Akeli Mat Jaiyo (1963)

Akeli Mat Jaiyo (‘Don’t Go Alone’—specifically addressed to a female) is, if nothing else, very aptly titled. Because if you gallivant where you’re not supposed to, you run the risk of being pursued by a moron whose best friend is a ventriloquist’s dummy. You may end up betrothed to somebody whose family includes a father with a loony sense of humour. Worst of all, you may have to stake your all on saving the ‘life’ of that ventriloquist’s dummy. So yes, akeli mat jaiyo. No way.

The film begins in the Taramati Girl’s [sic] Hostel, where Seema (Meena Kumari) is the favourite of the warden, simply because she’s so good and sweet and hardworking (she spends her time making dolls for sale). All the other girls in the hostel are wicked creatures who spend their evenings dating men and asking Seema to put in a word for them with the warden: “Dolly has gone out and will be late back.” Beats me why the warden, if she doesn’t approve of these late nights out, hasn’t evicted the girls yet.

Seema’s feisty friend Shobha (Minoo Mumtaz) doesn’t like Seema acting as a message office. She tries to dissuade Seema by telling her that the other girls laugh behind her back, but Seema doesn’t care.
Eventually Shobha takes matters into her own hands and pretends there’s a phone call for Seema. All the other girls jump to the conclusion that it’s from some man (um. Why?). Seema plays along, and with Shobha’s help, tells the other girls that she’s going for dinner to the Astoria Hotel with her boyfriend, who’s a colonel.

The other girls are impressed that Seema finally seems to be getting a life of her own, but they refuse to be fobbed off so easily. They insist on tagging along to the Astoria Hotel and getting a peek at Seema’s beau. Our heroine is pretty distressed, but spotting a man (Rajendra Kumar) in a colonel’s uniform (what luck!) hovering around in the lobby, she goes to him and explains her predicament. He introduces himself as Yuvraj Amardeep, and agrees to help.

So Seema spends the evening dining with the man (whom she addresses as “Colonel”) and while Shobha—who’s a dancer at the Astoria—slithers and shimmers in the background, these two indulge in some harmless flirtation. Seema’s friends willingly believe that this is Seema’s ‘fancy’ (yes, that’s what he says he is, though Seema refers to him as her fiancé).

But the fancy won’t be shaken off so easily. He insists on accompanying Seema back to the hostel, and in the hearing of her friends, arranges to meet her the next day. Seema is understandably annoyed—this is an obvious case of pakdoing a pauncha when an ungli was offered [explanation: that’s a Hindi proverb which literally translates into someone grabbing the cuff of a salwar when a toe is offered. In essence, grabbing more than was offered].
With all her friends looking on, Seema agrees in order to save face. The next day, much against her wishes, she goes off with the fancy.

The fancy now tells her that he’s in town only for three days. He’d like to spend that time with her—he won’t pester her after that, but just for this little while? Please? Surprisingly for someone who’s all along given the impression of being pretty straitlaced, Seema agrees. Yes, she’ll spend most of the next three days with the fancy, provided he doesn’t come back into her life after that. Unusually progressive for 1960’s India.

Anyway, Seema and the fancy spend the next 72 hours enjoying themselves (mainly singing love songs. Why would anyone sing love songs to someone they were only philandering with? And both seem pretty earnest about the emotions expressed in the songs).
When he’s not singing songs with Seema, the fancy has long and involved (and utterly irritating) conversations with his best friend, a ventriloquist’s dummy called Jack (billed as ‘Doll Crazy’. Really).

One evening, while Seema and her fancy are dining at a restaurant, a pesky reporter comes by and takes a photograph of theirs, promising to publish the news that Yuvraj Amardeep has finally got engaged. Seema shows a bit of spirit and manages to whip the film reel out of the man’s camera…

…But he gets the better of them and surreptitiously takes another shot, which is duly published the next day. Suddenly everyone’s talking about the betrothal of Yuvraj Amardeep and Seema. Seema is livid at the fancy, who she thinks has leaked this news to the press. To make matters worse, Seema’s father turns up, wanting to know all about it.
And in the wake of this announcement, the fancy, in his room at the Astoria, also receives two unexpected guests.

These are the aides de camp, the ADCs of the real Yuvraj Amardeep, the Crown Prince of Shyamnagar. In the garbled conversation that ensues, much is revealed. You have to pay lots of attention here, because all of this is revealed in about two minutes’ worth of dialogue.
This is how it goes:
1. The fancy (whose name, it now transpires, is Rajinder) has been impersonating the Yuvraj
2. … because he was told by these ADCs that the Yuvraj was leading such a debauched life he had to be hidden away from his mother—who would have been mortified—and his place taken by a more upright version
3. Masquerading as the Yuvraj, Rajinder’s also going to receive a valuable necklace that had been ordered by the real Yuvraj, said necklace to instantly revert to the crooked ADCs;
4. To egg Rajinder on to obey them, these two thugs have kidnapped his mother.
For some strange reason (never divulged), the ADCs seem to think that the betrothal just announced has let the cat out of the bag. They want Rajinder to hurry up and take the necklace from the jeweller, and so they go off to fetch the jeweller.

While they’re away, Rajinder gets another jolt: the man he’s impersonating turns up with his ADC (Agha). It emerges he’s no debauch after all, and is miffed that Rajinder’s been going around pretending to be him.
There’s confusion confounded, and it’s never quite clear where the Yuvraj has been languishing all this while. If Rajinder has been posing as the Yuvraj for the queen’s benefit, then it seems logical to assume that he’s been with the queen, posing as her son. If that’s the case, then where does the Yuvraj fit in? And why had Rajinder initially agreed to hand over the necklace to the ADCs?

Whoever wrote the script doesn’t bother with such niggling details, however. There’s more coming and going to and from the hotel room.
Next is Seema, who arrives to tell the Yuvraj that she’s had to tell her father the two of them are betrothed, otherwise what will her father think? The Yuvraj, who’s already besotted by Seema, agrees to the charade provided Seema comes with him to Shyamnagar for a month. There’ll be a scandal if it turns out the engagement never happened; so come home for a month, and after that we’ll dissolve the engagement (won’t that be a scandal?)
Seema agrees on the condition that Shobha accompanies her.

Next in line are the villainous ADCs, who bring the jeweller and the precious necklace. The Yuvraj, pretending to be Rajinder pretending to be the Yuvraj (this is getting very convoluted), receives it. After the ADCs have escorted the jeweller out, he (the Yuvraj) gets another visitor: Seema’s father, who’s come to confirm that Seema is actually engaged to a prince. They part on the best of terms, with Daddy showering blessings on his future son-in-law…
… who now goes to Rajinder, sulking in the next room. Here, the Yuvraj flings the necklace at Rajinder and tells him to go give it to the ADCs and get his mother released. But there’s a catch: in exchange for the necklace (ergo, his mother’s life), Rajinder will have to give up Seema.

After much distressed thought, Rajinder—like a good son—chooses Mum. He takes the necklace and leaves to give it to the ADCs (who, by the way, are never heard of again, proving that crime does pay).
And the Yuvraj goes back to Shyamnagar with Seema and Shobha. They are greeted with much fanfare by the Yuvraj’s father (no idea who this actor is; but his role, of a half-deaf king with an abysmal sense of humour, is painful) and his mother (Ruby Myers). Everybody’s delighted at the thought of the upcoming wedding.

But Seema herself, though she secretly loves the man, can’t figure out what’s wrong with him—her fancy is behaving strangely, and can’t remember the words to the love songs they’d sung to each other. (Really. I’m not joking).
Will he recall the words? Will she realise that this Yuvraj isn’t the Yuvraj she’d willy-nilly fallen for? What happens to Rajinder? Who gets the girl? Does anything eventually make sense?

What I liked about this film:
The music. It’s by Madan Mohan, and is very, very nice. My favourite is Thodi der ke liya mere ho jaao (the loveliness of that song prompted me to rent this film. I’ll never learn). Other good songs include the wonderful Yeh toh kaho kaun ho tum and Raste mein do anjaane.

Oh, and Meena Kumari looks very pretty in places.

What I didn’t like:
It’s just so utterly nonsensical in an irritating way. I don’t mind farce (I love Dekh Kabira Roya!), but this one tries so hard to be drama/romance/intrigue/awful comedy. The characters are terrible—the heroine, for one, can’t seem to remember whether or not she wants to marry the hero; the hero is a spineless wimp one moment and a clown the next; and the brief whiff of intrigue, with the crooked ADCs and the glittery necklace, has little relevance in the larger scheme of things. And the number of loose ends could have been used to make a fringe for one of those ghastly lamps in the Astoria’s rooms. Ugh.

For a while after having watched Akeli Mat Jaiyo, I kept pondering over why someone like Meena Kumari would have acted in such a loser of a film. After giving it much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that she needed a break after Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (which had been released the previous year). After a stellar performance in that, with what must have drained her physically and emotionally, she probably needed a role in which she could sleepwalk her way through the film.

Come to think of it, that’s what everybody seems to have done here. Especially whoever wrote it.

Avoid like the plague.

Advertisements

34 thoughts on “Akeli Mat Jaiyo (1963)

  1. So you wrote this just before you left to meet your friends. Not a good start for the evening, what?
    It needed me few minutes before I realised that there are two Rajinder Kumars. Very confusing this movie. But why is it called Akeli Mat Jayo?
    Becuase Seema takes Shobha along everywhere? ;-) I always found the title very funny, therefore I was thinking it must be a comedy film.

    “There’ll be a scandal if it turns out the engagement never happened; so come home for a month, and after that we’ll dissolve the engagement (won’t that be a scandal?)”
    What ideas people come up with to avoid scandals! Some are sure fire ways to ensure a bunch of scandals.

    BTW speaking of scandals. Nobody minds that Shobha is a dancing girl at the Hotel Astoria? It is okay with me. What about the warden?

    But Rajendra Kumar and Meena Kumari do make a beautiful pair don’t they? Did this movie take a long time tofinish? In some frames Meena Kumari looks so slim and in some like SBaG.

    “who, by the way, are never heard of again, proving that crime does pay”
    It does, does it? *with an irish accent* and *fall down laughing*
    I met an riish guy in Sep., who always ended the sentence with a question. had to do it now!

    Ruby Myers looks so cute!

    Thanks for the review! It is, I think, the first synopsis of this movie on the net. had been searching for long time for it.

  2. Banno: I guess so. But you need a somewhat masochistic sense of humour to find this funny. ;-)

    harvey: My rendezvous with my pals got postponed to Sunday, so I had to soothe myself with some Bailey’s after having written this!
    I don’t think this took exceptionally long to make – it seemed as if Meena Kumari’s makeup and hair weren’t very consistent, so she looks lovely in some frames, and SBaG (what’s that??) in others… but yes, even though I don’t like Rajendra Kumar, they do look nice together in some shots, especially the songs (that first screen cap is from a song). And I have no idea why it’s called Akeli Mat Jaiyo – that’s one of the songs, by the way, where Seema imagines her dolls come to life and dissuade her from going out with the fancy.

    Ah, so there isn’t any other synopsis for the film? Well, then – I suppose I should be happy to have been a martyr for the cause.

    memsaab: You’re welcome! After the pain you endured for Badi Behen, I guess it was my turn. :-)

  3. Its settled then. You will rewrite movies that have great songs and lovely cast, and nothing else – so they can acquire some substance. But wait, how will we get such a hilarious review? Well you’ll just have to martyr yourself more often (I know, that sounds very selfish of me but I WANT more “fancy” and more such reviews)!

    For those songs and Meena + Rajendra + Rajendra even I might give in and watch it – inspite of your timely warning!

    SBaG = Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam, I think.

  4. If nothing else, films like this make for amusing reviews! :-) On my seventymm wishlist, I’ve got some 50-odd films from the 50’s and 60’s that I’ve never seen before, but have only added because I like the cast or have heard the songs and like them. The chances of more films turning out to be duds are pretty high, I think. Since I’ll anyway be watching them, I might as well warn off other people!

    Oh, yes. SBaG is sure to be Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam. This is not my week for being especially bright.

  5. I have to second Banno though! It seems you did have a good time having a dekho at this movie. Somehow the story does seem funny at times.
    But right now, I think you are just bogged by the fact, that you will have to go on the second promotional tour incl. encounters with loonies (and not the Canadian types).

    The “Woh jo milte the kabhi” song is my all time fav and Meena doesn’t look weepy at all, though the song is all sad.

    The title song looks like the precursor of “Bol mere guddi” from Bhai ho to Aisa.

    Minoo Mumtaz looks great in her song. And the song is great as well.

    BTW, who is the director?

    “On my seventymm wishlist, I’ve got some 50-odd films from the 50’s and 60’s”
    I think it is high time you indulge yourself with a Kishore Kumar film or one with Geeta Bali. It will surely cheer you up. *hugs*

    “can’t remember the words to the love songs they’d sung to each other. (Really. I’m not joking).”

    If I fell in love with somebody and sang few original songs with this guy and after a short while this fellow forgets the words of our songs, then I would be worried as well. Moreover, when it is just before the official mangni. Such things do shake one up.

    “And the number of loose ends could have been used to make a fringe for one of those ghastly lamps in the Astoria’s rooms.”

    *fall off the chair laughing*

    Bollyviewer: Thanks for helping with SBaG. I wish we could watch such movies all together.

  6. Heheh, I think I probably am getting depressed at the thought of more hectic travelling (I’m also off to Calcutta for a cousin’s wedding) and the prospect of facing more dumb questions. Did I mention the person who said “This is all very well, but you should write a book on how India’s history would have changed if Dara Shukoh had become Emperor instead of Aurangzeb.” Yes, of course. No historians have ever tackled that. Why not.

    The director of this film was Nandlal Jaswantlal – he apparently died before the film was released, because it’s dedicated to him (the ‘Late Nandlal Jaswantlal’). Wait, that’s probably why it was so disjointed and weird.

    I need to see a Kishore Kumar/Geeta Bali/Shammi Kapoor film soon. They, even when the film is a total dud, can be depended upon to keep me amused. Somehow, with Rajendra Kumar, I end up just frustrated and annoyed!

  7. “This is all very well, but you should write a book on how India’s history would have changed if Dara Shukoh had become Emperor instead of Aurangzeb.”

    Ha, ha, ha!

    I told you. It would be a great idea to write a sci-fi novel basedin Dara Shukoh’s reign as Emperor of India. That would be something!

    What helps me get up my spirits is: P. G. Wodehouse

  8. LOL!
    Well, at least be grateful for not having to bear a weepy Meena, and a whole lot of sacrificing etc. :-D

    I love the song ‘woh jo milte the kabhi’. Didn’t know it belonged here.
    Not that I’d mind seeing this film, only because any film of Meena’s is a treat for me. She looks beautiful in these screen caps.
    Ever since ‘mere mehboob’ I’ve become quite fond of Rajender Kumar too. :-)

  9. harvey: Coincidence! I’m currently reading (re-reading for the nth time!) Wodehouse: Leave it to Psmith, to be precise. Such a great book. And I’ve recently acquired a film based on one of Wodehouse’s novels: A Damsel in Distress, starring Fred Astaire. I like the book a lot, and I believe Wodehouse wrote the screenplay for it too. Am looking forward to seeing it!

    pacifist: Somehow Mere Mehboob is the only film in which I’ve liked Rajendra Kumar – but Meena Kumari I usually like (especially in her more cheerful roles). That, at least, is the saving grace of this film (along with the superb music) – she’s pretty cheery through most of it. Even otherwise, Akeli Mat Jaiyo never gets weepy.

  10. “I’m currently reading Wodehouse: Leave it to Psmith”

    I would say: Leave it to Wodehouse.

    I don’t know if I want to see a Wodehouse film. I’m sure to be disappointed. The only film basedon a book, which I think has remained true to its spirit is Gone With The Wind.

    BTW, could you get hold of Harvey?

  11. No, unfortunately I haven’t gotten hold of Harvey yet – must make a note to check if seventymm have it in their catalogue for rental, otherwise will look on Amazon.

    I’m a little wary of a Wodehouse film, too – somehow very few films manage to match their books (not even Where Eagles Dare, which was a film before it became a book!) But since Wodehouse wrote the screenplay for this one, I’m hoping it’ll retain the charm of the original.

  12. There is nothing like Leave it to Psmith to raise your spirits! Even after half a dozen re-reads, it still makes me laugh. The Bertie Wooster and Jeeves adaptation (Jeeves and Wooster) was pretty good, I thought – must admit to not being very big on that particular PG Wodehouse book-series though.

    And I didnt know Where Eagles Dare was a film before the book! So MacLean actually expanded on a script? Some films, though very different from the books, still land up being great. One example is The 39 Steps – the book and the film have fairly different stories, and yet they are both such fun!

  13. I like Jeeves and Wooster quite a bit, too – they aren’t absolutely the same as the books, but close enough to be very good anyway. I do want to see something of the Blandings Castle stories on screen; Lord Emsworth and gang are just so delightful. And Leave it to Psmith, of course. I’ve discovered that there was a film called Leave it to Me based on the book, but there isn’t a synopsis on imdb, and anyway the dramatis personae has some interlopers…

    Yes, Alistair MacLean wrote the screenplay for Where Eagles Dare and when the film was such a hit, he adapted it and made it into a novel. Though I love the film, I must admit I like the novel better – Schaffer’s character is so much more fun!

    I second you on The 39 Steps – both book and film are great, but in very different ways.

  14. a big LOL at this review, i love both the leads though. Rajendra Kumar is one of my favourite actor from 50’s-60’s bollywood i guess i can understand why he grates on some people but i simply love his energy, i saw Ayee Milan ki Bela recently and i loved him in that, plus he was really good in Kanoon

  15. Yes, Kaanoon is one of the few Rajendra Kumar films – along with Mere Mehboob and Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan – in which I don’t mind him! Aayi Milan ki Bela I’m not so sure about; him being pitted against Dharmendra just didn’t work as far as I’m concerned – I like Dharmendra too much.

  16. Ha ha! Your views on Akeli Mat Jaiyo mirrors mine, but you have a much funnier way of expressing them. The plot and characterisations in this were so silly that movie veered into childishness. Poor Madan Mohan, another lovely soundtrack wasted on a turkey.

    And I have Kishore movie recommendation – Bandi. It’s not a comedy, though it does have a few laugh-out-loud scenes, but it has all three Ganguly brothers plus Bina Rai, Shyama and Nanda. Good watch.

  17. I do love Dharmendra too and i do plan a week long post on his movies for his upcoming birthday, i hope i’ll be able to pull it off. he barely had as much screen time as rajendra kumar in Ayee milan ki bela. Can you please id her in the picture below for me, she was in Pran jaye.. but she wasn’t credited on imdb

  18. Shalini: Thanks so much for the Bandi recommendation – I hadn’t heard of it, but with the Ganguly brothers plus those three actresses (all of whom I like a lot), I’m sure it’s going to be right up my street!

    bollywooddeewana: Oh, goodie! I’m waiting for Dharmendra week on your blog. BTW, here’s a cute little tale I heard about Aayi Milan ki Bela: Saira Banu supposedly said about Dharmendra that he looked very Italian. Some journalist commented that the film should have been named Aaya Milan ka Chhaila (which means “Here comes the lad from Milan”)!

    Sorry, I can’t ID that actress – I’ve seen her in films, but am not sure who she is. Indira, perhaps? Memsaab or bollyviewer might be able to help.

  19. Though I love nearly all Wodehousian characters, Psmith gets on my nerves. And since I saw the Hindi adaption first, I always have to think about Mazhar Khan playing Psmith *argh*

    Thanks Shalini for bringing up Bandi. Never heard of it. Shyama, Bina Rai and Nanda in the same film! It nearly sounds as if Bhabhi was crossed with Bhai Bhai (The pun is not intended, sounds too distasteful!)
    Is it a comedy?

    Isn’t it funny Dharmendra played villain to Rajendra kumar’s hero in AMKB, then Dharmendra became a hero. Later Vinod Khanna played villain to Dharmendra’s hero in Mera Gaon Mera Desh. Shatraghun Sinha then played villain to Vinod Khanna’s hero in Apne Paraye and he turned hero after that. Did Rajendra Kumar play a villain in some film as well? Who played villain to Shatraghun Sinha’s hero and turned to be become ehro afterwards. Or was this only a short chain reaction? Or should I use my brain for better things?

    I hope you find Harvey!

  20. I like Psmith because he’s such a nut ;-) And I don’t remember very much of Isi Bahaane, but I do remember that it didn’t irritate me.

    Re: Vinod Khanna – he was villain in a few of his early films. His debut film, Man ka Meet (also the debut of Leena Chandavarkar and Sunil Dutt’s brother Som Dutt) had him as a villain – and wasn’t he also the villain in Aan Milo Sajna?

    Don’t remember Rajendra Kumar as villain in any film, though, and I have to admit I can’t recall any later hero who started off as a villain to Shatrughan Sinha’s hero! This needs some deep thought!

  21. Am angry at myself.

    Last week I went and bought a whole lot of VCDs from Landmark. Hazaar enthu – you leave me in a music shop and I am like a kid in a candy shop. :-)

    Anyway there was Akeli Mat Jaiyo – Meena, Rajendra.

    The VCD cover (Shemaroo) said “A light, romantic, fun film”. So I jumped at it. A non-weepy Meena, a non-weepy Rajendra definitely sounded worth a watch. I was imagining a Meena as in Miss Mary.

    It was torture. Even since this impersonation part of the plot came into the movie, it got hazaar confusing fo me. And then it just got worse and worse. Soon I lost track of who was who. Meena was not the only one confused, for sure. And once I lost track, I really could not even muster the required interest or effort to get back on track.

    The songs were, by and large, OK (a few were good) but the movie was so terrible that even the songs could not save the movie for me.

    And on top of that, I got somebody else to watch it with me – so I put that person also through the torture.

    Should definitely have read your review first. That is what I am angry about. :-)

    And now I know that Shemaroo does not cheat just with what is inside the cover. “Light, romantic, fun film”. Well, it is a film, I will grant them that. Actually I am not even sure about that but it has a censor certificate, it has a “The End”, so maybe it is a film.

    But light, romantic, fun?

    And that ventriloquism stuff? That dummy? Don’t even get me started on how irritating that was!

    Your last sentence is the best piece of advice for this movie. “Avoid like the plague”.

  22. Raja, I’m so glad you agree with me! Someone – I’ve forgotten who now, but someone in the cinema blogosphere – was telling me about how much they enjoyed Akeli Mat Jaiyo, and I was trying to think of something – anything – that I really liked about it. Yes, that Minoo Mumtaz song Thodi der ke liye mere ho jaao is nice, and Meena Kumari is pretty, but that’s it. And that dummy was just so….@#$^$@!!! You have my sympathies.

    I have become very wary of buying films simply on the basis of a good song now. I’ve seen too many absolutely horrid films, just because I liked one songor a couple of them. It’s okay if you’re simply renting the film (which I do quite a bit), but to spend hard-earned money for a dud and then be saddled with it too – that’s worse!

  23. The bigger goonda guy is Prem Kumar (I’ve confirmed now thanks to this post and that’s name’s appearance in the credits for Kala Bazaar and Jewel Theif). He’s THE henchman of Dev Anand 50s movies!

  24. Thank you for identifying those two characters, Upendra! Yes, now that you mention it, I have seen Prem Kumar in Jewel Thief and Kala Pani. I also discovered that he was there in Kismat, Farz and Ram and Shyam.

  25. Thanks for telling me about the movie…
    otherwise i would have bought a DVD of AMJ(i already had my mind set for that). I have been so obsessed of Meena’s films since i saw her in ”Benazir”.

    • I’ve got Benazir lying in my to-watch pile of DVDs. I haven’t seen it as yet, but thanks for the recommendation – I’ll push it up to the top of the pile now!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s