Ek Phool Chaar Kaante (1960)

Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rehman. The two names themselves conjure up a mix of everything from Pyaasa to Mother India, from Gumraah to Kaagaz ke Phool. Sunil Dutt, whom I tend to associate either with suspense films (Humraaz, Mera Saaya) or angst-ridden (or otherwise philosophical, socially relevant films like Railway Platform or Sujata. Okay, he did do Postbox No 999 and Padosan, but still… Waheeda, whose films with Guru Dutt did showcase her prowess as an actress, but which also tended to paint her as a ‘serious’ actress—although in her case, films like Solvaa Saal and 12 O’Clock showed that she could be as convincing in peppy and light-hearted roles as many of her contemporaries.

If that’s your impression of Dutt and Rehman—two actors who appeared in mostly grim films—this rom-com is worth seeing just for a different, fun, side to both of them.

Ek Phool Chaar Kaante starts off on a little-frequented road, where young lawyer Sanjeev (Sunil Dutt) has had not one but two flat tires, and is lounging around, waiting for chance help. A carload of girls returning from a picnic comes by, and he manages to wave them down. Among these girls is Sushma (Waheeda Rehman). She and her friends (of whom one is Bela Bose) scoff at Sanjeev, accusing him of being a roadside Romeo and taunting him when he asks for a jack—“Jack is my dog,” says one girl.

After some more fun at Sanjeev’s expense, the girls drive off—and immediately have a flat tire. They have a jack, but don’t know how to use it, so are forced to go back to Sanjeev, who’s been looking on smugly. The end result is that Sanjeev, having fixed his car (and partaken of the leftover refreshments from the girls’ picnic), agrees to teach the girls how to change their car’s tire—but he won’t touch it.

By the time they’re finished, Sushma is furious at Sanjeev; her friends are amused; and Sanjeev is charmed. He doesn’t even really begin to hate Sushma when—a little while later, when both cars meet at a petrol pump—she gets her friends to surreptitiously let the air out of one of his tires all over again.

Soon after, Sushma discovers that, while she had been offering Sanjeev their picnic basket, she had inadvertently left a package on his car. Now something she needs urgently is with Sanjeev. The petrol pump attendant, who says that Sanjeev is a very regular customer, is considerate enough to give Sushma Sanjeev’s address—and Sushma lands up there soon after.

Sanjeev has been sitting with his mother and father (Mumtaz Begum and Bir Sakhuja, respectively), and has been getting the short end of the stick from Daddy, also a lawyer to whom Sanjeev is junior. Daddy is berating Sanjeev for being a frivolous good-for-nothing, when their servant Mohan (Mohan Choti) comes, bringing something he’s found, wrapped in paper, on the back seat of Sanjeev’s car.

It’s the fixings for a kirtan, and Mummy is super pleased. Her son has taken heed of her wishes, and brought her what she so wants! Daddy isn’t impressed.

Just at this moment, Sushma makes her entry, and Sanjeev, recognizing her (though he does not know her name) is surprised. Sushma doesn’t introduce herself, but having perfunctorily greeted Sanjeev’s parents, gathers up the kirtan stuff and rushes off.

Next, Mummy (who, being fond of kirtans herself) coaxes Sanjeev into taking her to the temple for one. And there, looking all jogan-like, her hair open, her head covered and her face serene, singing Banwaari re, is Sushma. Beside her, smiling benevolently on, is an older man (Dhumal), who keeps casting fond looks at Sushma every now and then.

The kirtan over, Sanjeev approaches Sushma, but is rebuffed. She is not the firebrand he had encountered earlier that day; instead, she is coolly dismissive, refusing even to acknowledge that they have met before. Sanjeev is puzzled.

… and he is to get even more puzzled in the days to come. A couple of days later, Sanjeev happens to hear screams for help coming from a building, and races in to find Sushma being attacked by a man (David). Sanjeev comes to her rescue by bashing the man over the head with a stick that’s lying conveniently close—only to have Sushma utter a shriek and promptly grab the stick and use it to bash Sanjeev over the head. It’s only when Sanjeev comes to, that a stranger tells him that this is a naatak mandli, a theatre group; they’d been rehearsing a play.

Soon after, Sanjeev, lounging by a poolside, is witness to the antics of yet another man (Johnny Walker), who first goes about serenading a passing girl, and then barges into the women’s changing room, emerging dressed in a sari and being chased by a bunch of irate women. Sanjeev takes it upon himself to put this man in his place, and a brawl ensues. The shameless wretch—as Sanjeev labels the man—is sent packing.

And Sanjeev bumps, once again, into Sushma. This time in the company of the same man whom Sanjeev had thrashed by the swimming pool. The two are attending a jam session at a club—and when a particularly peppy song is sung, they get to their feet and shake a leg.

By now, Sanjeev’s getting pretty annoyed. What is with this girl? Who is she, really? The kirtan-singing devotee, the rock-and-roll girl about town? The actress? And always with a different man, too!

One day, Shyam (Krishan Dhawan), a friend of Sanjeev’s, comes by to ask for Sanjeev’s help in getting close to a girl Shyam’s infatuated with. The girl is a member of a yoga ashram, which Shyam has joined in an attempt to impress her. The two young men get in, sidle their way to the front of the class—and Shyam points out the girl to Sanjeev. Sushma, again (by now, this shouldn’t surprise Sanjeev), and this time accompanied by yet another man (Rashid Khan).

Sigh. Sanjeev is pretty much head over in heels in love with Sushma, but he can’t get his head around her behaviour.

This mystery gets sorted out soon enough, and without any real effort on Sanjeev’s part. He comes home one day to see Sushma chatting with his mother, who approves of her heartily. Later, when they’re alone, Sanjeev grumpily (and with jealousy oozing from every pore) says that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with a girl who is always going around with different men. Sushma reveals the truth: these four men—the religious nut, the drama nut, the yoga nut and the rock-and-roll nut—are all the Saxenas. Her uncles, her chachas. They brought her up after she was orphaned, and they love her as deeply as her own parents would have.

Everything seems hunky-dory. Sushma and Sanjeev are in love. Sanjeev’s mother is very eager to have Sushma for a bahu, so when she coaxes her husband into visiting Sushma’s chachas to broach the topic of the match, he doesn’t really demur, either. After all, Sanjeev—as he tells the chachas when he calls on them—is a personable young man, wealthy, well-educated, and in a good job.

None of that holds any water with any of the chachas. They heap scorn on Sanjeev’s father, and tell him that they will find a groom of their own choice for Sushma, thank you.

Sanjeev’s father, humiliated, leaves, and Sushma, depressed, goes off, too, to tell her boyfriend of this spanner in the works. The problem, she explains, is that each of the chachas is not just fanatical about his own pet subject, but also vehemently opposed to the pet subjects of his brothers. And each of them will want Sushma to marry a man who conforms to his ideal of a perfect man: Bade Chacha, who is the Rambhakt, will want a religious teacher for Sushma; Chachajaan, who is the theatre buff, will want a good actor to marry her, and so on.

Sushma herself, because she knows how much these men love her—they sacrificed their own chances of marriage and domestic life for her sake—tells Sanjeev that she will not go against them and marry Sanjeev without their blessings.

This is a dilemma, then. Sushma’s only shoulder to cry on at home, the maidservant Jamuna (Tuntun) tries consoling her, but to no avail. Sushma is at her wit’s end: she cannot marry Sanjeev, and Sanjeev can never be what her chachas want him to be.

Or can he? Because Sanjeev, having given it some thought, realizes that he needs to get the chachas on his side—and if that means pretending to be four different men, of four vastly differing types, so be it. Much fun ensues, with some delightful songs, and some madcap Wodehousian jugglery of identities (all too short-lived, sadly) before the happy end.

What I liked about this film:

The light-heartedness of it all. Ek Phool Chaar Kaante is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously (the premise itself, as you can guess, is far-fetched). Nobody is outright villainous, and it’s easy to see that—especially given Sushma’s chachas’ love for her—things are bound to turn out all right without any tearful melodrama. Director Bhappi Sonie manages this with a light touch, frothy and fun, with the message—of letting people live their own lives—being subtly put forth.

The leads. Waheeda Rehman and Sunil Dutt are a delight: both easy on the eyes (Waheeda is especially pretty in this film), and both obviously enjoying themselves in this caper. What impressed me about Sunil Dutt was the uninhibited nature of much of his acting in this film. Shammi Kapoor-like, he’s very physical, leaping about, dancing with gay abandon (see O meri baby doll), and having a ball as he races about inside the Saxena household, pretending to be one man after another.

Lastly, the music, composed by Shankar-Jaikishan. While this may not be one of their most memorable scores, it does have some good songs, including Tirchhi nazar se yoon na dekh, Soch rahi ki kahoon na kahoon, O meri baby doll, and Dil ae dil bahaaron se mil. Interestingly, the score of Ek Phool Chaar Kaante also includes an unusual song, what may be the first completely English-language song in Hindi cinema: Beautiful baby of Broadway, sung by (and picturized on) Iqbal Singh. The original song, as recorded, was Bombshell baby of Bombay, but the lyrics (possibly considered too lewd?) were changed, and what appears in the film is Beautiful baby of Broadway.

What I didn’t like:

The Shyam angle, for which I saw no need. Shyam is Sanjeev’s friend, and confides in Sanjeev about his love for Sushma, unaware all the time that Sanjeev is also in love with her. Sanjeev (refreshingly for Hindi cinema) doesn’t feel called upon to sacrifice his love for his friend, thank goodness; but he also doesn’t let Shyam in on the truth. Instead, he plays a somewhat nasty trick on Shyam that pretty much results in Shyam being booted out of the picture. I suppose this was meant to be funny; it just struck me as underhand.

But, other than that: a fun film, and one definitely worth a watch.

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40 thoughts on “Ek Phool Chaar Kaante (1960)

  1. When I saw the Film in my teens , the song used to be “Bombshell Baby of Bombay”

    When did it become “Beautiful Baby of Broadway” ?

    It is possible that 57 years later , my memory could be failing and that there were actually two songs .

    With warm regards

    PARTHA CHANDA

    • Yes, I have mentioned this (I’ve even linked to the original song) in my post.

      The first time I watched this movie was in the 1980s, on Doordarshan, and I distinctly remember it being in the film as Bombshell baby of Bombay, but since Iqbal Singh did sing the Beautiful baby of Broadway version too (I’m guessing there were censorship problems), perhaps the two versions were recorded fairly early on. and there were two film versions floating around as well… this time when I watched it on Youtube, it was definitely Beautiful baby of Broadway.

  2. Gotta watch this movie. You have a knack for inveigling people into watching the movies you review. Wonderful review as usual!

  3. nice review madhuji!
    i wish, we had smileys to express our feelings here as well!
    i knew all the songs of the movie.
    Banwari re and dil e dil baharon se mil, are my personal favorites!
    i thing, about the songs of course that, S J have used all the male singers, for sunil datt.
    we have matwali naar by mukesh
    dil e dil by talat
    some rock and roll song by rafi ( i dont like it at all)
    i dont even remember its name!
    wahida ji is my favorite too, so i think, i will give it a try.
    any way. as per ur suggestion, i have started watching old hindi classics.
    and i think, if i am to start a blog, it would be necessary, that i have a basic knowledge about all this!
    but still, i find myself, more inclined to the music, than actual film!
    :-)

    • “S J have used all the male singers, for sunil datt.

      Ah, I hadn’t noticed the others, beyond Mukesh, Rafi and Talat. Even while watching, I was thinking that this still doesn’t beat Shammi Kapoor having four people singing playback for him in Bluffmaster.

      “some rock and roll song by rafi ( i dont like it at all)
      i dont even remember its name!

      I have mentioned the song and linked to it in the post. It’s O meri baby doll. I like it. :-) I didn’t like it earlier, but it’s grown on me.

      • i didnt mean, all singers
        :-)
        of course, manna da , hemant kumar, kishore were not used.
        i dont see any point, why 3 singers were used, instead of one!

        all the songs could have sung by Rafi.
        of course, this doesnt mean, i dont like talat.
        i do like him a lot, i cant imagine him singing, rock and roll, but he could have sung, the other songs, including the chhed chhad song by rafi.
        That too, why a classical song by mukesh?
        I like him, too, i mean, why not like him?
        But, he really becomes Besur, at times, in many of his songs.
        I dont have any right to say so, actually, but many of his songs are too sweet and melodious that we tend to ignore this fact!
        I think, thats the power of his voice.

        In some movies, 3 female singers were used for a heroine, but that was attributable to the fact that, lata was not singing with rafi
        Shankar had some problem with lata, he promoted Sharda……………
        and so on……………………………………………………………………..
        But, why with male singers?
        Just a curiosity!

        And yes, i will listen to O Baby doll, once again,
        May be , if i try to forget its vdo, i may b able to like it!
        Its TOOOOOOOO Halla Gulla, and No Melody, according to me!

        Those Were the same Shankar Jaikishan, who gave, “Tin Kanster Pit Pit Kar, gala phad ke chillana, na ye gana hai” in love marriage, just a year back!
        Strange!
        God!
        I have written too much, this time, it seems!

        • Yes, I don’t get why three male singers were used, when Rafi could well have been used for all the songs – his voice suits Sunil Dutt (his voice actually pretty much suited most men – perhaps because he was so good at moulding his voice to suit the actor?)

  4. Nice Review. Watched it a few times including once on an international flight. Very good time pass. Waheeda is indeed very nice on the eye. Feel like watching again.
    The Sambhal ke Karna tune was played as a background tune in a couple of Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies. Distinctly remember for sure in Chupke Chupke (when Dharmendra is fooling around with Om Prakash) and may be Golmaar. Check that out !!

    • “Distinctly remember for sure in Chupke Chupke (when Dharmendra is fooling around with Om Prakash) and may be Golmaar. Check that out !!

      I hadn’t realized that! Must check it out. Thanks for telling me about that – I’d never noticed it, even though I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Chupke-Chupke (and Golmaal, a couple of times).

      Thank you for the appreciation; glad you liked the review. :-)

  5. Remember seeing this movie a long time ago and then recently on TV saw parts of a film called Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge with Karisma and Salman, on the same theme, but just could not remember where I had seen a similar situation. Will probably go back and see the original to get the bad taste out from this one!

    • Just yesterday, someone remarked on Facebook that Dulhan Hum Le Jaayenge was a remake of this. I had heard of the film, but didn’t remember who starred in it – so Googled, and decided that I was better off not watching it! This original one, I can safely bet, is the better of the two. :-)

  6. Ha! In a happy coincidence, I watched this film again over the weekend. Just because I was looking up something on my blog and came across Dil ae dil bahaaron se mil in my Talat-Lata duets post. :)

    I’d initially seen this film on Doordarshan, and then later, you had mentioned it in a comment on one of your posts (my terrible memory!) so I watched it then as well.

    Sunil Dutt and Waheeda looked like they were having so much fun, didn’t they? They were so comfortable together.Your review is spot on. :)

    • That is a coincidence, indeed! I do remember us mentioning this on a conversation over at your blog some time back, and the other day, wondering which Hindi film I should review next, I came across this, bookmarked, and decided it was high time I rewatched this. Such a fun film, and Sunil Dutt and Waheeda do look as if they’re enjoying themselves. :-)

  7. I have seen some conversation regarding playback singers in this movie above. I want to say something about this.
    I think the voice of Mahendra Kapoor suits Sunil Dutt perfectly. The politeness of MK’s voice was a perfect match for Sunil’s innocence.
    But unfortunately Shankar-Jaikishen rarely used Mahendra Kapoor. I cannot remember any hit song of MK under SJ at least in 60’s except “har dil jo pyaar karega” from “Sangam”. Even there MK was given a little part of it.

    The reason behind it, I think, was “lobby issue”. MK belonged to O.P. Nayyar’s and Ravi’s lobby entirely. That’s why SJ never considered him as a lead singer under them.
    May be I am wrong…..may be some other reasons.
    Anyway, very nice review madam. I have not seen “Ek Phool Chaar Kaante”. I must include it in my “to watch” list.

    • I agree with you about Mahendra Kapoor’s voice suiting Sunil Dutt – for me, Gumraah is perhaps the best example there is of that. Not just superb music (not to mention Sahir’s superb lyrics) but also a voice that perfectly matched Sunil Dutt. I do agree that I have heard MK mostly singing either for Ravi or OPN, so perhaps that’s why SJ didn’t use his voice, but I have no idea, really.

      Do watch this film – it’s nice and light. :-)

      • hello,
        i think this film was released in 1960, and that time M K was just a budding singer.
        Though not exactly a budding, he won some national singing competition and was given a song in soni mahiwal by naushad, in 1958.
        So also, by N datta, in dhool ka phool.
        his connection with sunl dutt, started much later, (to name gumnaam, it was in 1963)

        • I hadn’t paid attention to that bit about MK only beginning his career at this stage… yes, you’re right, of course. I tend to think of him as a contemporary of Rafi’s, which is wrong, since Rafi had been around for much, much longer.

          Thank you for pointing that out. :-)

            • talking about rafi………………………………..
              i came across to the songs of Ardhangini, starring meena kumari and raaj kumar,
              in the film, a 1959 film
              voice of raaj kumar is subir sen and rafi gets all the other songs, with geeta dutt as duets!
              he has 3 such duets, all picturised on extras, except one on Gopi krishna, which is a dance number.
              isnt this odd?
              a lead singer, not getting hero’s songs!
              and comparatively, non famous singer getting main lead songs, let it be one, in this case!
              hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………………..
              Anup.

  8. Thanks for mentioning “Gumraah”. “Chalo ek baar phir se” is an example of top class literary work. It deserves inclusion in top 10 list of best lyrics Hindi Cinema ever produced.

    • Yes, it’s an unforgettable song. The lyrics are brilliant (Sahir, anyway, is a favourite of mine), and I like that Ravi’s music is understated enough to give the lyrics centrestage.

  9. I don’t know how you do this, but now I am feeling super restless and won’t rest till I watch the film. Just a trivia- this movie was re-made into Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge. The premise was the same- one girl, with four uncles. But what a ghastly film that was! You may as well imagine why, it starred Salman Khan and Karishma Kapoor!

    • When I posted this review, I hadn’t known that Dulhan Hum Le Jaayenge (which I hadn’t seen , considering its cast) was a remake of this. I can safely say, even without having seen the remake, that Ek Phool Chaar Kaante is the better film. :-) Do watch whenever you have the time, and let me know what you thought!

  10. I am so happy to know about a light hearted movie. movie can be named as 4 anokhi mulakatein. i feel for dutt saheb character ki ek hi vyakti chaar alag alag jgeh par alag alag roop mein. i was scared of waheeda ji jogan avtaar. open hairs and white saree. Her white shirt and black pant reminds me of vjyanti ji wearing same in sangam. i am looking forward to dutt saheb impressing all chacha ji. I recently watched a comedy movie named Picnic. its a hilarious movie. watching the movie is like a picnic .Anybody who wants to laugh for 2 hours can watch and laugh. the movie is not available for first few minutes.

    • I thought Waheeda looked lovely – so fragile and beautiful – with her hair open and wearing a white sari.

      I will look out for Picnic too. Is it on Youtube?

      • Madhulika ji the film is also chopped in most interesting parts. watch the movie till picnic part 12/15 but then two songs have to watched which are not in the film uploaded. at the end of both 11 and 13 part there are songs which have been cut. two things happened to me i was watching dillagi (1978) . one scene has been cut in all versions. i remember watching the scene preeti ganguly tries to commit suicide and she is asked by her friends and they say tooti hui khidki sey aatm hatya karogi toh bach hi jayogi na. but the scene which remains in the film is preet ganguly friends ask kya hua. she says nahi btaungi and cries scene cut. i am sharing link .
        Picnic 1966 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5RRb3aNUFQ

        ( yeh mera dil le lo)

        (jab mera achal dhalega , most funny song) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ela-wHVXG9g

        • I checked that out – it’s not the entire film at all, just a few scenes here and there, which in my opinion is not worth it. So I will make a note of this film and see if I can find the entire thing somewhere, but I’m going to skip these scenes.

  11. I am late for comments Madhu but thanks for re-introducing to this Romedy. I am a sucker for such movies.. I will check it out.

    I heard both versions of the rock and roll song you linked. I had no idea that these songs existed.. It somehow reminds me of “Jaan Pehchan Ho” and “Eena Meena Deeka”..

    Thanks for the beautiful review..

    • Thank you, Ashish! Yes, Beautiful baby of Broadway is quite reminiscent of the songs you’ve mentioned. Incidentally, Iqbal Singh was called the ‘Elvis Presley of Indian music’ – not hard to see why! Sidharth Bhatia interviewed him for a book, and was telling me that Iqbal Singh told Sidharth that he (Iqbal) used to be in the Navy. And when the Navy got to know of his obsession with pop music, they gave him clear orders: choose between the Navy and music. Iqbal chose music. :-)

  12. I’ve seen this long back and loved it. Where did you find a DVD of the film? Have been looking for it for ages. Sunil Dutt tries very hard to be Shammi-esque in this, like in Waqt – but is much more successful at it in this movie

    • I watched a version online, on Youtube:

      I agree that Sunil Dutt does this role much better than he managed in Waqt. Honestly, his character irritated me a bit in Waqt with those endearments of his for his girlfriend.

  13. Thanks for the link; will watch the movie this weekend. Yes, Sunil Dutt is quite annoying and fake in Waqt…only comes to life in the courtroom scenes

    • I agree. The courtroom scenes are good (though – like almost all courtroom scenes in Hindi cinema – highly improbable) and that’s really where Sunil Dutt comes into his element. Come to think of it, his character inside and outside the court, before and after the murder case trial, seems like it’s two rather than one: two almost completely different men.

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