Waaris (1969)

Today’s Holi and much of Delhi has been busy slathering everybody else with colour. Out in the street (and in the neighbours’ yard) I saw people drenched in purple, green, yellow and red.
My husband and I don’t celebrate Holi—we’re both too fastidious and have better things to do in life than wasting hours getting colour off ourselves. So here’s my way of celebrating Holi: watching a Hindi film. And that too a colour film—yes, I’ve suddenly realised that the last Hindi colour film I reviewed was Leader, way back in June 2009. A situation pleading to be amended!

Waaris is typical of the many films churned out by Southern film studios in the late 60’s (this one was a Vasu Films production). With a formidable star cast padded out with local extras invariably with terrible accents, colourful costumes, plaster-and-gilt sets, and a generally light-hearted, escapist feel to the entire film. Not what one would call great cinema, but total paisa vasool.
It begins in the kingdom of Chandipur, where Maharaja Raghunath ticks off his son, Ram Kumar (Master Sachin) for entertaining a bunch of commoners’ children in the palace. The prince gives as good as he gets, and tells Dad off for being such an undemocratic old stick-in-the-mud. The upshot of it is that there’s a fallout between the two of them, and Ram Kumar runs away.

Flash forward 20 years. The Maharaja is now on his deathbed, and is being chewed up by remorse for his long-lost son, of whom there’s been neither hide nor hair seen all these years. With his dying gasp, the Maharaja summons the executors of his will. These are the Thakurain (Manorama), Birbal (Sundar) James (Chaman Puri) and the Diwan (David). To them, the Maharaja hands over a file in which he’s written down clues to identifying the prince—a scar on his back, his fondness for the colour yellow, his habit of shrieking “Pitaji!” when hurt, the fact that he’s left-handed, and his lack of fear of snakes: point out a snake to him, and even as a child, he’d leap at it and kill it (PETA: watch out for this guy).

Find my son, says the Maharaja. Make him the next Maharaja. Hand him the keys to my treasure. Get him married to the beauteous Geeta (Hema Malini), the Diwan’s daughter. And introduce him to his little sister Baby (Baby Sonia, later to be one of my favourite 70’s actresses, Neetu Singh).

Anyway, the Maharaja cops it, and the executors—a surprisingly diligent and dedicated lot for a Hindi film—get down to work. They get a notice published in the newspapers about the Maharaja’s death and invite the rightful heir, the Yuvraj (Crown Prince) Ram Kumar, to come forward and claim his inheritance.
They aren’t disappointed. A few days later, the green lights that have been installed in each room of the palace to herald the coming of the Yuvraj, start flashing:

…and the Yuvraj (Prem Chopra) strides in.
He is greeted, and the executors get down to business, subjecting him to a sometimes surreptitious, sometimes blatant examination that consists of checking out whether he conforms to all the points the Maharaja had noted in his file.
This is where I sit up. Because the Yuvraj who is Prem Chopra (and whom I have never seen as anything other than a villain) passes with flying colours. He is Ram Kumar!

But not for long. Very soon, the green lights start flashing again, and Yuvraj #2 (Jeetendra) arrives. Geeta recognises him instantly as a roadside Romeo who’d accosted her the other day, flung her about a bit in a wild song and dance, and told her that the Yuvraj in residence was an imposter.
Geeta is inclined to have him booted out, but the executors, conscientious as ever, decide to subject him to all their tests, and guess what? He passes too! Now these people are really in a quandary. They have two Yuvrajs, and Baby is quite sure that the second one is her long-lost bhaiya.

Yuvraj #1 is, understandably, resentful, and the two men come to blows one day—just as that accursed green light starts flashing again. Another Yuvraj!
This one (Mehmood) is quite a character: everything he wears has a price tag hanging from it (strangely enough, only in this scene; what sort of character development, if any, was the writer thinking of?). What’s more, he’s brought his feisty wife (Aruna Irani) along. Geeta breathes a sigh of relief: at least she won’t be obliged to marry this cartoon.

To everybody’s surprise, this latest entrant not just passes all the tests, but seems to know the deepest secrets of everybody’s past: that the Thakurain, for instance, once had a lover whom she jilted and who subsequently committed suicide; that James used to be Jairam before he converted to Christianity; and so on. He is the Yuvraj. There’s no doubt about it.
The palace at Chandipur is now crowded with Yuvrajs, and the executors are at a dead end. Which of the three claimants is the actual waaris (heir)?

At this point, the film’s writer decides to help the viewers along, if not the executors. The scene shifts to a grubby little hovel. This is where Yuvraj #1 (I knew Prem Chopra couldn’t be up to any good!) has imprisoned the real Ram Kumar (Sudesh Kumar). It turns out Yuvraj #1’s real name is Moti, and he’s Ram Kumar’s foster brother—not a very nice foster brother, though, since he thrashes the prince and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t toe the line.

When Moti finally leaves, Ram Kumar’s sympathetic jailor asks him what that was all about, and Ram Kumar recounts his past.
He had run away to Ceylon, where he was adopted by a kindly woman called Rukmini (Kamini Kaushal), a worker in a tea estate. Rukmini has a son of her own, the dastardly Moti, so dastardly that Rukmini doesn’t love him as much as she loves Ram Kumar (of course other Hindi films like Awara may argue that he grew up dastardly because he wasn’t loved much).

The announcement of the Maharaja’s death, and the invitation for Yuvraj Ram Kumar to come to Chandipur prompted Ram Kumar to finally go back home—with Moti, who offered to accompany him to Hindustan. So, having said a tearful farewell to his girlfriend Komal (Nazima):

Ram Kumar came from Ceylon to Hindustan, only to find himself attacked and imprisoned by Moti, who’s now impersonating him.
We now discover that Moti’s wickedness goes much beyond simply trying to lay his grubby paws on Ram Kumar’s wealth and titles. Having abused Ram Kumar, he takes himself off to the den of his extremely creepy boss Samson (actor?), whose makeup’s so heavy it almost looks like a mask. He has a habit of constantly grinning, repeating words (and in very badly accented Hindi too), and killing his own henchman at the slightest hint of anything approaching insubordination.
They indulge in a little chitchat (nervous on Moti’s part, evil on Samson’s), and then Moti goes off to the palace…

…where a newly arrived letter has created a flurry. Since it’s addressed to the Yuvraj Ram Kumar—and there are three contenders for that title—the executors have decided to open it and see the contents for themselves.
The letter is from someone who signs herself ‘Rukmini’, and who says she’s been missing Ram Kumar, whom, after all, she’s brought up as her own son. Why hasn’t he written to her? Is he all right?
Ah. So there is someone in this world who can identify the correct heir for them. The Diwan suggests that they send Rukmini a telegram and summon her to Chandipur.

Rukmini arrives, but at the airport, when no-one’s looking, a shady character slips her a note. Its contents get her so agitated that when she arrives at the palace and is confronted by the three Yuvrajs and asked to identify the real one, she hesitates only briefly before singling out Moti.
Yuvraj #2 and 3 insist that they be given 2 days to prove that Moti isn’t the Yuvraj. This is granted, and that evening, Moti tells Rukmini that he had sent her the note because en route to Chandipur, Ram Kumar was abducted by someone, and in an effort to ensure that Ram Kumar’s inheritance didn’t fall into the wrong hands, Moti has been forced to pass himself off as Ram Kumar—only, of course, till Ram Kumar is found.

From the point onwards, the film starts veering off into the realm of complete lunacy. Moti goes to meet his boss Samson in a restaurant; and Yuvraj #2, who’s followed Moti there, follows Samson’s moll out into her car when Samson sends her to ‘get the men to do what they have to’ (yes, very clear!). Yuvraj #3 also arrives at Samson’s hideout and the two Yuvrajs join hands to foil the evil designs of Samson’s gang. I can’t see the point of this little expedition (it’s not as if they emerge from it with any information or material that’s any use), but yes, you do get to see Daisy Irani showing off her karate skills.

The next thing we know, it’s April 13th, the Yuvraj’s birthday. All three men are laying claim to the celebration, so everybody lets them do their own thing. A huge party’s organised, with all three Yuvrajs doing the twist. In the crowd at the party are also some of Samson’s men, who try their best to beat up Yuvraj #2 and 3. Moti joins in too, and soon blows and accusations are being exchanged, with Moti, Yuvraj #2 and Yuvraj #3 each insisting he’s the rightful heir to the throne of Chandipur.
In the midst of all this, who should arrive but Komal! She stares wide-eyed at one of the three Yuvrajs, and says:

Ah, but that would be telling, wouldn’t it? See for yourself.

What I liked about this film:

Hema Malini. She’s so very pretty.

The song Chaahe koi mujhe bhoot kaho chaahe yamdoot kaho. In a film with an otherwise lacklustre score (not one of R D Burman’s best), this one’s a funny parody of a bunch of songs, especially ones originally picturised on Shammi Kapoor. Rajinder Krishan’s lyrics are a generally amusing take on the original.

What I didn’t like:

Samson. Yes, this probably means the director, the actor, the scriptwriter, the makeup man etc did a really good job, but even then. Samson gave me the creeps, what with that matte makeup of his, those leering lips and that stilted, awful pronunciation—not to mention the very innovative electrical gloves he uses to attack his victims:

Mehmood. He’s all right in his role as Yuvraj #3, even funny at times. But he has a brief appearance in a double role too, as his own mother. Extremely irritating.

The story also has a few holes in the plot. Not, as I’d have expected in something with so complicated a plot, very major holes, but they’re there.

Waaris isn’t the best of the many frothy and generally delightful Hindi films that were made in the South (watch this blog—I’ll be reviewing a couple more soon). It doesn’t make the best of what might have been a very interesting storyline (who are these three men pretending to be the heir? Which one is the heir?)—in fact, it fluffs the whole thing by introducing Sudesh Kumar as the real Ram Kumar very early on in the film.

But still: it’s amusing, colourful, even occasionally funny. Good time pass.

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27 thoughts on “Waaris (1969)

  1. Lol i have to see this i love Jeetendra and Mehmood a lot so thats reason enough, i love the parody song you’ve posted the first song obviously is Junglee ka hai from ‘Junglee’ the second i’m unsure of (can you help) the third is from ‘Tu kitni acchi hai’ from Raja aur Runk the 4th i’m unsure of as well, the 5th i don’t know the 6th is ‘mere samnewali’ from Padosan, the 7th is Aaja aaja from ‘Teesri manzil’. I Hope you can help identify the missing songs, and speakling of medleys here’s one that has always puzzled me, i don’t know anyone who has been able to identify all the songs and films they’re from, the medley i’m speaking of is the one in Hum Saath Saath hain, i would be most grateful if you or your many readers can help identify them, i only know about 3 them

  2. Do watch this one if you like Jeetendra and Mehmood – it’s fun! The villain’s pretty over the top, but big deal: it’s worth a watch.
    Okay, now for the medley in Waaris. Here are the original songs, in order (yes, you got most of them right):

    Chaahe koi mujhe junglee kahe (Junglee)
    Dil ke jharokhe mein tujhko bithaakar (Brahmachari)
    Tu kitni achchi hai (Raja aur Runk)
    Aji aisa mauka phir kahaan milega (An Evening in Paris)
    Mere saamnewaali khidki mein (Padosan)
    Aaja aaja main hoon pyaar tera (Teesri Manzil)

    And here’s the original list of songs of the medley from Hum Saath Saath Hain – I haven’t been able to identify the last song, but it’s on the tip of my tongue!

    Rampur ka vaasi hoon main Lakshman mera naam (Rampur ka Lakshman)
    Mera naam Chin Chin Choo (Howrah Bridge)
    Didi tera devar deewana (Hum aapke hain kaun)
    Papa kehte hain bada naam karega (Qayamat se Qayamat tak)
    Bholi soorat dil ke khote (Albela)
    Akhiyaan milaaoon kabhi akhiyaan churaaoon (Raja)
    Mera piya ghar aaya (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan / Yaaraana)

    Maybe someone can identify the last one?

  3. This one sounds like fun and a perfectly colorful way to spend Holi. I am not big on Jeetendra or Mehmood either, but for a fun 60s romp, I am willing to brave them – especially when there is Hema, Neetu, Nazeema and Aruna Irani to sweeten the pill! :-)

    And thats a great screenshot of Chaman Puri – he looks freakily like Amrish Puri, doesnt he? I hadnt realised that Amrish and Madan Puri had an older brother until a couple of years ago when I noticed someone (dont remember the film) who looked and sounded so much like pre-bug-eyes Amrish P that he HAD to be related!

    In the Hum Saath Saath Hain medley, the last song sounds like Mayi ni mayi from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun – at least the tune does, the music sounds a few decades older, though.

  4. This sounds like a fun movie and Hema is stunning. I couldn’t see why Hema has so many fans till I saw her in her earliest movies when she was able to squeak past my maximum weight allowance.
    About southern Bollywood productions, I heard they always have animals like in Haathi mere saathi.

  5. bollyviewer: Okay, I have a confession to make: I had no idea Chaman Puri was Amrish/Madan Puri’s older brother! And now, remembering their faces, it’s as obvious as the noses on those faces. :-) They do look so alike – especially Amrish and Chaman.

    sophy: Yes, I’m not that keen on Hema in the mid and later 70’s. She was still beautiful, but I think that extra weight – plus the rather loud makeup that dominated in the 70’s – didn’t do anything for her. But she’s just so lovely in these early films of hers – Waaris, Johnny Mera Naam, Abhinetri, Tum Haseen Main Jawaan: really gorgeous.

  6. Oh! This brings back memories!
    I must have been in the primary school then. There was a (illegal?) cinema theatre in the slum-area, which I’d to pass to come to the railway station. There hung a poster of this film for quite a long time and I didn’t know what ‘Waaris’ meant. Well, I didn’t know what most of the film titles meant!
    In our neighbourhood there was a woman who always used to complain plaintively about her ‘waaries’. By doing simple calculations I came to the conclusion that these two words must be connected. But it didn’t help me much further, since I still didn’t know what this word meant.
    Years passed by and somehow I learnt in the Hindi class that Waaris meant successor, which intrigued me more. Why in the hell did that woman complain about her ‘successors’? She was no queen, except of drama. Then, once when I was listening to her attentively I understood, that she didn’t mean her successor but her WORRIES!!!

    But this film bridges these two terms quite nicely the worries you have with the ‘waaris’!

  7. ROTFL, harvey!!!

    That was dee-lightful. Yes, a waaris can be the cause of many worries. I wonder what could have been the possible connections one could have made between the name of a film and about what ailed someone. Could waaris have meant pains and aches? Poverty? A drunk husband? No luck in the lottery?

    Now, if you would only try and recall what the poster for this film was, we could make more logical suggestions. ;-)

  8. Well, atleast the ‘waaries’ of the good ol’ woman were her children, who got bad marks and husband, who wasn’t paying any attention to her and other things, which she didn’t specify. She was of the opinion that a woman should make herself appear a lil bit mysterious, cause that adds to their charm! ;-)

    The psoster was the usual garrish red-yellow-green-black painter’s nightmare appearances with Hema holding a whip or something like that.

  9. So unpredictable!!
    As I was reading and reached the part where the king talks to his four executors telling them the way to recognize the prince, I thought, OK now these four will try to train their very own candidates and fight with each other before the real prince lands there by chance and spoil all their efforts. Then they will try to get rid of him.

    But I was in for a surprise!!
    Just for this I’m putting it on my list of ‘must see’. :-)
    Thanks a lot dustedoff.

  10. This is so much fun!!! Wonder what the original movie in South was…let me check with my colleagues at work and find out. I would love to see that :P

    I happened to see Raj Babar, Amrita Singh, Smita Patil, Amrish Puri starrer Waaris (1980’s film), and I literally had to keep myself from just leaving it in between. Usually I feel, no matter how bad a movie is, it can at least be watched once, but post Waaris and Swati , I have changed my mind.
    It was height of twisting the story – Smita gets her younger sister, Amrita, married to her father-in-law so that they can have a waaris to all the property which Amrish Puri and his sons are after. Totally crazy. I saw it for Mere pyaar ki umar ho but after watching the movie, I don’t even like the song as much as I used to :P

    But this one sounds totally entertaining.

    @ Harvey : “Why in the hell did that woman complain about her ’successors’? She was no queen, except of drama. “ – This one was hilarious :-)

  11. harvey: Ah, Hema with a whip or something similar: now that would have been cause for worry! ;-)

    pacifist: The hatke treatment of the film was what I found really refreshing. A board of executors who actually were conscientious enough to do their job without trying to lay their hands on the money? Now that is very unusual in Bollywood. And Manorama one of them, too – she is one of those actresses (like Lalita Pawar) who’s perennially slotted as ‘nasty woman’!

    sunheriyaadein: Do let me know, too, if you discover which film that was – I’d like to see it, since the Hindi remake was so much fun (the only thing I’m nervous about is that the actor who played Samson had played the same part in the original).
    Whew, thank heavens I haven’t seen the later Waaris: it sounds awful. That song is lovely, but I think I’ll probably just watch it on youtube and be content with that!
    What I do want to see is the earlier Waaris – it starred Talat Mahmood (yes! he’s figuring a lot on this blog these days!) and Nadira.

  12. Chaman is the missing link between Amrish and Madan—he looks so much like BOTH of them, though they don’t look much alike to me :)

    This one rings a bell, think I’ve seen it although I don’t remember details at all. Not surprising though since there are a lot of them like it :)

    Is the actor who plays Samson actually also named Samson? There is an ex-wrestler type guy named Samson who acted in films. I can’t tell by the screen caps though—very well disguised, but he has the right body type!

  13. I think this is the Samson you mean, is it? I don’t think it was him, but I couldn’t be sure – the makeup was so heavy, it was very difficult to tell. But I think this man was shorter than Samson, plus he had a very strong accent which I don’t recall Samson as having. In any case, the actor Samson isn’t listed in the credits here.

    I wonder if it could be Ashokan…

    • its asokan!!!!…..i saw waris on b4u movies the other nite…….the villain was new to me… so i did a check…. mainly wikipedia, there is a old tamil villain s a ashokan! and its the bald guy for sure!

  14. There was another ‘Waris’ in 1954 with Talat and Suraiya. I remember ‘rahi matwale’ form it. Has anybody seen it?
    It will be an interesting idea to talk about the similar titles in different periods.

  15. There were three ‘Waris’: 1) 1954 with Talat, Suraiya and Nadira etc. 2) 1969 which is discussed above and 3) in 1988, a social with Smita Patil and RaJ Babbar. The details can be found at and many old Hindi films can downloaded from

  16. harvey: Yes, I’d love to see that one! It’s available on http://www.talatmahmood.net, but for (gasp!) Rs 990. Okay, I am a Talat Mahmood fan, but I refuse to be lootoed in this unsavoury fashion! Up to Rs 200 or 300, all right. But nearly Rs 1000? Nah. Will content myself with admiring the Waaris still that I bought last weekend.

    Padmakar: Yes, the Talat-Suraiya-Nadira Waaris is the one harvey and I had been discussing in this thread… I wish there was someplace I could get a more affordable DVD (even VCD) of it.
    BTW, which is the site from which film songs can be downloaded?

  17. Thanks a lot for that dustedoff without being a pain in the butt here’s another parody song that has always puzzled, especialy the first shadi ke liye song, the second is vaada tera vaada from Dushmun , the 3rd i think is from 9Pyar kiye jaa and the last one is from Khilona

  18. You’re not being a pain in the butt! :-)

    That isn’t a parody, though: just a collection of a verse each (or whatever) from different songs – the words haven’t been changed at all. The first song is Shaadi ke liye razaamand kar li from Devi. Sanjeev Kumar and Nutan look great and the song is good, but I wouldn’t recommend the film – I saw it years ago when I was a kid and more tolerant of melodrama, but I hated it even back then. Much weeping and self-sacrifice on the part of the woman.

  19. its http://www.indianscreen.com. lots of old songs are uploaded here from time to time and they encourage you to download them! I have about 2500 songs from it in my collection of about 6000 old hindi songs in mp3 format. And they remember important dates and upload additional songs accordingly. It also has a data of ALL Hindi films. I love this site, you must visit it.

  20. Thanks for that, Padmakar! I not only visit it (and fairly frequently, too), it’s also listed in the ‘Sites I like’ section of the home page of this blog. ;-)

  21. I think the Talat Mahmood “Waris” is available on VCD now (probably Friends). It’s a nice movie, though more of a showcase for Suriya than Talat M.

    As for this Waris, the movie didn’t make much of an impression on me, but I love the two Lata-Rafi duets, “kabhi kabhi aisa bhi to” and “lehra ke aaya hai.” I’m wondering if you’d enjoy the 1972 Mahmood-Aruna Irani starrer “Garam Masala.” It’s a more unhinged cousin of “Waris.”:-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aibb-PUWV28

  22. Thanks for that tip, Shalini! I don’t mind getting hold of the VCD of Waaris, if it’s available (will look on induna); the only thing consideration that deters me a bit is that it might be Friends! :-(

    I haven’t seen Garam Masala and may not be tempted enough to buy it, but will certainly check if it’s available for rent. That’s one advantage of using a DVD/VCD rental service…

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