Before she did Sholay and put life into Basanti’s character in that film, Hema Malini did title role of Seeta aur Geeta, which is also a G.P. Sippy Production’s film which was like a precursor to her Basanti. This was a female version of Dilip Kumar’s Ram aur Shyam but had better entertainment value.
Seeta Aur Geeta was tale of identical twin sisters separated at birth bought up in different ways which has a bearing on their personality and traits. It also has a later day version with Sridevi named ‘Chaalbaaz’. This was probably one of the movies’ where Hema Malini really let down her hair and played both demure and inconfident Sita and an abuse spitting boisterous Geeta with aplomb so much so that the heroes in the movie are relegated to being the necessary evil for the sake of casting. This movie laid the basis of casting for Sholay as G.P. Sippy wanted to do an action movie with Dharam and Hema. The writing department was handled by Salim-Javed duo and direction by the young Ramesh Sippy.
The budget of Seeta Aur Geeta was 40 lakhs but earned the producer many times over and it was a runaway hit and more so in the Erstwhile Soviet Union where it garnered three times the tickets sold when released in 1976 there. It was released in Indian theatres on 24th November 1972.
The girls Seeta and Geeta (Hema Malini in a double role) are separated at birth, Geeta the extrovert of the two is bought up in slummy conditions and is defencive to the point of being offensive whereas Seeta bought up in her own house under the guardianship of her uncle is the submissive kind due to the atrocities she has to bear at the hands of her aunt since the childhood. The uncle is a bit supportive but the aunt (played aptly by Manorama) is a venomous lady who slaves her around and even threatens to use hunter on her though they live on the property and wealth of her parents.
To save her and to bring about justice a switch has to take place, so Seeta decides to commit suicide but is saved and taken to Geeta’s house and Geeta is mistaken by Seeta’s uncle and aunt and try to take her home though she escapes and meets Ravi (Sanjeev Kumar) who also surprised by the change in attitude of Seeta he had seen before finally drops her at her home. Now the fun begins and Geeta unknowingly takes the revenge for her sister’s suffering by giving it back to her torturous aunt. On the other hand Seeta now in Geeta’s place surprises everyone including Raka (Dharmendra) her partner in street shows with her homely demure actions, drawing him towards her. But the double trouble is about to begin when aunt’s brother Ranjeet (Roopesh Kumar-Lecherous) is called in to teach Geeta a lesson as she has taken over the functioning of her house and her monies and put the aunt in her place. Ranjeet happens to espy the real Seeta in the market and finds out the truth this leads to the climax and a lot of Dishoom Dishoom and things are settled and the reason for the split at birth is also revealed.
Seeta Aur Geeta was an out an out masala fun film which totally belonged to Hema Malini. Sanjeev and Dharmendra were both vying for Hema’s attention at the time in real life too. The peppy ‘O saathi Chal’ filmed on Hema and Sanjeev on skates was one its kind. Some scenes and dialogues are hilarious like the one when Geeta climbs on a fan and is being coaxed by her aunt to come down who says ‘Neeche aaja beti’ to which Geeta replies ‘Tu upar aaja moti’.
Hema won her only best actress Filmfare for this movie. It was the biggest blockbuster of ’72. It was a repeat story of the past but very well executed and great screenplay made it stand out. Many remakes of the theme both of male and female variety were made in years to come including some remakes in other Indian languages. The movies makes the cut only foe Hema Malini and the fun element which made it highly entertaining.
— Revisited by PAWAN GUPTA
(Image courtesy – Amazon . com)