Why does fate unite a handsome, brilliant, selfless Doctor with a beautiful, self-sacrificing, gentle hearted nurse only to have her fall prey to the same congenital heart condition that brought them together when it killed her mother and
have her get in a train wreck and appear
to be dead long enough so that he marries his childhood sweetheart who blinds him with acid when they get in an argument? To these eternal questions life has not yet provided answers but 1968's Saathi
dares to pose them again with charismatic stars, enjoyable songs, and really weird, sloppy editing.
In my favourite bit of weird editing, the couple are on their honeymoon and the scene transitions from dialogue to song with a really quick shot of a random tree, the camera zooming out really quickly on it from an extreme closeup on one branch. I heard in my head a sped up tape of John Cleese saying, "The larch" (I don't actually know if it is a larch so I've learned nothing). But the movie is filled with odd little beats of people in the middle of starting to say something or abrupt beginnings other shots that get instantly cut off.
In case you haven't figured it out, this is a melodrama. It's about a brilliant surgeon named Ravi (Rajendra Kumar) who meets a gorgeous nurse beloved by staff and patients named Shanti (Vyjayanthimala), an angel who puts the needs of others always before her own. Then her mother suffers from a heart problem and Ravi operates only to lose the patient. So Shanti is left alone in the world and Ravi, like any gentleman in a patriarchal society, marries her. But it turns out they really love each other.
Rajendra Kumar is fine as Ravi but mostly Vyjayanthimala makes the film work, being so adorable that her picture perfect, patriarchy-wank cliché character isn't annoying. The songs are good, too, the centrepiece being "Mera Pyar Bhi Tu Hai".
The song is reprised later after Ravi is blinded and for various ridiculous reasons Shanti attends him as his nurse pretending to be someone else, allowing him to continue thinking his beloved Shanti is dead.
At two and a half hours, this is short for a Bollywood movie, but would probably be more enjoyable watched in multiple sittings.