So I saw Mr and Mrs 55.
This is yet another Guru Dutt flick where he is a sweet little cupcake with lots of flinty bits so that the eating is not as enjoyable as that cute exterior may make you believe. And it deals with that Great Assault on the Holy Edifice of Hindu Marriage aka Divorce! In this film the cupcake finds himself facing the tragic prospect of losing the super beauteous Madhubala. Away we go!
In 1955 the Hindu Marriage Act is likely to be passed paving the way for divorce under certain conditions. Simply put the ANGREZI VIRUS has been let loose on good Hindu society! And the foremost proponent of this Bill is a Ms Sita Devi (Lalita Pawar) aka RICH BITCH FEMINIST whom we first meet in the middle of a meeting with fellow travellers. Women of the World you Rock, you are Awesome! One minute you are discussing the Bill, the next the world’s best facials! For let it be said NOW. Wrinkles have NO place in the revolution!
Just at the moment Sita Devi is savouring her triumph, her niece – lovely spoilt heiress and orphan Anita Verma (Madhubala) - sneaks out of the house to lustily cheer on her heartthrob of the moment, Ramesh, who is playing the most leisurely tennis match in history. If Anita was on Facebook she would have liked every page dedicated to hunky sports stars and littered their pages with Eeek, so cute! I DIE! HOTTTTTT! Marry me! I want your babies! ☻/ღ˚ •。* ♥ ˚ ˚✰˚ ˛★* 。 ღ˛° 。* °♥ ˚ • ★ *˚ .ღ 。/▌*˛˚ღ •˚ ˚…just sprinkling a little LOVE on your pages. ~♥~˚ ✰* ★ / \ ˚. ★ *˛ ˚♥* ✰。˚ ˚ღ。* ˛˚ ♥ 。✰˚* ˚ ★ღ ~...:)~ ♥ etc. Sita Devi on the other hand…..well if she ever joined Facebook it would be to promote her book On the Forthcoming Eradication of the Male of the Species. This is why Sita Devi has sent out trusted lieutenant Mona to remove Anita from the scene of her complete abasement.
Anita spots Mona and in a frantic bid to escape tumbles into the arms of our sweet cupcake Pritam Kumar (Guru Dutt). Pritam is entranced and in instant pyaar. For let’s face it, Ms Anita is all perfection, like an irresistible piece of the purest chocolate nom nom nom that cupcakes can only aspire to. So Anita is all eyes for Ramesh, Pritam is all eyes for Anita, Ramesh is all eyes on the ball but all must part for such is young love! But Pritam recovers a token of his lady love, a handkerchief setting the scene for future hanky panky (can a girl resist a bad bad pun?!).
Pritam then runs into old friend Johnny (Johnny Walker) off whom as a struggling unemployed artist he is mooching. SONG FUCKERY! Oh Pritam, we understand we understand, Ms Anita makes us want to bust out a tune too!
Pritam is kadka, de rigueur for cupcakes, and renting with a fat landlady (Tuntun). Some elaborate charade fuckery establishes cupcake cuteness and Pritam wins a rent reprieve. In the meantime, Anita gets a dressing down from Sita Devi who warns her against the supreme EVILITY, the veritable EVILISHNESS, the awful EVILDOM that is the male. For the Aunt has been SCORCHED and wants to protect Anita, lover of all things boys.
Anita is to inherit fucking tons of money at age 21. Which is like the next day. Time to open the will! Will stipulates that she will inherit only on the condition that she marries within the year. Because the dead dad knew his EVIL BITCH SISTER wants to keep Anita a spinster. So happy happy Anita runs off to the swimming pool. Watch girls in swimsuits! Watch shapely legs! Watch the cheesecake! Watch everyone singing a song! For Anita is free at last for Ramesh Romance Fuckery! Ladies ladies patience! You shall have some perve time too! Uh huh it’s just plank of wood Ramesh in briefs. Oh Anita its not too late, perhaps a soft cupcake is better, eh?!
Anita has a “Future Mrs Ramesh” T shirt on but Ramesh is not taking the hint for he is ummm like thick wood all over. Besides he is off to Wimbledon and the dirty dirty pleasures of Paris. But Anita cannot be fobbed off and arranges a rendezvous with him in a cinema theatre.
Johnny Fuckery! Johnny, newspaper shutterbug, is quite the ladies man who woos women with….lollipops. Here he is laying some thick thick charm on new girl, Julie. But it’s all cut short for Johnny needs to take some professional piccies of his old mate Ramesh poolside. They get talking, Ramesh agrees to get Parisian dirty pictures for Johnny and Johnny agrees to meet Anita and hand over Ramesh’s letter . Which says “Anita I like you but I don’t like you THAT way”. I am calling it, GEIGH!
The cupcake, who is a cartoonist, is up to his usual “I am a fabulous artist and yet tragically unemployed”. He does have a sweet Editor though who reviews his work. The Ed knows RICH BITCH FEMINIST Sita Devi who has hatched a plan to keep the niece flying solo and yet inherit by hiring a faux husband who can be divorced. The Ed sends Pritam along for the job. Pritam first throws a hissy fit at the idea of being a bikau husband. Until he spots a pic of the proposed wife who is of course Anita. Then Pritam is all UNBELIEVABLE! FUCK! YES YES YES! FIST PUMP!
Pritam is still living by the credo of unsung artists. MOOCH OFF YOUR FRIENDS! So somewhere along the way Pritam ends up with the cinema ticket and a meeting with Anita. Anita now has Ramesh’s note and is all sobbing and ooh more Pritam hanky panky! Pritam thinking I am totes going to be married to this girl in a few days. Anita busy updating facebook status – Ramesh, you are a COLOSSAL DICK! And I am not getting any of it! It’s unfair!
Sidetrack. Johnny and the Office Charmer are going swimmingly; all lollipops are now going her way. Heck they even get to sing a lunch time song, Chak De Mera Lollipop – oops no that is from Mr and Mrs 95 starring Govinda and Karishma – this one is just OFFICE FLIRT TIME! Shall we kiss, shall we lose our hearts? On the typewriter or under the desk?!
RICH BITCH FEMINIST Sita Devi has deigned to enter male lodgings so Pritam can sign off on “I shall be married for a fraction of a moment to the supremely beauteous Anita and then shall waive all marital rights but that’s OK because that moment will be HEAVEN”. Also such scintillating conversation between them!
Sita Devi: Tum communist ho?
Pritam: Nahin, cartoonist.
More serendipitous Pritam-Anita meets. LUSH LADY SINGING A SONG! Time for the gradual transference of Anita’s hormonal impulses from Ramesh to Pritam!
Sita Devi informs Anita of her Rs 250 a month faux bridegroom. Anita is all upset and then OK whatever because well there’s the fortune to be inherited. Anita and Pritam get ready for their tryst with matrimony at the courthouse where Anita is fuck me I didn’t see that coming, the bridegroom is Pritam! She is deeply annoyed to think he is less lovelorn and more lalchi but we soon have Mr and Mrs Pritam Singh and Sita Devi is like OK Tata Bye Bye and don’t bother us anymore and just keep cashing the cheques.
The marriage is lucky for Pritam for he gets a job as a cartoonist. So irate and wife less Pritam draws an unflattering cartoon of Sita Devi. More rich bitch feminist drama when Sita Devi sees the cartoon. Everyone all together DOWN WITH FEMINISM! Also time for Pritam, Johnny and Julie celebrations where they run into Anita who is a friend of Julie. Anita is still stroppy and is waltzing with strange men who are not her lawful husbands while Pritam sulks in the sidelines. Now Johnny and Julie know that the two are married.
Johnny now imparting advice to Pritam on how to woo back Anita. A fooled chauffeur later, Anita and Pritam are off to the countryside. Sort of like a nice sweet Mills and Boon called FORCIBLE HONEYMOON. But enroute there is the FOREPLAY SONG of the She is Pouty, He is Lusty sort. The forcible honeymoon (not really forcible, the cupcake is a gentleman and knows that eventually all women BEG for his love) is ummm at Pritam’s bro’s place. His sister in law is a adarsh nari, an ANTI RICH BITCH FEMINIST with three kids. Who like plucks flower petals. You know of the sort He beats me, He beats me not, He just beat me for Oooh he loves me so! Anita is soon convinced that happiness lies in having a husband, kids and some gentle slapping. Oh good here’s the LET’s HAVE SEX song! Triple Yay for 50s sluttery where everyone looks like they will have a month long fuck once the cameras are turned off! But just as they are about to tumble into bed, Sita Devi turns up because Anita – before you know deeply desiring some gently rough sex - sent her a telegram screaming RESCUE ME! So Pritam gets all sulky and hearts are ASUNDERED. RICH BITCH FEMINISTS, implacable enemies of TRUE LOVE!
Now Pritam is all I can’t slap Anita to stay married and I am FUCKING NOBLE and I will provide grounds for a divorce. Yippee its Man Slut Picture Time where Pritam gets to hang out with two dames and an alcohol bottle! Pritam hands the photograph over as evidence to Sita Devi. Who passes it on to Anita who is all sob sob but this time there is no cute Pritam hanky panky. Also time to fulfil SAD SONG quota requirement. Plus Pritam is still kadka as FUCKING NOBILITY demands he return all those uncashed cheques.
BRING ON THE DIVORCE! LET’S DESTROY HINDU SOCIETY!
Time for a court case and some blah stuff about women, society, inequality, marriage, sanctity blah blah so that you almost expect Fat Flashman to turn up and whisk Anita off for his debauched games while Pritam walks off into a sunset with a floozy. Hey Fat Flashman can you also arrange for Fat Lady Debauchery – we can’t stand the landlady’s tone deaf comedy fuckery!
Anita is all oh no I am soon to be a SAD DIVORCEE! And Pritam plans to leave town so Johnny and Julie meet Anita and tell her that the slut pic was staged. Time for showdown with the RICH BITCH FEMINIST aunt and Anita is all like yay yay yay I am standing up for myself and now I shall fall at Pritam’s feet and we will keep a dear little house and sit around drinking darling cups of misogyny topped up with romance fuckery. Rich Bitch Feminist Aunt is not one to give up and locks Anita up in the service of feminism but she escapes. And hey here is the Airport scene where Pritam looks like he has flown but has not and Anita is sobbing and ooh look Pritam has a ready hanky and so we arrive dear reader with society INTACT and the movie is all FUCK YOU Divorce Bill and FUCK YOU RICH BITCH FEMINISTS because the Bhartiya Nari wants nothing to do with you so go sit in a corner and do not speak EVER for you have been VERY VERY NAUGHTY!
Curious about the title? Go here.
There is the Guru Dutt who makes films that are charming, coherent and naturalistic in tone (though the dialogue here is by Abrar Alvi it is clear the man knew how to assemble and keep a loyal, gifted team). There is the Guru Dutt who is on top form when filming song sequences. And whose films are sweet, believable odes to Mumbai and its people. But there is also the Guru Dutt who brings a heavy hand to themes of social justice. And is a regressive traditionalist when it comes to gender.
A good part of this film is the former Guru Dutt. But it is blazingly misogynistic. Of course art forms are not required to be purged of misogyny. But there is something unpleasant in the Guru Dutt take, perhaps more so because of his otherwise progressive politics.
If you set aside the misogyny it is because of Madhubala who transcends both the cloying cuteness and the notes of servility that is required of her role so that she seems a naive, sheltered girl opening up to the possibilities of love. Plus Guru Dutt and she are a very easy on the eye pairing in what is essentially a romantic comedy. This was the only movie they did together which is a pity because they seem ideal for screwball comedies.