Mujrim (1958)

Right now, I’m on a five-day visit to my parents. They’re not Beiges, but I’d probably label them Greys—the salt far surpasses the pepper in their hair. We’ve been spending quality time together, eating the best chhola bhaturas in town, catching up on the latest gossip, and watching films. We started with Living it Up and Bells are Ringing, and then my father (who generally prefers Bollywood to Hollywood, unless it’s the Marx Brothers-Laurel and Hardy-Chaplin brands of comedy) put his foot down. Let’s see something Hindi, he said. So we settled on this one, because my father likes its music a lot, and Mummy and I like Shammi Kapoor a lot.

Of course, with Papa having seen Mujrim way back in 1958, we’re subjected to frequent comments in the course of the film. He starts off by giving us the background. In 1958, Papa, then 20, used to live in the Pusa Institute in Delhi with two of his brothers, an elder one, Johhny, who was then 23; and Vernie Uncle, 26, recently married, and a guitarist. Vernie Uncle had done a brief stint in Bollywood—he’d played the guitar in the beautiful Aayega aanewaala from Mahal—and had then returned to Delhi for a while.

Along with a small orchestra, Vernie Uncle would perform at functions and concerts; and for these performances, he’d be on the lookout for the latest Hindi film songs. The scouts he used were Papa and Johnny Uncle. They’d be given 1 anna each (a one-way bus fare to the cinema hall in Daryaganj) and Rs 1.25 each (the cost of a cinema ticket) to go, watch a new film, listen carefully to the songs, and recommend songs good enough to be included in the little orchestra’s repertoire. If Vernie Uncle thought their recommendations sounded good, he’d see the film for himself, and if he really did like a song, he’d buy a 78 rpm record so the orchestra could begin practising.

Mujrim was one of the films Papa and Johnny Uncle saw at the Delite Cinema in Daryaganj. And they liked a lot of the songs.

So here goes, including comments from the parents and yours sincerely.

Mujrim begins the way a good film should: with Shammi Kapoor (Me: “Mmmmm!”). He’s Shankar, a thief, clad in dark trousers and a leather jacket zipped up to the throat, running helter-skelter through deserted streets at night. A policeman (Kamal Kapoor) is hot on his heels, but catches up only long enough to catch a glimpse of Shankar’s face.

Shankar stumbles through the door of a theatre where a dancer, Uma (Ragini) is performing (Papa: “Ragini had a very individual style of dancing. See? She jumps about like a skittish horse”). Shankar hides in Uma’s green room, and is there when the performance ends and she comes offstage.
Outside the green room, Uma meets the Sethji (S N Bannerjee) who owns the Balam Theatrical Company, and his secretary Pyarelal (Johnny Walker). Sethji is inclined to denigrate Uma’s performance—his way of trying to avoid giving her a raise—though Pyarelal, who’s infatuated with her, tries to buck her up.

Shankar, eavesdropping on the conversation, overhears Sethji say he’d been expecting a dramatist, Anand, to arrive that evening. Anand’s been employed to write plays for the theatre, but is mysteriously absent.
This piece of information comes in use when Uma enters her green room to find Shankar there: he tells her he’s Anand and has come looking for Sethji. Uma is welcoming and arranges for him to spend the night in the guest room above the theatre. As they leave the green room, neither Uma nor Shankar notice that he’s dropped a ring—part of the loot stashed away in his jacket—in her green room.

The next morning, Uma brings Sethji and Pyarelal to meet Shankar. Sethji is surprised when he sees ‘Anand’—not because this man’s a total stranger, but because he isn’t wearing the kurta-pyjama and isn’t sporting the unshaven look Sethji had last seen him with. Weird, but Shankar says something about changing with the times and everybody laughs it off. Just then, a letter arrives for the Sethji from Anand in Poona. Uma is invited to read it out, and they discover that Anand had written to say he’s too ill to come to Bombay as promised.

Shankar says he’d decided employment was more important than his health and so came away after he’d written the letter. He pockets the letter, and having assured Sethji that he’ll report at the theatre the next day, takes himself off.
The next morning, Shankar discovers that his fence has been caught by the police. He therefore goes to the hospital to meet a wild-haired associate with his leg in a cast (Me: “Who’s this actor?” Mummy: “I wonder.” Papa: Silence).

This turns out to be a thief who ‘adopted’ Shankar when an orphaned Shankar was toddling the streets trying to keep body and soul together. He’s the one who sent Shankar on this latest job—to steal a double handful of jewellery from a wealthy seth. Shankar informs him that the fence is now in police custody, and that this was Shankar’s last theft; he’s going to be a good man now. In a poignant moment of pity for his long-ago child self, Shankar laments the fact that the only person who sheltered him back then was a thief; all the so-called ‘good people’ shunned the orphan.

Shankar’s criminal foster father tries to persuade him to perform one last job: steal a bundle of money from a safe visible in the room opposite the hospital room.
Shankar refuses and leaves the hospital. The crook, who’s greedy as they come, decides he might as well pull off the job himself. In the middle of the night, he slings a rope across the intervening space, uses it to pull himself across (yes, broken leg and all!), and gets into the room. He opens the safe and extracts the money (Papa: “See those large notes? Those were the old thousand-rupee notes.” Enlightenment here: I didn’t know thousand-rupee notes used to be in circulation back then).

Anyway, to cut a long story short: on his way back to the hospital room, the thief loses his balance and falls to his death, leaving Shankar—who watches his body being removed the next morning—on his own in the world.
Standing by the roadside and silently rejoicing that fate has rid him of the old villain, Shankar decides to go meet Uma (whom he’s fallen for). He then realises the real Anand might already have reached the theatre—then remembers that Anand was too ill to come to Bombay. After some deliberation, Shankar decides to go see Anand for himself. He goes to Poona, to the address written on the letter sent to Sethji. There, he finds Anand too ill to even get out of bed. And he doesn’t have a single soul in the world to care for him.
Anand’s piteous pleading for water works on Shankar’s conscience, and he moves closer to give the invalid a sip from a glass—only to get a closer look at Anand’s face.

Woo-hoo! So this is why Sethji wasn’t perturbed about the features of the ‘Anand’ he was introduced to!
Unfortunately for the pathetic Anand, the sight of his face immediately douses any sparks of conscience in Shankar. His immediate thought is to switch identities with the dramatist before killing him off. He doesn’t spend ages mulling over it, either: the next thing we know, he’s in a kurta and pyjama, zipping up the leather jacket on Anand, who’s still lying half-dead on the bed. Shankar shoves the stolen jewellery into the jacket too and is getting ready to strangle Anand when his conscience finally kicks in and admonishes him for graduating from thief to murderer.
After much squabbling between his better self and his not-so-nice self, Shankar calls the doctor, who gives Anand an injection. Anand recovers long enough to thank Shankar for being so good to him…

…before copping it. Shankar gives the doctor a cock-and-bull story about how the dead man was the dreaded daaku Shankar, who burst into his (Anand’s) house, on his last legs and with his jacket stuffed with stolen jewels.
Call the police, says the doctor; they’ll attend to that, and I’ll prepare the death certificate.
That’s what Shankar does, and now he can rest happy. The jewellery’s back with its owner, and ‘Shankar’ is officially dead, and since the real Anand is dead, Shankar can now take his place as dramatist with the theatre company. (Why anybody would want to work for a curmudgeon like Sethji is beyond me, but maybe the presence of Uma has something to do with the decision. Frankly, though, I don’t even see Uma as a major attraction).

Just as Shankar is packing up all of Anand’s manuscripts (clever idea if you’re planning to impersonate a writer), he notices a letter addressed to Anand, from a certain Shobha (Shubha Khote), a fan who’s enclosed a photograph of hers and has invited him to a party at a hotel.
Shankar goes along to the party—he doesn’t want to skip it and arouse anyone’s suspicions—and meets Shobha:

…watches a dancer (Mummy and me, in unison: “Oo! Wasn’t Geeta Bali cute?!”):

And is noticed by the same police officer who’d seen him on that fateful night.

Will the policeman recognise him? Will Shankar be allowed to live as an honest man? Or will his criminal past catch up with him?
Watch. There are some interesting twists in the plot, even though the end is fairly predictable.

What I liked about this film:
Shammi Kapoor. Though he’s a little hammy in a couple of scenes, he’s generally a good enough actor. And he looks so absolutely delectable, I can forgive the occasional lapse.

The music, by O P Nayyar. Papa will vouch for this too—he and Johnny Uncle recommended several songs from Mujrim: Jaaye na pakad kahin roz-roz ki chori, Jaan-e-jigar yoon hi agar and Sun Madras ki chhori among them. Vernie Uncle finally chose Jaan-e-jigar yoon hi agar (which is also my favourite song from the film) for his orchestra to perform. Another song I love is the delightful Zulf ke phande phans gayi jaan, picturised on Johnny Walker.

What I didn’t like:

There are holes in the plot. For instance, the fact that ‘Shankar’ died (and was given a death certificate by the doctor) in ‘Anand’s’ house in Poona is left unresolved. Shouldn’t this have worried any cop who was wondering whether ‘Anand’ was actually Shankar? But no; they look for other clues. Nobody thinks of pointing out that there seems something distinctly fishy about this.

The final speech. I won’t say whom this is by—but it’s a monologue, a long, appallingly melodramatic and thoroughly unprofessional one that made me squirm.

And yes, Ragini’s accent: it’s awful.

Overall, not a superb film by my usual ‘Shammi Kapoor film’ standards (which translates into ‘out-and-out entertaining’), but a good watch nevertheless. The supporting cast—with Mumtaz Begum as Uma’s matronly mother and Tuntun as Uma’s spinster cousin Laajo, who falls for Pyarelal—is good, and though there are gaps here and there (which I’m not putting past Shemaroo), it’s a fun enough film.

Certainly worth taking a bus from Pusa to Daryaganj for.


65 thoughts on “Mujrim (1958)

  1. I didn’t buy this film for Shammi Kapoor, but I was pleased by his performance here anyway. I bought this film specifically to see the “skittish horse’! And she was wonderful here. I couldn’t care less about her accent (maybe because I wouldn’t know the difference anyway :) ; Ragini’s dancing was great throughout.

    The best song-and-dance sequence here is “Sun Sun Madras Ki Chhori,” because we get to see Padmini too! (Yes, Padmini is the woman with the moustache.)

    I was surprised at how good Geeta Bali’s dance was too. And that song was especially noteworthy for the way that it ripped off the 1956 American rock’n’roll classic, Jim Lowe’s “Green Door”:

    (I don’t know if you saw the writeup I did of this movie on March 19, but in the subsequent comments, I mentioned the 1970s cover of “Green Door” by the New York punk rockabilly band The Cramps and Memsaab and I started talking about The Cramps… It’s fun sometimes how one thing can lead to something else that you’d never expect it to lead to. :)

    Anyway, back to the film… I agree about the holes in the plot. :)


  2. yaaaaaayyyy! Finally a Shammmi Kapoor film review.

    What I liked;
    As always I loved reading your style of writing. I somehow like the story/plot.
    I especially loved the comments by your parents. :-)

    What I didn’t like;
    Comments by parents are far too few. :-)

    The story about the trips to Daryaganj is fun. But what if they didn’t have money to return? :-D

    Thanks dustedoff.


  3. PS:
    ‘Zulf ke phande’
    This song of Johny walker deserved to be in the collection of his songs in a recent post. It is a *typical* Johny Walker song sung by Mohammad Rafi.
    Its really good.


  4. The story sounds fun and Shammi looks deeeelicious. Ragini as heroine tends to be fairly annoying, but I WILL watch for Shammi (I am on a B/W Shammi kick these days!). Love that first screencap – so noir!

    And its funny your Dad lived in PUSA – my Mom was living a few blocks down in Karol Bagh around the same time! Why did they go all the way to Daryaganj for a film? Wasnt Rachna cinema open then?


    • Hello…I am on the same kick but o can’t seem to find the older movies of Shammi Kapoor… I’m a Pakistani so it’s harder to find old Bollywood movies…
      Plz help..


  5. This sounds like the plot of Bandhe Haath! Or better said, Bandhe Haath’s plot sounds much like this one.
    Why did they give poor, poor, Geeta Bali this unflattering costume. It hurts! And I find the dance movements to be too silly. The only reason I watched it, was ’cause it is Geeta Bali! Poor Woman, love made her do some really painful things!
    Shubha Khote looks lovely in your screen cap.
    Thanks for the lovely parents anecdotes. When I watch a movie with my parents, I luv their anecdotes as well. They can never decide in which movie theatre they saw the film and then they mix up the plots as well. Mostly their arguments are more entertaining than the film itself.


  6. It IS the plot of Bandhe Haath, which was a remake of this (and a bad one), both by OP Ralhan. This is better, but it’s not my favorite Shammi film by any means. I wish more of your parents’ remarks were in here too! :) Would LOVE to see some films with the older generation—I know I would learn so much in one viewing even!


  7. Richard: Thank you for Green Door! Yes, quite a rip-off, isn’t it? I’m stashing this away for when I finally decide to do a ‘ten of my favourite inspired songs’ post. Just the other day, I was singing ‘Don’t let the stars get in your eyes’ and my father began singing a Hindi version of that. Usha Khanna, of course, probably took the prize for Dil Deke Dekho: at least four of the songs from that were lifted from Western songs.

    ‘Skittish horse’ and all, I like Ragini’s dancing. Sun sun Madras ki chhori was fun, especially since the two sisters are good dancing together!

    pacifist: I guess Vernie Uncle thought his two younger brothers were old enough to at least pay for themselves to come back! Oh, and by the way – Zulf ke phande phans gayi jaan was one of the songs in my recent ‘Ten of my favourite Johnny Walker songs‘ post. My father loves that song, particularly the way it starts, with Johnny Walker scratching like mad. (Yes, Papa has a whacky and inelegant sense of humour!)

    bollyviewer: B/W Shammi is a sight for sore eyes. And he’s awesome in this one. Doesn’t leap about and act the clown, and the sight of him in the black leather jacket is to die for! :-)
    Papa said that only certain cinema halls showed certain films – films would be screened for up to 3 months at a time, and Delite seemed to specialise in Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor films, which generally could be depended upon to have music that would fit Vernie Uncle’s standards… that’s why they went all the way to Daryaganj. Don’t know when Rachna opened, but must have been around by then.

    harvey: Yes, I didn’t like Geeta Bali’s costume: it was rather embarrassingly fitted. And the choreography was reminiscent of calisthenics. Still, she’s so bright and charming, I didn’t really mind! I wish I could get hold of a Shammi Kapoor-Geeta Bali starrer: none of them seem to be out on VCD or DVD yet.

    “Mostly their arguments are more entertaining than the film itself.” Haha! That never happens with my parents, because my mother saw almost no Hindi films until after she’d got married – her grandfather had been a very orthodox sort who held that films were evil, so while he was alive, the only films they saw were Biblical ones like Quo Vadis and The Ten Commandments. Papa’s parents were equally orthodox, but Papa and his brothers seem to have defied them on the sly pretty effectively!


  8. memsaab: Yes, not one of my favourite Shammi Kapoor films either, even though he does look wonderful – I think it lacks the romance, the humour and the amazing entertainment value of films like Professor, Junglee, Dil Deke Dekho or Tumsa Nahin Dekha.

    This one didn’t attract as many comments as one we’d seen last Christmas: Aan. My sister, Papa, and my sister’s children watched it along with me, and our comments – plus my niece and nephew’s hoots of laughter (well, the adults’ too) at the very theatrical acting of some of the women ended up waking up my brother-in-law who was trying to get in a nap after lunch. He later said he tried to push a pillow over his head and then pull the quilt up, but nothing would drown out our guffaws, so he eventually came and joined us!

    Okay, now I’m thinking I should review Aan next… there’s plenty to say about that.


  9. I didn’t love this movie (or Bande Haath)and I was a trifle disappointed in the music as well, despite my love for O.P. Nayyar. I loved Shammi though – he could do no wrong during this period as far as I’m concerned.

    I wish Ralhan had made this movie in the 60s and combined the best of “Mujrim” and “Bande Haath” – Shammi, Mumtaz and R.D. Burman. We might have actually gotten one *good* movie rather than the two indifferent ones we ended up with.:-)


  10. “the only films they saw were Biblical ones like Quo Vadis and The Ten Commandments.”
    My mum saw The Ten Commandments with her jewish friend Bethsheba. Since it was in English she didn’t understand a word, but she was deeply impressed. Moses parting the Red Sea left a deep impact on her. She used to tell us about that scene quite often. In fact, I still haven’t seen The Ten Commandments.
    My mum played as an extra in a movie, but she can’t recall which. And the actress Usha Kiron and mum were in the same school. So whenever she was angry with my dad or anybody, she would say “If at that time my brother had allowed me, I would have become a big film star”! We used to chide her about it and her fondness for Ashok Kumar a lot.
    One movie, which she still fondly remembers is Laila Majnu with Shammi Kapoor and Nutan, although it was a big flop at that time.
    One thing about my parents is that they never pass any comments about the looks and style. Mostly the debate is about the plot and when and how they spotted certain film stars.
    *getting home-sick*


  11. Shalini: I haven’t seen Bandhe Haath, but I agree that Mujrim wasn’t a great film. Even the music isn’t as good as some of O P Nayyar’s other scores, but I love Jaan-e-jigar: I thought that a really catchy tune!
    And, like harvey, that idea of Shammi Kapoor, Mumtaz and R D Burman gets a thumbs-up from me! I just wish it had happened.

    harvey: Oh, please do prod your mum: which year? Who acted in the film? Then get all the films from that year you can lay your hands on, and watch them carefully to find her. Please! After all, not everybody can claim to be the offspring of somebody who might’ve been a film star! ;-)

    My father generally confines his comments to music or to anecdotes he remembers regarding a film or an actor (for instance, my uncle lived next door to Agha, so my father has a few anecdotes about Agha). Mum rarely has anything to say about Hindi films, except to comment about how pretty a certain actress is, or how entertaining Shammi Kapoor is!


  12. Dustedoff, you are welcome re. “Green Door” and I hope you do that “inspired songs” post soon, because that sounds like a lot of fun. But I would like, most of all, to see your review of Aan! (There are so many reasons why I find that one positively fascinating! Which doesn’t mean I think it was always an excellent film. LOL Ah, but that was another fabulous Naushad soundtrack!)

    Also, I would love to hear some of your dad’s stories about Agha. I really liked him in some films, such as Payal (he was great singing that train song in Rafi’s voice and, later, doing that dance with Minoo Mumtaz) .

    I also wanted to mention, I found some of Harvey’s comments rather interesting… Harvey, your mother was in the same school as Usha Kiron? I kind of fell in love with Usha Kiron when I saw Madhosh. It was one of a couple of films I saw in which Meena Kumari’s rival seemed more interesting than her (even if perhaps not as beautiful). (The other one was Kohinoor. The more I think about that, the more I think that if I were faced with Dilip’s character’s choice in that movie, I would have chosen Kumkum.)

    I guess The Ten Commandments was a good film. I supposedly have a Jewish heritage, but with an atheist or agnostic bent, so I can’t think of any relatives who took that stuff too seriously. :) (Sometimes, though, I do take some pride in famous people from my ancestral tribe – another reason to love Nadira ;) …


  13. Rajiv Kapoor Shammi’s niece does look an awful lot like him

    That song with Geeta Bali or at least the beginning of it reminds me so much of mera naam chin chin choo, i pyar the jaane jigar song a lot i like the other ones too but thats my favourite. Has OP Nayyar ever delivered a lacklustre soundtrack? So far from all i’ve heard from him, he never disappoints


  14. Richard, I must warn you: Papa’s stories about Agha are often downright disgusting! But here’s one; it’s sick, but anyway… there was an outdoor shoot going on, and when the crew took a break for lunch, Agha found himself sitting (they were all seated on the ground, in a row) next to a seth who was a financier for the film. This seth had perhaps had too huge a helping of beans or whatever at the last meal – whatever, he suffered (or should I say Agha suffered) from a bad case of flatulence. Every now and then the sethji would partly lift one buttock and let loose in Agha’s direction. Finally, Agha folded his hands in a gesture of pleading and said, “Sethji, please: the other side, now!”

    Ewww. Papa says both Agha and Johnny Walker were renowned for being clowns even off the set. In fact, many of the actresses refused to fraternise with them because they’d have the ladies in fits of laughter, which wasn’t considered very dignified.

    Aan is, in my opinion, not an excellent film – but it’s enjoyable, Dilip Kumar is dashing, and the music is great. Highly entertaining, at any rate.

    I saw the The Ten Commandments when I was a kid, and don’t remember very much of it – I think what I was most impressed with at the time were the special effects!


  15. O.P. Nayyar copied himself sometimes, but he also_came out with some real surprises which showed he had a wide range. To me, the most surprising O.P. Nayyar number was “Tu Hai Mera Prem Devata”:

    Regarding the Agha story… Just a little gross, but it’s nice to see how Agha stayed in character off screen. :)


  16. Thank you! This was the first time I saw Tu hai mera prem devta; I hadn’t realised it was O P Nayyar – it’s way more classical than one associates him with.

    My favourite offbeat O P Nayyar song is Yehi woh jagah hai: I love the subdued music, and the fact that the song is dominated by Asha’s voice rather than by musical instruments.


  17. I havent seen this movie yet, but will surely add it to my list. Anything with Shammi Kapoor in it is worth watching.
    Doesnt sound like his usual entertaining movies, but I would still love to watch this one.
    I have Rail Ka Dibba, Boyfriend and Preet na Jaane Reet with me now. WIth so much of work load, dont know when I’ll get time to watch them :-(
    I have always liked OP Nayyar’s music, and Yehi woh jagah hai is awesome.
    He’s one Music Director to whose tunes Lata never sang (At least that’s what I have heard). Maybe I’m biased in liking him coz he gave the opportunity to Asha. Not that I’m anti-lata but pre-OP Nayyar era, Asha hardly used to get to sing for the leading ladies. And I’m a huge fan of Asha. Simply love Asha, Rafi and OP Nayyar combo.
    I truly adore his songs, they all r so masti-bhara! :-)


  18. I would think it was a marathi film, in which my mum acted. Most probably as the last girl on the left in the fifth row. I’ll tell Mum that she already has few fans on your blog. Well, that would mean I’ve to explain the terms ‘fans’, ‘blog’ and then get a beating for twaddling about such things on the net.

    @Richard: Yes, that is what at least my mother claims.

    Re: O P Nayyar: It is funny. Sometimes he would copy himself for a stretch and then come up with a divine composition. I love his “chain se humko kabhi” and “yehi woh jagah hai”.


  19. sunheriyaadein: Thank you for visiting this blog and leaving a comment – I’m always especially happy to welcome anybody who likes Shammi Kapoor, Asha, Rafi and O P Nayyar! All of them are favourites of mine. :-)

    I haven’t seen Rail ka Dibba or Boyfriend – but I’m really keen on seeing Boyfriend (Shammi Kapoor + Madhubala = Oo!!). Haven’t been able to get hold of it, somehow… Preet na Jaane Reet isn’t one of his best films either (not even very memorable music), and the end didn’t quite appeal to me. But I hope you like it!

    harvey: :-D
    Your turn now to educate your mum about blogs etc! I’ve just spent the last five days telling my mum what a blog is. I’m not sure she understands (she and Papa have a phobia about the Net), but she nods sagely every time I launch forth…

    And oh, I do like Chain se humko kabhi… bollywooddeewana mentioned it in the review of Praan jaaye par vachan na jaaye, and I’ve long wished it had been picturised.


  20. I am really glad that they didn’t picturise “chain se humko..”. Many a picturisation has spoilt the song for me.
    take for example the songs of Mr. Romeo


  21. There is that too. I haven’t seen Mr Romeo (or, now that I think of it, even its songs), but I know what you mean. I thought the songs of Dosti were a bit like that: fabulous songs (especially Jaanewaalon zara mudke dekho mujhe), but the picturisation is so uninspiring, it’s criminal.

    Another thing that really infuriates me is when a superb song is wasted on credits. Garjat barsat saawan aayo re is a case in point. How could they do that to such a gorgeous song!


  22. @Harvey – Oh, I love Mr. Romeo. With RDB’s sparkling music plus Shashi Kapoor and the cute and spunky, Rinku Jaiswal in the lead, it has much to recommend itself.

    RE: chain se humko kabhi, according to a friend who was friends with OPN, OPN refused to let the producers use it in “Pran Jaaye Par Jaan Na Jaaye”, claiming that the movie was undeserving of the song!


  23. “OPN refused to let the producers use it in “Pran Jaaye Par Jaan Na Jaaye”, claiming that the movie was undeserving of the song!”

    Now I’m curious to see the film! Or shouldn’t I be? ;-)


  24. Good for OPN. The film is typical 70s masala and Chain se humko kabhi sounds too subtle and sensitive a song for that – it needs a 50s Bimal Roy or Guru Dutt film!

    And me too on loving Mr. Romeo – its a total hoot, especially the songs that have 60s RDB written all over them.


  25. @ shalini: Wow, that is an interesting piece of info/trivia. I just can’t imagine, such a poignant song in a masala dacoit film. I agree completely with bollyviewer, it needs a Bimal Roy or Guru Dutt.

    @ dustedoff: why don’t you just enjoy the songs. I think that would be much better than a dekho at the film. The songs are on you tube.


  26. OT:
    I received a mail from amazon (uk) telling me that the book has been delayed because they are still awaiting stock from their suppliers. :-(

    Before I start pulling my hair in frustration, I decided to find out whether this delay is due to the book selling like hot cakes and therefore none left to ship to uk. :-)

    If this is the case then I can rejoice and wait for the next edition. If not then just give me the sign and I shall start doing the needful to my hair. grrrr!


  27. harvey: That sounds like a sane piece of advice, considering that the number of films I’ve got lined up to see is growing by leaps and bounds. I might as well see the songs, and if sometime in the future I’m scraping the barrel for films to watch (unlikely!) I may just see it…

    bollywooddeewana: Thank you for that link to your review. I knew the basic story about a rich city boy falling for an ‘unsullied’ mountain belle, but the political background – the cleaning of the Ganga, etc – was new to me. I guess that’s part of the symbolism you mention. Hmm… maybe I should watch this. It’s just that Mandakini somehow puts me off; I’ll need to overcome that prejudice.

    pacifist: Oh dear, I’m not sure why this has happened. It is doing well in India, so it’s just possible they’re awaiting fresh stocks. I’ve been put of town the past week, so have to catch up with my publisher to find out what’s happening! Spare your hair ;-)


  28. also hasnt got the book! All it says is that I should expect to receive my copy of the book by Dec 24. I wanted to tell them that I’ve been waiting for my copy for MONTHS! :-(

    I am so glad to know that its doing well. It also means that I can look forward to more like it!


  29. A friend here in Delhi just phoned to say she’s been searching the bookshops for the book so she can gift it to some people… and it’s nowhere around, plus the bookshop people said even Hachette are out of stock.

    I just hope you guys like it. Don’t let the hype get your expectations up!


  30. Hi,

    What a piece of luck to have stumbled across your blog! Have only but read your review of Mujrim and the comments that followed yet, but I can tell I will love reading your work. A Shammi Kapoor fan to boot!!
    Thought i’d add a little trivia.. In the song ‘Sun Sun Madras ki chori’, the woman they focus on 43-45 seconds into this video ( is a first cousin of the Travancore sisters.. Sukumari, herself a veteran character artiste of the Malayalam film industry.

    Ok..starting to read your archives now!! :)


  31. Welcome to dustedoff! :-)

    I’m so glad you liked this post – and thank you for that trivia on Sukumari; I hadn’t known about her prior to your note, so that was a very welcome bit of information!


  32. I was thinking right after I wrote that, I don’t know if she actually STARRED in 2,000 films. :) But she’s known to have been in 2,000 films, as mentioned on Wikipedia and some other sites.


  33. Hi,
    Yes, you are right. Shammi Kapoor’s delectable looks makes it so much more enticing!!! I don’t think Uma is so good and the story sounds patchy. But, anything for Kapoor, right??? He is so so yummy and chiselled….yummmm absolutely!!!


  34. Yes, the story is pretty haphazard, and frankly, unlike Richard or Tom Daniels (who do admit that they can’t understand Hindi so wouldn’t know better), I do find Ragini’s accent very distracting! But oh, Shammi Kapoor… mmmmm. BTW, have you seen Boyfriend? He stars in that opposite Madhubala, and it has some absolutely sublime music. Plus, of course, probably the best-looking lead couple in Hindi cinema history. :-)


  35. Hello..thank you for a wonderful review… Me & my sis are on a Shammi Kapoor movie spree… We’ve only 18 films left to watch (I wish he had made a thousand more) & I must say i love the older movies even more than the post Tumsa Nahin Dekha…
    But the sad part is we can’t find these 18 films online… I’m a Pakistani & though I’m sure someone must have the old flicks but that would be a huge hunt…
    Could you plz direct me on how I could get my hands on these old golds…
    Movies I’m searchin for: Khoj, Mehbooba, Naqab, Sipahsalar, Sachai, Last Saheb, Miss Coca Cola, Coffee House, Tangewali, Mujrim etc…
    Plz do help… Take care..


    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked this review.

      Of the films you’ve listed, I think most have not been released in a digital video format, so getting them online will probably not be possible. Mujrim, Laat Saheb and Sachai I have definitely seen as VCD/DVD versions, so these would be available. Check Induna ( and search for ‘Shammi Kapoor’ or any specific film of his. I know there was a rumour that Miss Coca-Cola and Coffee House were going to be released in digital format, so if there’s a retailer likely to have it, it’ll be Induna. I don’t know whether they will deliver to Pakistan, but since they do deliver (and cheaply) to the US and UK, I hope they’ll deliver to Pakistan as well.

      Have you heard of MM Video in Karachi? They put up lots of very rare videos of old and often obscure Hindustani films, so they just might have something… I don’t know. If you do find any of these, let me know!


  36. I am writing this comment 10 years after the review. From where do you get such tough words like curmudgeon, fence etc? Do you have a separate dictionary. My blogs on old Bollywood films are being regularly published. i had left a message earlier but didn’t get a reply. so i believe that this is a closely networked well knit group that do not wish to look beyond. It is okay.
    Have you reviewed Sachai? I plan to do it soon.


    • Please don’t be so upset. We’re not a closely networked group who do not wish to look beyond. :-D

      The reason your comment may never have been answered could be for various reasons:

      1. You happened to comment on a long-ago post at the same time that a highly popular post had just been published. In such cases, with dozens of comments coming in for the recent post, a comment on another post sometimes simply isn’t seen, not even by me. It slips through the cracks.

      2. You made a comment that couldn’t really be replied to – either it was just an observation for which I couldn’t think up a reply, or it was too rude for me to reply to.

      I haven’t reviewed Sachai. And as for the words I use – well, I am a writer, so I’d better know the language I write in, big words and all.

      By the way, I searched the comments, and your name does not show up anywhere. Had you commented under another name?


      • Thanks Madhulika for your detailed reply. Appreciate the time taken. I agree that you are a great writer and that you seem to be weaving magic with words. With your permission, I am attaching a link here.

        I eat, breathe and live cinema. I have a laundry list of so many movies that I wish to review.

        I am sharing two reviews here – one of Nikaah and the other of Buddha Mil Gaya. My style of reviewing may not be of a high standard as yours – nevertheless it is a sincere effort.

        Since I am a senior citizen, I may have forgotten if I have used my full name Bhagyalakshmi or short name Bhagyam in my earlier comment. Sorry about that.


        • You’re welcome. I will check out your posts.

          When you mentioned that you might have used the name Bhagyalakshmi in your earlier comments, I went and searched using that name, and saw that you had commented on several posts – my review of Sathya Saran’s biography of SD Burman, Kabuliwallah, Mamta and Poonam ki Raat – and, except for Mamta, I had replied to all your comments. By the time you commented on Mamta, my review of the SD Burman biography had been published and was drawing a lot of traffic, so it’s very likely that in the flood of comments on the review, your comment on Mamta simply slipped through.

          So you really have little reason to be so miffed! :-) If you felt I was ignoring you, I apologize.


        • Thank you. Just finished reading. Good review (and I liked your point about questioning why Naveen Nischol needed a wig! – I agree). I especially liked the information about Archana (which, of course, you had also provided in your comment on my Kabuliwaala post).

          Also read your Nikaah review. A good one. My most vivid memories associated with the film (though I remember watching the film itself, and finding Salma Agha’s voice too nasal for my liking) are of beggars singing Dil ke armaan in DTC buses! If you ask pretty much anyone who was growing up in the 80s and 90s and travelled by public transport in Delhi, they’d probably remember having heard some beggar on some route sing that song. And they used to sing it awfully, too.


  37. BTW the anecdote about Agha and his tryst with the Sheth producer who kept farting while having lunch was indeed gross but it made me laugh so much. We encounter many such people in our daily lives, isn’t it?

    I also loved the fact that you got to watch this movie with your parents! Wish you can include more comments from them!


    • Thank you, glad you enjoyed this. :-) Oddly enough, just yesterday I was remembering that Agha anecdote, because I was watching a movie (Devta, 1956) featuring Agha.

      There were no other comments from my parents for this movie. And since my very active and very talkative daughter has come into our lives ever since this post was written, our chances of watching a movie together have disappeared – she will not sit still (or let us sit still!) and watch anything.


  38. Madhuji,
    How do you exactly plan the review. I tried doing it with disastrous outcome. Firstly I couldn’t get time to watch it full length. And then, I was all a confused rabbit when I started taking notes of a scene. It’s like a study and I hate studies. Oh! It’s sounds funny and you must be laughing aloud after reading it.
    Is there a proper way to go for a review?
    What steps to follow?
    Doing research for a post is fun and fully interesting. But this writing review seems like an exam.
    I’m really sounding immature and childish. But I’m totally confused.
    Can you help me?


    • No, you’re not sounding immature and childish at all! This is perfectly natural, after all you’re doing it for the first time.

      I don’t get time now to watch films at one go. I end up watching most films over a period of 3-4 days, between 30-45 minutes everyday. I never take notes, I just pay attention and see what’s happening. Also, I’ve realized that if you try to describe each scene, it can get very tedious (unless something very important to the plot is happening in that scene), so once I’ve finished watching a film, I basically write down how the story went. Things like comic side plots or songs (unless very relevant to the plot) I do not put in – in any case, the songs I always mention separately.

      Also, I don’t bother to tell the story too far. I remember once someone slammed me for giving away the ‘entire story’ (though I hadn’t – not at all), and since then I’ve been careful to not go too far along in the story.

      Best of luck! Don’t sweat it. It will come naturally if you try and figure out what your goal is: to give your readers a basic understanding of the film and why you recommend it (or don’t). It’s your verdict on the movie that really counts, so a blow-by-blow account of the story is not essential to the review.


      • Thanks a lot Madhuji,
        You’re really God sent. My basic problem is, if I plan to watch a movie and someone disturbs me, I’m red with rage. And in the process lose everything that I might have absorbed. And as I try to watch it at my workplace, where I check the patients, it becomes more difficult.
        But I’ll try it, and follow your instructions.

        “No, you’re not sounding immature and childish at all! This is perfectly natural, after all you’re doing it for the first time”

        Thanks for those words. So sympathetic. I was so ashamed of my failure, but let me try once more.
        It will take time, but I’ll write a review.



        • You’re very welcome. Glad to help. :-)

          “My basic problem is, if I plan to watch a movie and someone disturbs me, I’m red with rage.

          I understand! I am the same way. So I allot about 45 minutes at night before I go to bed, for movie-watching. I’m usually not able to watch 45 minutes, but still, it’s something.


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