Love in Tokyo (1966)

Love in Tokyo was before my time, but I can well imagine what its trailer should’ve been:

Japanese gardens! Asha Parekh in a kimono! Joy Mukherji in a wet shirt! Mehmood as a geisha! Mehmood as an Arab doctor! Mehmood as a nawab! Mehmood as Asit Sen!

And so on and so forth. It probably would’ve mentioned a few other attractions: Pran as a lecherous villain (so what’s new?), Lalita Pawar as a tyrannical matriarch with a soft heart (ditto), surprise revelations, a gold digger without a conscience, and a comic side plot without a shred of sense in it.
In spite of all that lunacy, though, this is an entertaining film with a certain mad charm about it.

Asha Parekh and Joy Mukherji in Love in Tokyo

The film begins in Bombay, where the very wealthy Ashok (Joy Mukherji) is being forced into an engagement with the spoilt Sarita (Lata Bose). Ashok’s mother Gayatri Devi (Lalita Pawar), who’s the main instigator, is unaware that Sarita is after Ashok’s money. Ashok wriggles out of the engagement with the help of his madcap friend Mahesh (Mehmood) who cooks up a sudden emergency and takes Ashok off.

Ashok's impending engagement to Sarita

But Ashok’s troubles aren’t over. His elder brother, who’d gone off to Japan and married a Japanese woman—because of which Gayatri Devi disowned him—has since died, leaving behind a son. The little boy’s mother has also now died, and has left behind a sentimental note for Gayatri Devi, asking her to look after the little boy. Gayatri Devi therefore sends Ashok off to Tokyo to fetch the boy, Cheekoo (Master Shahid).

Gayatri Devi orders Ashok off to Tokyo

It’s not very clear who’s been looking after Cheekoo all this while, but Cheekoo very categorically refuses to go to India. Ashok tries bribery, cajoling, even bullying, but it doesn’t work. While Ashok is busy watching a dance performance on television—and falling for the gorgeous Indian dancer—Cheekoo sneaks off.

Ashok falls for a dancer he sees on TV

Cut to the dancer, an heiress called Asha (Asha Parekh). Asha’s only relative is her slimy uncle Madan (Madan Puri) who wants her to marry his equally slimy pal Pran (Pran), with whom Madan plans to split Asha’s millions. Asha loathes Pran, and when Madan insists she get engaged to Pran, she makes her escape. She and Cheekoo soon bump into each other and become friends. In the meantime, Madan has announced a reward of $5,000 for anybody who gets Asha back.

Asha and Cheekoo become friends

Ashok catches up with Cheekoo, but Asha helps Cheekoo `escape’, and then Cheekoo returns the favour when Pran tries to drag Asha off. At this point, Cheekoo suggests that Asha, in her sari, is bound to be recognised by people eager for the prize money. Smart kid, this one.
Asha and Cheekoo make their way to a shop that sells Indian goods. Its owner (Dhumal) is the father of Mahesh’s girlfriend, Sheila (Shubha Khote). It’s a small world, and chockfull of coincidences.

Sheila's father welcomes visitors to his shop

Asha disguises herself as a Sikh; they dress Cheekoo up as a little girl, and both get out of the shop without Sheila’s father realising. He recognises Asha and excitedly phones Pran for the reward, but ends up getting yelled at for his pains when Pran arrives to find only the shop assistant Mohan (Mohan Choti) gagged, tied and draped in Asha’s sari.

Pran finds Mohan wrapped in Asha's sari

Asha and Cheekoo run into Ashok, who recognises Cheekoo and insists on taking him back to his hotel. Cheekoo kicks up a fuss and refuses to let go of his sardar friend, so Ashok asks the sardar to join them too. Ashok soon hits it off with Cheekoo’s mentor: the young sardar is a good sport.

Ashok and the sardar become pals

Ashok confides in the sardar about the only girl to whom he’s ever felt attracted: a lovely Indian dancer he saw on television in Tokyo. Oh joy! Oh happy day! Asha is delighted to know her dreamboat also thinks she’s quite the ticket. The next step, therefore, is to reveal herself to Ashok. I’d have expected her to show herself off as Asha, but I guess I’m more logical than romantic. She chooses to pretend she’s Cheekoo’s aunt, and comes to have a quarrel with Ashok over Cheekoo’s guardianship.

Cheekoo's `aunt' comes visiting

That evening, Ashok tells his sardar friend about the aunt who’s threatening to whisk Cheekoo off. The sardar’s solution to the problem is that Ashok should romance the aunt: softened up, she’s bound to relent and let Ashok keep Cheekoo. Ashok thinks it’s a grand idea. The next day, he goes to meet the aunt with a bunch of chrysanthemums in hand. Their romance develops swiftly, and by the time she’s singing Sayonara sayonara to him, Ashok’s smitten.

Sayonara, sayonara...

The sardar cuts his thumb while cutting an apple, and Ashok binds it up with his own handkerchief. The next day, meeting Cheekoo’s aunt, he sees his own handkerchief on her thumb, and Asha’s charade goes kaput. Ashok doesn’t confront her, of course (again a case of romance winning over logic) and pretends to have left for India never to return. Asha is heartbroken, but Ashok comes to console her—and win her back—with a lovely song: O mere shaahe khubaan o meri jaane jaana na.

Ashok and Asha confess their love for each other

We now have a long and increasingly irritating interlude concerning Mahesh (who’s managed to wheedle Gayatri Devi into funding a Bombay-Tokyo ticket for him, ostensibly so he can find out how Ashok’s doing). Mahesh however comes to Tokyo to be with Sheila, whose father wants Sheila to marry Mr Chatterjee (Asit Sen). Much lunacy occurs, with Sheila’s father pursuing Mahesh through train stations, parks, a chemistry lab where Mahesh gets a flubber-like substance on his feet and jumps all across the Tokyo skies—and a geisha house where Mahesh passes himself off as an international geisha who speaks Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Marathi.

Sheila's father is conned by the `international geisha'

Asha, now that she’s in love with Ashok, seems to think it’s safe to discard all disguises. Nobody seems to be keen on that $5,000 anyway. But Pran sees her and kidnaps her from virtually under Ashok’s nose. I do think Ashok needs his eyes checked, by the way: a man who couldn’t recognise his lady love through the flimsy disguises she wore certainly can’t claim 20/20 vision.
Pran and Madan imprison Asha in a house and try to bully her into marrying Pran. But Mahesh, Sheila, Cheekoo and Ashok rescue her and spirit her away.

Mahesh & Co. rescue Asha from Madan and Pran

Mahesh (wearing a Mr Chatterjee mask and wig—when will the idiocy stop?!) marries Sheila, and true love, no matter how inane, triumphs. But Ashok and Asha have a bad blow in store for them: Gayatri Devi, concerned at Ashok’s delay in returning, arrives in Tokyo, accompanied by Ashok’s would-be fiancée Sarita and Sarita’s father. Gayatri Devi takes one look at Asha and dismisses her as a slut. Ashok tries arguing (and Cheekoo lets fly at Sarita’s father with his catapult), but to no avail.

Gayatri Devi and gang shunt Asha off, despite Ashok and Cheekoo

Asha takes herself off to Hiroshima to utter some weepy remarks about how she wished she’d died too. Duh. Ashok finds her (okay, this guy may have weak eyesight, but he’s got sixth sense or something: how’d he know where she was?). He hears her singing O mere shaahe khubaan, and follows after her.

O mere shaahe khubaan - the female version

In his hurry to stop Asha, Ashok gets hit by a car. (Pran’s driving it, but nothing emerges from this particular fact, other than perhaps adding rash driving to the list of his vices).
In the hospital, Gayatri Devi is hollering unkindly at Asha and telling her to shove off, when the Indian surgeon Dr Roy (Tarun Bose) emerges from the operation theatre. (Hallelujah for Indian surgeons who just happen to be abroad! We couldn’t have trusted our hero to a Jap, could we?). The news is grim: Ashok will live, but he may well be blind for the rest of his life.

Dr Roy breaks the bad news to Gayatri Devi

Ashok can see again if an eye transplant is done. Gayatri Devi offers her eyes but the doctor says she’s too old. Then Gayatri Devi has a brilliant idea: Sarita should donate her eyes; after all, Ashok is going to be her husband. Sarita, evil (and thankfully sensible) creature that she is, refuses. But there’s another who’s willing to give up her eyes for Ashok: Asha. True love, weepy and stoic, will survive even if it means going blind for the sake of the loved one… or will it? Will Ashok see again? Whom will he marry? What will happen to Cheekoo? And what’s happening on the Pran-Madan front?

If you can live through the moments (or let me amend that: minutes) of sheer lunacy, this is a good, old-fashioned masala film: everything’s there, and in ample doses.

What I liked about this film:
The songs. The music’s by Shankar-Jaikishan, and the score is among their best. The more popular songs aside, some of my favourite ones are the lovely Mujhe tum mil gaye humdum sahara ho toh aisa ho and the seductive Aa jaa re aa zara aa, Mohammad Rafi singing one of 60’s Bollywood’s few come-hither male songs. I like the picturisation of this song too: there’s something very sensual about it.

Aaja re aa zara aa: lotsa oomph!

The Japanese gardens: I loved them in Aankhen, and I love them here. So very beautiful.
Asha Parekh. One of my all-time favourite actresses, and very lovely here. I can live without the weepy bits, but her feisty sardar and Cheekoo’s aunt avatars are delightful, and she is just so beautiful in a sari.

Asha Parekh in Love in Tokyo

Joy Mukherji isn’t as good-looking as he was in Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, but he’s attractive enough in some scenes.

What I didn’t like:
The comic side plot. So long-winded, so idiotic and such a waste of some good comic talent.
All those usual weaknesses exhibited by 60’s Bollywood films in a foreign setting: too many Indians scattered about; too many local people who know Hindi (or in this case, English, which I didn’t think rang true for Japan); and too many obviously Indian extras being passed off as foreigners.

Silly, really. And yet fun to watch, mainly because the serious bits are few and far between. This is a happy film, with lots of good songs, a lovely heroine, some nicely soppy romance, and no need for any brain power.

Personal anecdote: Whenever I hear Le gayi dil gudiya Japan ki (roughly translated as `A doll from Japan stole my heart’), I’m reminded of a servant at my grandfather’s. This boy’s version was Le gayi dil budhiya Japan ki—which translates as `An old woman from Japan stole my heart’. Quite a compliment for the women of Japan, huh?

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27 thoughts on “Love in Tokyo (1966)

  1. yeah, love in tokyo was great and quite an entertaining film. I liked it. Fluffy like all the popular 60s films.
    Why should Asha donate both her eyes? She couldoffer one and then both would be one-eyed.
    But on the other hand, which sane surgeon would accept eyes from a living person?
    But that is too much logic for hindi film.
    Somehow I can’t remember this eye donating plot. all I can remember that pran black mails Asha and then she sings a song (in a hindi movie there are hardly any other alternatives than that) and cries and dances with Pran, making Joy go green with jealousy and believing that they will get married soon or something equally crazy.
    That is why I’m grateful of sorts for the comic side-line, because htey never claim that they are sane. And I just like Mehmood in all his avatars.

  2. …a man who couldn’t recognise his lady love through the flimsy disguises she wore certainly can’t claim 20/20 vision.” – He worked on his suspension of disbelief, unlike his viewers!

    I loooooove the Sayonara song – when this played on DD back in the day, the next day at school all of us were humming it. :-) And I want all of Asha’s jewelery from this movie, especially that heavy red-stone choker she’s wearing in the last screen-cap.

    A review of this movie somewhere in blogland (cant remember where) claimed that the movie was actually about Mehmood and his disguises – Joy-Asha were just camouflage!

  3. I never did figure out the plot entirely, but loved this film for the songs (Aaja Re Aa Zara is one of my all-time favorites) and the prettiness of it all (esp. Tokyo and Asha)…

  4. Sabrina: Oh, you must see her more of her films – an Asha film can generally be depended upon to be thoroughly entertaining! There are so many films of hers I really like: Teesri Manzil, Dil Deke Dekho, Kati Patang, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Mere Sanam, Pyar ka Mausam… you get my drift ;-)

    harvey: Yes, sanity (or realism) of any sort, especially when it concerns the medical profession, is hardly common in Hindi cinema. Remember all those scenes in countless films where just because people are blood relatives, they can happily donate blood to each other – lying in adjacent beds, with a large bottle of ketchup-like stuff suspended above?

    bollyviewer: I think I agree with whoever said this was all about Mehmood and his disguises. Asha came a close second, though!

    memsaab: Me too! Aaja re aa zara aa is one of my absolutely favourite songs! *get all starry-eyed*

    And really, I can’t get enough of Asha in this film, she’s sublime.

  5. I have this theory that in Hindi movies love makes you blind but it gives you extra good hearing. So, you may not be able to recognise a loved one in the flimsiest of disguises but you will spot them humming a favourite tune in the middle of an overcrowded fun fair.

  6. “Remember all those scenes in countless films where just because people are blood relatives, they can happily donate blood to each other – lying in adjacent beds, with a large bottle of ketchup-like stuff suspended above?”

    I think the scene that dwarfs them all is from a Mithun starrer where our hero is shot in the head and then operated upon for hours. Finally, the proud doctor comes out of the OT and tells the family “Goli ke saath brain tumor bhi nikal gaya; aub khatray ki koi baat nahi hai.”

  7. Gebruss: Brilliant! Yes, I agree completely: in fact, people’s hearing also becomes so acute they can hear the loved one (having been kidnapped or whatever) gulp “Help!” across forests, mountains, cities – and come running in to the rescue, accurate as a homing device. It’s quite remarkable.

    Sabrina: Would you remember which Mithun film this was? Just so I can avoid it (frankly, other than perhaps Mrigyaa, I’m anyway not much into Mithun’s work – but this one sounds exceptionally idiotish)!

  8. Sabrina, you’re gonna have to answer that – I haven’t seen this movie (and I have no desire to!!!). And memsaab, you obviously haven’t seen enough Hindi movies to realise by now that anything is possible in this realm. :-))

    Have you heard about the film where Rajnikant is facing three villains, and all he has is one dagger and one bullet in his pistol…? So he fires the pistol, and throws the dagger so that it splits the bullet in two – one half kills one villain, the other half kills the second villain, and the dagger goes on to kill the third.

    I defy Hollywood to come up with more creative ways to kill.

  9. “Goli ke saath brain tumor bhi nikal gaya; aub khatray ki koi baat nahi hai.”

    We were able to remove the tumor and the bullet from his brain. There is nothing to worry about now…he will be able to dance in the end credits song ;-)

  10. I’m feeling so dumb. I forgot that Greta doesn’t know Hindi and was actually asking for a literal translation – I tend to think in terms of interpretation… if you know what I mean. Sorry about that, memsaab and Sabrina. :-(

    And I love that little end note about him being well enough to dance in the end credits song. Superb! :-)

  11. I think I am complimented that you forget that I don’t speak Hindi, and thank you Sabrina for bringing that gem of dialogue to my attention! :) I would love to know what film that’s from if you can remember the name…unlike Madhu, I would see it just for that scene!

  12. Aaja re aa zara aa give sme goos pimples every time. But every time I hear it I think it is picturised on Shammi K.
    I think he would have carried it much better.

  13. Probably ;-). But I think Joy Mukherji does a fairly sizzling job with it too. I’m just thanking God it wasn’t picturised on Biswajeet or Pradeep Kumar. Shudder!!

  14. Nobody in there right sense would cast Pradeep Kumar in such a song!
    I can imagine Biswajeet playing it well, but it would be at the most playful if not embarassing.
    Vinod Khanna would have been great

  15. why dont u finish the story …. really its pretty weird to have all details but the end—- really !!!
    how does this movie end anyway

  16. It’s weird to have all the details except the end, right? But if you haven’t seen the film (which seems to be the case, considering you’re asking for the end), how can you assume that I’ve given all the details?

    Anyway, here’s what happens beyond this:

    Spoilers ahead:

    Sarita and her father have a talk, with Sarita insisting that she won’t marry a blind man, and her father egging her on to marry Ashok, because his blindness will be compensated by his wealth. Neither of them realises that Cheeko is eavesdropping on the conversation, but he hears and tells his grandmother, so Gayatri Devi realises how crass Sarita is. Meanwhile, Asha has also managed to endear herself with Gayatri Devi by begging the doctor to transplant her eyes so that Ashok can see. Eventually, the doctor’s able to operate on Ashok – without any eye transplants – and Ashok regains his vision. Gayatri Devi is now happy with Asha as a bahu, so she gives her blessings for Asha and Ashok to be married.

    Asha and Ashok’s engagement party is held, and there, in the middle of a song (Mujhe tum mil gaye humdum) Pran comes disguised as a waiter and kidnaps Cheekoo. He then phones Asha – during the song – and tells her that he’s got Cheekoo, and unless she pretends to be unfaithful to Ashok, Cheekoo will be killed. Asha has little alternative, so when Pran returns to the party as a guest, she pretends to switch loyalties and sing the song to him instead.

    At the end of the song, Pran tells everybody that Asha is his fiancee, not Ashok’s. Ashok, Gayatri Devi, etc are horrified, but Asha doesn’t contradict Pran, and he finally takes her home – to her uncle Madan’s place. Madan is triumphant that now that Asha will marry Pran, he will also get a part of Asha’s considerable inheritance. Madan takes out the letter of inheritance (which has just been handed over to him by the executors of Asha’s father’s will). He starts reading the letter in the presence of Asha and Pran, and it’s revealed not only that Asha is going to be inheriting a huge sum, but that Asha wasn’t the dead man’s daughter after all – she was the long-lost daughter of his brother, i.e, of Madan himself. Now Madan does an about-turn: he can’t hand over his daughter to a villain like Pran! Asha, unlike the usual film daughter, is derisive and tells her father off for being so changeable.

    Meanwhile, Cheekoo has managed to escape from the chair in which he’d been tied up. He runs away, finds Ashok, and tells him that Asha had been emotionally blackmailed into pretending, and that she’s now in trouble. Ashok, therefore, comes with Cheekoo to Madan’s place, where by now Pran has shot Madan and run away, dragging Asha.

    The rest is the chase: Ashok goes after Pran, rescues Asha, and then it’s the happily ever after…

    Spoiler ends

    Whew. I hope I never end up with another film that’s so complex, and for which people demand all details. It’s too much work!

  17. I saw this movie as a child and didnt remember much. As part of my Asha Parekh video library, I bought Love in Tokyo recently and watched it over the weekend. Liked the movie in bits and loved Asha in it. There was WAYYYYY too much of Mehmood CSP, and pretty Shobha Khote was totally wasted as his love interest. The script appeared rather weak with too much of Mehmood-Dhumal madness. I wish there was more character development. Madan Puri was another wasted talent and there was very little villainy left for Pran and little scope for Lalita Pawar’s tyranny.

    Joy looked handsome and there was a scene where he is about to take off his shirt in front of the Sardar/Asha where I thought he looked absolutely HOT.

    • I know the scene you mean. ;-) Yes, Joy Mukherjee looks delectable in it!

      Too true, this film is good in parts, Asha is wonderful, but the CSP is too stretched out – it gets to the point of being irritating. But the songs are fabulous, and I think the romance between the Asha Parekh and Joy Mukherjee characters is lovely (I especially like the picturisation of his version of O mere shahekhubaan – when she thinks he’s gone away, and she comes to the temple in the garden… and hears him singing. Lovely!) I remember that (and the gory end to which Pran comes) as being the most vivid scenes from when I first watched Love in Tokyo as a kid.

  18. O mere shahekhubaan and Mujhe tum mil gaye humdum are my two favorites from the movie – Rafi’s rendition of the former I find myself listening more to.

    The Joy-Asha pair is a delight to watch onscreen. I know of only 3 films where we see them together – Love in Tokyo, Ziddi, and Phir wohi dil laya hoon. Are there any more?

    • Those are the only ones, as far as I know – and all were thoroughly entertaining! I like Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon a lot too, so typical Nasir Hussain. :-) And awesome music.

  19. JAAAAAPAAAAN! Love in Tokyo! (Or as I misheard it the first time “Jaaaapaaan! Batman’s in Tokyo!”)

    I love watching Asha Parekh’s films she’s like the female equivalent of Shammi Kapoor in my books–her films are always so entertaining. Plus I just really like her, she’s one of my favourite actresses ever.

    I just spent my Sunday afternoon watching this film and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so much fun, I loved Asha’s “disguises” and while I’m still undecided about Joy Mukherjee’s hot or not-ness I do think he was sizzling in “Aaja re aa zara” (even with that hideous shirt on) but I think having M. Rafi’s voice to seduce someone with would make any woman melt ;) I know it makes me swoon…

    Of course the film isn’t perfect, plot holes (but when, if ever, are there no plot holes in a Hindi film?) and the “twist” at the end. Also I could have done without the Mehmood CSP–so idiotic! (Seriously…he’s flying around the city) But all is forgiven because the rest of the film is so fun and filled with great music and beautiful scenery, plus Asha Parekh looking very lovley.

    PS: I’ve started checking out your reviews before/after I watch films now because I always have a blast reading your thoughts on the films and your recs are usually on par with my personal tastes in films too.

    • I always have a blast reading your thoughts on the films and your recs are usually on par with my personal tastes in films too.

      Thank you! I’m so glad. :-) And I’m glad you enjoyed this film. The Mehmood-Shubha Khote CSP, in my opinion, should have been completely left out; it was so intrusive and idiotic. And, worse still, long drawn out. I would have happily devoted more of the film to Asha and Joy’s romance. They were wonderful. :-)

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