Kasme Vaade is at the present moment one of the more neglected films of Amitabh Bachchan´s remarkably illustrious career. This is unfortunate as the movie is considerably superior to better-known films of the actor´s repertoire like Namak Halal and Sharaabi. Even though it is not of the eminence of a Trishul or a Kaala Pathar or a Don it yet has a lot going for it in terms of an engaging narrative, a good soundtrack, and another splendid performance by Bachchan. This was the period in the latter´s career when everything that he touched turned to gold and this movie is no exception.
Amit (Amitabh Bachchan), a college professor in the most idyllic of settings, falls in love with Suman (Raakhee) and then indulges in a very long courtship of five years. The somewhat remarkable reason is his promise to his father that he will only do so after his brother is settled in life. The brother, Raju (Randhir Kapoor), leads a rather dissolute lifestyle engaging in everything from drinking bouts to street brawls and moreover refuses to gain his baccalaureate degree. Amit repeatedly chastises him but his advice falls on deaf ears. Raju also shares a very close relationship with his sister-in-law-to-be and in fact the three are often together in celebratory fashion. The villain of the piece in the early part of the story is the very wealthy Kundan (Vijyendra Ghatge) who crosses paths with both brothers and in a fight with the younger brother accidentally kills the older one when the latter suddenly arrives on the scene to stop the proceedings. The world of Raju and Suman is turned upside down by this incident and a funeral scene is witnessed with Kundan looking on repentantly. After this event Randhir and Raakhee move to Bombay where the former starts working in a garage run by the saucy Neeta (Neetu Singh). Here he meets a small time crook Shankar (Amitabh Bachchan) who is the spitting image of his brother. Randhir is now constantly drawn towards this ´second coming´ of his brother even as Raakhee is repelled with what she sees as the very anti-thesis of her lover. After initially rejecting Randhir´s advances Amitabh warms towards him and moreover also gives up his life of crime. Simultaneously he is drawn toward Raakhee. But a gangster (Amjad Khan) from his past refuses to let him go. The film then plays itself out in traditional masala fashion and as often happens in the Hindi formula film ´all´s well that ends well´!
The acting honors belong not surprisingly to Bachchan. In this film he plays two very different personalities and whether it is the mild demeanor of the professor or the ´rude´ exterior of the crook, Bachchan brings off both with the most remarkable ease totally altering his intonations, his body language, his expressions and expressiveness from one character to the other. It is hard to believe that the same actor is playing both characters. This film is another example of why Amitabh Bachchan is the ultimate textbook of acting in Hindi cinematic history. Randhir Kapoor is passable in his role as is Raakhee. Amjad Khan plays a rather remarkable hunchback and the writers were surely having some fun in calling him Sir Judah! The actor in a somewhat short role makes his presence felt. Vijyendra Ghatge and Neetu Singh are again adequate in their respective roles. Rekha notably makes a guest appearance in a typical ´mujra´ number.
The soundtrack of the film by R D Burman deserves a special mention, which features numbers like "Kasme Vaade", "Aati rahengi bahaaren", and "Mile jo kadi kadi". Also the film has a number of moving moments that rise above the otherwise more commercial nature of the subject. And yet again there is a drunken scene of Bachchan´s, this time done with a cockroach! Years later this sequence was repeated in Hum. It is fair to say that both moments are equally intolerable. With partly the script and partly Bachchan sustaining the proceedings the director, Ramesh Behl, is more functional than anything else.
Kasme Vaade in most interesting fashion employs a series of triangles. In the first half Amit, Suman and Raju form one triangle. In the second half Raju, Shankar and Suman form a triangle, which then overlaps with the Raju, Neeta, and Suman triangle. Whether it is the trope of the double or that of the reformed criminal, the laws of kinship or those of memory, the further exploration of the lumpen masses in the best traditions of 70s Hindi cinema or the crises engendered with the ´mixing´ of the classes, all are amply explored through the hetero/homo-sexual dynamics of the film. Kasme Vaade is illustrative of a bygone era of Hindi cinema when not just great films were being made but also less eminent films were engaging for a variety of reasons. As such the film deserves a revival in its fortunes.