Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Julie (1975)

Directed by: K.S. Sethumadhavan
Starring: Laxmi, Vikram, Om Prakash, Nadira, Utpal Dutt, Rita Bhaduri, Sridevi
Released: 1975
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

I came across this film while looking for something with Sridevi, and had it not been for her name, I probably wouldn´t bother to watch this, definitely not any time soon. But I was in „Sridevi-mood“ and finally hit the play button of my „Julie“ file. I didn´t get much of a Sridevi, whom I could not find for about thirty minutes (only then I realized she was just 13 and looking VERY different then how we are used to see her in the movies like Chandni or Mr. India), but I did get a touching, though not brilliant story about an ordinary girl with completely ordinary life.

There is truly nothing outstanding about Julie, a girl from slightly dysfunctional family, where mother is partly English and father completely Indian. She is quiet, reserved, with no big dreams or prospects. All she wants is to live peacefully, but that is not always easy, because her parents, even though they share a mutual affection, are two very different people, both with major flaws. Father is a good-natured guy who doesn´t like conflicts and drinks a lot, despite everyone begging him to stop. Mother, the more dominant in the family, takes great pride in her English roots and is always ready to claim the cheese bought in a local shop is actually imported from Europe, just to impress her similarly wanna-be-ish guests. The family is complete with Julie´s two younger siblings, brohter and sister. Julie´s ordinary life consists mostly of briging her father lunch in a bucket pail, riding on a top tube of her friend´s bike and slapping a local merchant who just won´t understand she is not interested in paying the bill with her beauty. For beautiful she is.
Meet Julie
Her drunk father
Her wanna-be mother
Her completely forgettable brother
And..... Sridevi!
The main twist creeps into the film together with a sudden return of Shashi, Julie´s best friend brother. The two fall in love (surprise surprise) but don´t tell anyone, especially not their mothers. Because just as Julie´s mother is Anglo-obssessed Christian who sees Indians as dirt, Shashi´s mother is a nearly fanatical Hindu who can barely stand the sight of Christian Julie. After some romancing (and some drinking) the two succumb to the physical passion in the middle of a song, after which Julie gets introduced to a popular Bollywood rule that first sex = pregnancy. And very conveniently Shashi leaves without even saying goodbye just before she can tell him. And so Julie has to share the secret with her mother, who doesn´t hesitate and immediatelly sends her daughter to a distant relative, where she can give birth to the child and the family prestige will not be harmed in the eyes of a local community........
The awkward moment when you realize your daughter is a total disgrace.
Just as I said – there is nothing outstanding about Julie the character or her family. I think the story, that definitely has moving moments, is so appealing because ti is so ordinary, that it could happen anywhere and at any time – in fact, I´m sure thousands and thousands of families (and not just in India) had to face such situation. Julie the film doe not bring a new thrilling concept, but it sensitively portrais the difficulties that go hand in hand with unwanted pregnancies of unwed girls. At the same time Julie´s pregnancy and motherhood are not the only issue in the film. The relationship of her parents plays a great part too and is brilliantly illustrated with short episodes like for example the buying of a car or the father getting drunk and embarrasing his wife during a Christmas party. The two mothers, who are so concerned about their families´ well-being and honour, are ironically the two who cause the most of the problems and both come off as over-posessive and selfish. And both excell in emotional blackmailing. The film ends on a happy note (of course and thank God!).
A valuable lesson in emotional blackmailing.
Laxmi as Julie is wonderful. I read she acted in pracitcally all language-versions of the film, but I have not seen those and I cannot compare, so even if she was better in Telugu, it doesn´t really concern me, because she was really good in Hindi. She is wonderfully desi beautiful with large almond eyes and she emotes well through them. Nadira as her mother is like a thunderous storm. She sweeps away everything that comes into her way and in a way is more interesting and charismatic then Julie herself, evne though her character is rather un-likeable most of the time. „Julie“ is a female oriented film through and through, and except for the drunk father and fleetingly appearing Shashi there are no male characters worth mentioning. As I have said at the very beginning, I initially wanted to watch this film for Sridevi, but she (and her „brother“) has no real role and pretty much is simply there to create an illusion of a family. She has about five lines, all meaningless and dubbed by somebody else´s voice. So do not make the same mistake I did and do not expect Sridevi. Expect Laxmi, lots of tears and a bucket pail.


  1. This is one movie I've heard a lot about but actually haven't seen! I think I'll have to check it out now.

  2. Unfortunatelly I am not too familiar with your taste so I cannot tell if you re gonna like it or not.... I was influenced by nothing as I´ve never heard about the film before I wathed it.