Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)

Once upon a time in masala filmland, families/siblings were routinely torn asunder (usually in Kumbh Mela, accidents or by the machinations of the evil villain) and brought together years later through inevitable coincidence. Sadly, families always seem to stay together these days. Be that as it may, as a card carrying member of Bollywood’s families-torn-apart-and-re-united party, I was, naturally, always alert to the possibility that I have missing family out in this big bad world. But it was in blogland that I finally met my long-lost masala sisters – Anu (Conversations Over Chai) and Madhu (Dustedoff). Anu and Madhu found each other years ago. My masala sibling-ness took a while to manifest itself – Anu and I both lived in Bombay, Madhu and I both live(d) in Delhi, all three of us had (mostly) the same thoughts about movies/songs/actors/books. But when Anu and I watched the same movie (five years apart) and found ourselves making the same comments on the film, it was time to face up to the truth – we were bicchdi behne indeed!

A re-union of masala sisters does not happen everyday. To celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime re-union, we decided to watch our favourite masala re-union stories. In order to spare you reading about the same movie thrice (of course, we all chose the same movie to review!) Anu decided to watch Yaadon Ki Baaraat (three brothers separated in childhood by an evil villain), Madhu went for Johnny Mera Naam (two separated brothers) and I settled for my favourite twin-sisters-separated-at-birth film.

A knock at Leela’s (Radhika Rani) cottage on a stormy night presages a life-changing event  for her and her husband (Asit Sen). Two strangers – Abhi Bhattacharya (we never know his character’s name) and his pregnant wife, Rama (Dulari) – are travelling back to Bombay from Shirdi, when their car comes to an untimely stop outside Leela’s cottage. Naturally, Rama is overcome with labour pains. (A stormy night in the lonely countryside – this was inevitable.) The men immediately go to fetch a doctor, but Rama is even quicker – by the time they return with a doctor, the delivery is over! And Rama does not even realise that she gave birth to twins (She was so out of it that she didn’t even notice that second baby popping out?!). She and her husband are just happy with their one lovely daughter. It’s only after they’ve left that Leela shows her husband their new “daughter” – one of Rama’s newborn twins.

Fast forward a couple of decades. The separated twins are now Geeta (Hema Malini) and Seeta (also Hema Malini). The poor twin, Geeta, lives with loving “mother” Leela and earns her living by performing street acts with her partners Raka (Dharmendra) and Jhumroo (Master Ravi). When she isn’t performing or trying to cheat her partners, she just takes off to play marbles with the neighbourhood boys, much to her mother’s fury. Leela keeps trying to domesticate her darling daughter, but Geeta is unrepentant. She threatens to run away if Ma hits her once more.

The rich twin, Seeta, is living a miserable life in a huge mansion. Her parents died long ago, leaving her to the mercies of her timid Chacha Badrinath (Satyen Kapoo) and evil Chachi Kaushalya (Manorama). Her vast estate is administered by a lawyer, Gupta (?) who comes once a month to give her her monthly allowance, but takes no further interest in her. Poor Seeta is a domestic servant in her own home with only her helpless Daadi (Pratima Devi) and young cousin (Master Alankar) to love her. (She is so put upon that she cannot even afford a wig – and Hema without a wig is a very unusual Hema indeed!) As if Seeta’s cup-of-woe isn’t full enough, enter Ranjeet (Roopesh Kumar), Kaushalya’s evil younger brother. The poor girl must take time off from domestic chores to fend off his unwanted attentions!

In Seeta’s miserable life, there is only one hope. Once she gets married, her husband will directly control her considerable wealth and will (presumably) chase away the evil relations. With this in mind, Daadi asks lawyer Gupta to find a suitable match for Seeta. He comes across Ravi (Sanjeev Kumar) – the quintissential vilaayat-returned, Bharat-loving young man, on the lookout for a Bhartiya Naari wife. A meeting is arranged between Ravi and Seeta. Ravi’s parents (Kamal Kapoor and Ratnamala), also along to “see” the girl, are more impressed with Seeta’s cousin, Sheila (Honey Irani), because she is draped in a sari and talks of her domestic concerns. Seeta, poor girl, is poured into a mini-frock and pencil heels (Hema should’ve worn minis more often.), and lands up dropping tea all over her enraged prospective ma-in-law. The match is off before it is even fixed!

After Cinderella’s unpromising meeting with Prince Charming, Seeta is endeavouring to come to terms with a bridegroom-less life. But then things come to a breaking point. One night, a drunken Ranjeet tries to assault her. When her screams wake the household, he accuses her of stealing his wallet and brutally beats her. This spurs her on to her first proactive action – she decides to run away and end her life. But when she jumps into the water to drown herself, Raka is at hand to save her. He takes her home to Leela who has been fretting over Geeta’s absence all day. So Seeta is now Geeta, and a very domesticated, and cultured Geeta she is. Everyone thinks the near-death experience has changed “Geeta” but we know otherwise!

Whilst Seeta is living it up being Geeta, where is the original? Busy being mistaken for Seeta, of course! She is picked up by the police on a missing-person’s complaint from Seeta’s evil family. The police manage to hold on to her (at the cost of one wrecked police station) till Badrinath and Kaushalya pick her up. They are all smiles and “dear child lets go home” at the station and the adventurous Geeta decides to go home with them. But the moment they have her in their car, Kaushalya shows her true colours. The acrobatic Geeta makes a spectacular getaway. (If I am ever kidnapped, I will insist on a convertible with it’s hood down, too – so much easier to escape from.) On the run from the Chacha-Chachi and the police, she stows away in Ravi’s car. Ravi is on his way to Poona and is enchanted by his charming stowaway. (She’s still a saree short of his ideal woman, but at least she is in an ‘Indian’ skirt, this time). He insists on taking her home to his parents, and this time “Seeta” is Ma-Pa approved.

So Geeta is busy falling for Ravi and Seeta is equally busy falling for Raka. And while Leela and Raka are very happy with the new “Geeta”, Seeta’s family have a surprise in store for them. Their new “Seeta” returns blows with blows and puts them all in their places. So far so good. But what happens when their respective families realise that the girls were switched? And will the girls realise their twinliness? More importantly, will Seeta get to wear any wigs at all?

I love this film to bits and was wondering why I do not watch it more often. It reminds me of why I like Hema Malini so much – she is so charming and fun in it! Plus, she does most of the rescuing of damsels and heroes in this, and she also gets to swordfight and manhandle the villain. How often does that happen in Hindi films? The menfolk, though their names appear prominently in the cast, do not really have much to do in the film. Dharamendra gets to do some drunk-ing and dishooming, while Sanjeev Kumar gets to play the charming lover boy, which he does very well. Its Seeta and Geeta’s film all the way and I wouldn’t have it otherwise!

One thing that did strike me as a bit unusual was that the film did not supply the Bhartiya-naari loving hero (Ravi) with a proper Bhartiya Naari wife. While Geeta is draped in saris, by the end, and stops earning her living through acrobatics, there is no indication that she is either domesticated or ever likely to become the shy, traditional young woman of Ravi’s dreams. It appears that even Seeta has learnt to fight back a bit – she gleefully joins in the fight at the end and seems to be enjoying getting in a few blows of her own. Woman power, zindabaad!

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42 Responses to Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)

  1. […] (singularly appropriate, considering the link between Anu and me) and to Ira’s blog to read her take on another extremely popular (and superb!) lost-and-found-siblings film, Seeta aur Geeta. And here, of course, is mine: a review of a film which just manages to make the cut for my blog […]

  2. thandapani says:

    What marvelous screen caps, Ira. Esp the ‘checkered’ one. The captions are hilarious too. 🙂

    What fun to read three wonderful posts by soul sisters.

    • bollyviewer says:

      Thank you, Ava. I am so glad you liked this. 🙂 Seeta and Geeta are a bit like us masala sisters – no re-union song (actually Anu and Madhu have one), no keepsake or birthmarks, just the supreme consciousness of sisterly-ness!

      • thandapani says:

        Yes. The story was quite like Ram aur Shyam. The version of the movie I saw on TV was badly chopped. Pity. I did not enjoy it so much because of that.

        But Seeta aur Geeta was supreme fun. As was Chalbaaz.

        • bollyviewer says:

          Ram Aur Shyam would’ve been better with a much younger Dilip Kumar! It had nice songs, but wasn’t even close to Seeta Aur Geeta in terms of well-made masala or fun quotient. Chalbaaz just doesn’t work for me – I can’t bear Sridevi and that kills the whole film for me.

  3. Anu Warrier says:

    Ha! You really should blog more often, behena … 🙂 I haven’t been able to stop laughing at your asides and your captions! Especially the fact that the biggest mystery – to you – is why Seeta doesn’t have a wig!

    I loved Hema in such roles, and she did have some strong characters to play, the most famous of them all being Basanti. She was hilarious in this, especially in the police station scene, where she is sitting comfortably on the ceiling fan! And her upar aa jao, moti dialogue in response to Manorama’s Neeche aa jao, beti is classic!

    • Anu Warrier says:

      p.s. I was just commenting on Madhu’s blog saying that if you too linked to our (Madhu’s and mine) song, it will establish beyond doubt our masala sisterhood. Whaddya know? You did!

    • bollyviewer says:

      Thanks Anu. I’m so pleased you liked it. Re Sita’s wig, I thought Hema eschewed the wigs only in ‘serious’ Gulzar films. So Seeta’s lack of wig, that too in a Sippy masala film, was pretty conspicuous.

      Hema and Zeenat both had some kickass roles in masala films. And while Basanti is pretty awesome, I love Geeta because she actually takes the lead in this film. Sholay is essentially AB-Dharam’s film, not Hema’s.

  4. Samir says:

    Glad I found your site, absolutely hilarious review of Seeta Aur Geeta ::)
    Certainly, you 3 belong to each other as behenas; although as I had mentioned earlier; it is hard to see any of 3 as the
    docile, gharelu Seeta 🙂

    • bollyviewer says:

      Thank you so much, Samir, for your kind words. 🙂

      We three are really all Geeta(s), able to pretend to be Seeta(s) if the occasion calls for it. The thing is, to be a paidaishi Seeta, one must be born in a baby-grand piano-owning family. And all of us grew up in houses with drawing room screens where we watch other people play pianos in their drawings rooms.

  5. Samir says:

    And I agree with liking the bold & bindaas Hema a lot more than the one where she pines for someone 🙂

    • bollyviewer says:

      I am curious – what wines do you think mimick Geeta and Seeta’s natures?

      • Samir says:

        That is really interesting.
        My choice for Seeta would be a light dessert white wine, perhaps not an expensive Sauternes, but more along the lines of a Gewutraminer or a riesling —
        (http://winefolly.com/review/types-dessert-wine/)
        My choice for Geeta would be a spicy bold red wine —
        Perhaps a Greanache from Spain/Australia. Sangria probably fits the bill as well, Bold, Fruity & Spicy.
        http://www.winemag.com/red-wine-basics/

        • bollyviewer says:

          I must try these wines – they sound really good. Sangria, of course, I love. It’s perfect for hot Indian summers. For the rest, I have tried only a limited varieties of Canadian, American and European wines and find I like Italian and German wines the most. What do you think of Indian wines? There are quite a few vineyards in the Nasik area and I find their wines – particularly the reds – quite nice. Is that just my uneducated palate or they are really nice?

          • Samir says:

            The Nasik wines are not bad, but they have a long way to go. They have come a long way from the Golconda sweet wine of the 70’s. I would pair them with less spicy foods, such as less spicy kebabs, perhaps some grilled/tandoori vegetables etc.
            And, do not forget to drink plenty of water with them, and eat something. Several women (including my wife) have told me that red wine gives them headcahes.

            • bollyviewer says:

              I have been pairing them with less spicy foods. In fact, I haven’t found a wine strong enough to impart a taste that overrides strong Indian spices! 🙂 The headaches – I get that with any red wine, not just the Indian ones. So I just do not drink often! Next time I’ll remember to drink plenty of water.

              By the way, I’ve been hoping for more wine-movie pairing posts on Oenophile. How about a wine/liqueur pairing with leading men (and leading ladies)? And if you could throw some light on why/how filmi drunks never seem to suffer from hangovers, that would be great.

  6. Filmbuff says:

    Absolute cracking review! Your screen caps made me chuckle aloud. This is one of Hema’s best movies in terms of bindaas action. She was too good esp the fan scene and the dialogue Anu has mentioned. Ramesh Sippy has made quite a few successful movies with Hema – Andaaz, Seeta aur Geeta and Sholay.

    Don’t know if i shared a personal anecdote with you. On our way to and from school, other school kids use to tease us (my twin and I) as Seeta aur Geeta. They even associated us with these characters – don’t know how they did it coz these kids were from diff schools and were not our friends. On a recent trip back home, one of the said kids (now a grown up man) recognised me on the street and yelled “oh my god seeta or geeta is walking on the street – after a long time indeed”. I couldn’t help grinning back at the bloke while continuing to walk. The absolutely wide happy smile on his face made my day!

    • bollyviewer says:

      Thank you, Filmbuff! 🙂 Hema is totally bindaas here – so carefree and clearly having a blast. Andaaz was Sippy too? For some reason I always think of Sippy as having made only Sholay, so I was surprised to see his name on the Seeta Aur Geeta credits (yup, it’s been years since my last watch).

      That’s such a cute Seeta Aur Geeta anecdote. But I am very surprised that you have a twin sister and you two weren’t separated at birth (or childhood)! Didn’t you two visit the Kumbh Mela? Your parents did not tangle with evil villains? Did you at least have a re-union song/family keepsake/distinguising birthmark?

      • Filmbuff says:

        chuckle – we did go to the local navchandi mela in small town Meerut when we were in early primary school but nah did not get lost. What a coincidence that i was thinking of this lost in kumbh mela theme not being found anywhere these days as the whole appeal of melas must be fast vanishing from the rural scenes when i stumbled upon ur review here!

        Ramesh sippy must have fallen for Hema for sure in their younger days. Do see Andaz and review it. It is famous for its Kishore song zindagi ek safar and Rajesh’s short role – however the love story between Hema and Shammi is quite touching.

        Hema had a good role in Johnny mera naam too. Like wise she had a bindaas role in Naseeb too

        • bollyviewer says:

          Oooh. I have been to the Nauchandi mela, once, too! Does that make us sisters as well? 😉

          I don’t think fairs have lost their appeal. In India we still have the Kumbh melas (more famous for stampedes and Naga Sadhus than bichhde bacche!), Calgary has the Calgary Stampede, an annual fair that recently celebrated 100 years of existence. I am sure other places have their own famous fairs, too.

          Naseeb I could not finish watching – it wasn’t Manmohan Desai’s best! I have seen and liked Andaz, years ago. It’s been on my to-watch-again list – but I keep getting distracted by other films. What to do? So many “new” oldies to finish off first. 🙂

          • Filmbuff says:

            Yep my school friend based in Calgary told me about the stampede – I think i missed that as it was a month earlier (July?) I was in Calgary in Aug. Do give Naseeb a chance esp for the interaction between AB and Hema. AB and Hema’s roles were good in Satta pe Satta too.

            I think Kumbh mela is known more for its religious significance and of course the sadhus as you rightly pointed out. I was referring to fortnightly or monthly melas that took place in rural areas and peripheral urban areas which i think would have vanished naturally as every one seems to be glued to their “idiot boxes” watching crappy saas bahu TV series! It is the same across the spectrum – cities, towns to rural areas. Gosh it is so difficult to drag friends or family members to watch interesting movies when i visit India as they all seem to be happy being “couch potatoes”.

            Have you seen the recent “Bobby Jasoos”. It is truly “Hyderabad” authentic. I feel sad that the movie has not been well appreciated in India. Please do see it and post a review. Vidya Balan has done a good job which is not surprising. The handsome hero Ali Zafar is a good find.

          • bollyviewer says:

            Filmbuff, you’re right about the village fairs, I guess. They also served as marketplaces, I think. I wonder what takes the place of monthly markets.

            I can understand your frustration at nobody wanting to leave their idiot box. I have tried to show Mom movies on TV (via youtube) and she cannot abandon her soaps even for that! There is no question of going to the theatre at all. 🙂 Bobby Jasoos was on my list, but now I need to wait for the DVD.

  7. dustedoff says:

    Your review is (as I’d expected) just as much fun as the film, Ira! Awesome. 😀 I love Seeta aur Geeta: so much goodness, and a spunky Hema Malini – especially up on that fan, and in her interactions with a Manorama who doesn’t know what’s hit her… brilliant!

    P.S. Noticed something? Your film and mine have Hema in common; your film and Anu’s have Dharmendra in common. So the commonality remains, even there.

    • bollyviewer says:

      Thank you Madhu. * BIG pleased grin * That Hema-sitting-atop-the-fan screencap has been immortalised in the film’s poster. I wanted to work it into my post too, but it was already too screencap-heavy.

      And you have a very good point about the commonalities in our masala choices – we are bichdi behne, after all!

  8. I am quite familiar with your two other sisters, Madhu and Anu. I have seen you with them, and also visited you here off and on, without realising you were the third of the triplet, long separated and recently discovered each other. I am delighted at the emotional reunion, and enjoyed the post thoroughly.

    But are you sure you were only three? I strongly suspect you were at least four sisters, lost and separated in childhood at Mahakumbh long ago. The fourth one was found by a kind-hearted American tourist couple. She told them in her तोतली आवाज़ that her name was Geeta, which they mistook as Greta, and brought her up as their own on the West Coast. You know Greta Memsaab well. Check up with her – there are tell-tale signs – you might be in for some unbelievable coincidence. Since the three of you are already Geeta, what a grand union it would be of chaar bahne – Geeta 1, Geeta 2, Geeta 3 and Geeta 4!

    AK

    • bollyviewer says:

      Thank you, AK. * grinning from ear to ear *

      And you are perfectly right about Greta. She should be Geeta #4! She also likes the same masala films, and she is just as fond of wines and food as the three of us. Must be another masala sister. It seems like our bloggers’ meet-up would really be a family re-union – we are all masala-loving bichhde rishtedaar here. 😀

  9. ruchi says:

    What an exciting masala post and what an idea! I’ve spent a lovely week reading all three posts and following up your coincidences and the films you three have reviewed. In fact I would say that the story of your co-incidences and the final meeting up of the three bichdi behne is such a hoot that I demand (please, please) another joint venture!

    • bollyviewer says:

      Ruchi, thank you so much for the appreciation. It was fun to do the linked posts. Let us savor our re-union and sort out our re-union songs and symbols, then we will go to the movies again – we bichhdi behne will stick together, and more importantly, go to the movies together. 🙂

  10. RSBAAB Ravi says:

    Great review…..you captured all of the entertainment in the movie very well. I also enjoyed the hilarious captions for the pictures. This was an eminently watchable movie for the sheer entertainment value. I wonder why Roopesh Kumar did not get many roles. I also remember reading somewhere that he was Mumtaz’s cousin.

    The three reviews (JMN, YKB and SAG) were truly as entertaining as the movies themselves. Perhaps the three of you should collaborate on other themes as well.

    One more entertaining movie on the lost and found theme is Haath ki Safai….with Vinod Khanna looking dashing in it.

    • bollyviewer says:

      Ravi, thank you! 😀

      Lost-and-found was such a fun masala trope. I miss it in new movies. Roopesh Kumar did show up as villain in a number of films – his filmography is quite long! Never made it to the big time, though.

      I love Haath Ki Safai – Vinod Khanna was quite dashing in it and it was a pretty enjoyable film. It was a remake of Raj Kapoor-Madubala-Sheikh Mukhtar starrer Do Ustad, which was pretty entertaining, too.

  11. Neeru says:

    Your captions are so hilarious that I will be watching Seeta and Geeta again after many years with your witty remarks and captions in mind. Just wondered how these two kids got matching names since they got separated as soon as they were born. But then this is Hindi Cinema.

    I had already seen similarities between yourself and Dustedoff, now I have found a third, you all must be in seventh heaven ! ( is there such a thing ? )
    There is another lost and almost found movie full of great music by Naushad, Shabab. There too, infants are set for each other by their parents, so that one of them can get lost promptly ! …. Nutan and Bharat Bhushan

    • bollyviewer says:

      Neeru, thank you so much. * grinning from ear to ear * Indeed there is a seventh heaven and no re-united triplets worth their names can be kept out of it! 😉

      Seeta Aur Geeta should be a must-rewatch every few years. The twins’ matching names? Rama named her baby daughter before leaving the cottage, “Main apni beti ko Sita bulaoongi.” Which gave Leela her cue – seperated twins should have rhyming names in case of re-unions.

      Shabab has lovely songs. I’ll try to brave Bharat Bhushan (not a favorite), for it, one of these days. Lost-and-almost-found-sweathearts is a big motivator.

  12. Hey, This was a fun review! Amazing captions those. need to re-watch Seeta Aur Geeta 🙂 This genre of lost-and-found movies was so much fun! I love the Yaadon Ki Baraat wala gana… Tariq and Vijay Arora look so much like Lallu and Pappu and their expressions when they realise that they are brothers is side-splitting. Even now when stressed, I youtube that song and feel happy! Now why am I remembering YKB on a SAG post I don’t know. I loved Sanjeev Kumar in this movie – he was so very charming and i was an idiotic 12 year old when I saw this! I now need to rewatch this. Another of my perennial lost and found favourites is Waqt – the baap of all of them. Call me a sucker for soppy melodrama, I love the reunion wala scenes in all these movies. When I rewatch these movies, I forward straight to the place where the tearful, happy punar-milaap happens. What fun!

    Found your blog through that of one of your long lost sisters – Madhu’s. Enjoyed reading it thoroughly. Thanks! 🙂

    • bollyviewer says:

      Thanks for the appreciation, bagsbooksandmore!

      Tariq and Vijay Arora look so much like Lallu and Pappu” 🙂 🙂 Since you are thinking of YKB – do check out Anu’s YKB review to refresh your memories.

      I never found Sanjeev Kumar particularly charming as a 12 year old, but now when I watch Seeta Aur Geeta, I am struck by how charming and likable he is in this (and in the early part of Anamika). Waqt is the first movie that springs to mind when I think of lost-and-found movies, and it is chock-full of soppy melodrama – totally worth a re-watch every few years.

      • Thanks, I did check out Anu’s YKB reviews and the movie has to be watched this weekend. I think I shall watch both YKB and Waqt and refresh my memories… you bet, cheesy, soppy melodrama – much needed once in a while!

  13. Lalitha says:

    Wonderful review of a fun movie! I read the posts on Anu’s site as well as Madhu’s, but just managed to come here today. I am still laughing over the wig-less fate for poor Seeta (which, I confess) was the name properly given to me on my 10th (or was it 11th?) day on this earth, but I was given a different name by my mom, because Seeta happened to be my grandmother’s name also. I love the captions you give your screen shots, so now I have to go through all your reviews and look for your captions.
    I didn’t watch this movie when it was released in India, but watched it later, much, much later, in fact, and wondered why I didn’t watch it then. I think it was because those were the days before I got my first job and independence! I just rewatched some parts of it today, and what fun it is! Thanks for that review which made me watch it again.

    • bollyviewer says:

      Lalitha, thank you so much for your kind words.

      So you are Seeta-Lalitha? I guess your Mom wasn’t a Seeta Aur Geeta fan, otherwise you would’ve been Seeta-Geeta instead of Seeta-Lalitha. 😉

      This is such a fun-film even on rewatches – I wonder why some silly jokes never stop being funny. The Chacha-chunchoo and the “oopar aa jao moti” dialogues, and others, in this film aren’t particularly good, but they still tickle my funny bone.

  14. Lalitha says:

    And, I forgot to mention this, the three of you are definitely masala sisters!

  15. Fangurl says:

    Hi ! This is my first visit to your blog and loving it !! your captions are hilarious 🙂

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