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Film / Baghban

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Baghban (or Caretaker) is a 2003 Bollywood film, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini as Raj and Pooja Malhotra. Raj and Pooja are happily married for 40 years. They have four sons:

  • The eldest Ajay is married to Kiran, and they have a daughter in her late teens, early twenties: Payal.
  • The second eldest Sanjay is married to Reena, and they have a son who is still a child: Rahul.
  • The third eldest Rohit is married to Priya.
  • The youngest Karan is unmarried.

Raj and Pooja also have an adopted son, played by Salman Khan in a special appearance. He is in love with Arpita, played by Mahima Chaudry, also in a special appearance. They appear to be a loving, harmonious family. However, is this still the case when Raj retires and becomes dependent on his children?

The treatment of Raj and Pooja by their four sons is a central theme in this film. This is put in contrast with the treatment Raj and Pooja receive from Alok. It is notable that Alok does not have any interaction with his four brothers.

Baghban contains examples of:

  • Abusive Offspring: Raj and Pooja provided their four sons with everything they needed, at the expense of their own desires. However, when they are forced to live with their sons, they force Raj and Pooja to live separately. Both receive a lot of abuse staying at their sons. This does not include their adopted son Alok, who practically worships them.
  • As You Know: In the opening scenes, the characters often say things to each other about their traits, personalities and backgrounds they certainly know already.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Raj and Pooja do not have to depend financially on anybody, can live in their old house again, are close with Alok and loved by their grandchildren. However, their relationship with their children is completely shattered.
  • Covers Always Lie: Salman Khan and Mahima Chaudry only appear in brief appearances and take up less screen time than the other characters. However, they are on the film poster while the other children of Raj and Pooja are not.
  • Foreshadowing: When Ajay and Sanjay discuss Raj's invitation for the Holi Festival, they talk about the money their father probably received after his retirement and what he should do with it. Celebrating Holi comes second.
  • Forgiveness: Notably averted for a Bollywood Movie. Raj and Pooja's children beg for forgiveness in the end (Whether it is genuine or still to get to their money is up for debate). However, Raj severs ties with and disowns them while even Pooja does not forgive them. Understandable, after their horrible treatment.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • First Raj and Pooja have to leave their house and live with their children, since they don't have enough money to pay for it. Then, they have to split up, living in different houses. This causes them grief, but they still are looking forward to living with their children. However, they receive horrible treatment from them, and don't even have any family gatherings anymore.
    • And then inverted when after six months, Raj and Pooja each move to a different house and things are getting better and better. First, they are able to meet again and spend some happy moments. Then, they finally reunite with Alok, who they haven't seen in a long time. Alok treats them with a lot of love and respect and dreams of living with his parents in one house. Then, Alok gives Raj a car as a present, something he dreamt about for a long time. Raj and Pooja are able to visit their old house and reunite with old friends and their dogs. And to top it of, it turns out that Raj's book became a best-seller, ensuring their financial security.
  • Happily Married: Actually all the couples in the movie, but especially Raj and Pooja. Even though they are married for 40 years, they behave like they are a young couple who are madly in love.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Raj and Pooja met Alok when he was living on the street. He offered to clean their shoes, because he wanted to study. Raj completely melts for his innocence and arranges for Alok to go to school and adopts him.
  • I Have No Son!: Raj disowns his four sons and daughter-in-laws after the misery they put him and Pooja through. A bit inverted with Alok and his wife, as he is the adopted son of Raj and Pooja but in the end, Raj sees him as his only son.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Raj uses his old typewriter, which makes a lot of noise, to write his book. Even though Sanjay and Reena are not very nice to Raj, they have a point when they say that his typewriter is very disturbing.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A very nice one. The abuse of his children prompts Raj to write a book about his life. It turns out his book becomes a best-seller, earning him enough money to solve his financial problems. However, his children won't receive a penny as he disowns them.
  • Malaproper: Partially Subverted with a café owner and Raj's friend, Hemant Patel. He mangles his Hindi figures of speech, much to the amusement of his wife — which, he reveals, is why he does it.
  • Mama Bear: Pooja beats up a sexual predator and threatens to tear his eyes out if he ever touches her granddaughter again.
  • Mood Whiplash: The family seems to be a very happy and close one. They make jokes, have a nice dinner and celebrate Holi together. However, Raj then asks his sons to allow Pooja and him to live with them. His sons turn out not be very loving after all. The remainder of the film is much darker, where Pooja and Raj receive much abuse from their children.
  • Morning Routine: Every morning, Raj goes out for a walk with his dogs, which is scheduled so that Pooja opens the door the second he returns. Than they have a nice cup of tea. Played for Drama when they are separated and they cannot drink tea together for the first time in 40 years, which brings them both to tears.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Payal realizes her treatment of her grandmother, Pooja, was horrible after Pooja defends her from a sexual predator and subsequently from Payal's parents.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Multiple times for Ajay, Sanjay, Rohit and Karan:
    • First by Hemant Patel, when they come looking for Raj after he didn't show up. He blames the brothers for splitting up their parents and making Raj cry.
    • Then by Payal and Rahul. They are disgusted that Ajay, Sanjay, Rohit, Karan and their wives are only asking Raj and Pooja for forgiveness in order to get to their money, not because they are genuinely sorry.
    • And finally, an extended one in the final scene, when Raj delivers his monologue during his book presentation.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Raj. In the first act, Raj states that he doesn't need savings after his retirement, since he can count on his sons. However, after his Pooja's treatment from his children, he says in his final monologue that children only see their parents as a resource for money, food and shelter until they can take care of themselves. After that, he coldly rejects and disowns his own sons.
  • True Companions: Raj picked up some good friends along the way. Right after he has to move in with Sanjay, he befriends Hemant, an owner of a local café. They become really good friends, treating each other as brothers and helping each other out. It is this friendship that makes Raj's stay at Sanjay's bearable. Raj visits Hemant's café every day to escape from the house where he is staying, even writing to his wife that he always looks forward to these visits and dreads leaving at the end of the day. Raj is also good friends with his landlord, who vows that he won't rent his house to somebody else when Raj had to leave. These friends are depicted in the end as being closer to Raj than his own children.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Ajay, Sanjay, Rohit and Karan. During their upbringing, they received everything they wished for from their parents. However, they do not return the favour. Moreover, they claim that their success in life is based solely on their own capabilities, not the support of their parents.