Popular folklore has it that an atma that passes on without fulfilling earthly ambitions never reaches mukti (salvation) and is condemned to restless existence, wandering the face of earth. “Lekin” was released way back in 1991, when Dimple Kapadia was at her peak and established as an actress to reckon with. If I had to summarize the movie theme in one line … I would say it is more like poetry flowing through the desert … it manages to bring out the haunting loneliness of the vast desert, beautifully.
“Lekin” comes from the house of the Mangeshkars, and was directed under the capable baton of Gulzar. Gulzar has this uncanny knack of making his movies look very “lyrical” .. the subtle poetic touches here and there lend a lot to the film's beauty. Think “Mausam”, “Aandhi”, “Namkeen”, “Kinara”, “Parichay”!
Synopsis: Lekin ... is the story of an unhappy ghost, Reva (Dimple Kapadia), who haunts the palace of Raja Param Singh of Jasod, which is now government property. Vinod Khanna (playing Samir Yogi, curator of a government museum) takes a journey in a train which is where the movie opens. “You will be haunted by a witch” - Vinod Khanna is chided by a fellow passenger for cutting his nails at night – and that sets the tone of the movie. This is where he meets the mysterious Reva. As the story progresses, he has many other chance encounters with her leaving him more and more mystified.
Now this is where the Gulzar touch came in .. it was zara hat-ke from the rest of the bhatakti-huyee-atmas-in-white-singing-in-the jungles scenes. Slowly, he befriends Dimple, empathizes with her and gets to know all about her past. Without giving too much away here … Dimple’s past comprises of a singer-guru father Ustad Meraj Ali (Alok Nath), a badi didi Tara (Hema Malini in a special appearance), a lecherous king Raja Param Singh (Vijayendra Ghatge) and several scenes of Dimple and her father locked in the prison, living in solitary confinement(s). (The young dimple was incarcerated when her older sister Hema fled from the clutches of the Raja). Their frequent meetings and her narrative of incidents from her past awakens something deep within Samir and he then takes it upon himself to liberate her soul by helping her cross the desert. Does he manage to do it? At what cost? What happened to her Didi? Lekin answers these questions as the movie culminates into a “liberating” climax!
The movie lacked the quintessential “spookiness” but manages to hold the viewer’s interest. The pace of the movie was a little slow as the story takes a little time to unfold. The concept of a soul hung in time waiting to cross the desert was very beautifully captured though. Reva's ability to bring alive the past and recreating her tragic story every now and then had the indelible Gulzar touch to it (even though this is probably the first time he has attempted a bhoot-pret story). Note the scene preceding Hema’s dance “Jhoothe Naina Bole” as Dimple recreates the scene from the past for Vinod Khanna. “Woh chhoti ladki kaun hai”? “Woh main hoon” – says Dimple!
Dimple looked mesmerizing in her Rajasthani garbs (Costumes by Simple Kapadia and Bhanu Athaiya) and acted even better. Vinod Khanna was competent, although he had been past his prime for some time and needed to lose some weight. Hema Malini was okay, danced okay and looked beautiful as usual. Amjad Khan (playing Shafi Ahmed Sidiqqui) was good as Samir’s confidante and friend… he also managed to provide some mild comic relief every now and then in an otherwise serious movie. Bina, as Sharda Ahmed Siddiqui shows up in a nice little compassionate role as the Hindu wife of a Muslim Amjad Khan. You also have Moonmoon Sen in a rather blink-and-you-miss role as Pammi, the supposed romantic interest for Vinod Khanna.
The music in the movie was given by Hridayanath and fitted the situations to a “T”! Check out the review via the link above. The screenplay is by Kailash Advani and Arun Kaul, and comes across beautifully on celluloid, once in Gulzar’s deft hands. Cinematography by Manmohan Singh, Ravi K. Chandran and Harmeet Singh is first-rate although I have to warn you that if you get this movie on a DVD – the print is awful!
Overall I found the movie completely mesmerizing with Dimple's haunting character who took over the screen whenever she materialized. Definitely worth a watch...this is poetry on celluloid!