Aankhen (1968)

I spent part of last week reading fellow blogger Todd Stadtman’s book, Funky Bollywood: The Wild World of 1970s Indian Action Cinema (more on that, along with a link to my review of it, at the end of this post). Todd’s book discusses, in affectionate detail, all the iconic action films—spy thrillers included—of the 70s. In a fit of enthusiasm, brought on by Todd’s book, I told my husband, “I want to see Gunmaster G-9”. To which he replied, “I didn’t like that. What I really liked was Aankhen. That was fun.”

Dharmendra in Aankhen

I had to agree about Aankhen, because this was the first Hindi spy film I ever watched—probably when I was about 11 years old. I was so totally bowled over by it that it became the benchmark for Hindi thriller films as far as I was concerned. (Of course, with far sleeker films being made in the recent past, Aankhen does take a bit of a beating, but it still remains a favourite of mine, no matter how many flaws and totally goofy stuff I spot during rewatches).

As the opening voiceover-turning-into-a-song goes, Us mulk ki sarhad ko koi chhoo nahin sakta, jis mulk ki sarhad ki nigehbaan hon aankhen (‘Nobody can touch the frontiers of the land, the frontiers of which are watched over by eyes’—the eyes in this sense implying keen, watchful, patriotic eyes).

The eyes in question, we discover in the first scene, are those of people like Major Sahib (Nasir Hussain), who was a major in the Indian National Army and had worked with Netaji himself; Major Sahib’s son Sunil (Dharmendra); and their colleagues. These men, while not part of the government, are zealous patriots and have the support of the government.

A group of patriots attends a meeting
In the meeting which begins the story, a newcomer—Akram—expresses skepticism (why should civilians be fighting the government’s battle with enemies of the state, he asks), but is silenced by a melodramatic speech from Sunil.

Later, it emerges that Akram’s elder brother Salim has been working for the organization for a while and is right now on an important mission: he’s aboard a ship, stuffed to its gills with weapons and ammo and ‘enemy agents’ headed for India. It is Salim’s job to keep an eye [those aankhen!] on the enemy, and to put a distinguishing mark on their consignments, so that when they dock in India, Indian customs/intelligence/whatever can nab them.

While that’s happening, the film moves on to the love life of its hero, Sunil. Sunil’s sister (Kumkum) and her little son have been staying with Sunil and Major Sahib, since her husband is away in England on work.

Sister [in the usual nosey parker style of Hindi movie sisters] wants to know more about a Japanese girl who had once been in love with Sunil. Sunil, cornered, is forced to tell all…

His sister pesters Sunil to reveal all
…and thus emerges the tale of Meenakshi Mehta (Mala Sinha), a half-Japanese, half-Indian girl who’d been besotted with Sunil when he went to Japan a few years earlier to learn judo. Meenakshi saw him, fell in love, and began stalking him until she’d learnt all there was to know about him [a pleasant change, this, to find the man at the receiving end of the stalking].

Sunil finds himself being ogled
Meenakshi trailed Sunil, even going to the extent of joining a tour group for which he’d signed up. After pestering him a bit [and, stalkerish Hindi film hero style] singing a song, Meenakshi was able to strike up a friendship with Sunil. She told him that her father had been in the INA too, and that he had trained her to help him in espionage when she was a little girl.

Meenakshi introduces herself...
All of Meenakshi’s confessions of love and her general prettiness weren’t enough to get Sunil to agree that he loved her. This is too dangerous a life, said Sunil. He could get killed any moment, and then what about her? She would be left behind with a broken heart. Which, of course, had the opposite effect: why, said Meenakshi, should he be so worried about the condition of her heart should he cop it? Surely he must feel for her.

...woos Sunil
Sunil, however, would not be persuaded—even though he obviously did have a soft spot for Meenakshi—and they ended up parting ways, with a teary-eyed Meenakshi saying that their paths would certainly cross again. Destiny [and your average Hindi film script writer] cannot be so cruel as to prevent that.

... and tries to reason with him, in vain.
Back to the present, and to Salim on that goon-laden boat. The goons, led by the evil Captain (not the ship’s bonafide captain, who is unaware of the skullduggery aboard his vessel, but Madan Puri), have begun suspecting Salim [I am not surprised, since Salim doesn’t appear to be a very adept secret agent]. Captain now contacts the Indian kingpin of this organization, Doctor X (Jeevan, wearing a bad wig, a monocle, and a uniform).

Doctor—who seems to be in charge—gives instructions for the consignment to be tied floats and jettisoned. Doctor will send for it—and for Captain—to be picked up.

This is done, but while the consignment is being pitched overboard, a watching Salim is in turn spotted and shot. He manages to make it to his room long enough to call Major Sahib [who, from the bank of flashing lights that twinkle rainbow-like on the console, is obviously really well-connected].

Major Sahib on the wireless
Salim proceeds to gasp and waste a lot of time doing the “Hello, Sher-e-Punjab?” stuff, so that he cops it before being able to get across a message that’s any use.

Some members of the ship’s crew, however, come by just then and are able to inform Major Sahib—at the other end of the line—that this man is dead. Major Sahib [and Nasir Hussain gets a chance to do one of his characteristic “Oh dear God! What a catastrophe!” acts] realizes that he now must get to the root of the matter—by referring to a much earlier message from Salim. Salim had informed him that the arms had originated in Beirut, where a gang led by a goon called Saeed (Sajjan) operates.

Salim is killed
While Major Sahib gets cracking on this, Captain is received by his Indian colleagues, Doctor and his gang. For some unfathomable reason [considering the usual Hindi film’s distaste for showing even a streak of anything approaching ‘redeeming quality’ in a villain], Doctor actually is a doctor, who runs a charitable hospital. Captain—again for some unfathomable reason—is brought here on a stretcher, face wrapped up completely [did Ramanand Sagar take a leaf out of The Lady Vanishes?], ‘disguised’ as a patient.

Captain is freed of his bandages
While Doctor’s goggle-eyed minions look on…

Doctor's minions...
No oil painting, this
… and Doctor’s right-hand woman, Madam (Lalita Pawar, dressed as a nurse in this scene) helps…

Madam helps
Captain is relieved of his bandages. Doctor then takes him on a guided tour of his lair, introducing him to Madam, Lilly (Daisy Irani, all grown up and wearing what looks a pajama suit), and Akram (Salim’s traitorous younger brother, who has been lured into Doctor’s gang by money and the feminine wiles of Lilly).

Doctor's hench'people': Madam, Lilly, and Akram
Captain is also shown the ‘manufacturing’ section, where everything from bombs to guns are assembled. Plus he’s taken to the lookout post, made up to look like a sadhu’s hermitage, from where two fake sadhus keep an eye on the surrounding countryside, including the nearby airport and harbour. Captain is impressed.

A guided tour of the facilities
From the baddies, back to the good guys. Major Sahib, to get to the heart of the matter, instructs Sunil to go to Beirut. In Beirut, they already have the best local secret agent—a man named Nadeem (Sujit Kumar) working for them. And, to help Sunil in his work, there’s also a group of secret agents from Singapore, who’ve gone to Beirut disguised as a dancing troupe. Major Sahib gives Sunil a photo of the girl who’s leading the dancing troupe. No, no prizes for guessing who it is.

The secret agent Sunil is to meet in Beirut
In Beirut, Meenakshi and her dancing troupe—consisting of Mehmood, Dhumal, Madhumati and another dancer (whom I don’t recognize)—have been combining dance performances with taking photos (using a camera built into a microphone) of Saeed and his gang.

After a show, Meenakshi receives a message from Major Sahib—two bits of microfilm pasted beneath stamps on an air mail envelope. It informs her that Major Sahib is sending an agent to investigate matters in Beirut. And there’s a photo of the agent, which of course sets Meenakshi all aflutter.

Meenakshi receives news
At Beirut, Sunil is received by Nadeem, who takes him to a hotel. Nadeem and Sunil have adjoining rooms, and Nadeem is all affability—he even invites Sunil to a party he’s hosting that night.

Sunil tells Nadeem he’d like to spend the rest of the day sightseeing, so Nadeem takes himself off. And Sunil, cautious man that he is, pulls out a bug-detecting device and sweeps the room with it, only to find not one, but two bugs in the room. One is hidden inside a stuffed poodle and the other’s in a miniature bottle of liqueur [Lebanese hotel rooms do have odd décor].

A poodle yields a bug
Thankfully, Sunil has the sense to realize that this probably means Nadeem is up to no good. When he goes out shortly after, therefore, he’s especially careful—and manages to give the slip to the goon (Ram Tipnis, the makeup man for Aankhen and countless other hit films of the 60s) who’s been deputed to follow him.

Ram Tipnis plays one of Saeed's goons
Sunil ends up at his desired destination: Meenakshi and Co’s hideout, which is disguised as a photo studio. Meenakshi brings him up-to-date on all that’s been happening (including the fact that Nadeem, a lady’s man, is currently trying to woo Meenakshi, after having had an affair with an Algerian princess named Zainab). When the two of them are alone, Meenakshi tries to make a subtle pass at Sunil, but he quashes the attempt: they’re on work, he says. Only once this mission is over can they even think about romance.

Old friends meet
That evening, there’s a little bit of both in the air. At Nadeem’s party, Nadeem introduces Sunil to the Algerian princess Zainab (Zeb Rehman, saddled with an awful wig). Zainab is immediately—and obviously—smitten, and Sunil does little to dissuade her. This draws Meenakshi’s jealousy, which—considering she’s a performer, and this is a party in an old Hindi film—means that she gets to express all her angst in an appropriate song.

Zainab and Sunil at the party...

Meenakshi sings a song
Song over, Sunil instructs Meenakshi to keep Nadeem occupied while he goes and gives Nadeem’s room the once-over. And, sure enough, in his prowl through Nadeem’s room, Sunil finds a bunch of photographs, which he quickly takes photos of.

Back at their hideout, when Sunil and Meenakshi take a closer look at the photos, they see that some of the photos are of a ruined island fortress. Why? [Nadeem doesn’t seem the sort to be especially interested in heritage buildings].

Sunil and Meenakshi decide this merits checking out, and prudently, go armed. They see Saeed [whose code name, by the way, is African Tiger: a sad display of zoological ignorance] leaving the island, after giving some instructions to resident minions. When the coast is clear, Sunil stations a machine-gun-brandishing Meenakshi at the entrance, and goes deep into the fort, where—in a makeshift prison, he finds the man Saeed has kept captive. Nadeem!

Nadeem surfaces
The villains kindly stay away while a quick conversation ensues, in which it turns out that this is the real Nadeem. The fake Nadeem is one of Saeed’s men and was put in as a replacement after the real guy was kidnapped, all so that Saeed could keep tabs on Sunil etc.

This established, interruptions arrive in the form of said minions, and we’re treated to an illustration of just why all Hindi film goons stack up so many empty oil drums in their lairs [how beautifully they roll when people fall on them! What a racket they make! How well they conceal people who desperately need to hide!]

Oil drums galore
Anyway, all said and done, Sunil is able to rescue Nadeem, and discovers that this man is the real Nadeem.

Sunil, Nadeem and Meenakshi figure that the best plan is to do another switch: substitute the real Nadeem for the fake one. To achieve this, they:

  1. Blow up the island fortress [no, nobody here is too fond of historical monuments, as I’d guessed]—which of course makes Saeed believe that the imprisoned Nadeem, along with all of Saeed’s henchman on the island, has been blown to smithereens;
  2. Lure the fake Nadeem away to some deserted ruins on a romantic rendezvous with Meenakshi; here, among some very impressive old ruins, Meenakshi’s colleagues—masquerading as ghosts of ancient Romans—spook the fake Nadeem (who wears a mask, by the way) and capture him;

Nadeem is caught by being spooked
…and, lastly, send the real Nadeem to Saeed, so he can begin to gather information on the traitors.

The mask
The tables are turned. But will they stay turned for long? No. Because Saeed, Doctor, Captain, Madam, Lilly, Akram and their allies aren’t totally dumb [though they do seem to waste a lot of money on unnecessary accoutrements such as a tiger in a pit to guard a caged prisoner, where a mere cage could have done just as well]…

A tiger, Sunil in a cage, and more.
This is merely the start. There’s lots more to come, and many more chances for Nasir Hussain to have near-heart attacks, for Kumkum to shed bucketloads of tears, and for general mayhem and drama.

What I liked about this film:

The entire package. It’s not as if it’s flawless: the gadgetry is usually rather silly, the special effects are mostly tacky, the villains—especially Jeevan—are exaggerated, and there are far too many characters floating about. Despite that, the script is pretty cohesive and coherent, and proceeds fairly logically. [The lack of logic is one major complaint I have against a lot of other Hindi suspense films: look at much of NA Ansari’s filmography, for instance].

The eye candy. Dharmendra and Mala Sinha look simply gorgeous. In fact, when I first watched Aankhen, I liked these two so much, I decided I had to watch every single film in which they co-starred. (Sadly, Aankhen seems to be the best of the lot: Jab Yaad Kisi Ki Aati Hai, Neela Akash and Anpadh are all relatively forgettable).

I like the fact, too, that Mala Sinha plays such an unusual female lead: she’s smart, feisty, has no compunctions about gunning down criminals, and yet she’s by no means unfeminine [at least, as defined by traditional Hindi movie stereotype]. I like that she also goes against the typical Western-is-bad, Indian-is-good stereotype, slipping easily between saris, churidar-kurtas, dresses and pants (not to mention kimonos) and being a skilled spy/dancer as well as a woman who’s loving and warm. [If you’ve seen sufficient Hindi films, this will probably make more sense to you than if you haven’t].

Lastly, the music. Sahir Ludhianvi and Ravi teamed up to bring together some brilliant scores—my favourite being that of Waqt—and worked together in Aankhen too. In comparison to most of their earlier collaborations, Aankhen is fairly lacklustre, both from the point of view of music and lyrics; but it’s still pleasing enough. The two songs I like most are Ghairon pe karam apnon pe sitam and De daata ke naam tujhko Allah rakhe. Milti hai zindagi mein mohabbat kabhi-kabhi isn’t bad either.

What I didn’t like:

Several of the scenes set in Major Sahib’s household in the latter half of the film, when the melodrama goes over the top [and, in inverse proportion, the acting goes south]. There’s much screechiness, weepiness, accusing looks and Hey bhagwaans happening here, and none of it appealing. All through these scenes, I kept wishing the action would swiftly switch back to Sunil, Meenakshi and Co battling the baddies.

But, despite that, a film that’s chockfull of fun. It’s obvious that people are having fun here, whether it’s Dharmendra wrestling a fake tiger or Mala Sinha pretending to be a princess, or the international fakir trio faffing about on the streets of Lebanon to the utter mystification of locals…

The international fakirs go in search of a friend
…it’s fun.

Oh, and before I forget: what inspired this post. Todd’s book, a very enjoyable one which is a celebration of 70s action films (several of them in the Aankhen mould).

Todd Stadtman's Funky Bollywood: The Wild World of 1970s Indian Action Cinema
Here
is my review of Todd’s book. Do check it out—and if you at all like the idea of fancy (if tacky) gadgetry, lost-and-found siblings, villains by the dozen, and dogs shooting guns [yes, you read that right], it’s available, among other sites, on Amazon.

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32 thoughts on “Aankhen (1968)

  1. D’you know, I thought that you had already reviewed Aankhen.

    Sounds like a lot of fun. :) And I loved your asides – I’ve always wondered that villain’s lairs were particularly equipped with oil drums (all empty), ropes to tie up baddies or for the hero to do trapeze acts, and specially situated switch boards that the good guys could use to electrocute the baddies. And oh, I forgot sundry pieces of wood as well. :) :)

    I haven’t watched this yet, Mala Sinha not being one of my favourites, but I should. It sounds (unintentionally) hilarious, and I like Dharmendra. Thanks for the amusing review.

    • You know, Anu, when I was posting this review, I wondered if any of the regulars on this blog would not have already seen Aankhen. I didn’t think you’d be one of them! Oh, you must see this; it’s loads of fun. Sidharth Bhatia and I were just agreeing yesterday on Facebook that Aankhen is the best spy thriller to come out of Bollywood in that period. I think one advantage it has over others – like Humsaaya or Yakeen – is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s obviously intent on focussing on the disguises, the gadgetry, the masala. The romance, the family drama etc is all very by the way.

      And this is, I think, to Mala Sinha’s filmography what Chori-Chori is to RK’s: the one film where they are quite different from their usual screen persona. :-)

      Give it a try, do.

      • Ouch! at the RK crack. :)
        I honestly cannot remember watching this film at all. I can’t think how I missed it, given that it aired on DD, but I seem to have done. But given your recommendation, I definitely should give it a try. And oh, it is on YouTube. Now I don’t even have an excuse. :) :)

        • “Ouch! at the RK crack. :)

          I couldn’t resist it! ;-) But, to be honest, it was the best simile I could think of. I mean, among the other people I find hard to tolerate – like Bharat Bhushan and Rajendra Kumar – I can’t think of a film I’d want to watch for that person. Some (Barsaat ki Raat, Mere Mehboob despite that person, but none for. Chori-Chori I’d happily watch for RK, because he’s not being RK. :-)

          • I watched it. :) It was fun. And Mala Sinha looked very, very pretty, and rocked the western outfits. She looked very comfortable in them (which a lot of heroines of those times didn’t). I must say I really liked her in this film – lots of gumption, no rona-dhona, and a sense of humour – can’t beat heroines like this one.

            But oh, why on earth does a spy (even an amateur one) sing Gairon pe karam with such emotion – and why doesn’t everyone assembled, especially the baddies, who are not unintelligent, notice that, for someone who’s ostensibly met Sunil for the first time, she seems inordinately bothered about his closeness to another woman?

            And secondly, when Salim calls the Major the first time around, he doesn’t waste time with any ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ nonsense. So why, when he is shot and about to die, does he have to blather on and on about code names?

            And why, does everyone say ‘Ispeak’ for ‘Speak’?? :)

            Thanks for recommending this film to me.

            • “And secondly, when Salim calls the Major the first time around, he doesn’t waste time with any ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ nonsense. So why, when he is shot and about to die, does he have to blather on and on about code names?

              Hehe. And hehe too for all the rest you’ve pointed out. ;-) By the way, did you notice how nobody ever says “Over and out” – which I always thought was de rigeuer? And did you notice that the baddies have foreign code names – African Tiger and Napoleon – while the good guys have desi ones? Sher-e-Punjab, Taj Mahal, Kohinoor.

              Glad you liked the film, Anu. I did hope that you’d watch it. And that, after my having crowed about it so much, it wouldn’t turn out to be a damp squib. I do like it, warts and all. So much fun.

  2. An authentic “time-pass” movie!
    To expect any profoundness (is that a word?) would be too much.
    Simply loved your asides, particularly about the drums in the villain’s lair. Was ROTFL at “Destiny [and your average Hindi film script writer] cannot be so cruel as to prevent that.”
    I don’t know how I’ll react to the film now, but I surely enjoyed it, when it was shown on DD when I was 14 (I think).
    Thanks for the hilarious review!

  3. Thanks, Madhu, for such an entertaining review.

    I remember liking the movie way back when it was shown on DD, but all I remember now of it is the stalking Mala Sinha – especially the sequence before Milti hai Zindagi mein ….

    Also not sure whether I would enjoy the movie now, tbh. I am not too fond of Mala Sinha but I like Dharmendra, yes. Though would like to watch it again for Nazir Hussain (especially since I only recently got to know that he was in the INA and his entry into films was due to this connection) :-)

    • Yes, I got to know about Nasir Hussain’s being in the INA only recently too – was it on your blog? By the way, I’ve forgotten – if I ever knew, that is – how his entry into Hindi cinema happened through his INA connection. How was that?

      The stalking sequence in Aankhen is actually fairly brief. The interactions in flashback between Dharmendra and Mala Sinha take only about 10 minutes, including the song. But the rest of the film is… well, delightfully campy. Not a profound film, as Harvey points out, but a total entertainer.

      • Nope, not my blog. I don’t recall having written anything about him. Oh, what I have read is that Bimal Roy was planning to make a film on Bose and the INA. So he was looking out for INA members to talk to and do his research. Roy met Nazir Hussain and was impressed by his personality and voice and wanted to cast him. Hussain, though reluctant at first, agreed after some persuasion and made his debut in ‘Pehla Aadmi’ (1950). He worked with Roy in almost all his films thereafter. Interesting, right?

        LOL, the stalking may be just for 10 mins, but thats all what I remembered till i read your review. Oh yes, it was an entertainer… I do remember enjoying it back then. :-)

        • Wow. That is so interesting! Thank you for telling me, Harini.

          Heh. I can understand what you mean by the stalking thing being all you remembered of Aankhen. Rather like me remembering Dharmendra as pretty much the lead male in Khamoshi, from when I saw the film as a kid. I was really surprised when I rewatched Khamoshi a few years back and found that Dharmendra – far from being the lead – is actually in more of a cameo than anything else.

  4. I know of at least three movies called Aankhen: this one, the 1993 movie featuring Govinda & Chunkey Pandey and the 2002 heist thriller staring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal. Having watched all three, I think the 2002 movie was by far the best of the lot.

    • I never saw the Govinda-Chunkey Pandey one (mostly because I don’t like either of those two) but I have seen the heist Aankhen. Don’t remember much ofit, though I do recall wondering why the Amitabh Bachchan character needed blind people to pull off the job.

      • there was another movie named “Aankhen” made in the early fifties with the lovely Nalini Jaywanth – Shekhar & Bharath Bhushan triangle and was remade in early sixties as ” Pyar ka Sagar with Meena Kumari – Rajendra Kumar & Madan Puri . Hope you get to review these and compare .
        Thanks

        • I think I’ve heard of the earlier Aankhen, but I can’t be sure. And I’ve certainly never seen either of the two films, the original or the remake. Thanks for the suggestion – I’ll try to do that sometime!

  5. Madhu,
    Most films of this period appear quite illogical. The superhit ‘romantic comedies’ are almost unbearable. Compared to that, Aankhen is a classic. Your review is as usual outstanding. If one person who could be blamed for causing all the mess in the movie, it is Kumkum, who poked her nose where she should not have, compounding it by not coming clean before her father in time.

    Thanks also for introducing me to Todd.

    AK

    • AK, yes – Aankhen is a classic, and for me, despite the high tech gadgetry and SFX of more recent spy thrillers, this one still holds a very special place in my heart.

      Oh, and I totally agree re: Kumkum’s character. I always feel like beating her up in this film – if she’d only had the sense to tell her father, none of the mess would have happened. Silly woman.

      Todd’s writing is very good. I must admit I’d only paid a very few infrequent visits to his blog till now, but I’m adding it to my blog roll now and am going to read it rather more regularly now.

  6. “This established, interruptions arrive in the form of said minions, and we’re treated to an illustration of just why all Hindi film goons stack up so many empty oil drums in their lairs [how beautifully they roll when people fall on them! What a racket they make! How well they conceal people who desperately need to hide!]”

    Ha ha ha! So true and I always know that regardless of their profession (diamond smuggler to politician) they all MUST HAVE drums in their Warehouse (yes, warehouse is also a MUST).

    “This is merely the start. There’s lost more to come, and many more chances for Nasir Hussain to have near-heart attacks, for Kumkum to shed bucketloads of tears, and for general mayhem and drama.”

    Poor guy! He is a favorite of doctors and a miracle to have survived so many!

    Overall, I agree that this is pure entertainment. I also remember like you one of the first movies that I saw which was truly suspence thriller. The first one I remember was Dev/Ashok’s “Jewel Thief” which is also reviewed by you. Ankhen is worth watching again for enjoying what was missed on the first time. Thanks for the review!

    • I wonder which film maker/ art director/ fight choreographer/etc first came up with the idea of equipping villains’ dens with oil drums (not to mention empty cardboard cartons)! :-D

      Thank you for the appreciation, Ashish. Glad you enjoyed the review! All comes from it being such a fun film in the first place.

      • I don’t know if it’s where it originated, but the old Hollywood B- movies and serials had similar fight scenes in warehouses with stacks of boxes and oil drums etc…

  7. Your review is most entertaining ! I saw it way too long ago to remember the details but I enjoyed Lalita Pawar the most in the movie. It was fun to see her in her unusual character the Madam.

    • Yes, Madam is a very unusual character for Lalita Pawar to be playing. Such a change from the usual mother/mother-in-law (even if ruthless!) she used to play, even though she does don that as a disguise in the second half of a film. Another film which had Lalita Pawar in a very unusual (though brief) role was Apne Hue Paraaye, where she plays a lawyer.

  8. woh din yaad karo or should I sing beete hue din woh mere pyare palchin, koi lauta de mere beete hue din, yes those are the songs that come to my mind when it is do with films of the sixties. I remember seeing this film as a kid with my parents and I just enjoyed it. It had all the ingredients of an entertainer, though I did feel that Dharmendra looked a little to young for Mala Sinha.

    • I suppose knowing that Mala Sinha had been in films from several years before Dharmendra even debuted makes it hard to imagine them as an onscreen couple (I had the same trouble with her pairing with Sanjay Khan in Dillagi), though I did think both in Aankhen as well as in Dillagi she had a certain stylishness which made her look fine, not too old. On the other hand, in Anpadh I thought Dharmendra looked gawkishly young as Mala Sinha’s husband.

      I so wish I had been around when one could actually see these old fims in cinema halls! Can you believe it, the only 50s and 60s films I’ve seen in halls are CID (which was the first Hindi film I remember watching – though I understood very little of it), Hum Dono (when the colourised version was released a few years back) and Love in Bombay (not strictly 60s, but released a couple of years ago).

      • Those days there were re-runs of old Hindi and English films in cinema halls, nowadays even the Hindi and English channels give the thumbs down to old films. I remember we were lucky enough to catch a re-run of the Burt Lancaster starrer The Train sometime in the late seventies or the early eighties. It was a wonderful film, the edge of the seat kind of thriller, nowadays nobody makes such films. Ben Affleck’s Argo was an exception though, it was a well made film and quite thrilling. Sadly since television channels too shun old films I feel the present generation will never get to experience these films. Yes they can get hold of DVDs but they have to be aware of the existence of such films in the first place.

        • I must rewatch and review The Train one of these days. I watched it only a couple of years back, and yes, I agree: it’s superb. In fact, I went to watch The Monuments Men last year mainly because the synopsis sounded similar to The Train (sadly, despite such a good cast, it turned out to be a damp squib. Could have been far, far better).

  9. It’s been eons since I’ve seen “Aankhen” but I vaguely remember being a bit bored by it. I think 3-hours is probably too long for an espionage thriller and all the standard hindi-film elements felt extraneous and diffused the tension. I might be more patient if I watched it now. But given my antipathy to Mala Sinha, a re-watch is not likely. :-)

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