There you are!: The ‘lost and found’ trope in Hindi cinema

I suppose I should have dedicated this blog post to fellow blogger Anu Warrier, since the uncanny coincidences that dog our two respective lives and blogs seem straight out of a Hindi masala flick. There is also the fact that Anu and I got slightly acquainted with each other online years ago, then lost touch—until ‘meeting’ again on a film blog a couple of years ago, and realising that yes, this was the same person.

But no, this post is dedicated not to Anu, but to Sidharth Bhatia, whose delightful book Amar Akbar Anthony: Masala, Madness and Manmohan Desai, I’ve been reading.  Here, by the way, is my review of Sidharth’s book—if you like Amar Akbar Anthony (and I, despite my love for 50s and 60s cinema, have to admit that I do, wholeheartedly), do get hold of Sidharth’s book. It’s a very satisfying read.

Sidharth Bhatia's book: Amar Akbar Anthony: Masala, Madness, and Manmohan Desai

Amar Akbar Anthony, as those familiar with the film would know, is the classic tale of lost and found: the parents and their offspring (three sons) are separated from each other. The mother is blinded when a falling tree knocks her on the head while she’s running off to commit suicide after realising her husband is a criminal. The husband, meanwhile, has had a confrontation with his boss, has escaped with some smuggled gold, and blah blah… many, many events lead up to the couple’s three sons going three ways, too. One, a baby, is adopted by a Muslim tailor. One, sheltering on the steps of a church, is adopted by a Christian priest. And one is taken under the wing of a Hindu police officer.

22 years later, everybody—till now, totally oblivious about the existence of each other—finally discovers where and who their nearest blood relatives are.

Amar Akbar Anthony: Nirupa Roy and three lost sons
Happy reunions follow.

Reading Sidharth’s book, I was struck by the fact that some tropes have gone so completely out of fashion in Hindi cinema—like the ‘lost and found’ trope. This wasn’t at all uncommon in Hindi films from the 50s, right through to the 70s. I won’t go so far as to say it was there in every other film, but it wasn’t considered too unreal or outré to be shunned by script writers.

Some weeks back, when Richard reviewed Kismet (1943), he’d suggested that it might be the earliest example of a lost-and-found child (as opposed to the lost-and-found sweetheart) theme. This sparked off a discussion on whether Kismet, indeed, was the first film to utilise this trope (a theory, incidentally, which Sidharth Bhatia too adheres to in his book, though without the qualifying bit about lost-and-found child). Or was it Taqdeer, released the same year?

I can’t tell, really, but I’d like to propose another film as the first Indian film to deal with the lost-and-found theme: India’s very first feature film, Dadasahib Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra (1913). The story of Raja Harishchandra, after all, does centre around a man, his wife, and their child—who are separated from each other because of circumstances, and only come together after having weathered various storms.

Raja Harishchandra: Lost - and found!
Whether it was Raja Harishchandra, Kismet, Taqdeer, or some other film (The Jungle Princess, perhaps?), one thing is certain: Hindi cinema fell in love with the idea of lost-and-found relatives/sweethearts/friends (even enemies) pretty early on—and continued the love affair for well over four decades.

Why this love for losing characters and finding them, always years later? Possibly because, with Hindi cinema—especially prior to the 80s—being so focussed on family and its importance, it made sense to show how devastating the loss of family could be. Family was what you identified with; if lost—in whole or part—it made you lose some of your identity too. That was why the scion of a very ‘respectable’ family ends up a criminal, if only a petty thief, in Kismet (and Boyfriend, and Waqt, and countless other films). That was why, in Amar Akbar Anthony, children born in a Hindu home ended up being brought up as a Muslim and a Christian. Getting lost messed around with your life and sent you down paths you’d never have travelled otherwise. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

There were innumerable films that dealt with the theme, in varying degrees of complexity.

The most basic and least distressing, perhaps, were offspring who were not really lost, but had been brought up by one parent while separated from the other (Nasir Hussain, in Dil Deke Dekho, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, and Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon, was a pro at this). Even though one could always be sure in Hindi cinema that a poor lost child—no matter how small and how helpless—would always be picked up by some benevolent soul who would look after them and bring them up, it was always a comfort when the child, even if separated from one parent, was at least in the loving care of the other parent. So what if the parents themselves were at daggers drawn (as in the case of Nasir Hussain’s oft-repeated formula)?

Dil Deke Dekho: A marriage is sundered
Sadly, for every baby who ended up with Mum while Dad sulked or stayed away for whatever reason, there were babies and even slightly older children who were separated from both sets of parents. The reasons for these were invariably turmoil, whether manmade or natural. Among the natural, it got as disastrous as it possibly could: storms (preferably at sea, as in The Jungle Princess), floods (Ji Chahta Hai), and—the granddaddy of them all, earthquake (which was what shattered the family in the first big multiple-starrer, multiple-lost-and-found film, Waqt). Plus, of course, not a natural disaster, but not intentional, either—the Kumbh ka Mela (or any other largeish fair, for that matter).

An earthquake causes separations in Waqt
And for every baby lost in a natural disaster, there were a dozen lost as a result of baddies at work. In some cases, it was a case of merely kidnapping an enemy’s child and bringing up him/her as one’s own (what purpose that would serve, unless one liked staying up nights and changing dirty nappies for someone else’s offspring, I don’t know).

Then there were those unfortunate children—Shashi Kapoor’s baby self in Pyaar ka Mausam, Hema Malini’s baby character in Paraya Dhan, the three siblings in Yaadon ki Baaraat, and of course the three brothers of Amar Akbar Anthony—who were separated from their parents and/or each other in far more violent circumstances. Arson, dacoity, murder (that bloodbath in which the parents are gunned down in Yaadon ki Baaraat is gruesome), and everything from smuggling to evading the cops, such as in Amar Akbar Anthony.

At their simplest, films had a child separated from a parent. Slightly more complex, there would be two parents, both separated from the child, and from one another. Even more complex (and Waqt seemed to have begun this in great earnest, followed by everything from Yaadon ki Baaraat to Amar Akbar Anthony) were films where it wasn’t merely one child, but multiple children, all of them set adrift and alone by fate.

Often, however, another dimension was given to the lost-and-found theme: the childhood sweetheart. This, too, could go different ways, with the most common being the childhood friend and best buddy of the opposite sex, whom one was wrenched from in unhappy circumstances, and came back to find grown up and most attractive. Anmol Ghadi, Shola aur Shabnam, Deedaar and Hum Kisise Kum Nahin fall into this category. (In a refreshing departure from the norm, though, the love story in Deedaar is one-sided; Dilip Kumar’s character is deeply in love with Nargis’s character, but she thinks of him only as a friend).

Deedaar: No longer childhood sweethearts
Rather more masala and hard-to-believe is the almost instant attraction between people who are virtually strangers, but have been, as children, either:

(a) promised to each other (even if they hadn’t come within bawling distance of each other); or

(b) worse still, married to each other, and then separated by circumstances (that flood in Ji Chahta Hai) or by irate parents (Chhoti si Mulaqat is a prime example), or by a concatenation of circumstances, people, and more (Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam).

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam: Sweethearts, even if they didn't know they were married
The whole point with having a child being separated is that the child is too young to be able to identify himself/herself and his/her parents, and—as he/she grows up—changes sufficiently in appearance to make identification well-nigh impossible for a parent or other adult who would have recognised the infant.

This, of course, leads to another important aspect of this entire getting-lost-and-found business: the fact that nobody in Hindi cinema is ever irrecoverably lost.

If they’re adult and ‘lose’ the rest of their family because of either illiteracy, amnesia, emotional trauma (typically brought on by any of the causes listed above, such as fire, earthquake, hoodlums and so on) or blindness—[a time-honoured and very convenient disability]—there is still hope.

After all, they are adults. They will be able to remember whom they belong to, and where. Eventually, even if not right now. They will also hopefully be able to recognise well-loved voices if heard again. Which is why a ‘shared’ family song is such a very useful thing. From Tum bin jaaoon kahaan to Yaadon ki baaraat nikli hai, there’s much in Hindi cinema to prove that signature tunes, carefully guarded and sung only by a very select few, can be useful in bringing them together when lost. [This also leads to an unsettling question: does learning the same family song leave a family more prone to being separated?]

Pyaar ka Mausam: A young man sings a song
A demented mother hears a familiar song...
Even if it’s through newspaper advertisements, suddenly-recovered memory, the family song, or the help of benevolent strangers, lost adults have an easier time of it. The ones doing the searching might have a hard time, ending up wandering around and singing to attract the attention of the lost—a technique I’ve never quite been able to swallow.

The problem arises with the kiddies, especially when they’re too small to be able to memorise songs (though Tum bin jaaoon kahaan got around that hurdle too). Children have to be helped out in other ways. Typically, in a Hindi film, if a child has a distinctive mole or birthmark or other easily identifiable (and unique) physical feature, you can bet the kid is going to be lost in the course of the film. If the child doesn’t have any of these, a loving parent will bestow an artificial equivalent, such as a tattoo.

Tattoos, especially of the Ramkali or Lakshman type, etched badly onto a forearm, are of course painful and certainly unfashionable if the child is destined to grow up into a suave Shammi Kapoor.

Much easier and less trouble is a convenient piece of jewellery [a locket is de rigueur, though I’ve seen signet rings and taaveezes used to good effect, too]. Or, better still, baby photographs. These, of course, will remain hidden through much of the film—at least when the now-adult ‘lost child’ is in the presence of someone who, if aware of his/her identity, would immediately know that this person was a long-lost offspring.

Nirupa Roy discovers some old photos in Aaya Saawan Jhoomke
Which brings us to another facet of the lost-and-found saga: the inevitable meeting, without being aware of who the other person is. Manmohan Desai went overboard in Amar Akbar Anthony, with a mildly injured Nirupa Roy (mildly enough to go traipsing about later in the day, injured enough to need blood transfusions), being given blood simultaneously by her three sons, without either them or her being aware that they’re all blood relatives. [Hindi cinema, interestingly, seems to take the term ‘blood relative’ literally. If you’re blood relatives, your blood group will always match].

Ek Phool Do Maali: Blood relatives share blood
In less extreme cases (and Amar Akbar Anthony, admittedly, went a little over the top when it came to coincidences), there are unintentional meetings and crossings-of-paths between the separated relatives. Sometimes, they are the sort that will have a massive impact on how the story plays out. As an example, the scene in Pyaar ka Mausam where a wealthy, urbane Shashi Kapoor hears a blind and poor old man singing a song, and is so impressed by the song, he decides he wants to learn it too (not realising, all the while, that this is the song, the family song).

Then there are those gratuitous meetings, which are put in just to allow the audience—who are in on this, of course—the satisfaction of knowing something the characters in the film don’t. And plenty of them, too, including near-misses between people who might have recognised each other. Look at Waqt, for example, which is littered with moments like this. The scene where Sunil Dutt (the second of three sons who were lost) sits down, broken-hearted and dejected, next to an old man by the seashore, unaware that this is Daddy.

Waqt: An accidental meeting
Or when Daddy, banging into a panicking young man who’s running for his life, grabs the young man—who is accused of murder—and hands him over to the police, little aware that this is Son#3. Or when Mummy, coughing her lungs out, goes past whimpering and helpless, just as Daddy has passed by, both looking elsewhere.

These are very brief episodes, hardly-remembered (though everybody in Hindi cinema seems to have a great memory—they’ll even remember, at least by face, anybody they’ve bumped into once, even if no words or blows were exchanged. All that’s needed is for the other person to be a long-lost parent/sibling/sweetheart).

Frequently, however, these chance meetings develop into full-fledged relationships. [In which, invariably, the two people concerned wonder why, for no explainable reason, they feel a certain affinity for the other]. A long-lost child, now grown up, will evoke paternal feelings in a parent; this will be reciprocated.

The young man with whom there's an inexplicable connect...
It’s all a way of setting up relationships so that one already knows the person one’s going to turn out to be related to. Isn’t it so much more satisfying to discover that the young man (or young woman) who’s aroused your maternal affection is really your offspring? And what’s the fun in discovering that XYZ is a brother, if you haven’t already sung a song with him? Where’s the ecstatic relief in discovering that ABC is actually your husband, if you aren’t already deeply in love with him?

Chhoti si Mulaqat: A wife discovers her husband
The occasional brave scriptwriter has gone the other way and taken the risk of having the separated relatives end up on opposite sides, in some cases unable to even bear the sight of each other. Nasir Hussain was a pro at this; his story—used repeatedly (and even copied somewhat in Mere Sanam)—had the long-lost son (brought up the mother) meet his father when grown up, and fall in love with the father’s foster daughter. The father, hoodwinked by a villain who’s masquerading as the son, takes an instant dislike to the hero since he’d much rather the heroine married the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon: A father confronts an upstart...
And so on and so forth, until the great discovery.

...who is actually his son
I could go on and on (and, looking back at this post, I realise I have gone on and on). The point I’m trying to make is that the lost-and-found trope was a delightful one, with completely improbable happenings, crazy coincidences, and plot elements that were a given, all the way from tattoos and ‘family songs’ to accidental-but-unrecognised meetings. All of it was not just hard but impossible to believe.

There was, however, the joy of knowing that all would turn out well. If one of the lost had gone off the straight and narrow (Raj Kumar’s character in Waqt, Pran’s characters in Johnny Mera Naam and Amar Akbar Anthony, Shammi Kapoor in Boyfriend, Ashok Kumar in Kismet, etc), they would still be intrinsically good at heart, and their crimes would never be dire enough to merit anything more than a not-too-hard prison sentence.

Brothers on opposite sides of the law: Boyfriend
There was the happy feeling that came from the knowledge that the family—that ever-important social unit, even in Hindi cinema in this century—had come together again, triumphing over everything fate had thrown their way. There were songs (and many of the lost-and-found sagas, right from Kismet in 1943 to Amar Akbar Anthony in 1977, had excellent music). There were beautiful heroines. Or, in the rare instance where the lost offspring was female, as in Mere Sanam, a passable hero [I have to admit to not really categorising Biswajit as ‘handsome’. Pretty, yes, handsome, no].

So much fun. And, really, if that isn’t entertainment, what is?

61 thoughts on “There you are!: The ‘lost and found’ trope in Hindi cinema

  1. A very delightful post, Madhu!
    I somehow thought that reading Bhatia’s book would switch on your writing mode as well.
    Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam also had the married in childhood, lost as adults theme.
    A somewhat variant of this them might also be considered the (supposed) murderer getting confronted by his victims, like in Bombai ka Babu or Dushman or Kinara.
    I agree that Raja Harishchandra did inspire a lot of the lost-and-found scripts.
    Thanks for this good read!


    • Thank you, Harvey! I’m glad you enjoyed that. :-)

      “Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam also had the married in childhood, lost as adults theme.

      Yes, I did mention that in my post. In fact, there’s a screenshot – rather a dim and blurred one, admittedly – with Waheeda Rehman and Guru Dutt (though you can’t see his face) in the post too, from the film.

      I’m not sure I’d class what happens in Bombai ka Babu/Kinara as lost-and-found; more like mistaken identity, because in both cases, the culprit – even if unwitting – is merely mistaken for being good. Or, as in the case of Bombai ka Babu, mistaken for being the long-lost son.

      Which Dushman do you mean? The Rajesh Khanna one? I don’t think he’s mistaken for being anyone other than he is, no? The drunk driver who runs over the man of the household.


    • Hmm. I suppose Karna would qualify… incidentally, my sister mentioned another ancient tale that uses the lost-and-found trope, identifying mark and all: Shakuntala, which has the ring as the item by which Dushyant identifies his long-lost wife.


  2. A fun post to read. Loved the speculation of whether having a “family song” guarantees separation :-) :-) Your mention of the tell-tale mole/birthmark reminded me of one of the funniest scenes in the 80s film “Biwi o biwi” when both Sanjeev Kumars pull down their pants to realize that they must be brothers since NEITHER of them has a birthmark. Had me ROTFL.


    • I’d forgotten about that scene! Hilarious. :-D I must watch Biwi o Biwi again – it was so much fun! (which reminds me, Angoor is another good example – again, classic, since it was based on A Comedy of Errors – of this trope).


        • I’d never heard of Do Dooni Chaar, though I’ve just been reading its synopsis. A Comedy of Errors, obviously. Incidentally, I believe there was yet another version of the story, named Gustakhi Maaf, with Tanuja in a double role, opposite Sanjeev Kumar.


              • Do Dooni Char was a Bimal Roy Production film but not directed by Bimal Roy, it was directed by his assistant Debu Sen. Bimal Roy had passed away by the time the film was completed and released. By the way when I first saw the film on television I discovered something, I think, no not think I am sure I saw little Neetu Singh in the song hawaon pe likh do, take a look I am sure it is she.


                • It’s been years since I heard this song, Shilpi (and I hadn’t seen it before) – such a nice song. And yes, the little girl does seem to be Neetu Singh. She certainly looks like her, especially towards the end of the song. The smile, the laughter – both very Neetu Singh.


  3. Thank you for a post almost dedicated to me, Madhu. :) That, coupled with the fact that it was Amar Akbar Anthony (or Siddharth’s book on this film) that sparked off this utterly engaging post, just about made my day. It is also apt that you began the post with AAA. Manmohan Desai may not have been the first to employ this trope in his films, but he definitely was the grandmaster of the lost-and-found formula. I remember an interview with Amitabh Bachchan, in which he said that when MD first gave him the script of AAA, he asked MD if he knew what he was making.

    I agree with your point that learning a ‘family’ song almost always precedes the family being separated. It is interesting, no, that the trope has gone the way of the dodo?
    …what purpose that would serve, unless one liked staying up nights and changing dirty nappies for someone else’s offspring, I don’t know
    Keep in mind that the kidnappers were all men, and asli mards in those days didn’t change nappies. They just handed the kid over to inferior female slaves to do the needful. :) :)
    I grinned my way through this post, especially your asides. Thanks for the smiles.


    • “It is interesting, no, that the trope has gone the way of the dodo?

      Yes, that was what I was wondering about, too. There are lots of other things I’ve mentioned in posts on this blog – qawwalis, for example, and piano songs, and in most cases, started off by bemoaning their demise onscreen, only to realise that there still are examples of these even in contemporary cinema. But lost-and-found seems to have simply gone out of the window. Offhand, I don’t remember any films since the 90s (if even during the 90s!) which used this trope.

      “They just handed the kid over to inferior female slaves to do the needful. :) :)

      LOL! Yes, too true. :-D


  4. What a delightful post! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. You’ve analysed this trope in so many of its dimensions – and that in your inimitable style. :-)

    As usual, as I was reading this, other movies began coming to mind. The first movie that came to mind was “Beti Bete” (1964). Sunil Dutt and Jamuna, siblings brought up by Jayant, are separated as young children, the song common to them is “aaj kal mein dhal gaya”.

    Then there was Mela (1971), with Feroze and Sanjay Khan has both the “separation in a mela” and the tattoo as identifier (or is it a tabeez or locket, I don’t remember anymore).

    And Rampur Ka Lakshman – directed by none other than Manmohan Desai. And Parvarish, by the same director.

    I remember seeing a Kishore Kumar 1950s movie also with this theme but I can’t seem to remember it anymore.

    And there was a father-daughter “lost and found” situation in Mehboob Ki Mehndi too, if I remember correctly.

    So which actor in your opinion played this sort of role the most?


    • Thank you, Raja! I’m glad you liked that. :-)

      Yes, there are lots of films around this theme, including a number that I’ve seen but didn’t mention – there’s a Bhai-Behen with Sunil Dutt and Padmini in the titular roles, for example. I actually haven’t seen any of the films you’ve mentioned (except Mehboob ki Mehendi, which I’ve forgotten, though I seem to recall Pradeep Kumar as the father)… but there are lots of others. Afsana (Ashok Kumar as long-lost twins), China Town (Shammi Kapoor, long-lost twins, again), An Evening in Paris (Sharmila, again long-lost twins), Anhonee (Nargis, long-lost sisters – this is getting repetitive, now!), Mere Humdum Mere Dost (Sharmila and Nigar Sultana, I think, as long-lost mother and daughter). If I remember correctly, Aaye Din Bahaar Ke had Balraj Sahni as Dharmendra’s long-lost father.

      Plus, while I’ve not specifically mentioned them in the post, there are screenshots here from Ek Phool Do Maali and Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke.

      The last Hindi film I watched – Yuvraaj – also uses the same trope. Vinod Khanna is the long-lost prince of a kingdom, and is finally identified by a taaveez and a little baby shirt of his.


    • “So which actor in your opinion played this sort of role the most?

      Tough one! I don’t know – they all seem to have done quite a bit of that, no? Dharmendra might be among the front-runners for that. Aaya Saawan Jhoom ke, Aaye Din Bahaar Ke, Yaadon ki Baraat, Shola aur Shabnam. (for the long-lost sweetheart bit), plus films in which he worked where someone else was part of the lost-and-found family (Boyfriend, Shaadi, Mere Humdum Mere Dost).

      What do you think, Raja? Whom would you nominate?

      Oh, and of course when it comes to mothers who ‘lost’ their babies, Nirupa Roy probably wins hands down.


  5. A gentle kidnapper like Balraj Sahni might actually have enjoyed changing baby Hema’s nappies in Paraya Dhan.

    All these familiar tropes made for comfortable entertainment. The viewer need not tax his/her brain. Kids getting lost all over the place need not make the viewer too sad or anxious, because they know everything will work out eventually.


    • “A gentle kidnapper like Balraj Sahni might actually have enjoyed changing baby Hema’s nappies in Paraya Dhan.

      Heh! True. Balraj Sahni’s character there was really a sweet man. Actually, though, he wasn’t a kidnapper – just a somewhat reluctant dacoit, and when the dacoity went wrong and the victim (Achla Sachdev) was dying, she handed her baby over to him. Perhaps she realised too that he could be depended upon to look after the baby!


    • It was fun, this trope. As Ava points out, there was a satisfaction in knowing that everything would turn out fine, and everybody would be reunited for the happy ending. You didn’t have to worry. Something so sweetly innocent and charming about that. :-)


  6. (A) Sometime I will get around to reading Bhatia’s AAA analysis, And (B), I watched so much masala for the first time last year, that I can’t help but smile at all the points you made in this post. And (C) I couldn’t help but wonder where it all went. The “lost and found” trope is sooo very common in the 60’s and 70’s, that it’s almost jarring to experience the lack of it in more recent films. I don’t think that pinpointing where the lost and found went out of style can be answered by pointing to increased realism in plot structure. If anything, current Hindi films are just as far-fetched in their favorite tropes as they once were, it’s just that the audience’s ability to suspend belief for certain types of coincidences has weakened.

    Soooooo, maybe the “lost and found” plot was overdone . . . or maybe it lost its mass relevance? Maybe Desai unveiled (parde ke piichhe, pardaa “trope” hai . . .) its real meaning . . . maybe it was always about resolving conflicting national and cultural identity issues . . .and he let the cat out of the symbolic bag once and for all with his heavy handed (but oh so fun) symbolism in AAA? Or maybe the trope just left with masala itself, only to appear here and there in watered down fragments? Or, maybe we’d just laugh at it now. I don’t know. But maybe, just maybe we have enough in the older films to enjoy over and over again indefinitely. ;)


    • That’s a very valid point you make about realism in current cinema, Miranda – I agree that it’s not as if Hindi cinema now is overall more realistic than it was 40 years ago! Some films are realistic – but then, some films back then too were (I’m thinking all those Basu Bhattacharya and Hrishikesh Mukherjee ones). But then, as you say, there are lots of films today too that require a very willing suspension of disbelief.

      I guess the disappearance of the lost-and-found trope is partly because it was overdone, but also perhaps it’s become a little more difficult to be totally lost! What with cell phones and the Net and the people generally being much more aware, it’s not very easy to remain lost. So a lost-and-found film in these times would be a little implausible, I think… unless it was a historical.


  7. A lovely and entertaining post! Lost and found formula was indeed a staple of Hindi films from 50’s-70’s. Manmohan Desai mastered the art it;although the blood transfusion scene seems a bit OTT. “Yeh tera Bhai hai’,”Mai tumhari Maa Hoon”,”Bhaiiya” phrases were a must in those films :)
    It looks that Nirupa Roy and Sulochana’s roles were destined to suffer by this trope. A few examples of ‘lost and found’ trope I remember are Bhai-Bhai (1956),Patthar ke Sanam (1967), Mera Saaya (1966),
    Ram Aur Shyam (1967), Dastaan (1972),Hanste Zakhm(1973) and Mehfil (1981) and the list goes on………………………..


    • Oh, yes. I’d forgotten Ram aur Shyam and Patthar ke Sanam! Haven’t seen Daastaan and Mehfil, but now that you tell me they’re lost-and-found too, I shall add them to my list. ;-)

      And another one that I have a soft spot for: Seeta aur Geeta. Plus, while I’m talking of Hema Malini, also Raja Jani.

      My goodness, there were so many of these films.


  8. It was a pretty entertaining trope and one with solid backing from the classics – ancient as well as modern ones. Has it completely disappeared? I’d argue that it has evolved into a different form. Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi (2001) has two Kajols separated at birth by their parents and brought together by accident – the nth re-working of The Parent Trap. Fanaa (2006) lacks the “lost” part of the formula since the lovers are separated as adults and by the hero’s choice, but there is a “found” element, complete with re-union song. Then there is Slumdog Millionaire. OK, I know that’s stretching it too far, but hey, if so much lost-and-found happens in one film, on Aamchi Mumbai soil and Indians get awards for them, it qualifies as “Indian masala“! ;D And now I’ve run out of examples. So maybe we do need more lost-and-found! If only Vishal Bhardwaj would hurry up and adapt the Twelfth Night instead of focusing on Shakespeare’s tragedies.


    • Bollyviewer, you are obviously far more clued into modern cinema than I am! I have to admit I haven’t seen a single one of the films you’ve mentioned (no, not even Slumdog Millionaire), so I’d no idea this trope was still alive, even if not kicking. Good to know there’s hope. :-)


      • Bollyviewer, Slumdog Millionaire was Manmohan Desai on steroids. I know it was hyped a lot, but seriously, it was a Hindi film (of the AAA, Yaadon ki Baraat kind) in all but its name. It even had an actress who couldn’t act for toffee!


        • ” it was a Hindi film (of the AAA, Yaadon ki Baraat kind) in all but its name.

          Oo. I gotta see this now. :-) And, having weathered the acting of people like Vimmi and Priya Rajvansh, I can bear anything.


          • Oh, do. It’s entertaining enough. And there was some excellent acting from the kids who played Dev’s and Frieda’s characters (2 each) when they were younger, and from the boy/man who played Dev’s brother’s character. The leads were rather vapid. And there are enough WTH moments, exactly like in MD’s films, and kids jumping out of trains to automatically become adults…

            Boyle of course, doesn’t know his Bombay. If he did, he would never have made the lead pair meet at VT. During the rush hour. :)


  9. Speaking of tropes and features that have disappeared from Hindi films, like qawalis and pianos, has anyone noticed no one goes on picnics anymore? They travel abroad, to exotic places, but never on picnics, where everyone sings songs or plays games


    • Actually, in previous posts, we came to the conclusion that qawwalis actually haven’t disappeared – they’re still pretty much there. Pianos, yes, except in the occasional period film (Parineeta had a piano song, as did Khoya-Khoya Chand). But picnics – oh, yes, I don’t remember the last time I saw a picnic of the Yeh shaam mastaani or Bade hain dil ke kaale type. They were there till well into the 70s (Simti si sharmaayi si and Manchali kahaan chali come to mind),, but I can’t think, offhand, of anything from the 90s that had that.

      Odd, since it’s not as if picnics have gone out of fashion.


  10. One other trope I can think of that is (happily) gone AWOL, is that of the heroine/hero’s sister fainting at a party – and a ‘doctor’ promptly pronouncing her pregnant just by checking her pulse.

    Or the faithful animal who often saves the day trope – haven’t seen much of that after the 80s.


    • “Or the faithful animal who often saves the day trope – haven’t seen much of that after the 80s.

      Hehe! I remember watching the horrid Teri Meherbaaniyaan along with a couple of friends – and all of us dubbed it Kutte ki meherbaaniyaan! Honestly, while I like animals, that was one trope I was happy to see the last of. As was that fainting (not necessarily at party, but even elsewhere), immediately and without any tests, diagnosed as a pregnancy. So daft.


  11. Having read and enjoyed Sidharth Bhatia’s book about Navketan, add to that my familiarity and liking for 70’s Masala; I am going to get and read this latest book. Here is a link to an interview where he discusses this book —

    I see that most of the well-known “lost-and-found” movies have already been discussed, but I can still add two more :)
    1) Victoria # 203 (Pran & Navin Nischol, Father & Son)
    2) Haath Ki Safai (Vinod Khanna & Randhir Kapoor, Brothers)

    Thank you for this wonderfully entertaining & informative review :)


    • Oh, I wish I had the time to watch the interview, but I shall console myself my saying that I’ve read the book. so hopefully Sidharth has said all he had to say about Amar Akbar Anthony there!

      I’d forgotten about Victoria #203 being a lost-and-found one. And I have a creepy feeling I haven’t even seen Haath ki Safai. Must amend that promptly, considering I like Vinod Khanna so much. But Randhir Kapoor… hmm.


  12. I’m ot sure if your lost and found trope is limited to Hindi cinema and bypasses Indian cinema. If not then I think the first of its kind is the first Malayalam movie ever made. The title itself is “Vigathakumaran” meaning “The lost child”. It was produced by J C Daniel and keeping in mind the dates of 100 years of Indian cinema, a bioscope was made on the film maker by the reputed Malayalam director Kamal and released in 2013. The movie is called “Celluloid” and the actor playing J C Daniel is Prithiviraj (so you might want to see it some time, he has done a fine job).
    Remember Daniel made this film while the rest of Indian cinema was still steeped in mythologicals. He wanted to make a social movie.
    It is sad about what happened to him and it really took a long time for him to be given his due as a pioneer in cinema.


    • That should read biopic..
      not bioscope..
      One’s a projector, the other
      perhaps a canvas for a trope.
      Unless of course one were South African
      then a biopic could hope
      indeed to be a bioscope
      or interchangeably mistaken. :-)


    • Oo, yes – I’ve heard of Celluloid (being a Prithvi fan, how could I not? ;-)), though I haven’t seen it, and didn’t even know when JC Daniel worked – but this is something that definitely goes on my wishlist now! Thanks so much. I will look out for this.

      By the way: no, I didn’t mean to bypass other Indian cinema (or even international cinema – though I haven’t come across too much of the lost-and-found trope in Western cinema, at least, except possibly in films like The Vikings or – if I remember correctly – The Black Knight). Indian cinema (not merely Hindi) does seem to have its fair share of the trope, from what little I’ve seen – in Agni Pariksha, for instance, which was the Bengali basis for Chhoti si Mulaqat.


      • I did not add. that J C Daniel made “Vigathakumaran” in 1928 well before Kismat. So this may be the first lost and found film. I’m not very sure about Western films, this may be a very Indic theme. Maybe something in our psyche causes us to constantly lose and find ourselves , children, senses etc eh? With advancing age now I think my children are finding me more often than the other way around.
        Happy Birthday.


        • Thank you for the birthday wishes!

          Talking about Western films, I think the lost-and-found theme is probably one of those more old-fashioned ones, which is why it turns up in historicals (I’ve seen a few – Oliver!, after all, is also a lost-and-found story). Shakespeare has a few to his credit, too.


  13. My father was part of two such films but as both the films were box-office disasters nobody knows about them and as I do not have the DVDs I did not review them in my blog. The films are Maharaja (Nutan- Sanjay) and Do Ladkiyan (Sanjeev Kumar -Mala Sinha). In Maharaja my father is not aware of the fact that Sanjay (Sanjay Khan had not added Khan to his name then) is his son. My father and Nirupa Roy are in love and for some reason get separated and unknown to him Nirupa gives birth to his son.
    In Do Ladkiyan which released after my father passed away, my father throws his wife (Sulochana) out thinking that she has been unfaithful to him, therefore while one daughter (Mala Sinha) grows up with her father, the other daughter (Mala Sinha in a double role) lives with her mother.


    • That’s what I like about doing this blog – I’m constantly discovering ‘new’ old films! I had not heard of either Maharaja or Do Ladkiyaan, and since I’m so fond of ‘lost-and-found’ films (irrespective of whether they were flops or hits), I’m going to make a note of both of these. Hopefully I will find them somewhere…

      Incidentally, Chhoti si Mulaqat is also a somewhat lost-and-found film, though of course it eventually turns out to not have been a coincidence all along…


    • I remember getting Maharaja from the video shop some years back. It has the lovely Madan Mohan track Tumse Bihad Ke Chain Kahaan Hum Paayenge, by Lata. I think the film is available on YouTube…


      • Thanks, I had checked recently on You Tube, the film was not there, reading your comment I checked again and I am so thrilled it has been uploaded a few days back. I had seen just a bit of the picture, now I can see the whole film. Thanks once again.


        • Madhu you know Maharaja did not release in Bombay, it did release in the rest of the country. Nutan had gone to court against the producer- I think there were some payment issues – and had stopped its release in Bombay.


          • That’s interesting, I didn’t know that (well, since I didn’t know about the film even, that’s hardly surprising).

            I must watch the film sometime soon… though I don’t much care for Nutan in most of her later films, I will watch it for your father and for Sanjay Khan. :-) And Nutan, in my opinion, is rarely bad.


  14. This was a great read – love the way you capture on paper so many ideas that might be floating around in our head about a given topic. but we would struggle to think of and describe (eg if a child has a birthmark they are likely to get lost!). Great stuff :-)

    Quite a few old Kishore Kumar films had him playing the long lost son of a rich family. Ha, and then Pran would impersonate the lost son usually!

    Miss Mary (my favourite Meena Kumari comedy) has her playing the long lost daughter of a Hindu couple, who is then brought up as a Christian. It is a brilliant film. Do watch it if you haven’t.

    Best wishes,


    P.S Please watch Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan soon :=)


    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed this. :-)

      Yes, I do recall some of Kishore Kumar’s films in which he played the long-lost son, though frankly, I can’t recall their names, now. Talking og him with Pran, I do love Aake seedhi lagi from Half Ticket – such an absolutely delightful song.

      I still haven’t got around to watching Miss Mary, and – despite all my efforts – I haven’t been able to find Bhabhi ki Chudiyaan anywhere. Just the other day, another friend was recommending it again, and I had to admit that I’ve not been able to lay my hands on it. :-(


  15. Madhu ji,
    Even before ” Kismet “-43,there was a film ” Muqabala “-1941 by Wadia movietone,in which the subject of lost and found child was handled. A child is kidnapped and the siblings separate etc. I have commented on this film on Atul ji’s Blog on 19-5-2011,as follows-
    ” I remember this movie, because it was one of those few movies where double role was used. It was a novelty in those days.
    Directed by Babubhai Mistry, it was the last movie of Nadia for Wadia Movietone( before it split into Wadia and Basant pictures of brother Homi Wadia. Nadia joined Basant and finally,even married Homi Wadia,when she was in her 50s-after the death of Homi’s mother who had opposed their marriage as long as she lived.)
    She had a double role of twin sisters: good Madhuri and bad Rita.
    Rita is kidnapped by the villain and made into a Night club singer, while Rai Bahadur brings up good Madhuri.
    Nadia was appreciated much for the preformance contrast for both roles.
    This film was the First in India to use Split-screen method for double roles, where both sisters could cross each others, shake hands and talk together. The other attraction was the Night club set, which,in case of police Raid, could be converted in a respectable residence in a few minutes. It was a great fun to watch these two things.
    A happy ending picture, but to see and hear the laboured hindi dialogues of Madhuri(good Nadia) was another treat. ”
    Your articles are always a treat to read.The comments made by your highly knowledgeable readers are one more attraction.
    -Arunkumar Deshmukh.


    • Arunji, thank you! I can always depend upon you to come up with some interesting bit of trivia from that deep store of knowledge you have. I did not know about Muqabla; it sounds like a classic lost-and-found film. I wish I could see it, though I wonder if it still even exists… so much of Fearless Nadia’s works seem to have disappeared, or are at least not available commercially.


  16. HELP! What is the name of the film where it starts at a child birthday party and the boy is sing and playing on a piano. They girls family move and they split up. The next time the girl see our guys is when he’s singing on a stage. Many thanks.


  17. This was absorbing reading. My Ph.D. student is working on the adaptation in popular Hindi and Bengali cinema of works originally in English, and he’s the one who asked me to read this. The lost-and-found motif is part of his current chapter. Thank you very much, Ms Liddle.


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