Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Memsaab’s excellent review of the Dev Anand-Waheeda Rehman starrer Solva Saal reminded me of this film. Also Dev Anand, also a suspense thriller, and also with great music. And, may I add, like Solva Saal, extremely entertaining.
So I rewatched this and enjoyed myself all over again, ogling Dev Anand, humming along with the songs, and wishing there were more films like this.

Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik in Nau Do Gyarah

The story begins with our hero, Madan Gopal (Dev Anand) being thrown out of yet another house for which he hasn’t paid rent. Madan lives in Delhi and is so hard up, he shifts from one home to another until the landlord or landlady wisens up and either evicts him or locks him out. This time, locked out of his home, Madan goes to meet a friend who’s kindly been collecting Madan’s mail. Since Madan hasn’t been around for the past two months, there’s a lot of mail—including a letter from Madan’s uncle Seth Manoharlal in Bombay.

Madan's friend hands over a backlog of mail

In his letter, Madan’s uncle explains that though he’d earlier made a will bequeathing all his property to Kuldeep (Krishan Dhawan), the son of his sister-in-law, he’s now changed his mind. Kuldeep, it appears, has been up to no good, and Manoharlal no longer thinks him worthy of his millions. So Madan is going to be getting all the moolah: Rs 9 lakhs worth of property and a further 2 lakhs in the bank. Wowie!!

A windfall for Madan

On the basis of the letter—and his prospective wealth—Madan gets a loan, with which he buys a ramshackle but quaint lorry. He shifts his worldly possessions (which seem to consist largely of pictures of women) into the back of the lorry, and sets off Bombay-wards.
Madan’s friend, meanwhile, is at a wedding; he sees Madan going by in his lorry, and stops him, pulling him in to have a cola. Considering he isn’t the host, this is presumptuous, but never mind. Madan’s pal tells him that the bride’s an heiress, getting married to an unscrupulous Bombay hotelier.

Madan's friend hijacks him

The bride, by the way, is called Raksha (Kalpana Kartik). Attired in her finery, Raksha is told by an eavesdropping friend that Raksha’s groom Surjit (Jeevan) has been telling her father that the dowry is far from adequate. If it isn’t upped, Surjit will gather up the baaraat and go.

Surjit threatens to call off the wedding

Raksha also overhears Madan’s conversation with his friend, the salient points of which seem to be: (a) that Surjit’s a greedy and dissolute jerk (b) that if Madan was in Surjit’s bride’s place, he’d have run off; and (c) that Madan is off in his lorry to Bombay.
The scene now shifts to later, with Madan happily driving south from Delhi, whistling and singing the lilting Hum hain raahi pyaar ke as he goes past Fatehpur Sikri, the Taj Mahal, and central India…

Madan sets off for Bombay...

…and along the way, makes an interesting discovery: a stowaway in the back of his lorry, a cocky young Sikh who calls himself Sardar Nihal Singh. A search of Nihal Singh’s belongings, and Madan finds a boxful of jewellery, which he guesses Nihal Singh’s stolen.

...and finds a stowaway

Nihal Singh’s swagger, however, intrigues Madan. He agrees to let the youth travel with him, especially when Nihal Singh brandishes a wad of money at a petrol pump attendant who refuses to fill petrol for Madan on credit. Nihal Singh, thinks Madan, has his uses.
So they travel together, drinking from Nihal Singh’s thermos, eating the food Nihal Singh’s sensibly brought along, and even taking turns driving.

Nihal Singh takes a turn at the wheel

Nihal Singh, though an enthusiastic driver, turns out to be none too good and they careen off the road and into the jungle. Madan decides they might as well halt for the night and sleep in the back of the lorry. This is when things start happening: a chance remark from Nihal Singh indicates that he is female, and before long, Madan’s made the ultimate discovery.

Raksha emerges

From then on, it’s fairly predictable: a handsome hero and a beautiful girl, and what do you expect? Some fireworks, a bit of banter (in the form of a lovely song, Kali ke roop mein chali ho dhoop mein), and some moonlit romance. By the time they reach Bombay, Madan and Raksha are good friends and more, though he still doesn’t know her name and still thinks she’s a thief.
In Bombay, Madan drives them to the home of his old friend, Radheshyam (Madan Puri, for once not the villain).

Madan calls on Radheyshyam

Radheshyam has news for Madan: it’s been a month and a half since Seth Manoharlal’s death, and all his property, according to his original will, is now Kuldeep’s. Madan tells Radheshyam about Manoharlal’s letter, but Radheshyam says that Kuldeep and his mother have denied the existence of a second will.
Madan and Radheshyam arrive at the conclusion that there’s some hanky-panky going on here. Radheshyam has a suggestion, though. Kuldeep lives with his mother and siblings in Mahabaleshwar (where the bulk of the property is), and has recently advertised for an estate manager. The manager, however must be a married man—the previous incumbent having run off with a maid (so could a married man, but let’s not nitpick).
So Madan conjures up a wife.

...and introduces his `wife'

Raksha, surprised but amused, plays along. They pay a quick visit to Manoharlal’s lawyer, who confirms that Manoharlal had mentioned changing his will, but by the time the lawyer reached Mahabaleshwar, Manoharlal had died. Despite much searching, no second will was found.
Madan and Raksha, therefore, set off for Mahabaleshwar and present themselves at Kuldeep’s ill-gotten mansion. His hawk-eyed, wheelchair-bound, hookah-gurgling mother (Lalita Pawar) interrogates Madan and his `wife’, and then instructs her daughter Kamla to show them around the house and then to their accommodation.

Kuldeep's mother checks out the newcomers

One of the rooms is locked, and Kamla says it’s haunted. Madan’s sceptical, but lets it pass.
They also discover that since they’re a couple, they’ve only been given one room with an attached bathroom. Madan ends up sleeping in the bathroom—when he isn’t creeping about the house trying to find that missing will. A brief excursion into the `haunted’ room reveals ripped pillows and mattresses, bricks taken out of the walls, but nothing more.
It’s back to the bathtub for a puzzled Madan.

Madan sleeps in the bathtub

Over the next few days, more happens. Kuldeep and his mother have sacked all the old servants and it takes Madan a while to track down one of them, Piruchand, who was in the house the night Manoharlal died. He tells Madan that he had overheard Manoharlal—bedridden at the time—quarrelling with Kuldeep’s mother about the changing of his will. The old man had collapsed after his tirade, and Kuldeep had ordered Piruchand to fetch a glass of milk for Manoharlal, which Kuldeep’s mother made Manoharlal drink while Kuldeep massaged his legs.

Piruchand recollects

Manoharlal, says Piruchand, died during the night. He adds that there’s another old servant around: a mad gardener called Kalicharan (Rashid Khan), whom Manoharlal had spoken to on the day before his death. Kalicharan, when Madan meets him, appears to have gone completely batty: he babbles on about the soil having betrayed him.

...and Kalicharan babbles

To add to all the intrigue, Kuldeep’s girlfriend Suneeta `Neeta’ (Shashikala) arrives at his invitation. Neeta’s a dancer at a nightclub—though she tells Kuldeep’s mother she’s a student at the Bombay College. What Kuldeep doesn’t know is that Neeta isn’t just a dancer; she’s also involved in smuggling and is a gold-digger, who’s after him only for those delicious 11 lakhs he’s inherited. What’s more, she’s in cahoots with Raksha’s one-time groom, Surjit.

Suneeta hatches a plot with Surjit

While Neeta is trying to flirt with Madan and Kuldeep’s forcing his attentions on Raksha, a guest arrives, whom Neeta introduces as her `cousin’, Surjit:

...and introduces him as her cousin

What next? Will Madan be able to unearth the second will before his cover is blown? What will happen when Surjit discovers his runaway bride masquerading as the manager’s wife? And what really happened to Manoharlal?

Watch. This is a good, value-for-money entertainer, with much villainy and intrigue—and oh, such superb songs.

What I liked about this film:
The music. S D Burman is at his best here, from the peppy Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho to the lyrical Dhalki jaaye chundariya hamari. What’s more, nearly all the songs are very well picturised: watch Kali ke roop mein, for instance, and you’ll see the delightful way in which the music is timed with Dev Anand pushing his feet over the edge of the lorry door… or his tooting the horn in Kalpana Kartik’s face. Or in Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho, the way the camera moves, from the smoke rings swirling up into the air, across the club—one dancer twirling to the next, ending at the voluptuous Helen.

Helen in Nau Do Gyarah

Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik. They’d already been married three years when Nau Do Gyarah was made, and you can see the level of comfort between them. I love their chemistry: there’s affection, playfulness, romance, and a camaraderie that’s sweet.

Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik in Nau Do Gyarah

The climax. Very well directed (Vijay Anand was the director), an important part of it actually in real time: a suspenseful five minutes.

What I didn’t like:
Possible spoiler coming up here…
Near the climax, the villain swaggers about bragging that he’s won a victory over everybody else. This would’ve been plausible, perhaps, if he had a more reliable backup plan than a rather dumb dancer; and if the police hadn’t surrounded the place. He does have a trump card that he threatens to use in order to make the police let him escape, but frankly, it seems a little weak as a plot element.

Little bit of trivia:
I remember a long-ago interview with Dev Anand in which he spoke about the filming of Nau Do Gyarah. They drove down all the way from Delhi to Bombay, and one of the halts was at the tiny town of Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh), at that time much troubled by dacoits. The entire crew was given strict instructions to lock themselves in well at night. In the middle of the night, though, there was a banging at Dev Anand’s door, so vehement that he opened the door—only to find a fierce-looking moustachioed daaku outside.
And what did the daaku want? Only an autograph of his favourite film star!

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40 thoughts on “Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

  1. I adore this movie too. You are inspiring a rewatch!!! The songs are divine, and I think Kalpana is great too. Wish they’d had a happier life together….but oh well. :-)

  2. I see, so this is where the rab ne bana di jodi folks got their Hum hain rahin pyar ke from, i don’t know if you’ve see Rab ne but in the song (see below) they made a lot of references to lots of song titles from old hindi films

  3. memsaab: Yes, fabulous film, isn’t it? And they’re so good together. Sad that couldn’t continue in real life too… all too common a tale in the world of films.

    bollywooddeewana: Bollywood isn’t particularly original these days, is it? ;-) Rab ne Bana di Jodi, Om Shanti Om and even Dil Chahta Hai seem to have used old songs liberally as `inspiration’. And of course, this song was even used as the title for the Aamir Khan-Juhi Chawla film.

    bollyviewer: Oh, this is a must-watch-ASAP film! Happy viewing and tell me what you thought of it!

  4. I loved the movie as well, when I saw it. I’ve still fond memories of it. Must give it a dekho again.
    I didn’t know that Dev and Kalpana have an unhappy marriage! He talk always so fondly about her in his interviews.

  5. I don’t know the details either, but from snatches of gossip on and off, I gather life wasn’t too great together for them. But they make a good onscreen couple, I think!

  6. He might talk fondly about her, but he was never very faithful to her and I don’t think made any real attempt to disguise that fact, either. He talks in his autobiography a bit about their problems too…

  7. The Rab Ne Bana Di jodi song was an obvious tribute to Hindi films … almost every line of the song has either a well known movie name or a song in it. (The refrain has Phir Milenge and Chalte Chalte, e.g).

    But I’m digressing. What I wanted to say was the Dev was easily one of the most suave and urbane icons ever in Hindi movies. What I liked most about him was his ability to be stylish while the audience could still identify with him. He’s retained a lot of following because of the songs in his movies (though it is debatable how much he had to do with them : ) ).

    Sheesh, still digressing. What I wanted to say was that you and Memsaab invariably come out with reviews that have made me fall in love with the old Hindi movies all over again : )

  8. memsaab: Now that you say it, I seem to recall a review of sections of his autobiography, in which infidelity was not merely implied but almost boasted about… haven’t read his book myself, so can’t say.

    AKM: Yes, Dev Anand had oodles of style, and was so good-looking. I do wish though that he’d aged gracefully: I do so hate films like Heera Panna, Warrant and Hare Rama Hare Krishna, just because he’s pretending to be much younger than he is, and isn’t even doing a good job of it. Anyway, I get around it by sticking to his older films (thank heavens there are lots of them around, many which I’ve not seen even once!)

    And thank you so much for your kind words. It’s a pleasure to share my love for old films with people who also appreciate them. :-)

  9. Just finished watching this and loved it. I cant believe I never watched it before! I remember feeling rather lukewarm about Kalpana Kartik, maybe thats why. But I liked her a lot in this (not her weird hairstyles, though!) she seems like the-pretty-girl-next-door and quite pleasant to watch. The movie is so taut and well paced, and so absorbing.

    One thing that did strike a jarring note was Shashikala’s Dev-teasing number (Dekho to idhar hai hai) – she takes one look at him from a distance, and decides to stalk him in a song! Dev was certainly dishy looking and at his best in this movie, but still… Surely a little more interaction with his beautiful but preening self (he did seem to be preening in that song) was called for before that?! That small quibble apart, it was fun all the way. I particularly liked the climax and how it ended without any dishoom dishoom. Plus, if it was Christmas, Dev would be Santa! ;-)

  10. Isn’t it a delightful film? :-) But I agree, Shashikala’s stalking of Dev Anand is a little duh. And so is Kalpana Kartik’s hairdo (like you, I’m not very keen on her otherwise – in fact, found her downright irritating in Taxi Driver). But she was fine in this, especially in the couple of scenes where her hair is shoulder-length. How on earth do Hindi film heroines go from short hair to long in minutes?!

    And the songs are the icing on the cake… so absolutely lovely.

    Hehehe… I’d like a Christmas like that, with a handsome and young Dev Anand coming down the chimney! ;-)

  11. True… a living fossil may be interesting from an evolutionary point of view, but hardly a good Christmas gift! lol

    I wonder what Kalpana Kartik looks like now. There dont seem to be any pictures of hers floating around the world wide web.

  12. bollyviewer, you’re a scream. That comment about a living fossil being interesting from an evolutionary point of view is abso-lootely superb!! :-D

    Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any pictures of Kalpana Kartik outside of the films she did – which were very limited. Five? Six? I know all her films were opposite Dev Anand.

  13. I watched this film today, and have to agree with everyone who liked it.

    It kept me interested throughout.

    What I didn’t like was the last song about keeping the tongue ‘locked’. The music is catchy, but I wanted the film to move on. It was such a moment of suspense. My patience was tested greatly, watching all the characters (including Dev Anand) just standing around when so much was to be said and done.

    Otherwise i have nothing to complain about.
    The ending was great!! And yes, without dhishum dhishum.

    I’m now wondering whether dushum dhishum would have been better than that wrongly placed song.

  14. I’m glad you liked the film, pacifist! It’s a good old-fashioned thriller without any pretences, no adding melodrama and self-sacrifice just for the sake of it, and of course very entertaining.

    I suppose one could say that See le zubaan came in the way of the story… I wish they’d done something like in Aage bhi jaane na tu from Waqt, in which the story moves on quite a bit during the song itself, between verses. I’m not sure I would have replaced the song with some fighting, though! I tend to agree with bollyviewer that it’s better off without the dhishoom-dhishoom.

  15. Oh, I really didn’t mean it seriously – about replacing the song with dhishum dhishum :-)

    I just meant to show the extent to which I didn’t want that song at that time.
    In fact I’d love all films to have some such interesting ending instead of all those fake fights.

  16. Yes, all those fake fights with empty oil barrels rolling about all over the floor can get so monotonous. At least Nau Do Gyarah managed to avoid that… but yes, I still agree they could’ve used some other technique to pass the time than the song.

  17. I just watched it, after finally getting a replacement copy for a faulty DVD I bought. I just love the first bit with Dev and Kalpana! They had such great chemistry together, and the songs are so, so, wonderful. One thing about the ending song, “See Le Zuban”, I think that was silly. They even hear a gunshot and nobody goes up? And only when Kuldeep comes out from the room, bloody and shot, only then they race up? Pffft. :P But overall, I love this movie, and I’d recommend it to anyone hands down.

    • I’d forgotten about that gunshot! But it is silly to think that everybody would just stand around watching Shashikala strut her stuff until her song ended. :-)

      Anyway, let’s forgive Vijay Anand that little lapse (he was only twenty-two, after all!); the rest of the film – especially the ‘road’ half – is wonderful. And the music, of course, is all-round fantastic.

  18. What a treat to see Dev actually taking time to squeeze through the chimney and Sasikala actually dancing keeping a jeep load of police at bay. No sis hum dishum. Vintage Bollywood.

  19. i don’t know that it happens with me only? whenever i watch a movie with dev as hero and vijay as a director and writer . my concentration goes to vijay as a director like what a shot what an angle. what a dialogue, screenplay and editing according to me vijay and chetan were more talented than dev.

    • I don’t much care for Taxi Driver, except for Sheila Ramani’s songs. Dev Anand and Kalpana Karthik’s best film, as far as I am concerned, is certainly Nau Do Gyarah. None of the others come even close. Much of the credit for that must go to Vijay Anand, who – I agree – was a superb director.

  20. i feel that jeevan ji and dev saheb had same way of speaking with jeevan ji having deep baritone compared to dev saheb light one. its my observation.

  21. according to my observation i feel jeevan ji and dev saheb had same way of speaking style with jeevan ji having deep baritone compared to dev saheb light one. 99% their way of talking matched.

  22. Acc to best of my observation i feel jeevan ji and Dev saheb had same style of talking with jeevan ji having deep voice compared to dev saheb light one. 99% there way was same. another difference was dev saheb speaking in english and jeevan ji in urdu hindi.

  23. i am extremely sorry about duplicate comments. wordpress didn’t show it . then i wrote again that comment is not posted at all.

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