Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan (1968)

Rajendra Kumar is one of those actors whom I’ve repeatedly mentioned as ‘not being one of my favourites’. Saira Banu, beyond her first few films (notably, Junglee and Shaadi), I find too shrill for my liking. Despite the fact that these two star in Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan, it remains one film I like a good deal—because it has such an unusual story.

A story to which there’s a brief nod in the first scene. Sanjay (Rajendra Kumar) and Priya (Saira Banu) meet in what looks like an obviously ‘indoor set’ representation of a cliff. There’s a little banter, she insisting that he’s irritating her with his wooing, he professing his love for her and asserting that he could do anything for her—even give up his life. Priya eggs him on: yes, please. Go ahead. Show us.

Priya begs Sanjay to jump off

So Sanjay jumps off the edge of the cliff. And Priya, who hadn’t been expecting this at all, is so horrified and heartbroken that she jumps off too. Moments later, they find themselves together. In heaven [which looks like a skating rink with lots of mist and odd plants crafted from pink-dyed chicken feathers]. Sanjay reassures Priya that they will now be together for all eternity; nothing and nobody can come between them. What bliss!

In heaven

This, though, is nothing but a dream. Sanjay (who’s been dreaming it all) is rudely woken by his friend and roommate Hanuman Singh (Rajendranath). Hanuman is fretting about two creditors who’re due to come today. From the conversation that ensues, it emerges that Sanjay and Hanuman live in Darjeeling, and that:

(a) Sanjay is a tourist guide, these days driving around, in his jeep, a group of young women, of whom one, Priya, fascinates him [yes, this is one of those odd films where a man actually dreams of a girl—recognizable face and all—after having seen her, not as a sneak preview]
(b) Sanjay’s love for Priya has made him shy of asking for the payment due for his services as a guide and driver; and
(c) Hanuman, who works at his uncle’s store as an assistant, is thoroughly miffed by Sanjay’s wishy-washiness

Sanjay wakes up - to Hanuman Singh

Sure enough, the two creditors (one of whom is played by Ram Avtar) turn up. When Hanuman makes his escape by vanishing into the bathroom, Sanjay gives the two men some rigmarole about Hanuman having gotten engaged (he even offers them some sweets as proof). This, of course, convinces the men that Hanuman must be solvent, since you don’t go about plunging into matrimony if you aren’t… they let Sanjay drive off in his jeep, and wait for Hanuman to emerge.

Sanjay manages to fob off two creditors

Sanjay soon collects the girls from their hostel, and as he’s driving away with them, the two creditors come chasing after in their jeep. There’s a mad chase, and Sanjay shakes them off only with great difficulty. (It later emerges that these two men beat up Hanuman after discovering that he couldn’t pay them).

A mad chase in the jeep with the girls

We now have an extended (but surprisingly fairly funny) episode involving Hanuman, Sanjay, Priya, the lady (Sulochana aka Ruby Myers) who runs the hostel in which Priya lives, and a cupboard. The Sulochana character (she’s only referred to as ‘Madame’ by the girls) comes to Hanuman’s uncle’s shop, where Sanjay, who’s come to meet his pal, passes himself off as an employee and sells her a fine cupboard.

Sanjay sells a cupboard to Madame

This is all very good for Hanuman, because his uncle has been threatening to fire him if he doesn’t sell something substantial soon—but uncle mustn’t know that Sanjay (and not Hanuman) sold the cupboard. To hide from the very pleased Mamaji who comes out from his office to meet Madame, Sanjay ducks into the cupboard. And finds himself inadvertently locked into it by Mamaji.

Much happens: the cupboard (with Sanjay in it) is transported to the hostel, where it’s put in Priya’s room. She begins shoving her clothes and jewellery in it, comes upon Sanjay, and then has to shut it again because someone comes along. Much adventure and frantic to-ing and fro-ing follows.

Hanuman, having realized that Sanjay is in the cupboard, comes to rescue him, and both he and Priya end up trying to make the other believe that the cupboard’s empty.

Priya and Hanuman, and the cupboard

By the time they open the cupboard, Sanjay collapses in Hanuman’s arms, and Hanuman is convinced that his poor friend has copped it. [Another nod to death lurking].

The end result, however, is that Priya and Sanjay confess their love for each other. All is well.

Sanjay and Priya confess their love for each other

But fate is standing in the wings, cudgel in hand.

We now have a quick change of scene, to a room in Calcutta, where the cops have come to arrest an old gentleman, Shankarlal (Gajanan Jagirdar). He protests that he’s innocent, but his hard-eyed and cold accuser, Prem (Prem Chopra) is not moved. He tells Shankarlal that his elder brother TK knows of Shankarlal’s embezzlement, and is the one who has made this accusation. Shankarlal is taken away by the policemen…

Shankarlal pleads his innocence

… and, back in Darjeeling, Madame gives Priya a telegram. It’s from Priya’s father in Calcutta; he’s summoned her home urgently. Priya is very worried, and wants to leave immediately. It will mean getting driven all the way from Darjeeling to Bagdogra, from where she can catch a flight to Calcutta, and there’s too little time even for that. Madame tries to stop her, but Priya goes rushing off to Sanjay, to ask for help.

Sanjay drives her to Bagdogra, the drive a hair-raising one with much screeching of tires and many close calls, but they get there just as the plane’s doors are about to be shut. Priya manages to get on the flight, and Sanjay, heading back to Darjeeling, is relieved and happy enough to sing a song as he drives. [It’s not a good idea to combine singing, Hindi film style, with driving, as we shall see].

Sanjay heads home, singing

Going around a corner, he runs into a truck coming the other way. Sanjay swerves madly. The jeep goes off the mountain, tumbling down into the crevasse. Sanjay gets thrown out, and as he lies there bleeding into the grass, a mysterious [not to mention sort of translucent] black-clad figure materializes, helps him up [or, rather, a Sanjay double, also mysteriously translucent now] and takes him away.

A mysterious figure comes calling

Not to heaven, but to an intermediate sorting office of kinds, where long queues of people move slowly forward. It takes Sanjay some time to come to terms with the fact that he’s dead, and when he does, he still refuses to believe that that’s it. It wasn’t even his fault, for pity’s sakes! It was the truck driver’s!

Amidst all this commotion and Sanjay’s protests, a benevolent angel-administrator, Swamiji (David Abraham) arrives, and Sanjay turns to him with his grievances.

Swamiji takes charge

Swamiji gives Sanjay a patient hearing and has his case looked up in the case files of the department. Who is he? Who was his father? Sanjay is asked. Much confusion ensues when it’s discovered that the Yamdoot has brought the wrong man by mistake (the Yamdoot admits that this is his first time in this department; before this he worked for the animal department, and was responsible for bringing the souls of cats and dogs).

That’s your department’s problem, raves Sanjay. What about me?! Swamiji calms him down and says he’ll be escorted back to Earth immediately and returned to his body.

Sanjay gets angry

Unfortunately, when they arrive in Darjeeling, it is to find that Sanjay’s body has already been cremated, and Hanuman is sitting and mourning his poor dead friend.

Now this is a situation even Swamiji doesn’t know how to deal with [and Sanjay is getting very irate indeed]. So Sanjay is quickly taken back up to Yamlok and presented to the Mahabali [to whom Sanjay gives a piece of his mind; their department, he tells them, has made a mess of things, so they’d better sort this out]. The sages—after some deliberation, and with many interjections by Sanjay—reach one conclusion: Sanjay’s soul can be put into the body of the man who was originally supposed to have died. After all, they both look exactly the same. And anyway, it’s not the body or the face that matters, but the soul; his near and dear ones will still recognize the soul.

Solutions are sought

Sanjay is reluctant, but has little choice. So Swamiji takes him to Calcutta, and to the house where the man in question, TK [recognize that name?], lives.

Meanwhile, Priya has met her father in the lockup, and he, despairing, has told her it’s no use. TK has so much clout and wields so much influence that there’s no hope of Shankarlal proving his innocence. Priya insists; she will go and meet TK and try to reason with him.

Priya, therefore, goes to meet TK’s brother, Prem, to seek an appointment with TK. Prem realizes Priya might be a handy tool to further his own ambitions, so he tells her that TK will meet her at his home at 7 that evening.

Priya manages to get an appointment with TK

That fateful evening, Sanjay and Swamiji (both, of course, invisible to human eyes) arrive in TK’s study just as Prem sneakily shoots a bullet into TK’s back. TK keels over, dead as the dodo, and shortly after, Priya arrives. Prem lets her into the room and leaves her alone, and Priya, thinking TK is asleep, tries to wake him by giving him a shake—and has the corpse (of which she hasn’t seen the face) flop right over. Much strident shrieking [Saira Banu is good at this] follows.

Prem, who’s been waiting for this, quickly captures Priya and accuses her of TK’s murder. He phones for the police.

Prem grabs Priya and phones the cops

In the meantime, Swamiji tells Sanjay that this is his chance to save Priya. After all, if TK should get up and prove he’s alive, there won’t be any case against Priya. Sanjay agrees, and when the inspector (Jagdish Raj) arrives, he enters the study to find TK alive and well [Prem hasn’t bothered to even look at the back of TK’s dressing gown to check for a bullet hole, which is just as well, because there isn’t one]. Priya is released with apologies, and a bemused Prem makes himself scarce.

TK appears, hale and hearty

Sanjay now has to get used to being in the body of TK. Of being, in essence, someone he does not resemble at all in anything except form. As he discovers over the course of the next few hours, TK couldn’t be more unlike the ‘good’, simple Sanjay. This is a man who is woken up every morning by a scantily dressed maid who massages him awake; who has champagne for breakfast…

… who is a gambler, a race-course addict, a party animal [of the risqué party type] and has been having an affair with his pretty secretary Rita (Praveen Choudhary, looking very chic).

Rita, TK's secretary

… and who has estranged just about everybody who truly cares for him, including his butler Devi Lal (Brahm Bhardwaj), his driver Ram Das (Krishan Dhawan), and especially his old grandmother (Durga Khote).

TK's old grandmother

Worst of all, though, is that TK is the man who wrongly accused Shankarlal of embezzlement, and whom Priya therefore loathes. Loathes so deeply and with such intensity that it’s going to be difficult to convince her that underneath that shell lies the soul and the spirit of Sanjay.

What I liked about this film:

The overall plot, which is so different from the ‘usual’ Hindi film. The entire premise of a dead man’s spirit returning to Earth in another’s body (even if they are lookalikes) is refreshingly different from the run-of-the-mill melodrama/suspense film/masala flick. Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan is masala, true: but masala of an unusual blend.

Some of the songs (with music by Shankar-Jaikishan). While none of the songs of Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan are outright bad, a few of them are especially good. My two favourites are the title song (which keeps getting repeated, often with the tune being just whistled rather than sung, throughout the film) and Unse mili nazar.

Prayag Raj’s dialogues for Rajendranath, which manage to be punny and fun. Here’s a sampling:

Hanuman Singh: Paise laaya? (Did you get the money?)
Sanjay: Nahin, yaar. (No, pal)
Hanuman: Kyon? (Why?)
Sanjay: Kya bataaoon, dost. Aaj ishq ne phir zubaan band kar di. (How shall I put it, friend? Today, again, love sealed my lips)
Hanuman: Arre, aaj zubaan band kar di hai, kal dukaan band ho jaayegi! (What?! Today it sealed your lips, tomorrow it’ll seal our shop!)

And this:

Ram Das: Chaliye, TK Sahib aapka intezaar kar rahe hain. (Come, TK Sahib is waiting for you)
Hanuman: TK? Kaunse teeke? Mata ke ya cholera ke? (Teeke? [A pun; a vaccination is called a ‘teeka’ in Hindi] For what? Smallpox or cholera?)
Ram Das: Ji! Aapke bachpan ke [Sanjay/TK has told Ram Das that Hanuman is his childhood friend]. (Sir? From your childhood!)
Hanuman: Bachpan ke? Woh toh maine lagvaaye thhe. (From my childhood? But I’ve already had those)

What I didn’t like:

The way the film falls flat in the last half-hour or so. It’s not as if it’s really awful, but it just doesn’t succeed in fulfilling the promise of the earlier part of the film. Director Lekh Tandon and writer Omkar Sahib let the story fall into the usual trap of blackmail, murder, and rather shortsighted villainy, leading to a hurried and unconvincing resolution.

Still, despite that, a film worth seeing, if only for the offbeat theme. I might have liked this more if the hero had been played by someone (Shashi Kapoor, perhaps?) other than Rajendra Kumar, but even then, it’s entertaining enough—and one of the few films where I really don’t mind Rajendra Kumar.

Little bit of trivia:

Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan is a remake of the 1941 film Here Comes Mr Jordan.

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37 thoughts on “Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan (1968)

  1. I do remember watching this on DD in the 80s. I can hardly remember the opening scene, which you’ve described so well. I do remember the part from the accident til his reincarnation as TK and then my memory fails me again. And then I remember the scene, where the newspaper announces something on the line, that a capitalist has become a socialist or philanthrophist or something on that lines.
    You do sell this movie quite well, but watching Rajendra Kumar AND Saira Banu for two and half hours is a bit too much for me AND Rajendranath is not my favourite comedian.
    Thanks for the good review.

    • My memories of this film from when I saw it (same time as you, on DD in the 80s) are pretty much the same as you – though I did recall the opening scene fairly well. Mostly because it surprised me; I hadn’t seen any Hindi films till then which began with the hero and heroine both dying in the very first scene. (I probably also hadn’t seen too many films till then that began with a scene from a dream, so I didn’t recognize it as such until the moment the dream actually ended).

      Yes, the cast leaves a lot to be desired, but the film itself isn’t bad. And, for a change, Rajendranath didn’t get on my nerves. ;-)

  2. This is one of the few remakes/lifts I like. It’s “inspired by” /based on /a straight lift of (take your pick) ‘Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) (http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0033712/). It’s hard to say quite why I like it, since neither of the leads is any great shakes in the acting department. Perhaps it’s the story along with the songs (Saira Banu’ s looks too! ;P).

    Good write-up, as usual.

    • ” It’s “inspired by” /based on /a straight lift of (take your pick) ‘Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)

      Yup. I’ve written that in the very last line of the review. It is inspired, not a straight lift, because there are plenty of differences. Especially in the second half, which takes a totally different route altogether. That’s the film I’ll be reviewing next. :-)

      I think the combination of the story and the songs is what makes this film likable for me, too. The plot is fairly well done, and a good bit different from the usual.

  3. Shall I tell you of a coincidence? I had begun watching this film years ago, and had stopped after the initial scenes because the Rajendra Kumar/Rajendranath ‘comedy’ made my teeth ache. And the ‘heaven’ scene was so cheesy. Then, the other night, waiting for a conference call to begin, I was trawling YouTube and this came up on the sidebar. I hovered the mouse over it, wondering if I should watch – I do like O priya very much. But then, I didn’t; I do remember thinking that you had reviewed it and I should go read your review before I watch, but then my call came through and the moment passed.

    And now, you have reviewed it. It’s making me conflicted. On the one hand, it sounds very intriguing; on the other, I share Harvey’s opinion about a Rajendra Kumar/Saira Banu combination. What to do, what to do? :)

    • Now that is a coincidence! I had been dilly-dallying and wondering which film to review next (in the process, I ended up watching two films which were pretty ho-hum, even though one of them starred the usually-dependable Sadhana). Then it struck me that I’d never reviewed Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan, and since it was easily available on Youtube, why not?

      I don’t like the leads here, either, but despite them, it’s still an enjoyable film. Rajendra Kumar manages to be less irritating than usual, and Saira Banu was – for me – bearable. Also, as Milind Phanse says, it’s probably the combination of story and songs that make it a watchable movie.

  4. Lovely review Madhu didi! I remember my mother telling me the movies’ plot a few months ago, and I also remember how fascinated I was when I saw her recounting each and every scene so vividly. My mother is not a big fan of old movies as such, so the few ones she does like she remembers the scenes well.
    Though even I’m not a fan of Rajendra Kumar didi, he did manage to act in some diverse movies no? Right from Kanoon ( which you’ve reviewed) and Dharamputra to this one and Jagriti…all this time maintaining his Jubilee Kumar Status.

    But thank you for the great review Madhu didi.

    • Thank you, Rahul! Glad you liked the review. :-) I am always very impressed by people who can remember films in order of scene. I can rarely do that, even with films I’ve watched several times.

      Yes, now that I think of it, Rajendra Kumar has acted in some fairly offbeat films – though I invariably tend to associate him with films like Mere Mehboob, Aarzoo and Sangam – the ‘Jubilee Kumar’ ones.

      BTW, his role in Dharmputra is just a cameo. I’d say his role in Dhool ka Phool was an unusual one; not many leading men would happily have played such a spineless character as he did.

        • Yes, Shashi Kapoor – it was also brave of him to take on that role; not a pleasant role, at all. (Though in today’s scenario, he would probably have a lot of supporters!)

          I think a big part of my liking Mere Mehboob is a combination of factors: Sadhana, whom I love; the music, which is fabulous (not one bad song there); and just the mere fact that I am kindly disposed towards Muslim socials. :-)

            • And that is one I don’t like. Yes, it does have some great songs, and Waheeda Rehman is gorgeous, but the melodrama in the second half and that “I will give up my wife for you” stuff – without ever asking the woman n question what she wants always riles me. That, more than the melodrama. I find it infuriating that these two men are fighting over who will sacrifice himself and his love, and they never even think that the woman might have a say in it.

                • Impracticality, I have no problems with (if I did, I wouldn’t be watching much Hindi cinema!;-)). What I detest in Chaudhvin ka Chaand (and in a lot of other films too) is this male-centric view of the world. The woman, it seems, even though she is ostensibly the central and most attractive figure, basically gets whoever loses out in the self-sacrifices game. Does she love him? Does she love the other guy more? Nobody asks her. They decide between themselves.

                  So irritating.

                  • That is such a profound statement didi! Even in modern day movies, its always the guy who falls for the girls’ looks… And in the end, the girl has no other option but to accede. And if the girl finds the guy bad looking, she is condemned, though the reason for the guy’s love was her external appearance only.
                    Please don’t get me wrong didi, looks don’t at all matter in a relationship I know, but even if we do look at the appearance factor, the situation is such…

  5. I must admit that I quite like Rajendra Kumar, and this film has a lot to do with it. He is too old for this role, Saira is screechy as ever, the story is cheesy, and yet, this movie still works for me. I have seen the original (Here Comes Mr. Jordan) but methinks this is more entertaining. Guess Lekh Tandon was a dab hand at remaking Hollywood movies into even better Hindi ones. I loves his Come September inspired Ek Baar Kaho, too.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever come across Ek Baar Kaho – now that’s something I want to watch! I didn’t much care for Come September, even though I don’t outright hate it, but an inspired Hindi film version… I can imagine that in hands like Lekh Tandon’s, that might be pretty enjoyable. Thank you for pointing me to that, Bollyviewer!

  6. The title song of the film is a straight lift of Elvis Presley song ‘ marguaritta ‘ . Talking of the film’s other songs, my favourite has always been that lata solo ‘ mere tumhare beech me ab to na parbat na sagar ‘

  7. Like everyone else, I’m not a fan of Rajendra Kumar or Saira Banu, but I too saw “Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan” decades ago and remember just enough to have vaguely fond memories of the movie. Which combined with your reassuring review means – re-watch time! :-)

    • That was exactly my take on this, Shalini! I remembered just enough to have ‘vaguely fond’ memories of this movie. And the rewatch, thankfully, didn’t bust that happy remembrance. :-) Do watch again!

  8. This is the only movie of Rajendra Kumar I have ever watched -and now I just watched it for the second time. My first viewing of it was on DD too. I was very young and only remembered snippets- like there being a cupboard, transparent people and the song where the hero sang in the car, while the heroine smiled in the plane. Never having traveled in a plane, I had asked my father if it was possible for people in the air to hear what was happening on the ground :-).
    Your endearing review made me watch again. Rajendra Kumar was quite funny actually and so was Rajendranath.
    Saira Banu has to have a bathroom-bathing song, hai na? Ah, the joys of instant-touch-mute-button on the laptop, I could mute her screeches.
    In addition to the disappearing bullet, I was confused about how the ‘murder’ took place- for instance, where was Prem standing when he shot at his brother, if on opening the room’s door TK is found facing it? How was he going to put the blame on Priya? How could she have murdered him from the back – oh details, details. Should just let them be!
    By the way, where do I find ‘Here Comes Mr. Jordan’? It’s not on Youtube.

    • “Ah, the joys of instant-touch-mute-button on the laptop, I could mute her screeches.

      Hehe. In an industry brimming over with some pretty screechy actresses, Saira Banu was in a class by herself.

      As for the curtain, I think it may have been some sort of partition, or maybe a deep window with a curtain. Because he shoots TK in the back, and TK is shown sitting facing the door (through which Priya enters, and later the cop). But yes, how Prem hoped to pin the blame on Priya is beyond me.

      Here Comes Mr Jordan is available on Youtube; the problem is, it’s not available in India. A cousin abroad helped me out there – he downloaded it, split the files, and sent them to me. You could try something like that, if you have a reliable friend or family member abroad. Or try searching for it on Amazon or something: it’s a Criterion Collection DVD, so should be fairly easy to find.

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