Insaan Jaag Utha (1959)

The main reason I rented this film was that the credits were so absolutely mouthwatering. A cast that included Sunil Dutt, Madhubala, Minoo Mumtaz, Madan Puri and Nishi Kohli. Music by S D Burman. Shakti Samanta as director. A winner, I’d have thought.

Alas, no. While it’s not a dud, Insaan Jaag Utha isn’t more than the sum of its otherwise stellar parts.  The story is a mishmash of tropes. It doesn’t seem to know where it’s going, the plot has a lot of holes, and  it’s not really too interesting.

The start is promising, with a truck driver being stopped by the police at a state border check post. A thief with a briefcase full of smuggled gold has escaped from Bombay, and the police suspect he’ll try to get over the border and into Andhra Pradesh.
While the truck driver’s getting out and asking the police questions, a stowaway escapes from the back of the truck. This is Ranjit (Sunil Dutt), and he’s got the briefcase. The police give chase, but Ranjit manages to outstrip them long enough to head into the forest and conceal the briefcase in the bole of a tree.

…after which, he gets caught by the cops and sentenced to five years in prison. [Considering they haven’t been able to find the goods on him – and they don’t know where he’s hidden them – this seems a bit odd. Even odder, as it later turns out, since nobody except some even more criminally-minded goons saw him escape].
Anyway, Ranjit lands up behind bars.

Five years later, when he gets out, the first thing he does is to board a bus for the state border. He arrives – and discovers that in the five years that have passed since his last eventful trip here, this area has become the construction site of the massive Nagarjuna Sagar Dam! [Ranjit must be one of the unluckiest criminals in Hindi films. To spend five years in jail only to find that all that wealth you’d been dreaming of is under tons of stone and concrete, and there are literally thousands of people milling about…]

But all is not lost. Thankfully for Ranjit, a little looking around reveals that the fateful tree still exists – it’s in the courtyard of a small family that lives near the construction site, one of the many thousands of households there.
This household is headed by the crippled father, Laxmandas (Nasir Hussain, limping, whining and preaching for all he’s worth). Laxmandas was once a freedom fighter and spent 12 years imprisoned by the British. Now he runs a crèche for the children of the women working at the dam.

Laxmandas has a little son called Gulab (?) and a daughter named Gauri (Madhubala), who works at the dam. When Ranjit discovers that the tree is now part of Laxmandas’s household, it is the firebrand Gauri whom he first runs into. There’s a little bit of mutual attraction here, but Gauri shoos Ranjit off.

Ranjit doesn’t realise that he’s been followed all the way from jail to the dam site. Mohan (Madan Puri) is the contractor for a section of the dam, and has put one of his men on his Ranjit’s trail. It isn’t clear why, but the goon reports back to Mohan and lets him know that Ranjit has arrived at the dam. Mohan gives his man instructions to tell two other goons, Chandar (Shyam Kumar) and Bahadur (Kundan) to keep an eye on Ranjit.

Soon enough, things start hotting up. Chandar and Bahadur catch up with Ranjit at the local tavern-cum-café-cum-hotel run by a matronly woman (Praveen Paul, who is really wasting her time in this film). The two men introduce themselves to Ranjit as Robert’s partners. Ranjit springs a surprise by asking them if they were Robert’s partners, or Robert’s killers. [Robert? Huh? Who?].
Chandar and Bahadur – Ranjit calls them bandar (monkey) and buzdil (coward) respectively, irritating them no end – admit to having killed Robert. They also try and bully Ranjit into sharing the long-buried gold with them, but Ranjit refuses.

By now, Ranjit’s decided that his best bet is to apply for a job at the dam site, and stick around until he can get an opportunity to dig the briefcase out from under the tree in Laxmandas’s house.
He applies for a job as a crane operator at the site, but is refused: they don’t need any more men there. Eventually, Ranjit is reduced to accepting any job they’ll give him – so ends up breaking stone for building material.

Ranjit meets other people at the construction site: the comic (well, more a caricature, actually, and one that got on my nerves) overseer Bholanath:

There’s Chandar and Bahadur’s boss Mohan, who doesn’t let on that those two goons are his men… [One thing that I haven’t been able to figure out: how did this bunch of hoodlums figure the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam site was where they should wait for Ranjit to come when he’s released from jail?]

And the engineer, Mr Mathur (Gautam Mukherjee), who seems to be one of the few normal, sane people at this site. One day, Ranjit saves Mr Mathur’s life after a freak accident sends the engineer tumbling down a slope. Mr Mathur is very grateful and when he discovers that Ranjit, who’s obviously educated, has been breaking stones all this while, promptly agrees to let him operate one of the cranes. [Don’t ask why Ranjit seems to have this obsession with operating a crane. Okay, it may be what he’s had experience with, but I have a feeling this entire thing is all a set-up to allow this song to take place].

Ranjit has also been getting friendlier with Gauri, whose initial reaction to Ranjit’s proximity was to get into arguments with him. Since he’s always grinning and flirting, she finds it increasingly difficult to remain angry with the man.

Helping Ranjit in his efforts to woo Gauri are Gauri’s friend Munia (Minoo Mumtaz) and Munia’s suitor Sukham (Sundar). Both Munia and Sukham seem to spend all their time having mock squabbles of their own (Sukham tries to butter up Munia, she pretends she doesn’t want any of it). When they aren’t doing that, they’re conniving with Ranjit to get Gauri to agree to be his love forever and ever.

Another grand entrance now occurs: that of the lovely Hansa (Nishi Kohli), who is the dancer at the local ‘hotel’ owned by the Praveen Paul character.

At the end of one of her dances, Hansa is accosted by the gruesome twosome, Chandar and Bahadur. Ranjit comes to her rescue, thereby earning himself brownie points both with the owner of the hotel (who, discovering he has no place to stay, offers him a room in the hotel) and with Hansa, who gives him many come-hither looks.

Hansa is given the duty of showing Ranjit to his room. En route, she takes him to her own room, because she wants to remove all the heavy jewellery she’s been wearing for her dance. While she’s doing that behind a screen, Ranjit begins idly going through her things. [How ill-mannered is that?!]
Just as well, though, because among Hansa’s things, he comes across two photos of a man (Keshav Rana).

…so that, when Hansa, minus all that jewellery, emerges from behind the screen, Ranjit is able to ask her if she’s Rinee, and not Hansa. Hansa looks surprised, but admits it. Yes, she’s Rinee. And yes (when Ranjit asks her) she used to be Robert’s girlfriend. [Now I’m getting curious about who this Robert was].

Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait to discover the answer to that.
By now, Ranjit is well and truly in love with Gauri, and vice-versa. One day, he ends up telling her all: his having been in jail for five years, and the fact that there’s a very valuable briefcase hidden away under the tree in the courtyard.
Then comes the back story.

Ranjit says that five years ago, he used to work as a crane operator at the Bombay docks. He was in love with a wealthy girl named Sudha, who one day told Ranjit that her parents were forcing her to get married to a groom they’d chosen for her – and the wedding was to take place two days down the line. Ranjit and Sudha decided that the only solution was to elope. But, Ranjit realised, as a dockworker, his savings were abysmal; he wouldn’t be able to give Sudha a comfortable home.

Ranjit had a rich friend named Robert [at last!]. Ranjit didn’t know what Robert did for a living – all he knew was that Robert was constantly in and out of the port, and had plenty of money. So Ranjit went to ask Robert for a loan, and Robert instantly agreed – but on one condition: would Ranjit do him a favour? Robert then told Ranjit that his (Robert’s) girlfriend Rinee had been visiting, and had inadvertently left a briefcase behind at Robert’s. Would Ranjit deliver the briefcase to Rinee? Here’s the address – and here’s the briefcase…

Ranjit had no option, and couldn’t see anything wrong with it, anyway. So he took the briefcase and left Robert’s cabin on the boat where Robert was then staying. Just past the cabin, he heard the sounds of a scuffle, followed by low-voiced threats and whispers. Ranjit then discovered the truth: Robert was a smuggler of gold, and had been trying to get a briefcase full of gold to his girlfriend, Rinee.
Ranjit wisely [though perhaps not in exemplary ‘anything-for-a-friend’ Hindi film hero fashion] stayed out of the fight. Robert was killed and his killers – whom Ranjit now knows as Chandar and Bahadur – chased Ranjit, but he managed to escape with the briefcase full of gold.

…which now resides under the tree in Gauri’s family courtyard. But now what?

What I liked about this film:

Madhubala and Sunil Dutt, both of whom are among my favourite Hindi film actors. Madhubala is in a beautifully deglamourised avatar here, and looks lovely.

S D Burman’s music. Unlike, say, Kaagaz ke Phool, Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, Nau Do Gyarah or Guide, Insaan Jaag Utha didn’t have one smash hit of a song after another – but it had some very pleasant songs, including the lovely Jaanoon jaanoon ri kaahe khanke hai tora kangna and the gently romantic Chaand sa mukhda kyon sharmaaya. The two dances picturised on Nishi Kohli – Aankhe chaar hote-hote and Bahaaron se nazaaron ke yeh dekho – are wonderful, and there’s also the title song, Mehnatkash insaan jaag utha. Plus there’s the well-known (though not one of my favourites), Yeh chanda Rus ka na yeh Jaapaan ka.

What I didn’t like:

The hotchpotch that this story was. It tried to bring in a little bit of everything – romance, intrigue, nationalism, socialism, comedy. And it didn’t focus on any one aspect.

There was potential here. We had the not-quite-upright hero (à la Bombai ka Babu and a crop of other Dev Anand films): maybe the film could’ve concentrated on his struggle to turn over a new leaf. We had the villagers fighting to build a better life for themselves (as in Naya Daur): but they just fill in the space between the camera and the backdrop, the dam. Or, this could’ve even been an out-and-out suspense thriller, but it falls flat on that front too.

Watch the songs on Youtube, and you’ll get the best of the film. The rest of it is pretty missable.

Even if you watch the film, do yourself a favour and lower the volume in the last five minutes, where Madhubala shrieks – very loud and shrill – at five-second intervals. I’ve never wanted to shut Madhubala up before this.

Little bit of trivia:

The building site of the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam (the world’s largest masonry dam, constructed between 1955 and 1967) was actually used as a location for the shooting of the film. That little bit of history – actually seeing this dam in the initial stages of its construction – is one of the highlights of the film. There’s even a small bit where Gauri takes Ranjit to a place where there’s a small working model of the dam as it eventually will be. Gauri requests the man in charge to show how it functions, which he does by raising the sluices and letting water out from the tiny reservoir they’ve built.


57 thoughts on “Insaan Jaag Utha (1959)

  1. reading this in my lunch break!
    made a good reading and even though you didn’t like the film,t he review is so well-written, it makes me at want to watch the film!
    Sunil Dutt looks GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!!!


    • Yes, Sunil Dutt looks exactly as you describe him! ;-) Really, really good.

      And thank you for appreciating the post! Watch the songs, you know – forget about the film. In any case, the songs are the best part of the film (and they take up most of the film anyway).


      • Yeah, the songs are good, aren’t they?
        One of my earliest memories is the song chand sa mukhda kyun sharmaya. Don’t ask me, why?
        It is a pity, isn’t it that the end result of such a good combination is not good. But somehow something is pulling me towards it despite your warnings.


        • I remember watching Chaand sa mukhda on Chitrahaar, years ago – and it stuck with me because it’s so much eye candy! (Sounds great too, of course).

          Honestly, it’s not a bad movie. Just that with people like that in the cast and the crew, I’d expected better. S D Burman delivers, of course, but Shakti Samanta? This was the man who directed stuff like Howrah Bridge, China Town and Kashmir ki Kali. And the man who wrote the screenplay, Nabendu Ghosh, also wrote the screenplay for Teesri Kasam. These were the people who disappointed, because they were capable of so much more…


  2. Madhubala in a de-glam avatar also looks very, very glamorous. Nothing much one can do about that, I guess. :)

    It all sounds so interesting, the dam, etc, etc. Pity it didn’t come together.


    • Yes, it could have been an interesting story, if Nabendu Ghosh (who wrote the screenplay) had kept a tighter hold on what he wanted to do with the plot. This was just so scattered and muddled, I kept comparing it, even while I was watching, to similar films that worked so well… simply because they focussed.

      Madhubala looks gorgeous in just about any avatar, no? Village girl, city gal, weepy, smiling, whatever. She simply lights up the screen.


  3. I’ve seen this one and conveniently forgotten it. While the cast is superb, the story wasn’t that great, as I recall!
    BTW, I saw an awesome awesome thriller today. Too riveting to be true. Will review it next! Too good I tell you :)


  4. Madhu, I laughed so much while reading your review. Like harvey, I’m in the midst of eating my lunch, and ended up choking once or twice (it’s all for a good cause, right?).

    Some observations: The screencap of Sunil Dutt’s girlfriend looks remarkably like the latter-day Ranjeeta.

    One thing that I haven’t been able to figure out: how did this bunch of hoodlums figure the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam site was where they should wait for Ranjit to come when he’s released from jail?

    Didn’t you say earlier that Sunil Dutt’s escape was spotted by some more ‘criminally-minded goons’? Well, they are more intelligent than you (and I, and the story) give them credit for, and so they know that once Ranjit is free, he’ll make his way to the general area. :)

    Don’t ask why Ranjit seems to have this obsession with operating a crane.

    Men’s fascination with machines, guns, machine guns…. (well, you asked!) :))

    And before you ask, I’m not in the mood to get back to work, and this was far better than the horrible document I’m editing.


    • Anu, I’m glad this review was better than the ‘horrible document’ you’re editing. (P.S. I’m editing a terrible document too – and it was plagiarised off Wikipedia! – so I take time off every now and then so that I can stop gritting my teeth).

      Oh, those criminally-minded goons saw Ranjit escape with the goods only from the docks – not beyond. But they (and Rinee, I’m guessing) must have probably figured out (not that the film ever explains it) that he must’ve gone down Andhra way. All very vague.


  5. Believe it or not, but I stopped watching before the end of the film hoping to catch it later, because it couldn’t hold my interest.
    I had totally forgotten about it till I read your review.

    What should I do now? Hmmmm.Watch it or leave it? You didn’t even tell us the ending. LOL


    • What do you think will be the ending, pacifist? Come on! You have:

      (a) A bunch of crooks
      (b) The engineer, Mr Mathur, who is in charge and is an upright, honest man, indebted now to Ranjit who saved his life
      (c) Love has made Ranjit turn over a new leaf
      (d) There’s the girl, Rinee/Hansa, who has been making eyes at Ranjit even though he’s in love with Gauri

      This is formula; anybody can figure out approximately what happens next. ;-)

      P.S. Guess what? I’d begun watching this, couldn’t get through more than the first half hour, and laid it aside for about six months before I decided to actually watch all of it. So you aren’t the only one!


      • Me thinks, Ranjit will take the loot and run away Rinee/Hansa and after a year, take himself a new bimbo in Hyderabed. Gauri and her brother slave on the construction site for the rest of their lives, which is mercifully short. The only thiing that doesn’t change is Gauri’s father’s whimpering!

        *jumping up and down*
        Did I get it right? Did I get it right? Did I get it right?


        • It was upposed to mean Hyderabad, but Hyderabed sounds good too. A Freudian slip!
          Didn’t know Freud was into hosiery business!

          No enough of goofing around at your anu’s site. have to post my own review


        • Oh, lord. Harvey.

          I wish you’d been born back then, and in the film industry – you’d have blasted all their favourite plot elements out of shape! :-D

          Do I even need to tell you if you got it right or not? This may be a Nabendu Ghosh, but it isn’t a Teesri Kasam!


        • Hahahaha! This ending will never do. He’s the hero, Sunil Dutt, not Pran, to be taking a bimbo. Sunil Dutt will definitely get Madhubala.
          Mr Mathur is the head of a smuggler’s gang and Mohan is one of his henchmen. The construction site is a camouflage.
          Something goes wrong at the site which brings the police and Mr Mathur gets shot. Before dying he clears Ranjit’s name and repays his debt.

          Mohan tries to make a run with the gold but is also caught.
          Ranjit becomes the boss at the site and they live happily ever after.

          There harvey. I’ve done a better job *says proudly twirling the absent moustache*


          • While I like harvey’s ‘twist in the tale’, I think pacifist’s version is much more likely (sorry, harvey, but I do not think the script writers were blessed with your vivid imagination). Only isn’t Mr Mathur supposed to be honest and upright?? So, my take – Ranjit turns over a new leaf and takes Mr Mathur into his confidence. They are overheard by Mohan and cohorts who try to kill Ranjit and take the gold. Only Mr Mathur jumps in front, and gets killed. Mohan tries to run, but Ranjit beats him up (police, what police?) and of course, Ranjit is pardoned (we take that for granted, since such loose ends are not worth tying up in the grand scheme of all things masala), and he waltzes off into the sunset with his Gauri. Strains of ‘Chand sa mukhda’ in the background optional.

            (Imitating harvey – did I win? pacifist is stiff competition, but…)


      • My goodness, how very imaginative all of you are! :-) So do you want me to let the cat out of the bag (this cat more closely resembles Anu’s and pacifist’s versions… sorry, harvey!)

        Spoiler ahead:

        Mohan discovers Rinee and comes to her to tell her that Robert, before dying (he doesn’t say how Robert died!) had given Ranjit a briefcase full of gold for Rinee. If he, Mohan, helps get that gold back from Ranjit, Rinee will have to share the gold with him. Rinee agrees.

        Meanwhile, Ranjit has decided he will dig out the gold and surrender it to the police – “Yeh desh ka paisa hai” – and, at the same time, Mr Mathur discovers that Mohan is a crook. So he fires Mohan, and Mohan tries to get back into his good books by bribing him. Mr Mathur, instead, throws his bribe in his face, and tells the police.

        So the police arrive just as Ranjit is battling it out with Mohan over the gold. Mohan tries to kill Ranjit by shooting at him, and Rinee, shrieking, “Ranjit! Ranjeeeet!!!!!” comes in the middle and dies instead of him (read Helen in Teesri Manzil, Nimmi in Aan, and Sheila Ramani in Taxi Dirver). Eventually, without the help of the police, Ranjit defeats Mohan, surrenders the gold, is pardoned and commended, and goes happily off into the sunset with Gauri.

        Spoiler ends

        Boring, na?


  6. This is a great review of a movie that you say is not so great! I can still hear my mother singing “Chand sa mukhdaa kyun sharmaya …” and it makes me want to watch the movie, but I will not do so, since I have already read your review – thanks for warning me off! But Sunil Dutt looks absolutely droolworthy (is that a word?) here, and Madhubala, deglamorized or not, is always lovely, but – why am I saying all this? I know there is no way I can get this video, since our local stores only stock the latest in Bollywood, and I don’t live near any of the big cities, so I will die without ever knowing if Ranjit got the gold or Madhubala or both!
    I had gone to Nagarjuna Sagar Dam in ’75 or ’76, when I visited Hyderabad, and it was impressive. I remember taking the ferry ride to the museum and looking at all the artifacts. It would be interesting to see what the place looked like before it came into being.


    • ‘Droolworthy’ is an old favourite of mine, especially to describe people like Shammi Kapoor, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and Richard Armitage… among others! :-)

      That’s an interesting little reminiscence, about your having visited the dam just a few years after it was constructed. I was reminded of my husband’s greatest ‘childhood travel’ memory: his father’s pretty much a stay-at-home, so their family didn’t travel much anywhere. But one trip my husband does remember: to Bhakranangal. He said that was very impressive, especially as they’d gone with someone who knew the chief engineer or someone as high up in hierarchy – they got given a very extensive guided tour of the place, with loads of interesting details.


  7. I had the same reaction to “Insaan Jaag Utha” as I did to “Sharabi.” Which was – really?! With this cast and set-up, this is what the filmmakers came up with? Criminal waste of pretty people and good music. :-)


    • Shalini, do you mean the Dev Anand-Madhubala Sharabi? I borrowed that DVD from my parents when I visited them a week back, and have been thinking I’ll watch it over this weekend, perhaps. :-(

      Why do I have such rotten luck?!


    • I think you guys are too critical. Taking the films for what they are, as they are, I really think these are two of my favorite Madhubala films so far. Yeah, all sorts of silly stuff happening and maybe I’m just transfixed with Madhubala, having just discovered her and old Indian cinema, but I’ve watched and really enjoyed both these films and would easily watch them again. If you can point out some better films on these same subjects please let me know — thanks!


      • I do think this is a case of first love. ;-) I’ve been watching old Hindi cinema for close to 35 years now, and till about 10 years back (which was when I started this blog), I was very forgiving of flaws too. But the more cinema you watch, the more you realize that there was indeed very good cinema also being made, and that by the standards of the best, this falls short. As I’ve mentioned here, the film makers of Insaan Jaag Utha had a lot going for them – a great cast, a good premise, and some fabulous music – but if you compare this film to so many others – starring Madhubala, starring Sunil Dutt, set in the countryside, about the reform of the thief, with socialist themes, whatever – you will find that there are others much better than this.

        some better films on these same subjects

        Which subjects? If you can be a little more precise about that, I may be better able to suggest some films.


        • Oh, wow, I’d be grateful for any classic Indian movies you could point me towards that you deem essential. Which films did you think were similar to Insaan Jaag Utha but better? In general I tend to like more experimental, artsy films on important social themes. That said, I’m really enjoying anything and everything Madhubala is in. So far I’ve seen: Mughal e Azam, Sharabi, Insaan Jaag Utha, Mr. & Mrs. ’55, Howrah Bridge, Tarana, Mahal, Badal, Chalti Ka Naam Gaari and Barsaat Ki Raat (hmm, okay not “six or seven” as I quoted earlier, but ten already!). All very interesting and fun, especially because this is my first time seeing Madhubala as well as really paying attention to classic Indian cinema. Am up for newer film recommendations too — I recently watched Lagaan, which was alright, but far outclassed by the films I’ve mentioned above, especially in the song and dance routines (still can’t believe my ears from Barsaat ki Raat — wonderful!, and wedding dance scene with Minoo Mumtaz in Howrah Bridge).


          • I’m so sorry, what with the comments flooding in for the new post (the one on Chitragupta) this comment got forgotten. You’ve seen some of Madhubala’s best films (including one I haven’t seen so far – Taraana). Among the others I like are Kaala Paani (a favourite of mine), Amar (a somewhat unusual film, in various ways), Sangdil (based on Jane Eyre), Ek Saal and Raj Hath.

            I am no great shakes on newer film recommendations, since I end up watching very few new films, but the ones I’ve liked a good bit in recent years have included Chak De! India, The Lunchbox, Kahaani and Tere Bin Laden.


            • To answer my own question about more “artsy” films I recently bought and watched Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy. OMG! I was astonished at its beauty. A truly lovely film, and perfect counterbalance to all the commercial films of that era. Exactly what I love about fils and film-making. A sweet compliment to some amazing films in that era. Would love to know your thoughts on this movie.


              • I must admit – and very shamefacedly – that I’ve not yet got around to watching the Apu trilogy. But I have watched several of Ray’s other films. I can’t make up my mind about which (of those that I’ve seen) I like best: Charulata and Jalsaghar are right there at the top. Must get around to the Apu trilogy someday…


  8. I remember watching this on DD as a kid. Young-n-handsome Sunil Dutt, beautiful Madubala, lovely songs (I remember a bunch of us singing Yeh chanda roos ka next day at school) – what was not to like. Those memories prompted me to watch it a few months ago, and I was surprised at how even Sunil Dutt and Madhubala could not get me to watch beyond the first 30-40 minutes. What a waste of all that potential!


    • Doordarshan used to air a lot of films that had great songs and amazing casts – all of which a younger and lesser critical me would happily gobble up! Now, I feel really let down when I discover that a film I had such great memories of is actually such a waste of so much great talent.

      Another film (though I hadn’t seen this one earlier, just about a year or so back) is the Shammi Kapoor-Madhubala starrer, Boyfriend. As Shalini so aptly puts it, “Criminal waste of pretty people and good music.”


  9. ‘Yeh chanda Rus ka na yeh Jaapaan ka’ is ‘inspired’ by an Arabic tune.
    On that note check this film : -the big job
    this was remade as ‘blue streak 1999″ , Bollywood ripped that to ‘chor machaye shor'(bobby deol).


    • Ah, didn’t know about Yeh chanda Rus ka being inspired by an Arabic tune. But now that I think of it, yes – there is a Middle eastern lilt to it.

      I’ve heard of The Big Job (though I’ve not seen it), but I’ve seen Blue Streak – and yes, I did see a similarity there. But whereas Blue Streak takes the fun route – the crook finds a police station built over where he’d hidden the loot, and so ends up becoming a cop – Insaan Jaag Utha was more mundane. Nothing very funny about this film.


      • The similarity is ‘the tree’ in ‘the big job’ and in this film.
        Does hollywood credit its remakes? or is it just mentioned?
        The film ‘Juno’ can be easily called a copy of ‘Kya Kehna’.


        • I haven’t seen either Juno or Kya Kehna (the latter’s the Preity Zinta film, right? I think I’ve seen a few clips of it), so can’t say…

          As for Hollywood crediting its remakes, I’ve not seen very many, except those that are in any case adaptations of novels – the Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen or even Agatha Christie/Conan Doyle types. In those cases, at least, they’re always credited. Have seen a few films (An Affair to Remember, True Grit, El Dorado etc) which were remakes, but I don’t remember if they were credited as such. I think they were.


    • I know! I know the original of Saathiya tu mere sapnon ka meet hai! That’s Angelo, isn’t it? I couldn’t remember the original words at first, so had to switch off the Hindi version and hum it to myself, and then the English words came spinning back into my head. Whoever composed the Hindi song didn’t put any effort into it.

      Thank you for the Al bint el chalabiya link – yes, Yeh chanda Rus ka is pretty easily recognisable there too, but S D Burman has made some changes there. Just as he took a bit out of the Mexican hat dance:

      …and used it to create Jeevan ke safar mein raahi:


  10. This was very typical of films of that period – you are taken in by the credits and the movie as a whole,including its several elements do not live up to that reputation.
    IN fact, the way we see ‘reputation’ it is more a phenomenon of hindsight.
    in those days, too movie used to box in the first week.
    However, songs always survived.
    There are some movies which had become box-office hit , only because of popularity of the snogs. {old] Nagin – Vyjayantimala – Pradipkumar :Music Director – Hemant Kumar is a classic example.


    • Your comment reminded me of my father’s prime reason for buying DVDs. My parents live in Meerut, where old film DVDs/VCDs are hard to find – except for those of the more popular classics. Whenever I’ve asked my father which movies he’d like me to order for him from Induna, he always requests for relatively obscure films, saying, “The music was superb!” Not the story, not the direction (though often the actors were stalwarts like Dilip Kumar) – but the music.


  11. Hmm, DO, I didn’t think this film was so bad when I reviewed it close to three years ago…

    (Unfortunately, the videos that I linked to in that post have all disappeared, but doubly unfortunate is that, if you check this post here, you’ll find that most of the ones you linked to have disappeared too. Looks as though we’re both going to have to look for replacements.)

    Although I did see this film relatively early in my Golden Age Bollywood Education, so maybe I’d be a bit tougher on it now…

    But I remember that there was somebody else who liked it, Tom Daniel. He recommended it to me, and I think I watched his upload of this film on Veoh. We both also exchanged notes about our favorite scene from the film, Madhubala and Minoo Mumtaz in front of the big tires (“Janu Janu Re”…or however you want to transliterate that …a lovely song, indeed!)


    • Right after I’d published this post, Richard, I did in fact go looking to see if there were any other reviews of it – and I found (and read) the one you’d written up. I didn’t comment, though, because right then I was feeling a bit dazed with all the writing I’d just completed.I do appreciate some of the points you made (Jaanoon jaanoon re is amazingly good, and oh, what beautiful construction labourers!)… but the crime angle seemed a little half-baked to me. Some of the actions of the people involved lacked motive, and there were convenient, unexplained coincidences that didn’t make sense.

      And Tom and I don’t often see eye to eye on a lot of the films we’ve both watched! :-)


  12. can you tell me only one thing where was the song Chaand Sa Mukada shot. I am dying to know the locales of my favorite Black and White songs. Please help.. before curiosity kills the cat. The other local i want to know is the black and white song Oh Maine Pyaar kiya… please tell me… i wish god could paint the skies with these black and white images so we can forget the squalour on earth… on the days the skies get black and cloudy each cloud should have an image or a still from these favorite black and white songs… that would be the best recogition these stars would get from the Kinaras or celestial singers and that would be the best favour they would confer on someone like me madly in love with the black and white frames though born only in 1960s ;-)


    • At least you were born in the 1960s! I was born in the 70s. ;-)

      Looking at Chaand sa mukhda kyon sharmaaya, I would think it’s probably been filmed on a set. If not, then possibly somewhere where much of the film was shot – in the vicinity of the Nagarjuna Sagar dam. My guess, that’s all.


  13. I just watched this film last night and really enjoyed it actually. After “discovering” Madhubala in Mugal e Azam I was intrigued and started collecting all her films. This is the sixth or seventh I’ve watched and I’m deeply impressed not only with her, but other actors and the whole 1940s-1960s Indian film industry. Anyway, I thought your review very insightful although I guess I’m far more forgiving in that it’s already one of my top three favorite Madhubala films. Maybe it’s the outdoors scenery, social, industrial and nationalistic themes that appeal to me from a more historic perspective. Anyway, Madhubala is definitely the prettiest and most charming actresses of all time in any cinema, as well as greatly talented. Can’t help but think she would have become even greater working into her forties and fifties. So glad to have discovered her!


    • I agree about Madhubala – I haven’t seen any actress as gorgeous as her. It’s a shame that she died so young; it’s also a shame that when she lived, her beauty tended to cloud people’s perspectives to the extent that film makers could not see how talented she was. If there had been more roles like the ones in Mughal-e-Azam, Amar and Kaala Paani, she would have had a chance to really show what a fine actress she was, not just how beautiful.


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