I’d planned to watch (and review) something quite different this week, but when Beth announced Shashi Fest, I couldn’t resist the temptation to participate. That resolve was strengthened when I realised that in a year and a half of blogging about cinema, I’ve never once reviewed a Shashi Kapoor starrer. For shame! This, therefore: a farcical and fun film that never lets itself slip into seriousness. It features some of Hindi comedy’s greatest stalwarts, has superb music, and—of course—stars Shashi Kapoor, showing how good he is at comedy.
Pyaar Kiye Jaa starts in a way of which Bimal Roy would probably have approved: the first few minutes of the film say a lot about the people in it, their relationships, their goals and dreams, their finances (or lack of) and whatnot. Malti (Kalpana) and her sister Nirmala (Rajasree) study in Bombay and are headed back to Ramnagar, where their father Ramlal (Om Prakash) is the local big wig, with a vast tea estate—Ramlal Estate—a large house, and many minions.
Before heading back to Ramnagar, Malti has one last date with her boyfriend Shyam (Kishore Kumar), and they spend it singing and dancing by the seashore.
Shyam is the son of a very rich man too. His father’s the wealthy Devraj (Chaman Puri), and Shyam acts as assistant to his father in their construction company. Shyam’s bosom buddy Ashok (Shashi Kapoor) is the son of a lowly schoolteacher (Shivraj). While the father teaches Hindi in a small school in Bombay, Ashok’s gone off to work as an assistant manager at—guess where?—Ramlal Estate.
Ashok may be far away from his father, but he’s mindful of his obligations to his dad. So Shyam is deputed to hand over Rs 200 to Ashok’s father, with Ashok promising he’ll return the money to Shyam at a later date.
Also part of the picture is Atma (Mehmood), Ramlal’s only son. Atma’s greatest wish in life is to make films. He’s set up a one-man film production house called Wah! Wah! Production, in the fond hope that when audiences will eventually watch his films, they’ll be going “Wah! Wah!” all the way to the box office. As of now, Atma is the be-all of Wah! Wah! Production: producer, director, song writer, music director, etc. The only other role that’s been assigned is to Ramlal: Atma has decided his father’s going to be the financier.
Now the fun begins. Ashok, lumbering along in his battered old car, bangs into Nirmala and Malti in their car. A quarrel erupts, and since the two girls have been away in Bombay and so Ashok doesn’t have a clue about who they are, he tries to throw his weight about by telling them that he’s a big shot: Assistant Manager at the Ramlal Estate, no less.
The result, of course, is that Malti and Nirmala run off home, corner Ramlal and tell him to fire this no-good Assistant Manager ASAP. Ramlal is reluctant (that’s one thing I like about this film: it doesn’t fall into the usual clichés of wealthy autocrats who oppress the downtrodden), but he’s so henpecked, he agrees. It’s curtains for Ashok.
Ashok, though, isn’t the sort to cower and go dutifully away to seek work elsewhere. He refuses to leave. Ramlal, he says, must give him back his job. He even pitches a large tent on the land in front of Ramlal’s house, begins a far from silent satyagraha, and simply refuses to budge. He even gets a few volunteers to come and help him sing a song abusing Ramlal and his high-handed ways.
This is all very embarrassing for Ramlal. Malti and Nirmala are annoyed, but Atma is very impressed—especially by Ashok’s impassioned tirade against Ramlal. Atma’s found himself another employee. Ashok will be dialogue writer and story writer. Atma goes off to visit Ashok in the tent, expresses his appreciation, and hires Ashok with an advance of Rs 101. Yay for Wah! Wah! Production!
Atma, in fact, is having a run of good luck. One day, wandering around the countryside, he blunders into a very pretty village belle called Meena Priyadarshani (Mumtaz, looking rosebud pretty). Meena Priyadarshani is so pretty, Atma decides she must be his heroine, so he signs her up there and then, with an advance of Rs 101, and the promise that he’ll turn her into a film star—provided she drops the boring ‘Priyadarshani’ suffix. Miss Meena will be a celebrity someday.
They make swift progress—or not. Meena’s father, who’s the manager of Ramlal Estate, isn’t too happy about Meena’s acting career (such as it is), but becomes reconciled to it when he realises that it could be lucrative. Meena, despite all that prettiness, is woefully inept as an actress and poor Atma goes nuts trying to teach her the basics. What’s worse, Ramlal is not showing any signs of coughing up any money for the film.
In the midst of all this, Ashok (still camping out in front of Ramlal’s house) one day ‘rescues’ Nirmala’s radio when it topples over into a canal. [“What fell in?!” “Transistor!” “Whose sister?”]. In the process both Ashok and Nirmala fall into the canal, and end up confessing their love for each other. It’s roses all the way now, until Nirmala comes back to earth with a thud when she realises that Ramlal will never agree to her marrying a no-account like Ashok. She confides in Ashok, and he tells her not to worry. Everything will turn out all right.
Ashok’s method of sorting things out is to acquire a rich father. He does this by telephoning Shyam (remember? His best friend, and Malti’s boyfriend, though that connection isn’t known to Ashok). Ashok begs Shyam to come immediately, bringing with him makeup that’ll help pass him off as an old man. And, Shyam must bring his father’s fancy Chevrolet: it’ll impress the hell out of Ramlal, thinks Ashok. Shyam takes a bit of persuasion, but eventually agrees. When he arrives, Ashok intercepts him before he enters the estate grounds, and tells Shyam his plan. Ashok will pass Shyam off as his rich father, and helped along by that beautiful Chevrolet, they’ll be able to win over Ramlal and get his consent to Ashok’s marriage to Nirmala.
So a bearded, bespectacled Shyam, calling himself Ganga Prasad, introduces himself to Ramlal. He spins a yarn about Ashok having left home after a tiff and come away to Ramnagar to work. Ramlal’s mouth begins watering when ‘Ganga Prasad’ talks about the many factories and ship he owns, about his 14-storeyed building in Bombay, etc. Finally, Ramlal summons up the courage to propose a marriage alliance. The upshot is that Ashok gets engaged to Nirmala, and both of them are ecstatic. Ramlal has also insisted that ‘Ganga Prasad’ and Ashok spend a couple of days in the guesthouse on the Ramlal Estate. It’ll be a good holiday for them.
The betrothed couple spend their time in joyful anticipation of their upcoming wedding. They’re chaperoned by Malti and ‘Ganga Prasad’ (who swiftly reveals his true identity to Malti), so there’s much happiness all around. Malti and Shyam are happy to be together, Ashok and Nirmala are happy to be engaged, Ramlal is happy to be soon becoming a relative-by-marriage of a man as rich as Ganga Prasad…
…and fate is waiting in the wings, giggling diabolically and holding a heavy club. Shyam’s father Devraj happens to notice an advertisement for the sale of some vineyards in Ramnagar, and decides to go there to close the deal. The man selling the vineyards recommends Ramlal as a reference. When Devraj goes to meet Ramlal, he finds that Ramlal is none other than his old childhood friend, with whom he shares so many fond memories. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, thinks Devraj, if his only son would be married to Ramlal’s daughter Malti?
Will Shyam and Ashok be able to hoodwink the combined forces of Devraj and Ramlal? Will they sink deeper into their own web of deceit? And what of Atma and Meena? What of Wah! Wah! Production?
What I liked about this film:
The fact that it’s such a refreshingly light-hearted film. It never takes itself seriously, and you get the impression that almost everybody in the cast is enjoying themselves hugely. Delightful! The dialogues (by Rajinder Krishan, who also wrote the lyrics) are especially good.
The music, by Laxmikant Pyarelal. Two of my favourite songs from this film are O meri maina tu maan le mera kehna and Kisne pukaara mujhe main aa gayi; there are plenty of others too which are lovely: the title song and Phool ban jaaoonga shart yeh hai magar among them.
Pyaar Kiye Jaa also has the distinction of containing what is, for me, the most amusing scene in classic Hindi cinema. Atma explains part of the story for his film to his father. It’s a horror film, liberally embellished with howling dogs and croaking frogs and a spectre walking through the night; Mehmood’s telling of the tale (with complete sound effects!) and Om Prakash’s reactions to each element of the tale, are priceless.
What I didn’t like:
This is a minor niggle, but anyway. Rajasree. She’s all right, but I do think Shashi Kapoor deserved a more attractive, peppy heroine. Actually, I think I’d have liked Mumtaz to have acted as Nirmala. She’d have been perfect.