Love in Bombay (2013)

Or 1971, if you go by the year the film was made, not the year the film was released. Or 1974, which was when the censor certificate dates from.

I came to know of Love in Bombay a few months back, when a newspaper article mentioned that Joy Mukherji’s sons were finally going to be releasing this film. I forgot about it until I discovered that it had finally been released this last Friday—and then I was in a quandary. To see or not to see, as I put it. Various friends urged me on: Harvey, for instance, said that with Agha Jani Kashmiri having revised the script, it may be pretty good. Beth said that she’d heard the costumes were good. Sidharth Bhatia suggested that the presence of Joy Mukherji and Kishore Kumar might be one reason to watch.

Kishore Kumar, Narendra Nath, and Joy Mukherji in Love in Bombay

Harvey it was, however, who added the clincher: how often would I get to review a film after having watched it on the second day after its release? Considering my blog is confined to pre-70s films, that of course, would make this a once in a blue moon opportunity.

So I took the plunge.

Joy Mukherji had debuted (opposite also-debuting Sadhana) in Love in Simla (1960). Six years later, he had starred, opposite Asha Parekh this time, in the very popular Love in Tokyo. Love in Bombay, made in 1971 at a whopping cost of 30-35 lakhs (300-350 crores today), was to be the third in the series of ‘Love in—’ films. Produced and directed by Joy Mukherji himself, this one, however, didn’t see the light of day for over 4 decades—the expenses incurred in its making left Mukherji with no money to release the film.

It was only after Joy’s death last year that the negatives of the film were discovered in cold storage (Joy used to personally visit the cold storage every year to have the negatives cleaned)—and his sons decided it was time to finally release Love in Bombay. The film was digitally remastered, its scratchy sound and off-colour (literally!) sections cleaned up, and it was released in select PVR theatres on August 2.

A quick synopsis, now (and yes, this is going to be a shorter one than usual, because—since I watched this in a theatre and not on DVD/VCD— I don’t have as many screenshots as I usually would).

Joy Mukherji in Love in Bombay
The story begins 50 miles outside Bombay, at sea off an island named Malvi. The unscrupulous captain (Kamal Kapoor) of a ship, along with his mate (Rajendra Nath) are watching a diver (Joy Mukherji) at work, and are very impressed with his skill. We soon realize that the captain and his man are up to no good—they want a good diver to haul up some smuggled, but sunk, gold for them. [Not, of course, so that they can hand over the gold to charity or the cops].

They manage to hoodwink the diver, Badal, into agreeing to work for them by telling him that it is a consignment of medicines—earmarked for 50,000 suffering patients—that has sunk. Badal is a brawny but not especially brainy villager who doesn’t think to ask why seawater wouldn’t have put paid to the medicine, and agrees to help in this noble endeavour. Along with his horse Cheeta (billed as ‘Wonder Horse Joker’), he boards the ship…

Joy Mukherji with 'Wonder Horse Joker' in Love in Bombay
…and meets the other main passengers. These consist of the very wealthy Mr Mehra (Rehman); Mr Mehra’s spoilt daughter Preeti (Waheeda Rehman), and Preeti’s lecherous suitor Roshan (Narendra Nath), whom Preeti dislikes but Mr Mehra is rooting for, because Roshan is the son of his old friend (Bipin Gupta).

Rehman and Bipin Gupta
Before long [since Preeti is pampered silly, and Badal is arrogant to the point of sheer boorish], there’s a huge quarrel between all of these people. Fists fly, blood is spilt, and Badal ends up being tied to a mast. Which is where he is when a terrible storm hits the ship and wrecks it.

Badal, being the hero, is able to untie himself from the mast and rescue Preeti, who is on the verge of drowning. This, despite the fact that Preeti, by her own admission, had “dealt him a hundred slaps”.

This is enough to make Preeti suitably grateful (though she doesn’t fall in love with Badal yet). They wash up on an island and are reunited with Mr Mehra, Roshan, Cheeta, and the rest of the ship’s crew, and are immediately assaulted by a bunch of warriors, all in crimson grass skirts and plastered with warpaint.
The captain and his mate are killed (short roles, those, for Kamal Kapoor and Rajendra Nath), Roshan manages to escape with an unconscious Mr Mehra, and Preeti is carried off by the savages…

…who put her in a red grass dress, festooned with plastic flowers, and make her the centerpiece of their party that night.

Preeti is captured and dragged off to a party
Badal, who’s been hovering around, rescues her with the help of Cheeta. They escape to  a nearby island, where love blossoms [along with more artificial flowers—again, on Preeti’s outfit, which seems to be made of strips of green plastic decorated with yellow]. By the time Roshan and Mr Mehra turn up, searching for Preeti, she and Badal are deeply in love. This irks Daddy and Beau enough to make them thrash Badal and leave him for dead, before taking Preeti away with them.

Narendra Nath as Roshan
It is at this moment that the action finally moves to Bombay, where we are introduced—by himself—to a madaari named Ganpat Rao (Kishore Kumar). Ganpat Rao has a dancing bear named Birju [who, occasionally played by what looks like a man in a bear suit, even swings a mean fist, clobbers goons, and dances], and a pretty girlfriend named Motia (Sonia Sahni).

Ganpat Rao, Birju, and assorted friends
One evening, when Ganpat Rao gets into a brawl and is heavily outnumbered, he is helped out by a stranger. This is Badal, who has been picked up from that island by a passing ship and has now arrived in Bombay. He confides in his new friends, and goes off to meet Mr Mehra to ask him for Preeti’s hand. [Cheeta is the one who discovers where the Mehras live. Truly a wonder horse].

Sadly for Badal, his hopes of winning Mr Mehra over are dashed; Preeti’s father tells him in no uncertain terms that he isn’t going to let his daughter marry a no-account who doesn’t even have a naya paisa to his name.

Badal, being Badal, doesn’t plead or beg; he tries bluster, and it finally works. Mr Mehra agrees that, if Badal can show himself capable of earning money, he will let Preeti marry him. A time and a sum are set: if Badal can earn Rs 5 lakhs within the next 3 months, Mr Mehra will back down and give his blessings.

Which is what the rest of the film is about. With Ganpat Rao, Motia, Preeti (and a friend of hers), Birju, Cheeta (and Cheeta’s new girlfriend, a mare named Sharbatia) on his side, Badal sets about trying to get 5 lakhs. Will he manage? After all, ranged against him are Roshan and his goons, as well as Sharbatia’s cantankerous owner, a tonga-waali (TunTun) who also happens to be Motia’s mum. The odds are stacked, and the chances of success very slim indeed.

Tuntun as Motia's mother
What I liked about this film:

The poster. (So vivid and colourful and utterly attractive, even if Waheeda Rehman ends up looking more like Babita than herself).

Love in Bombay - poster
Kishore Kumar. OTT and in a very bad wig, but fun, all the same. And he gets to sing some really nutty songs.

The songs, by Shankar Jaikishan. These aren’t the best works in their repertoire, but some of the songs—Na main boli na woh bola, Saiyyaan saiyyaan, and Maazaa naav ahe Ganpat Rao—are pretty catchy.

What I didn’t like:

Unfortunately, plenty.

It’s not as if Love in Bombay is downright bad (I’m saying this because I’ve seen films like Bhabhi, Parivar, and Suhaagan, which take ‘bad’ to a completely different level—a combination of tedious, unbeatably melodramatic, and just pure shudder-worthy). Love in Bombay, while the core story is all right (if predictable), fails mainly because it’s executed badly.

For one, the film is loud (literally so, too—there are long sections where people scream and laugh maniacally for no good reason; in fact, many of the songs are also punctuated by frequent screams). There are scenes that consist almost entirely of people slapping each other, or hitting each other with a rod. And not because they’re in a life-or-death struggle, but simply because nobody seems to have taught them a civilized way of expressing differences.

Also, despite the fact that the cast is so mouthwatering, they are mostly wasted here. Waheeda Rehman, for instance: why cast an actress capable of so much more, in a role that requires her to only screech, slap, and (occasionally) prance about a bit? (Plus, her chemistry with Joy Mukherji is pretty much nil—not that they get a chance to display much chemistry, though, since most of their scenes consist of them fighting with each other).

Waheeda Rehman in Love in Bombay
This brings me to what is probably my main grouse with this film. When I watch a Joy Mukherji film, I’m looking for something entertaining and enjoyable, with lovely songs, make-me-melt romance (as in Love in Tokyo), and lots of eye candy. This film, unlike favourites such as Love in Tokyo, Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon, and Ek Musaafir Ek Haseena, has little to recommend it: Joy looks definitely over the hill; the songs are mostly forgettable; and the film is screechy and consists mostly of slapstick.

Recommended? Only if you want to see every Joy Mukherji film out there.

57 thoughts on “Love in Bombay (2013)

  1. Ahhh … :( I was expecting it to turn out like this. This movie is being shown in only one theater in Chandigarh, at 6.45 PM. No way can I go see it. I do no want to either. Maybe I will catch it later on TV.

    Good of his sons to have released this film though.


    • Yes, even in Delhi, the film is showing only at about 4 theatres – and only one show (7.30 PM) per day. We went to watch it on Sunday, and the show got over at 10. I’m pretty certain it’ll end up being shown on TV, though, so you can watch it then (if you want to, that is!)


  2. > Recommended? Only if you want to see every Joy Mukherji film out there.

    Or if one wants to watch nearly half a century (44/45) old film, (as one does most of the time).
    Rs 300 crores!!! Wow. And they spent it on plastic flowers!!
    Actually it has to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. To watch such an old film ‘newly’ released.
    Such a pity it turned out to be loud and noisy – it was the 70s :-/
    I wonder what Waheeda Rehman has to say about this.
    Were there enough people in the audience? What was their reaction?

    Thanks for watching and reviewing it DO.
    Glad Tarun survived it. :-)


    • “I wonder what Waheeda Rehman has to say about this.

      I was reading (online) an article in which it was written that she hadn’t been happy about it being released, but the same article went on to quote Joy Mukherji’s son saying that that was rubbish, because she did support them (or didn’t oppose them, I don’t recall which). Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Waheeda had not wanted the film to be released – this is certainly one of the worst films of hers that I’ve seen.

      As for the audience, there were about 20 people. Except for one white-haired couple, the rest were all maybe in the 30s or early 40s, maybe even 20s. And everybody seemed to be pretty much aware of what to expect – I could hear some clownish comments now and then, but otherwise everybody was quite absorbed in it. The only people who seemed to have come with a different agenda in mind was a young couple sitting in the row in front of us. They spent a good bit of the movie kissing each other very passionately! :-D


      • Thanks for that info on Waheeda’s reaction DO. Actually she has the distinction (no matter how dubious) of having her film released as a heroine in the 21st century, and an item type song/dance no less :-D

        Nice to hear there were people in their 30s and 20s watching the film. I guess a small audience is very conducive to amorous behaviour. It perhaps feels less of a ‘public display’. LOL.


        • “Actually she has the distinction (no matter how dubious) of having her film released as a heroine in the 21st century, and an item type song/dance no less :-D

          Wow. Yes, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s quite a distinction. :-)

          I think this thing about using cinema halls (especially when they’re pretty empty, which was bound to be in the case of Love in Bombay) for amorous pursuits is pretty much expected, Especially when Lodhi Gardens is all muddy and humid and wet these days! LOL.


  3. It is a 70s, over the top film, but I am going to eventually see it for historical value. Ahem. Also, are there good outdoor shots of Bombay? Always a pleasure for me, those. Anyway, thanks for your signal service for the cause of mankind, as always


    • Yes, do watch it for the historical value, Sidharth. That, actually, is the reason I watched it too.

      I don’t recall any good shots of Bombay. Most of the Bombay scenes take place indoors, or on a set. But the song Saiyaan saiyaan has a few rather bad views of the city. Ironic, that, considering the name of the film…


  4. I was expecting that this film won’t be good. With cast Waheeda Rehman and Joy Mukherjee, who have worked together in the past (Mahal), I was expecting better stuff. However, I am sure there will be many who will watch the movie just for fun. Kishore Kumar is there as well. I would prefer to watch it in DVD like other films.


    • Thank you for taking the time to comment! I had no idea Waheeda and Joy Mukherji had acted in any other film – in fact, the only Mahals I’ve come across are the Ashok Kumar-Madhubala one, and the Dev Anand-Asha Parekh one. Any idea which year the Waheeda-Joy one was made?


  5. O Madhu, although I’m glad my suggestion made you watch the film, my conscience is hovering in the background and muttering “ye tumne kya kiya?”. And then it goes on like this or in different permutations and combinations
    C: Ye tumne kya kiya Harvey? That wasn’t really a nice thing to do.
    I: Not that I could have stopped her from going.
    C: but it was you argument, which make her take the plunge.
    I: Well, she was very keen on it.
    C: But, you knew it wasn’t going to a good film.
    I: She has surely seen worse!
    C: Against your own good judgement you send a good friend of yours to this torture chamber.
    I: Not really a trorture chamber if it has Joy, Waheeda AND Kishore Kumar!
    C: But…
    I: I’m going to kick your butt!
    C: but its yours.
    I: I won’t mind, if it’ll stop you.
    C: It isn’t going to…
    I: Let me try!

    Which brings me to your line “…nobody seems to have taught them a civilized way of expressing differences”.
    Hmmm, what does that say about me and my conscience?

    Now to your review, had fun going through it. And your asides were a hoot!

    “Along with his horse Cheeta (billed as ‘Wonder Horse Joker’), he boards the ship…”
    They go on a treasure hunt on a passenger ship?

    “Mr Mehra’s (Rehman) spoilt daughter Preeti (Waheeda Rehman)”
    Wonder how Rehman felt playing Waheeda’s father? But those were the 70s, even Shammi K played father to his Junglee heroine Saira and Sanjeev played father to Jaya.

    Waheeda playing a spoilt daughter! Poor thing, mustn’t have been very convincing, was it?

    “Preeti is carried off by the savages, who put her in a red grass dress, festooned with plastic flowers, and make her the centerpiece of their party that night.”

    “They escape to a nearby island”
    I was wondering if horses can swim. But to my amazement, I found out out, they can!

    “he isn’t going to let his daughter marry a no-account who doesn’t even have a naya paisa to his name”
    I can empathize with him.

    “Badal doesn’t plead or beg; he tries bluster”
    I’m all for Rehman.

    “Badal can earn Rs 5 lakhs within the next 3 months, Mr Mehra will back down and give his blessings”
    Make it 5 crores, Mr. Mehra!
    That sounds like Maine Pyar Kiya. Well, and like umpteen other films (which I can’t recall).

    “a mare named Sharbatia”
    Now that is cute! :)

    “Kishore Kumar. OTT and in a very bad wig, but fun”
    We tend to forgive Kishore nearly everything!

    Thanks dear Madhu, for taking this one for us!


    • Ohhh Poor Harvey.

      I would have seen the film too, for its historical value, if it had been shown at better hours, and more theaters.


      Cry not for Madhu, for the love of Cinema, one must do such things, going to see a film knowing it will suck.


      • “Cry not for Madhu, for the love of Cinema, one must do such things, going to see a film knowing it will suck.

        Amen. All of us have done it, sometime or the other. And that is what true love is all about, no? Staying together through thick and thin, good and bad and atrocious.


    • Hehehe!! I love your comment, Harvey. Totally love it. (And, such a coincidence: just yesterday, I was reading PG Wodehouse’s book, Love Among the Chickens, in which there’s a long imaginary conversation between the hero and his conscience). :-D

      Waheeda playing Rehman’s daughter kept bringing to my mind Chaudhvin ka Chand. Very disconcerting. Oh, she was convincing enough as the spoilt daughter, but it was just such a waste of her talent. This role could’ve easily been done by someone like Leena Chandavarkar or Babita, it didn’t need a Waheeda.

      ““Preeti is carried off by the savages, who put her in a red grass dress, festooned with plastic flowers, and make her the centerpiece of their party that night.”

      Do watch the song!

      Yes, initially I’d been a bit surprised about how they got across, horse and all, to the other island. But then I remembered watching some old Westerns in which I’ve seen horses swimming. Thanks for the clip, anyway!


      • Thanks Madhu! Glad you liked it! :)
        I have read so many Wodehouse books, most probably my sub-consciousness picked it up from there. :)
        I think so too about Waheeda in this role. Babita or Saira Banu or Leena Chandavarkar would have been perfect for this role.
        I didn’t know that the whole songs are available already! Will go through them. Thanks!


  6. That the film would be a no-brainer, goes without saying but that was an entertaining review. BTW, I am curious to know, how did you manage the shots considering you saw the film in a theatre?.— Shilpi


    • The shots are judiciously borrowed screen captures from the songs, Shilpi – SaReGaMa have uploaded some of the songs on Youtube. If you search for ‘Love in Bombay’ on Youtube, you can find them (plus, I’ve linked to them in the ‘What I liked’ section).

      Even I hadn’t expected anything from this film. I wish I’d been proved wrong…


        • BTW, before this film, Joy Mukerji had lost a lot of money when his ambitious directorial venture Humsaaya bombed at the box-office and I can imagine how he must have felt when Love In Bombay lay in the cans but I guess the writing was on the wall.


          • Oh, yes. I remember Humsaaya being a dud at the box office too. But that at least had good songs to support it, and it was entertaining… not that that makes much difference, but perhaps it gave Joy Mukherji some sense of achievement, even if the returns weren’t good.


  7. I had my hopes raised about this film, as it is as pacifist puts it it’s a rare opportunity to ” To watch such an old film ‘newly’ released. “But after reading the review;I might give it a second thought. BTW, in screenshot #1 who is between Joy and Kishore? looks like Narendra Nath in drag……….


  8. Thank you for taking one for the team, Madhu. :) Needless to say, I will not be watching this. Poor Waheeda.

    Harvey, loved your conversation with your conscience. I hope he (the conscience) apologised abjectly to you. :) Thank you for the laughter.


    • Yes, Anu. Poor Waheeda, indeed. I’m a little puzzled about why she did the film in the first place. It’s very unlike the roles she usually played – or even the roles she occasionally played. This must’ve been one of those “I have to do a role I can sleepwalk through because I’m too tired”.

      Hope you’re well. Haven’t seen any activity over on your blog for a while, and have been missing you!


  9. I will go by my instincts and say this…i felt this wont go well with the audience…for two reasons….1. let’s face it….the generation has changed…everyone wants dinchak movies rather than good stories….2. waheeda mam and the bubbly character of the story doesnt really mesh well…i always thought waheeda rehman was amazing in mature roles like Guide or Pyasa….In this movie it feels like she tries to be a Mumtaz or Babita….which is not at all her….and as some one else quoted earlier..the chemistry between joy mukherjee and waheeda – well….they dont really have one….:( sorry, its a disappointment…..


    • For once, instead of agreeing completely with you, I’ll contradict you. “i felt this wont go well with the audience“. The audience for Love in Bombay is definitely not the audience for new films. And I’m positive that everybody who bought tickets for the show knew approximately what they were letting themselves in for. Not, perhaps, in the details, but general feel. If they’d arrived imagining a 70s version of a 2000s film, they would’ve left the hall soon after – which didn’t happen.

      Oh, and Waheeda is very good at bubbly. I think she’s superb in Ek Phool Chaar Kaante, for example, or even in the bubbly bits of Bees Saal Baad, Solvaan Saal and 12 O’Clock. And I thought she did justice to Preeti in Love in Bombay as well. I just thought she was wasted – this was a role for which a Waheeda wasn’t required; a Babita (or, as you point out, a Mumtaz) would’ve been more than adequate.


  10. In his hay days too Joy was not rated as great actor . Some of his movies ran well in sixties because of good music ,story, productin values and locations. It looks he copies devanand in attire and hair style.waheeda is a very fine actor especially in roles that have depth and her pairing with joy is ill-matched one. The fate of the movie is well predicted even before it’s release
    How ever your review is frank and quite entertaining .thank you


    • Thanks, Epstein!

      I agree, Joy Mukherji was never rated as a great actor. But then that was also the case with other contemporaries – people like Biswajit or Feroz Khan (and Sanjay Khan), I think, who were almost slotted as Shammi Kapoor/Dev Anand wannabes. Not in cinema because of their acting ability, but because they looked good, had a certain charm, and invariably acted in light, fluffy, entertaining films.


  11. Its a good thing I am not in India because wild horses couldn’t have kept me away from this one! Yes, even though I know that if it was a great film, some distributor would’ve bought it 40 years ago. How can one resist the lure of a newly released oldie? Watching on DVD won’t be quite the same…

    Waheeda looks lovely in the songs. I for one wouldn’t mind her playing the Hindi equivalent of a dumb blonde. She hasn’t done many such roles, so its nice for a change. AND one hopes that she won’t be making speeches about how she is her husband’s slave and its his right to treat her as he sees fit!


    • “AND one hopes that she won’t be making speeches about how she is her husband’s slave and its his right to treat her as he sees fit!

      Ewww. Yes, that reminds me of Shagoon and Neelkamal and God knows how many other Sati-Savitri roles she’s done. Chaudhvin ka Chaand, too. To be fair, she is pretty chirpy and spunky in Love in Bombay, and manages to do justice to the role. The only problem was that I kept thinking, “Waheeda? Will she be called upon to really show off her acting chops? Or will this be another Baazi?”


  12. Oh you lucky lady, Madhu! Getting to see an new old Hindi film on the big screen. Wish I were in Delhi so I could have seen it with you…for reasons of the above mentioned “historical value” of course.:-) Give me good company, pretty Waheeda and halfway decent songs and I’ll forgive an old Hindi almost anything. :-)


    • :-) Yes, getting to see an old movie on the big screen is an achievement in itself – the last one I saw was Hum Dono, when the colourised version was released. Though retrospective film festivals etc do screen old films, I never end up going for those – mostly because I learn about them at the last minute, when it’s too late!

      I do wish one of these big movie theatre companies – PVR, DT Cinema, whatever – would start occasionally showing some of these old films. Can you imagine, I can literally count on the fingers of one hand the old films I’ve seen in a cinema hall?


  13. Coming to this late but absolutely loved reading the comments alongwith the review. That’s one advantage of reading a review late – there are lots of comments that you can enjoy. :-)

    Harvey’s conversation with his conscience had me in splits. Typical Harvey! :-)

    Coming to the movie, I’m not one bit surprised that it turned out to be like this. Towards the end of the 60s, Joy Mukherjee’s movies were anyway moving away from the soft, romantic hero roles of the earlier part of the decade.

    Somehow, this film reminds me of some of those slapstick Bob Hope “Road to …” movies of the 1940s. Loud movie, arguments with the leading lady, ending up on an island and having to face a bunch of warriors.


    • “Towards the end of the 60s, Joy Mukherjee’s movies were anyway moving away from the soft, romantic hero roles of the earlier part of the decade.

      Hmm. I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, now that you mention it, I guess films like Door ki Aawaaz and Humsaaya are a sign of that. Though both of them do have their fair share of romantic moments. Love in Bombay, in some ways, has the slapsticky loudness I associate with Ziddi – that’s the film this one reminded me of.

      I haven’t seen any of the Road to – films, even though I’ve heard lots about them. But yes, I’ve seen a couple of Bob Hope films, and I can see what you mean, Raja! :-)


  14. You know somehow this movie was not in the same league as his other “Love in…..” movies. Having seen those ones expectations from this movie were quite high. Maybe that is why this movie falls flat so badly. The characters were not well developed , immature and the whole thing was a farcical slapstick affair. I had trouble deciding who was more stupid and immature as a character: Joy Mukherjee or Narendra Nath. I could see why this was not released even after spending the kind of money that was spent on making it.

    But I was glad to have gone and seen this just for the unique experience of seeing an old movie on the big screen on the second day of its release


    • ” I had trouble deciding who was more stupid and immature as a character: Joy Mukherjee or Narendra Nath.

      Hehe. Yes, I can understand! They were being both equally irritating. Frankly, there was really no-one in the film I was really rooting for. If this had been better made, Joy Mukherji’s character would have had my vote – hero standing up against a wealthy tyrant and all that – but Badal was just such an ill-mannered, buffoonish character that I didn’t care for him at all.


  15. I agree that Joy Mukherji was a wannabee Shammi Kapoor. In the sixties there were several actors who copied the Shammi Kapoor style of acting and became successful. I suppose Shammi was different and unique at the time.


  16. i want to watch this movie for waheeda ji. was she the only heroine who never flaunt western dress ?? i only saw her in saree. on joy mukherjee wish he switched to character roles so we could still enjoy me. he and saira made best pair.


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