Hum Dono (1961)

After Usne Kaha Tha, it’s time for yet another Nanda film (though Sadhana plays an equally, if not more important role in it). And a coincidence: this one too is against the backdrop of World War II. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Hum Dono is a very different story, more mainstream than Usne Kaha Tha, yet equally enjoyable—and with superb music by the underrated Jaidev.

Dev Anand and Sadhana in Hum Dono

The film, in fact, begins with a song, the lovely Abhi na jaao chhodkar, sung by a much-in-love Anand (Dev Anand) to his girlfriend Meeta (Sadhana). Anand is supposed to meet Meeta’s extremely wealthy father (Jagirdar) the next day to ask for Meeta’s hand in marriage. Though Meeta does her best to reassure him, Anand’s got the jitters.

Meeta tries encouraging Anand

And with reason. Anand is unemployed and lives in a hovel with his mother (Leela Chitnis). When Anand’s mother comes to know he’s going to meet Meeta’s father, she warns Anand against aiming for the moon. Anand tells her his moon’s got her feet firmly on the ground.

Anand reassures his mother

But when Anand goes to meet Meeta’s father, the apprehensions of his mother are proven right. Meeta’s father flings Anand’s poverty in his face, and asks him how he hopes to be able to provide for a girl who spends more on her birthday than Anand will be able to earn in his lifetime. Poverty, for a rich girl like Meeta, says her father, is all romance and poetry; if Meeta has to live that poverty, she’ll crack up.

Meeta's father lets fly at Anand

Despite his outburst, Meeta’s father realises that Anand and Meeta love each other, so on his own, he gives his consent for the match just as Anand is leaving. Anand heads home, humiliated and angry, and à la Usne Kaha Tha, happens across a sign encouraging men to join the army. Anand decides on the spur of the moment to join up. His pay as an officer, and the respectability, will show ’em all he’s as good as anyone.
Anand’s mother nearly has hysterics when she discovers Anand’s leaving. She tries to stop him, pleading with him and using emotional blackmail.

Anand consoles his distraught mother

None of it works though, and Anand goes off. Within less than a year (I found this very hard to believe), he’s trained and a Captain on the front in Burma. The film’s punctuated at this point by a few perfunctory shots of tanks and guns firing, shells exploding and the like, before it reverts to Anand shaving at a pond and singing Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya.

Anand spends his time singing on the front...

On his way to the Divisional Headquarters, Anand finds a wallet belonging to a certain Major Manoharlal `Mani’ Verma. When he reaches the Divisional Headquarters, Anand asks for Major Verma, and everybody—the tipsy bartender John (Rashid Khan), another officer, and Major Verma’s own orderly—does (literally!) a double take. Anand is the spitting image of Major Verma, barring the moustache and the hairstyle.

...and suddenly meets a look-alike

Anand and Major Verma soon become good friends and discover that they even belong to the same city. Major Verma shows Anand photographs of his home, his mother (Lalita Pawar), and his beautiful wife Ruma (Nanda). He recounts how Ruma, despite her assertion that she never cries, broke into tears when he showed her his orders to head for the front.

Major Verma recalls Ruma's reaction on being told about his imminent departure

Meanwhile, Meeta—after having borne an initial tirade from Anand’s mother, who blames her and her father for Anand’s having gone off—has become friends with Anand’s mother. Having realised that Anand’s mother misses Anand a lot and is terribly lonely, Meeta moves in with the old woman. She will be the bahu of this house someday, in any case; so she might as well start now.

Meeta moves in with Anand's mother

And in Major Verma’s grand house (it has a delightful name: Sunnyside. I wonder what Major Verma has for breakfast!), Ruma and her mother-in-law await news of their man. Every little letter from him is pounced on with glee, savoured and treasured.

Ruma and her mother-in-law read a letter from Major Verma

In faraway Burma, though, the messing and the jolly singing has come to an end. The Japanese are attacking in hordes, and Major Verma’s keen eye and excellent aim combine to save Anand from snipers. In the ensuing crossfire, Verma is badly injured. At the same time, news arrives that an enemy contingent, 3,000 strong, is headed their way.

At the front in Burma

Major Verma gives orders for his men to pull out, leaving him behind to guard their backs with one machine gun. Anand refuses to leave, but Verma pulls rank and orders him—as he tells Anand, he’s anyway close to dead. But he does ask one favour of Anand: that Anand will go to his home and tell Ruma and his mother of his death, and will look after them.

Major Verma protects his men as they retreat

Back from the frontline, Anand learns that he’s been promoted—he’s now a major—and that his leave has been sanctioned. His boss is fairly sure that the war will be over by the time Anand’s leave is over, so the chances of Anand risking his life in battle are now few. Anand goes back home, and finds his house empty.
He dozes off, and wakes up to find Meeta there, and learns the truth from her: his mother’s died while he’s been away.

Meeta tells Anand of his mother's death

Anand now goes off to Sunnyside to break the news of Major Verma’s death to his mother and Ruma. They’ve already received a telegram from the military, informing them that Verma’s missing. Ever since, Ruma has gone into a decline: she hasn’t been eating, and is very ill.
A servant opens the door, sees Anand, and immediately mistakes him for Major Verma. Before Anand can respond, Major Verma’s mother has come and Ruma has been sent for.

Major Verma's mother mistakes Anand for her son

Ruma comes downstairs from her room—and faints at Anand’s feet. The family doctor is sent for and after a checkup, has a tête-à- tête with Anand. He confesses that he’d suspected, for a while, that something was wrong with Ruma, but now knows for sure. Ruma has heart disease, and has just suffered a mild heart attack. She should be guarded from shocks of all kinds, he stresses: any trauma can be fatal.

The doctor tells Anand about Ruma's illness

Anand tells the doctor that he isn’t Major Verma and that he had only come to the house to inform Ruma and Verma’s mother of Verma’s death. The doctor’s astounded but is firm: Ruma cannot be told she’s a widow. If she’s to stay alive, Anand had better continue being Major Verma. Anand’s plea that he has a life of his own draws a cynical comment: “You should have thought of that before making that promise to Major Verma.”
So Anand finds himself acting a part he isn’t: being a son to a woman who isn’t his mother, and friends with men like the irrepressibly jovial Jagdish (Jagdish Raj, for once not acting a policeman), whom he’s never seen in his life.

Jagdish too thinks Anand is Major Verma

Worst of all, he has to pretend to be the husband of a woman who’s puzzled and hurt to find her husband suddenly distant, both physically and emotionally.

Ruma pleads for her `husband's' love

How will Anand solve his dilemma? Will he be able to put his concern for Verma’s family aside for the sake of his own life? And what of the faithful Meeta, who’s stood by through thick and thin?
A very watchable film, definitely among the best Dev Anand starrers of the early 60’s. It’s entertaining, and the end is a surprisingly poignant one, even though it is a little on the melodramatic side.

What I liked about this film:
The music. It’s not chockfull of songs, but each one of the songs there are, is a gem. My favourite bhajan (not that I’m fond of them) is here too: Allah tero naam ishwar tero naam.
Dev Anand. In Hum Dono he’s blessedly free of mannerisms (well, most of the time) and is generally quite convincing as two different men.
Dev Anand as Anand and Major Verma in Hum Dono

The silences. A couple of the most poignant scenes in the film actually have no dialogue—just gestures. The scene where Major Verma gives Ruma his orders, for her to read for herself, is one of these, and it’s unforgettable. I just wish there’d been more scenes like that, though the end (a beautiful one) also manages to achieve a lot just through expressions.

What I didn’t like:
The depiction of the war. It really didn’t look realistic at all, even though they’ve obviously used live footage in places, and the Indian Army helped in the filming.
One thing that always irritates me is how people in Hindi films never manage to get a word in edgeways just when they’re getting themselves into a hole. Here too, Anand—well before Ruma is told of `Major Verma’s’ arrival—doesn’t appear to make any attempt to tell the servant or Major Verma’s mother that he isn’t Verma. He just keeps mum until it’s too late. Dumb. I’d have been hollering my head off.
And how can two men completely unrelated look so alike? Very hard to swallow.

But still. This film is definitely worth a dekko. One of the best double role films made in the 50’s and 60’s, in my opinion.

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40 thoughts on “Hum Dono (1961)

  1. ummm, a Dev Anand movie and with Sadhana and Nanda and Lalita Pawar! Great! A treat!

    *is against the backdrop of World War II*

    And I thought it played in the time of Indo-China war. But that was 63, if I remember right.

    **Anand is unemployed*

    I mean, it is okay, it is not a crime to be unemployed, but wouldn’t it be sensible to take up a job and then think about getting married. Did he think that his old mothe rwould work and provide for all the THREE of them? Hindi film heroes are anything but sensible.

    *he gives his consent for the match*

    somehow missed that totally, when i watched the movie.

    *Anand’s mother nearly has hysterics*

    i would like to see one Hindi movie, where the hero’s mother doesn’t cry. Is there for that matter any hindi movie, where nobody cries?

    *barring the moustache and the hairstyle*
    If i remember right, this is Dev Anand’s second film after ‘Insaniyat’, where he has a moustache.

    *I wonder what Major Verma has for breakfast!*
    I was always curious to know, what they eat for breakfast in allthese hindi movies. If it is a poor family, then it is always parathas. And in the mansions it looks more like scrambled eggs but more fluffier than I ever manage.

    *He dozes off, and wakes up to find Meeta there*
    I loved this scene, wher ehe thinks that she is just by chance there and has come visiting for the first time. Lovely!

    *Anand’s plea that he has a life of his own draws a cynical comment: “You should have thought of that before making that promise to Major Verma.”*
    hindi film doctors are a species of their own. I think it woudl be a wonderful topic for a dissertation with the title “Portrayal of the medical profession in hindi movies”.

    *Jagdish Raj, for once not acting a policeman*
    he was in most of the 50’s and 60’s movies a sidekick of the villain or hero’s friend. I think in the 70’s he took up ‘full-time’ policeman’s job.

    *hurt to find her husband suddenly distant*
    When I first saw the movie as a child and didn’t know about the birds and the bees, i just didn’t understand, why she was crying and what she was yearning for. i just thought “stupid woman, should be happy that her husband is back alive!”

    *the end is a surprisingly poignant one*
    do you think so? maybe i just can’t remember the scene.

    *My favourite bhajan (not that I’m fond of them) is here*
    if there are so few of them, how about a list? ;-)

    *It’s not chockfull of songs*
    There are only six, if i remember right. two for Lata, two for Asha, two for Rafi. Rafi has in fact two and half and Asha one and half. Supposedly, jaidev didn’t have a good relations with lata and that cut of his career. in most of his movies, if you notice, the songs are always fairly divided between lata and asha.

    *And how can two men completely unrelated look so alike?*
    maybe Anand is major’s brother, who was lost in a mela and then their mother lost her memory and there was nobody who could remember, not even the director!

    *never manage to get a word in edgeways*
    how true! But if everybody, were tactful and sensible and clever, we would never have any hindi movies.
    By the way, who is the director?

    A wonderful review of a wonderful movie. Thanks!

    • “maybe Anand is major’s brother, who was lost in a mela and then their mother lost her memory and there was nobody who could remember, not even the director!”

      LOLOLOL.

      Just made my day. Thank you, Harvey. :)

  2. Thank you – I’m glad you liked it. I haven’t seen Insaniyat, but frankly I think Dev Anand looks a lot better without the moustache! And as far as breakfast is concerned, I’d have thought (with a name like that), the inhabitants of Sunnyside would probably be eating eggs, sunny side up. But who knows? I’ve seen parathas galore, cornflakes with milk, fruit, even barley water (in Professor) on filmy breakfast tables.

    And yes, I do think the end is poignant. I’d forgotten it too (I saw Hum Dono when I was a kid – and like you didn’t understand the significance of Ruma sobbing at her `husband’s’ feet), but seeing it again, I thought the finale was very touching. There is a single sentence of somewhat preachy Sati Savitri behaviour on Ruma’s part, but otherwise it’s silence. Lovely.

    No, not a bhajans list: there are just too few that I like! (well, offhand I can think of only two). But maybe a classical list sometime… will include the bhajans in that. :-)

  3. I heart this movie. Inspite of the impossible (and improbable) storyline and all the attendant baggage, the whole movie just works. The songs are lovely and both Sadhana and Nanda look so good. This is also one of the few movies where a male double-role is distinguished by a different hair-style and moustache (I am thinking about 70s masala where such a difference constitutes a “disguise” and leads to the character not being recognised at all!). And what are the songs in this one? Try as I might, I can only recall Kabhi khud pe, Main zindagi ka saath, Abhi na jao chod kar, Jahan mein aisa kaun hai and Allah tero naam – all very lovely but I’m missing at least one!

    In movies of this sort, I keep hoping that one of these days they’ll end a similar story with the look-alike actually falling for the pretend-wife and the two living happily-ever-after. Hasnt happened with Bollywood at least!

  4. …similar story with the look-alike actually falling for the pretend-wife and the two living happily-ever-after. Hasnt happened with Bollywood at least!

    And I don’t know if it’ll ever happen! Would’ve been too avant garde (I think) for back then, and Bollywood seems to have moved on from double roles since… but who cares? As long as we have Hum Dono, Chinatown, Sharmilee, An Evening in Paris, Anhonee, Ram aur Shyam, Seeta aur Geeta, Izzat, Humsaaya, etc to fall back on, it’s enough!

    The missing song is Prabhu tero naam jo dhyaaye phal paaye. another bhajan but not a patch on Allah tero naam.

  5. “…similar story with the look-alike actually falling for the pretend-wife and the two living happily-ever-after. Hasnt happened with Bollywood at least!”

    Well, in Bombai Ka Babu (1960), where the pretend brother falls for his “sister”. I don’t know if they live happily after. Knowing the song “Chal ri sajni”, most probably not.

    In another film Rekha brings in Dharmendra as her husband. the real one is dead and the new couple do fall in love and being a hindi film they live happily every after. Naturally after Garam Dharam bashes the villains and hundreds others.

    Spoiler Alert
    *And yes, I do think the end is poignant*
    I only remember the end, where both the embracing couples looking happy standing at a distance from one another.

    Or do you mean the confrontation scene between the two men? I found that great.

    The director is somebody calles Amarjeet (source imdb) but both the screenplay and plot is from Vijay Anand! No wonder!

  6. No, Bambai ka Babu didn’t have a happy end – she marries the man she’s supposed to, and that’s it.

    Do you remember which Rekha/Dharmendra film that was? There was one called Gazab in which Dharmendra had a double role as two brothers. One’s a simpleton who’s in love with village belle Rekha (who treats him as a friend, no more); then he’s killed off by the goons and he appears as a ghost to his handsome city-bred brother, encouraging him to wreak vengeance on the villains – which he does, also falling in love with Rekha in the bargain.

    Spoiler coming up
    I meant the part where Anand takes Ruma into the temple, sits her down, and generally gets her to talk about how she loves not the external being of her husband, but his soul. He knows Major Verma’s there, eavesdropping and thinking that his wife wouldn’t want a cripple for a husband. I love the bit when Major Verma steps out from behind the pillar, his back to Ruma – and slowly turns around. The way they look into each other’s eyes, with so much love and understanding – it gives me gooseflesh! Superb.

    Spoiler ends

    Yes, the director was Amar Jeet. Apparently he got a Golden Bear nomination at the Berlin Film Fest for this.

  7. The Dharmendra-Rekha movie is Jhutha Sach – a very attractive storyline that somehow doesnt translate into a good film (perhaps the fact that it was made in the worst decade for Hindi movies, might account for that). But I was thinking more in terms of the woman not knowing that her partner has changed and him falling for her (like in The Prisoner of Zenda). The other way round (magically substituted brides) happens in Hindi movies all the time. Remember Sanjh Aur Savera where Guru Dutt’s bride runs away after an incomplete ceremony and a cousin (Meena Kumari) is substituted (it was later remade with Parikshit Sahni and Nanda)?

  8. Hmmm… I read the synopsis, and it does sound interesting, but you’re right – anything made in the 1980’s had slim chances of being worth watching. Honestly, I can’t remember too many 80’s films that I really, really liked.

    And yes, Sanjh aur Savera did have a similar premise, didn’t it? I never knew there was a Parikshit Sahni-Nanda remake (was it Prayashchit? That’s the only joint venture I can find on imdb).

  9. Prayishchit sounds familiar – it might be it. I think the run-away bride turns into a tawaif and turns up to blackmail or seek help from Nanda. I’d found it a very romantic movie at age 15. Dunno if it will stand up so well, now!

  10. O gosh! I can’t remember that part of the movie. it sounds superb!

    bollyviewer: thanks for the name of the dharam-rekha movie. didn’t know that prayschit was a remake of sanjh aur savera.

    memsaab didn’t have any good words for that movie, though I found the story somewhat novel. But I hate it too when they all go on about sati-savitri things.

  11. Trivia: The bhajan Allah Tero Naam is the one supposedly heard by Pt Jasraj on the radio to which he commented “Kambakht ek sur bhi ulta nahi lati..” or something like that.

    What I have actually read in an interview was that he loved Lata’s singing in this bhajan and of some of the real quality contributions of Hindi films to Indian music.

  12. Wow, I didn’t know that. I love that comment! But it’s so true – Lata in some of her earlier songs is absolutely unbeatable. Aayega aanewala, for instance… especially the beginning. Superb!

  13. Well, I heard this comment “Kambhakt kabhi besuraa gati hi nahin” attributed to Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.
    Well, legends arise around legends, which turns mortals into legends!

  14. i agree as well,that it should be taken as a compliment.
    some critic though turned it around and said that this flawlessness makes lata’s singing so impersonal and cold.
    to which I agree upto some degree.
    this is a comment often used by asha admirers. i always say, there are lots of flowers in the meadow and every flower has its own beauty.

  15. Hi Dustedoff

    I found this wonderful blog you have been maintaining. Its a great piece of nice discussion happening here. I am a part of a small group of music lovers. We recently launched a site http://www.geetadutt.org (or http://www.geetadutt.com) as a tribute to our beloved singer Geeta Dutt ji. Kind request to you to visit the same and give your feedback.

    Thanks and Best Regards
    Parag

  16. Parag, thanks so much for sharing this – I am a Geeta Dutt fan too ( in fact, I think she was more versatile than most other singers, including Lata). I had a brief look at your site. Very well done, and I’m hoping to spend much more time exploring it!

  17. Dustedoff, a great posting and good description of the movie. It is a fairly good film, and I saw it on the big screen recently and it held everybody’s interest, nearly 50 years later.
    The film was ghost directed by Goldie (Vijay Anand), which is apparent when you see many crucial scenes, esp the ending.

  18. Thank you! Yes, it’s a fairly enjoyable film; I’m glad to know that even today there are enough people to appreciate it.

    I’d no idea it was ghost directed by Vijay Anand; he directed some of my favourite films (most notably Teesri Manzil), and yes – now that I think of it, the end has the sensitivity one can see in other Vijay Anand films, e.g. Guide.

  19. Vijay Anand, the most underrated film director in commercial Indian cinema; some terrific films and a great run from 1955 to 1972.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Mukta! I had a look at your review of Hum Dono‘s coloured version; I’m glad you liked it. Frankly, I found the colourisation irritating; the characters were fine, but the backgrounds were so badly done. So I’m going to try and blank rangeen out of my mind and think only of the B/W version – which I must admit I like a lot. :-)

  20. Dev saab is my fav hero of all times in hindi films and Hum Dono is one of his best performances.

    Vijay Anand , among my favourite directors wrote the screenplay of the film while the plot is by Nirmal Sircar,although many people think that the plot is by Vijay Anand too. More importantly, Hum Dono was a remake of Uttam Kumar ‘s 1960 classic Uttarayan,although imdb and calcuttatube wrongly states it to be a 1963 release.

    anecdote-in 1962 at roxy theater in kolkata,uttam kumar was watching hum dono with rapt attention.After the film ended,uttam kumar spontaneously remarked that ‘I would never compare my performance in uttarayan to dev anand’ s performance in hum dono.We both have our own acting styles and never imitate anyone else.Dev Anand is just superb in Hum Dono.’

    Devsaab replied’ I am very glad and happy to know that an icon like uttam kumar spoke so highly about Hum dono.’

    • Ah! Now I need to watch Uttarayan! I must admit to being an unabashed Uttam Kumar fan (despite – and this is a shameful admission for me – having seen only three of his films, one of them not even Bangla).

      Oh, lord… so many films, so little time. :-(

      • yes,both uttarayan and hum dono are wonderful films.and both uttam and dev give brilliant performances as well.The treatment of both the films is very different and hence hum dono cannot be called exactly a remake of uttarayan.[ I admit my mistake in saying so earlier].In the true sense,Hum dono is actually a take off on uttarayan,which released earlier , just like Dev’s kala pani is a takeoff on Uttam’s Sabar uparey.Interestingly a hollywood film ‘web of evidence’ was released a year later after kala pani.All these three films were based on A.J.Cronin ‘s novel Beyond This Place.

  21. I’m aghast at how this year we’ve lost so many greats. I still cannot bring myself to believe that Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand are no more. I’m yet to watch a Dev Anand film post his demise, leave alone writing a post on this remarkable performer :(

  22. I’ve been re-reading your blog today after the tragic news of legendary actress, Sadhana’s ,passing away.on Christmas day. What a beauty she was & so subtle too. Her Auxillium convent classmates will be mourning her loss too, along with countless numbers of her old & newly-acquired fans who are only now discovering her incredible beauty & talent.Sanjay Leela Bhansali said Sadhana was his favourite actress, who preferred mellow-drama to “melodrama”. May God rest her soul in peace. Don’t you think it’s the right time ,now, to write a lavish post on her, Madhulika ? We always look forward to your posts and insights, they’re so balanced and impartial & yet have solid facts. Do it for your mother, if no one else…….Rest In Great peace,dear Sadhana..
    (This delectable photo’s from “Waqt”.)

  23. after watching this movie i realised dev anand couldn’t cry on screen. he cried in guide convincingly and he looked better without moustache.

  24. It has always been one of my favourite movies. I enjoyed the colorised version because it have me an opportunity to watch it on the big screen. What struck me was the absolute simplicity of the film, the acting…so authentic. Today, when so much of the attention seems focussed on ‘the look’, it was refreshing to watch this classic again…so very effortlessly acted and filmed…

    • Yes, watching Hum Dono on the big screen was actually my only reason for watching the colourised version. I do think they should’ve done a better job of colourising – the film deserved it. One of my favourite Dev Anand films, now that I think of it…

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