to supress the investigation.
The couple move to Bombay and the doctor enters a world of professional vultures where he slowly transforms into a replica of the people he shuns and have victimised him in the first place ,while the wife silently watches his obsession with the new found fame and wealth she also reminisces about their idealistic past and their benevolent dreams .
This is a very ethereal concept about the grey line where you cannot distinguish between right and wrong and here the gold standard is a mere ideal,as no offence is being committed and no law is broken but the human conscience is being tainted in a silent erosive degeneration which will ultimately end in some deep pit of seething filth .
The script by Vijay anand here takes a sharp turn and introduces a memorable character into the life of the couple ,a Bollywood superstar Hema Malini played by herself ,an exquisite creature laden with wealth and fame ,beauty and talent who is as tortured and lonely as a bird trapped in a golden cage ,given to hysterical blues and outbursts of manic-depression episodes, she becomes gradually and subtly involved with the handsome young doctor ,unaware that he is married and you find yourself sympathizing with all three characters as they are caught unaware in a moral paradox .
The director has extracted the best from his three protagonists in a flurry of talent where Dev anand as doctor is both superbly convincing and professional ,while Mumtaz as the disillusioned sufferring wife is playing a miserable woman caught in a spectral nightmare in possibly her best role ever .
Yet the scene stealer here is Hema Malini in her poignantly heart-breaking glamorous version of a forlorn woman and her monologue rendered in a single take itself about her dismal existence is enough to make this a classic alone as that sequence ought to be a textbook for students of cinema in how to elicit solo shot close-up confessions .
As for Dev anand this must be his best work in a real time world where he is playing an ordinary man who is not larger than life and he has done full justice to his role along with Mumtaz as an average middle-class Indian house-wife .
Yet the movie is a credit to the maker and he has inserted a superb soundtrack by S.D.BURMAN to deify his fecund facade with a melodious soul where the music reverberates to the celestial tones of the soulful script and enriches the narrative immensely with the exquisitely filmed songs that are eternally memorable .
Vijay anand at his realistic best with no gimmicks or formulas but just a powerful story and perfectly rounded yet grey characters which become memorable with their gravely nostalgic appeal and their human fragile dreams which are handled with meticulous care by a master story-teller with razor sharp editing and superlative camera work .
The best cinema adaptation of Citadel that retains the soul of the prosaic book while augmenting it with a contemporary feel for all times to come in a simple artistic yet natural style .