The timeless quality of director Yash Chopra is most suitably seen in the ageless tale of Yash Raj's earlier film Waqt. Despite the fact that he doesn't have a story as compelling or interesting as say Silsila or Ittefaq, Waqt is forever a Yash Raj classic enabling entertainment which can mostly be attributed to Yash´s masterful story telling, a talented and beautiful cast and melodious music which in itself resonates the title in being timeless.
The film revolves around Lala Kedarnath (Balraj Sahani), a well respected and rich man who from his hard work now has a very successful business, three sons who he cherishes to bits and a beautiful wife (Achla Sachdev). Life couldn't get better for Lala until disaster strikes and fate plays a cruel twist. An earthquake strikes leaving Lala Kedarnath’s entire home, business and family shattered into pieces. Kedarnath tries very hard to find his entire family after the quake but he fails.
He finds news that his eldest son is at an orphan home, but upon getting there he learns that he has run away after the owner there (Jeevan) had beaten him up. In a fit of rage Kedarnath kills him and gets himself a life sentence in jail.
Time passes and Kedarnath’s oldest son Raja (Raj Kumar) has now become a master jewel thief and a criminal at that. His middle son Ravi was found by good hearted couple and Ravi becomes a well educated lawyer while his youngest son Vijay (Shashi Kapoor) who was lucky enough to have his mom with him has finished school and has acquired his degree. Unfortunately, due to a lack of jobs he can only become a taxi driver. Through the passing of "waqt", these family members face their tribulations, trials and strive to some how meet each other.
Writer F. A. Mirza has kept the occurrences within the ranges of simplicity and allowed for each sequence to flow just as simply. Yash Chopra has ensured that his screenplay be kept within the limitations of the script and in return the last half hour of the film is simply concise and impactful. The anticipation that builds in that hour right up to the climax where the entire lost family is involved in a court case without knowing shows a command over making the film. Very clever indeed!
A large star cast embalms the film though the performances are not the complete attraction of the film. Raj Kumar gives the best performance in the endeavor. He looks very young and fresh here and his dialogue delivery is impeccable. He plays the thief with a heart of gold to utmost perfection and the scenes he shares with his boss or with Sadhna are great. Sunil Dutt also delivers a good performance. He depicts a very spirited and lively young man easily. However, when he is in the same frame as Raj Kumar, Raj clearly overshadows him with his booming voice and deadly presence, but that is not Dutt’s fault. His histrionics are displayed in the climax court case where he is dead set remarkable.
Shashi Kapoor has the shortest role of the cast and is clearly a disappointment. He is without a doubt a great actor, but here he hasn't been given much scope to perform. Balraj Sahani is very good in his role. His character of Lala Kedarnath is larger than life, and though this is nothing compared to roles Sahani has done in the past he works well with what he is given. From the females Sadhna has the meatiest part and performs ably. She shares good chemistry with Raj and Sunil. Sharmila Tagore in a shorter role is also good, though there is no one scene where she leaves an impact. Achla Sachdev does her role as required and the same goes for the rest of the cast. Jeevan is very un-likeable in a small cameo.
Yash Chopra’s direction is without a doubt the major highlight of the movie. Despite the fact the story doesn't seem as innovative (and was used to death by the time 80´s arrived), he directs the film with flair and passion. The movie flows very well with an excellent pace. He manages to extract wonderful performances from his cast, and full credit must go to him in the pre-climax of the movie where the court-case kicks in. He has handled it with the right amount of tension and grip. How the climax falls together is also well done. This is clearly a work of a true master storyteller, and one of the best of our time.
Musically, the music director Ravi's tunes are beautiful, but not akin to regular Yash Chopra musicals and nor is it the major attractant. The picturizations also fail to register much impact, but they are complimenting to the script.
The film also abounds in technical values which are essential in capturing the sense of the drama involved. The earthquake scene has been shot perfectly and the other technical values in the film are good. Editing is slick and the cinematography is nice.
Waqt is indeed a classic of an era gone by. It may not live up to the other Chopra classics but has its share of attractants. Whatever the case may be, it is easily worth a watch and will prove to an asset to your DVD collection.