Released on January 14 1972, Hare Rama Hare Krishna is written, produced and directed by Dev Anand and it is one of his finest movies. Starring apart from Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman there are Mumtaz, Prem Chopra, Kishore Sahu, Rajendra Nath and others. The movie was set in Nepal against the background of the hippie culture, which was very much prevalent in those time.
Hare Rama Hare Krishna is about rebels with no cause, about the youth who has given up everything, all hope and is lost in their own world of sex, drugs, merry making and indulging in petty crimes for the upkeep of their lifestyle. The title comes from the popular movement that was going on at the time in America of God consciousness under the auspices of Swami Prabhupada of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON for short, it was a ‘bhakti movement’ which many in the West had misinterpreted for their own escapism and hippie culture.
The story of Hare Rama Hare Krishna starts in Montreal-Canada, about a dysfunctional Jaiswal family of Husband (Kishore Sahu), Mother (Achala Sachdev) young son Prashant and even younger daughter Jasbir. Due to the differences between the married couple they separate, Prashant (Dev Anand) grows up with his mother in India whereas Jasbir (Zeenat Aman) stays back with father in Montreal. Jasbir is told that her brother and mother are no more when Mr. Jaiswal marries again and she grows upto hate her indifferent father and overbearing step mother, she is also kept away from any kind of communication from reaching her from her brother who is in boarding in India. Prashant grows up to be a pilot and its then he receives a communication from his estranged father that his sister has joined a team of hippies and shifted base to Nepal. Prashant is aware of what this means and knows that it will be difficult to get his sister back into the mainstream.
Nonetheless Prashant lands in Kathmandu in search of his sister determined to get her back. He is able to locate her but realizes that she has changed her name to Janice (Zeenat) and also her psyche with no past recollections which have been blown away in the smoke, drugs and alcohol. He tries to join the gang of hippies but is thwarted by the gang and Janice’s boyfriend. On the other side another story is developing as there are widespread precious idol thefts in Kathmandu for which the local Strongman Drona (Prem Chopra) blames Prashant for these deeds which had been perpetrated by himself as Prashant had eloped with the lady Shanti (Mumtaz-bubbly as ever) whom he was eying for himself. In the meantime as the public opinion is being garnered against Prashant, he tries to convince Janice that he is her long lost brother and also sings a song of their childhood for her remembrance, their mother and father also arrive in Kathmandu and seeing and realizing the truth Janice runs away from all this and commits suicide leaving behind a note for her brother expressing her deep love for him and her family but mentioning that she could never stand for them to see her in such shambles and believed ending it all would be the best.
Hare Rama Hare Krishna was a movie of a different league which dealt with the first coming of age generation after India’s independence, some of whom lost their way in rebellion which had no future and joined the pseudo cocktail of Eastern and Western culture. In one song the hero does say that this is not worship what they are doing and asks them to realize the philosophy, and what they are indulging in as it is escapism and not rebellion. The songs from R D Burman’s stable were a rage particularly Dum Maro Dum which had become an alternate Anthem of the youth. The sibling song ‘Phoolon ka Taaron Ka’ still gives goosebumps.
Hare Rama Hare Krishna has fantastic music, scenic backdrop of the hills in Kathmandu and the compelling story of a brother in search of his sister, all made this film special. It had a different take on things. This was a stardom vehicle of Zeenat Aman and birth of the first sex symbol of India, a free spirited heroine.
– This Retro Gem and Dev Anand’s cult film is reviewed by PAWAN GUPTA