12 O’Clock (1958)

Years ago, in the good old days when the single channel on Doordarshan was our main source of entertainment and we therefore watched everything that was telecast, I watched 12 O’Clock. I’d already seen Guru Dutt’s big films—Pyaasa, Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam, Kaagaz ke Phool, Chaudhvin ka Chaand. I assumed, based on those (I had yet to watch Bahurani or Saanjh aur Savera, and had thought Mr & Mrs 55 a flash in the pan), that 12 O’Clock would be along the lines of the serious stuff Guru Dutt churned out.

… which this is not. Because this is one of a handful of the films Guru Dutt acted in but did not direct.

The film starts off a little abruptly, on a staircase in a large mansion. An incensed Baani Chowdhury (Waheeda Rehman) is coming down the stairs, and is followed by her brother-in-law (her cousin’s husband), Rai Mohan (Rehman, looking exceptionally handsome). Rai Mohan is trying to reason with Baani: she shouldn’t rush off like this, she knows he and Maya are very fond of her. Baani snaps back at Rai Mohan, saying that Maya (who, it’s obvious, is her cousin, Rai Mohan’s wife) cares no more for Baani than does Rai Mohan. After all, it’s been seven months since Maya went off to Delhi, and she hasn’t, in all that time, written even one letter to Baani.

With one last angry remark that she (Baani) will get her inheritance—they can’t withhold it from her—she flounces out. Some time later, she turns up at the home of her mamaji, her maternal uncle (Hari Shivdasani), who is more than happy to have Baani stay with him. Baani tells him she’s got a job, too, and will be starting work the next day.

The job is that of secretary to a lawyer named Ajay (Guru Dutt). Baani arrives at Ajay’s chambers and is met by Ajay’s assistant and childhood friend Motilal ‘Moti’ (Johnny Walker), who initially mistakes Baani for a client and jumps to the conclusion that she’s come seeking a divorce. This gets sorted out swiftly, what with Baani showing him her appointment letter [it’s never explained who interviewed Baani and got her this job, which is puzzling, since Ajay and Moti seem to be solely in charge of this place].

Ajay, when Baani is ushered into his office, is immediately entranced. This attraction, helped along by a couple of songs—and by the fact that it turns out that Baani’s mamaji is Ajay’s neighbour—soon grows into love. Ajay begins to spend evenings playing chess with mamaji, while Baani sits by and the two young lovers exchange banter that completely goes over mamaji’s head.

Meanwhile, two things happen. First, we see Baani’s jijaji Rai Mohan at his workplace, a hotel [Naturally. If you’re looking for vice, a hotel is the obvious choice]. Several business associates, from whom Rai Mohan is seeking investments to help open new hotels, have come. They see a dance performance [a young Helen lip-syncing to Arre tauba], and one of the men asks Rai Mohan where the previous dancer has gone. Oh, she’s on leave, says Rai Mohan, and that’s the end of that particular conversation.

Later, however, we discover the reason for that ex-dancer’s absence: she’s away in Delhi. Rai Mohan too lands up in Delhi and makes two visits. One is to his wife, Maya (Sabita Chatterjee), who is very happy to see him. Rai Mohan is the very image of the loving husband who’s been missing his wife. It’s time to come back to Bombay, he tells her. He’ll book tickets for them both, and they’ll go home. Maya is happy; she’s also been missing Baani, and wonders if all is well: she’s written so many letters to Baani, and not one has been acknowledged or answered. [Ah-ha].

Rai Mohan also visits Neena (Shashikala), who is the dancer, currently on leave, at his hotel. She, it turns out, is not just Rai Mohan’s girlfriend, she’s also recently given birth to his child—which is why she’s been on leave all these months. Rai Mohan tells her he’s booked a train ticket for her from Delhi to Bombay. He goes on to give Neena some more instructions. She is booked into the same compartment as Maya, and is to make sure that in the course of the journey, Maya spends as much time with the baby as possible. In essence, Maya should get the impression that Neena trusts her (Maya) implicitly with the baby.

Then, when the train chugs into Dadar Station at midnight and comes to a halt, Neena is to get off the train immediately, leaving her baby behind in the compartment with Maya. Rai Mohan will look after the rest.

In Bombay, Rai Mohan has already met up with a henchman of his named Khanna. Khanna has been given his orders, along with a pistol and the payment for a job he must carry out. Khanna too arrives in Delhi, at the same hotel where Maya (and now Rai Mohan, since he’s in town) are staying. Rai Mohan introduces Khanna to Maya as an old and reliable friend; Khanna dines with them a few times. Thus, when Rai Mohan suddenly springs it on Maya that because of some urgent work, he won’t be able to go with her, Maya accepts (though with annoyance) his suggestion that Khanna accompany Maya instead.

Having given this excuse to Maya, Rai Mohan sneaks back to Bombay.

On the night when the train is to arrive, Baani comes to meet Rai Mohan. She is no more kindly disposed towards him than she was the last time, and tells him bluntly that once her didi (Maya) is back, she’s going to claim the inheritance her chachaji had left. Rai Mohan, in his charmingly reassuring way, tells Baani that of course that will happen; in the meantime, will she come with him to the station to meet Maya, who will be arriving shortly?

So Baani goes along with Rai Mohan to the station. En route, Rai Mohan manages to surreptitiously slip a pistol into Baani’s handbag without her noticing.

At the station, when the train steams into the platform and stops, Maya comes to the door. Baani, feeling hot and sweaty, reaches into her bag for a handkerchief—and pulls out the pistol instead. In the very same instant, Khanna, who’s alighted earlier from the train, fires at Maya, killing her. Baani, frightened, fires the pistol she’s holding in her hand, too. Maya dies, Khanna flees on a motorbike, and is shortly after rammed by a passing vehicle and dies in the accident.

Baani is arrested. When interrogated, she—already a bundle of nerves—begins to cry and insists that she did not kill Maya. She does not even know where the pistol in her bag came from, and she didn’t shoot. Ajay, summoned, comes rushing to comfort Baani and to find out more, but there’s little Baani can tell him; she herself doesn’t know what has happened.

The case goes to court, and there, some revelations are made.

Firstly, the ballistics expert’s report comes in. Maya was hit twice; one bullet grazed her, the other killed her. The bullets came from two different pistols, both .38s. The pistol that was seized from Baani—and which Baani denies all knowledge of—is a .38. It’s not commonly available, says the ballistics expert; licenses for a .38 are not given out easily.

Then comes the revelation of Maya’s father’s will. It turns out that Maya’s father had willed his entire fortune to Maya. In case of Maya’s death, her fortune was to pass to her offspring. And, in case Maya did not have any children, the fortune was to pass to Baani. This, then, seems to be a plausible reason for Baani to have bumped off Maya. Except that—another revelation—Baani does not know that Maya had actually given birth while in Delhi. She came back to Bombay in the train with her baby, who was in the compartment with her…

Baani is well and truly framed, and Rai Mohan has concocted a neat enough plan to get his hands on his late wife’s wealth and get Baani out of the way. Will Ajay be able to discover the truth and save Baani?

What I liked about this film:

The basic premise of it. It shows a smart and unscrupulous criminal at work, who works out a good way to have his cake and eat it too. The pace of the film is good too, with only a few digressions for songs, a wee bit of romance, and some brief comic scenes. The focus is pretty much on the main story, of Rai Mohan’s crookedness and how Ajay (aided by the faithful Moti) gets to the root of the matter.

Rehman. Yes, the rest of the cast is good, too, but Rehman in particular stands out as the suave criminal who is utterly ruthless (he doesn’t even really care for Neena, even though he’s convinced her that she’s his true love: all he wants is a baby he can pass off as his and Maya’s, so that it can inherit the wealth he has his eye on). The charm, the concern for Baani and her welfare, the faux mourning for his dead wife: Rai Mohan (or Rehman, really) pulls it all off with consummate ease.

The songs, composed by OP Nayyar to lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and Majrooh Sultanpuri. Tum jo hue mere humsafar is probably the best-known of these, but there are several others which are good, including Arre tauba, Main kho gaya yaheen kaheen, and Kaisa jaadoo balam tune daara.

What I didn’t like:

The main problem with far too many Hindi suspense films is that they fall prey to the need to add commercial elements—the romance, the comedy, the songs, even the more sensational bits expected of thrillers. Scripts end up catering to these to such an extent that the mystery suffers. That is what happens with 12 O’Clock as well: the basic plot, while good, goes haywire in the details. There are plot holes galore, and too many things left to chance, unexplained, or otherwise just plain implausible.

As an example, the framing of Baani by Rai Mohan leaves too much to chance. First of all, Baani arrives at Rai Mohan’s place on that particular evening by chance. Secondly, there’s the coincidence that when she puts her hand into her bag to take out the handkerchief, what emerges is the pistol—and it goes off. Chance upon chance upon chance. Could Rai Mohan have been certain that Baani would start feeling so hot just then? And that she would open her bag (and not have the handkerchief already clutched in her hand)? And that she would draw forth the pistol and it would go off? That’s a bit too much.

Plus (and this wasn’t unexpected for me), the courtroom scenes are a mess. Lawyers (especially the prosecution) rely on bluster and shouting down the accused to prove a point, rather than presenting solid proof; objections are raised (and sustained) without giving any reason for the objection, and it’s all generally pretty painful.

Besides, my personal opinion was that if we, the audience, had not been made privy to Rai Mohan’s plotting from the very beginning, this would have made for a much better film. Here, because we already know who did it (and the motive emerges soon after, too), it’s simply a game of sitting back and watching how Ajay gets Baani acquitted. Not as interesting as it could have been.

Still, though, an enjoyable enough film. You could watch worse.


69 thoughts on “12 O’Clock (1958)

  1. I had intending to watch this for a long time, but never really got to it. The basic premise of the plot sounds good, but the details are really far-fetched (asking a woman to leave her baby with her rival and the other details, you’ve mentioned), but I can imagine, that the movie is still better than its contemporaries.
    The mirror framing reminds one of Chaudhvin ka Chand.
    Thanks for the review, dear Madhu.


    • Yes, the details are very far-fetched, and too much depends on chance. But this is any day better than the sort of mindless stuff NA Ansari (for one) was so good at churning out. At least it has some great actors, and the music is good. :-)

      Glad you enjoyed the review, Harvey! Thanks for commenting – the number of people reading my blog (other than song lists) has fallen off so sharply over the past few months that I’ve been seriously thinking of shutting this down. Your comments and your loyalty keep me going. Thank you.


      • I sincerely hope that you don’t mean what you’ve written in the second paragraph. Please, please do NOT consider shutting down your reviews and (oh,the horror!) your blog! Every workday at lunch time, I visit your blog ..this is my refuge from the mundaneness of everyday life. I look forward to new posts on it…To me, Madhulika Liddle is as much a favourite blogger as a favourite author!
        Please keep the reviews coming.


        • That is sweet of you, thank you! Yes, over the past month or so, I’ve increasingly been getting the impression that so few people seem to actually read my posts, that there’s no real point in my slogging over them. After all, it takes a lot of effort to watch films (effort, because out of every five films I watch – in the hope that one will be worth writing about, perhaps none are worth even thinking about). Plus, of course, writing the posts…

          But you’ve cheered me up considerably. Thank you. :-)


  2. On my wishlist for a long time as I love watching the Dutt-Rehman-Walker troika. But, Indian mysteries (barring a few) are never very satisfying. Thanks for the review.


    • Thank you, Neeru! Yes, Indian mysteries are rarely satisfying. This one isn’t even a mystery, really, since we know who the culprit is and what his motive is. Off the cuff, the Indian films that I thought did a good job of a mystery are Ittefaq, Saajan, Shikaar, Teesri Manzil and Andha Naal. Others, too, from later years (and some which were good on the mystery angle but lacked in other respects, or some which are great entertainers but have plot holes)…


      • Of the films that you have mentioned, I haven’t watched SHIKAAR or ANDHA NAAL but now will look for them on You Tube. ITTEFAQ is amongst the best and I am looking forward to its new version. TEESRI MANZIL is good though my favourite Vijay Anand mystery is JEWEL THIEF. Among others, I thought DHUAN, DHUND, KHOJ, BAHARON KI MANZIL, MANORMA- SIX FEET UNDER were pretty good. I am also looking forward to the release of VODKA DIARIES.


        • Shikar is quite a good one. Andha Naal uses the multiple narrative effect pretty well, though it does have some fairly theatrical acting in places.

          And you have given me some ideas for films I haven’t watched yet – Dhuan, Khoj and Bahaaron ki Manzil. Thank you!


  3. I came to know of this film only because of the super-frothy track “Main Kho Gaya Yahin Kaheen”. Maybe its choreography is inspired by “Jaane Na Nazar” from Aah.


  4. Mystery genre never was easy anywhere in the world,a.c.doyle’s and sax rohmer’s era was superceded by the thriller era unleashed by Leslie Charteris and James Hadley Chase.Alfred hitchcock strived to bring back mystery by his painstaking anthologies of mystery stories written by the best authors of that time,but it was a lost cause.2006 was a watershed year when thriller and action merged to produce the magnificent works,Casino Royale and Crank.No mystery will ever contend with the brutal energies of Daniel Craig and Jason Statham.Wolf Larsen and his creator Jack London would be proud of the resurgence of the british muscle.Good bye,the Arthurs of Ireland and their alter egos Sherlock holmes and Nayland smith.Welcome the saint and mark girland and james bond.


    • I must admit, I’d rather a good mystery any day over a thriller. Thrillers are literally that – they’re all about edge-of-the-seat thrills, cat-and-mouse games, stuff like that. A mystery where you don’t know what is happening, who is responsible, and so on… bring it on. To be honest, of all the thrillers I’ve seen, I rarely remember the story of any. But mysteries are a different ball game.


      • It is strange Madhulika that while reading a book I love to read a Who-dunn-it over a thriller (esp the recent ones narrated by a hysterical/neurotic girl/woman which are all being marketed as Psychological Thrillers – give me a break), in movies I enjoy thrillers as much as mysteries.

        And IMO current Hollywood is even worse than present day Bollywood. Give me a Rebecca, Meet John Doe, Strangers on a Train, Leave Her to the Heavens, Arsenic and Old Lace (Oh Cary Grant, where art thou gone?:) to any of the movies being churned out nowadays.


        • I think the problem with too many thrillers – Bollywood or Hollywood – is that they rely mostly on action and pace to keep the interest of the audience. To some extent, I don’t mind that (Hitchcock was superb at it; there are several films of his where the mystery itself isn’t great, but the journey to the denouement is very satisfying)… what I don’t care for is when it’s all thrills and chase, and nothing to be puzzled about. I guess that’s the mystery writer in me speaking!

          Oh, yes. Cary Grant. *swoons*. And those films. One there that I’d never heard of before – Leave Her to the Heavens – so I shall look out for that pronto.


  5. Hi there :)
    First time that I’m commenting on one of your posts I think. – I totally agree with you as far as plot holes, too much chance etc are concerned, but I would recommend this film wholeheartedly!
    It was Pramod Chakravorty’s debut as a director; before that he was Guru Dutt’s assistant, and he was Geeta Dutt’s brother-in-law, so I guess it was a question of honour for his colleagues to support him here – there’s also VK Murthy’s cinematography as one of the film’s good points.
    It was released in 1958, so I suppose shooting took place between the twin success of “C.I.D.” and “Pyaasa” and the emotional (plus monetary) desaster of “Kaagaz Ke Phool”. I have watched all of Guru Dutt’s films except “Sautela Bhai” and “Sanjh aur Savera”, but I’ve never seen him so much at ease as here. His interacting with Johnny is so much fun, and I dare say often improvised; it obviously did him good not to shoulder direction and production as well.
    And this is the only film to have a happy love story for Waheeda and Guru! Sure, being thrown into prison as a murder suspect is not fun, but compared to the usual existential crisis’ they have to deal with it’s a problem that can easily be solved :)
    Let me mention that idyllic waltzing-in-the-woods song (the way Waheeda flirts! :O ) And that bathroom song made my jaw drop :D Well, I know that it’s not the same bathroom. Not even the same appartment. But it’s so obvious that they’ve spent the night together (in 1950s India)… The fun when they meet again in the office…Their happy faces when they fall into each other’s arms in the courtroom. Pure delight! (And a glimpse at what might have been..sigh…)
    And then the “dark” couple, Rehman and Shashikala are both awesome. I think you’re right when you say he doesn’t love her, but omg, what passion in that telephone scene!
    And there’s Abrar Alvi who had a degree in law playing a lawyer. There’s wonderful Geeta Dutt singing for 3 (!) very different actresses (Helen, Shashikala and Waheeda – and she sang most beautifully for Waheeda), supported by Mohammed Rafi and Shamshad Begum. And there’s the background score that offers A LOT of tunes that you may have heart before but you can’t tell exactly where LOL…
    I could go on…
    So, watch this little gem of a film; especially if you’re a fan of Guru Dutt, you may be surprised :)


    • Manuela, thank you for that long and interesting comment! I had thought of putting in, as trivia, that bit about Abrar Alvi playing the lawyer, but eventually left it out (more because I forgot than anything else) – glad to see you mention it. I do like, too, that this the only Guru Dutt-Waheeda film where they have a hassle-free (more or less) romance.

      “But it’s so obvious that they’ve spent the night together (in 1950s India)…

      I really, really doubt that. Not a hero and heroine, not a heroine who is staying in her uncle’s home. In a 70s film (Heera-Panna, for example), this might be permissible (though even there, both ‘bad’ girls who sleep with a man before they’re married to him end up dead), I’m certain this could not have been the intended message in Main kho gaya yahin kahin.


  6. Madhuji,
    I am in total agreement with you about plot holes. Most Bollywood movies including even the ones by reputed directors did not worry too much about logic and common sense. This was and is my biggest gripe about Indian movies. The most annoying ones being: Police officers shown with much too long hair and the second one being the police officer shown driving his official vehicle.
    The one noteworthy point about Waheeda Rehman is her ability to work with all the top heroes of the 60s. Not just work with but also be a part of masterpieces like Guide, Teesri Kasam, Pyaasa, Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam, Mujhe Jeene Do, Khamoshi etc.


    • “Police officers shown with much too long hair and the second one being the police officer shown driving his official vehicle.

      So, so true! My father used to be in the IPS, so – from a very young age – I’ve always squirmed when I see filmi police officers depicted with hair that’s touching their collars and ears. Also, one thing that’s really absurd is the frequent appearance of officers always dressed in full dress uniform. The tunic, the Sam Browne: that was regalia my father only ever wore to major events like the Republic Day parade!

      Waheeda Rehman was immensely versatile – and yes, she seems to be able to work with just about anyone.


  7. One of the first films I reviewed when I started my blog. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, even with the loopholes.

    p.s. Please don’t shut the blog down! I look forward to your posts every week.


    • Yes, even with the loopholes, it’s still an enjoyable film. :-) I must go and read your review of it, Anu.

      You and a couple of others have helped shore up my flagging desire to keep this blog going. Thank you, Anu!


  8. Yeah,you can’t shut the blog when a warrior like Anu is at your side,and being a Liddell you’ve to keep running to stay at one place.I am closely associated with the blog ‘mandelaeffect.com’ which has been put on freeze because the comments traffic was huge and fiona broome was exhausted after hectic 6 years.I once told her you’re due for a big wikipediia page but she shrugged,and now wikipedia is struggling hard to keep her out for she has transcended the index.By the way i have quoted the Alice in wonderland and thru the looking glass extensively in the blog.An idea of mine is to create a topic for audiophillic songs of hindi movies,and i have given a clue to Memsaab in one of comments.


    • “being a Liddell you’ve to keep running to stay at one place.

      I don’t quite get that, to be honest. If the reference is to Eric Liddell, I’d think running would be to get really far ahead of the pack!

      I have been keeping this blog running for nearly 9 years to Fiona Broome’s 6, and to be honest, it has mostly been a result of self-motivation, especially over the last three or four years. The most depressing part is when I get really excited about some little-known film which turns out to be a gem, and whose review draws almost no attention. Here I am, read this, you have to watch this!! is what I’m trying to say, but nobody’s listening. Writing about well-known movies or drawing up song lists is all very well, but it gives me great satisfaction to ‘discover’ a film, too…

      Anyway, getting off my soap box now.


  9. With ‘Liddell’ i meant Alice liddell,the girl that inspired Lewis carroll to pen the immortal 2 books,Alice’s adventures in wonderland and Through the looking glass.scientists,philosophers and mathematicians in severel countries are still unravelling the hidden gems in those stories,and i am one of them.


    • Ah. I should’ve realized that, considering the reference to the Alice books in your first comment – the only excuse I can offer is that I haven’t been well (my head has been swimming, for some odd reason – and it’s obviously had an effect on my brain as well). Also, perhaps because of my family’s connection with Eric Liddell, his is the first name that springs to my mind, even though I’m well aware of Alice Prudence’s claim to fame. :-)


  10. Hi Madhu
    Love reading your reviews and blog and it is a treat to read the comments as well. Please do not stop writing, there are still some of us around who so appreciate old cinema, particularly since we are being bombarded by senseless, loud movies rehashing the same plot with whatever passes for dialogue and music today. Am I really that old!


    • Thank you so much, Nishi! That is very kind of you. :-)

      And yes, I do agree with you about the ‘senseless, loud movies’ of more modern times. I think some film makers today are beginning to make rather more sensitive and well-thought out films, but the majority still tend to be hard to sit through. With films of the 50s and 60s, it’s only very occasionally that I come across one that is simply unbearable. Usually, even if the story wasn’t great, the acting might be good. And the music, one could almost always depend upon – if it wasn’t outright good, at least it would not be painful.


  11. I remember 12 O’Clock as a not-particularly-well-made thriller, its main saving grace being OP Nayyar’s lovely music (with two club songs by Geeta Dutt!), but nevertheless it was enjoyable reading your review. And I discovered that Abrar Alvi acted in the movie. Please don’t stop posting your reviews of old films!


    • Yes, the songs were really what made this film more watchable for me. It’s not as terrible a thriller as the type NA Ansari churned out, but it’s nowhere on the same level as – say – one of Navketan’s films, like Nau Do Gyarah.

      And no, I will not stop posting reviews, at least in the next few months. Thank you for that comment. :-)


  12. Oh madhuji,
    Dont even think of shutting down ur blog!
    How horrible!
    No no
    Dont think of it
    We all need ur film reviews and song lists too.
    U r the first one to comment on my blog posts! I am used to it now
    The first comment comes from u.
    And u really reply as soon as possible.
    U r so enthusiast.
    U have encourged to me to start my own blog.
    Dont shut down!


    • Hehe. :-) Thank you for that impassioned pleading. It’s just that after so many years (nearly 9), it’s exhausting to do so much work and find that nobody’s reading it. My level of self-motivation has begun to flag.

      But yes, so many comments on this post, telling me to keep going – that will hopefully keep this blog alive for the next few months, at least.


  13. Richard bach in ‘Illusions’ says ynu have to churn out new posts so long as there is even a single person to listen to you.and there may be many who read them without commenting.


    • Richard Bach could probably afford to say that.

      The point is, when you don’t really make a living out of your writing, then the next best thing is to get appreciation for it. And silent appreciation – how do I even know it’s there? If I can’t hear a word in response, how will I know there’s anybody listening to what I’m saying?


    • The exact words Fiona used,not making a living out of strenous daily commitment of 2 hrs.Only difference is,a third of comments were snarky and insulting and the rest were die hard followers like me,she rued that while she was neglecting her job of writing ghost hunting books,people were being ungrateful.Still the reason for freezing her blog mandelaeffect.com was,according to her,we were getting too close to some of top secret strategic quantum physics applications,and she was getting sounded off by powers that be.The site is a raging meme and there were more than 10,000 comments till the stop.But yes she wasn’t making money and that mattered most.


  14. Please don’t stop posting!!! :D I’ve been following this blog for many months without commenting but am really really enjoying it. I simply felt too new to Classic films to comment anything – it’s only been 18 months since I started watching them (first one was “Awaara”, followed by “Kaagaz Ke Phool”). . Also my written English feels, well, clumsy :))


  15. Although I am a fan of Guru Dutt, I had not heard about this film. It is your ability to dig over the forgotten and uncommon films that I appreciate. I believe that many, many more people would be reading you blogs even though not commenting – for people may be hesitant to comment upon an article written by a specialist of that field. Moreover ‘writing’ a comment requires effort and sometimes we are just pain lazy to do that. SO YOU SHOULD CONTINUE WRITING YOUR BLOG.

    Coming back to Guru Dutt, it is difficult to comprehend his personality. To me he was a romanticist, cynic and a fatalist – all rolled in one – both in real life and in the character portrayed in some of his later ‘great’ films (which almost seem to be semi-autobiographical). One feels remorse on the tragic end of his life. But in retrospect, it is not surprising that a person with belief ‘ek haath se deti hai duniya, sau haathon se leti hai’ would contemplate suicide.


    • “Moreover ‘writing’ a comment requires effort and sometimes we are just pain lazy to do that.

      I find that a little ironic, actually. :-) You do realize that it takes a lot more effort to write a blog post, don’t you? I personally feel that if you have taken the trouble to read a blog post, you should perhaps say something about it. It need not be erudite, it needn’t make me sit up and think, “I didn’t know that!”. It could be anything, about whether you liked the film or not, whether you’d want to see the film (if you haven’t already), even something tangential. It makes me feel less as if I was writing, and my words were merely vanishing into cyberspace, unread, unseen…

      I agree with what you write about Guru Dutt. He does seem to have been a complex character, and one which he was eager to depict in most of his later films.


  16. Hi :) I have recently started reading your blog and I am very impressed! I read a comment here in which you said that you were considering shutting the blog down, I sincerely hope you don’t do this!

    I enjoyed reading this review and it helped me decide to skip this movie, the amount of things left to chance seem overwhelming! I do like one song from here called “Saiyan Teri Ankhiyon Mein Dil Kho Gaya” sung by Shamshad Begum, what did you think of it?

    I am going to be sure to check out as many of your other reviews as I can and I will be posting my 2 cents there as well! :) You have gained a new fan! :D


    • Thank you so much! You and the others who’ve commented on this post, urging me to keep writing, have helped more than you can possibly guess. Thanks!

      I like Saiyaan teri akhiyon mein dil kho gaya well enough, but not as much as the other songs in this film. :-)


  17. Don’t shut down the blog please. I always read them but do not comment. Because I am lazy. I guess there is no “view count” for the blogs, like there is for youtube. I have watched this movie and Iove the music mostly, though not much else.


    • There is a view count, available as part of the stats. But the views stopped mattering to me, after a while. Because if there’s no interaction – if I’m the only one posting (and it takes a lot of time and effort to actually do a post) without anybody (or very few) reacting, then it becomes disheartening.

      I agree with you about the music. I do think that’s the best part about this movie. To be honest, that was mainly what prompted me to rewatch this, and the fact that I’d forgotten much of the story except the core premise of the framing.


  18. Thanks for this review Madhu. I had been wanting to see this movie for a long time only because of Tum Jo Huwe Mere Humsafar.. but it looks like there is heavy price to pay for one song so I will take it off my list.. for now..

    Have not been able to read your blog much these days because of the wordpress site being firewalled on my laptop. So, it’s mostly only when I am not travelling I get to read at peace.

    And please, I hope you don’t stop blogging. It’s one place where I feel like a kid in a candy store. You have an amazing talent to write so eloquently and not just the art of writing but the content is so very appealing, and I know I am not the only one but there are many who read it frequently..


    • Ashish, thank you so much! You are one of the few people who do comment frequently on my blog, so – along with Harvey and Anu – that gripy comment was certainly not directed at you. ;-) Thank you, again. If only for the three of you, I will keep writing.

      Yes, 12 O’Clock isn’t a film you should put on your ‘I must watch this’ list. Listen to tum jo hue mere humsafar again, and you’re good to go. :-)


      • I haven’t watched this film, but I so want to. The print on YouTube doesn’t seem especially exciting but the songs are so lovely… I’m not a cinephile but I have time on my hands and I’m really enjoying the blog recommendations.


        • Yes, the print is pretty bad – I guess this was released only on VCD, not on DVD. It isn’t one of Guru Dutt’s more popular films, perhaps that’s why. But yes, the songs. :-) Do watch, if you get the time.


  19. Madhu ji , Namaste.
    I hav been reading nd commenting here for last few months as before that I wasn’t aware of Ur blog.

    I hav started reading it right from the beginning . I hav reached upto Feb.2009 .

    In following the comment on movie
    “12 O’clock ” , I came to know that last year , around this time , U were thinking of shutting down the blog Nd then U dropped the idea on the requests of Ur readers.

    I too hav gone thru this phase. On my whatsapp group which had a good no.of members , I had started 2 series
    लता मंगेशकर – आवाज एक चेहरे अनेक
    आशा भोसले – कितने रुप कितने रंग
    I used to post 1 song each in both themes every week having songs picturized on different heroines , plus I used to give a small write – up about it .
    It went on for more than a year.
    But as U hav stated , I too found the same silent readers , no remarks – no positive or negative comments – nothing.
    I felt sad day by day , it affected my health nd I lost the peace of my mind.
    So one fine morning I decided to withdraw myself from all this thankless jobs.
    A very little no.of readers inquired about it nd there was the end.
    But still sometimes I repent of having stopped that.

    But it is good that U changed Ur mind nd kept writing .

    I enjoy Ur posts a lot. Ur selection of movies , song – lists , write – ups nd screen caps – everything is praise – worthy.
    Just a suggestion
    Don’t write on bad – worse – worst movies nd books , introduce good – better – best movies , books nd tourist places only.

    Our dear friend Anup ji may b also passing thru this phase . ” Mehfil mein meri ” is such a nice blog but there also the no.of comments nd appreciation is less.

    Madhu ji , I apologise for this lengthy comment nd thnx once again for Ur posts.


    • Pramodji, thank you so much for the appreciation, and for the commiseration! I think very few people – especially those who get it for free and don’t have to labour over it – realize how much effort goes into sustaining a blog, or something like what you mention having done. To find suitable songs, to write about them, and post them for so long, takes will power and work. But I suppose it is human nature to take for granted something that comes your way without asking!

      “Don’t write on bad – worse – worst movies nd books , introduce good – better – best movies , books nd tourist places only.

      I will pass up that suggestion. For several reasons. One, because that will mean I will not be able to review hundreds of films (for instance, lots of Hindi films which had great songs but were otherwise not memorable). Secondly, because sometimes the worst films and books make for good reviews. Thirdly, because (since I am a professional writer), I learn as much – if not more – from bad cinema and bad writing as I do from good. And, lastly, because, as a reviewer, I consider it my duty to warn people off books and films they shouldn’t watch. There is a lot out there – cinema as well as writing – which is much-touted because it has become popular to say that it is good; but my opinion may differ. And I’d like to air that opinion.

      Thanks for the comment. :-)


    • Thank you Pramodji for mentioning my blog and your praising words.
      Madhuji told me to follow my heart, to write what I want to, and not to think about Number of visitors. I’m following her advice happily.
      Though at times I feel bad about it, it’s ok. I have to concentrate on my medical practice as well, so I do it whenever I get time.


      • Actually, what I’ve noticed is that there are ups and downs. Sometimes, for months altogether, the blog languishes (and that especially hurts when you know you’ve written a good post, about a good film, but nobody seems to have read your post!). And then, suddenly, for a post one thought one would barely get any comments, there’s a flood. One should take it as it comes. Karmanye vaadhikaaraste… etc.

        Plus, your blog is only a year old, Anupji, Give it time. :-)


      • Yes.what Madhu ji has suggested U is correct.
        स्वान्त सुखाय means one shud work for his own happiness.If we get pleasure from what we write then it doesn’t matter the comments nd responses.
        Well , I must admit that I hav nt followed this rule regarding my whatsapp series nd sometimes I repent for having shut them down.

        So Anup ji , आगे बढो , हम तुम्हारे साथ हैं।
        Nd Madhu ji , a special thanks to U for showing Anup ji the right way.


  20. Madhulika, this is a wonderful review of a film that wasn’t so well known (I have reason to believe). When we think of Waheed-Guru Dutt combo, we only think of the more popular films.
    I completely agree with Pramodjhi’s and your views. As it is, you don’t get a paisa for writing film reviews. I have reviewed all films only because of my passion for Hindi movies and nothing else. I love writing and so it is cathartic for me.

    I empathize with Pramod Sir’s situation. When I communicate about my reviews to my Whatsapp groups there is hardly any response. My recommendation is – the zero the expectation, the greater is the peace of our mind. Why should we spoil our health just because others don’t value our efforts!

    Most people on social media channels like Whatsapp are addicted to junk stuff and mindless forwards and jokes. I have stray comments on my reviews on MoneyLife – earlier it bothered me – now it doesn’t.

    I am sure that I won’t give up my passion just because some people did not care for my efforts! Now I write ONLY for myself and my satisfaction.

    Madhulika, your reviews are too good. You have a great flair for writing – for heaven’s sake do not give up your core competency! Just get into the habit of not expecting anything and you will end up with miraculous results. (I know it is easier said than done – but we have to make a beginning somewhere, isn’t it).

    On a positive note, today people’s attention is getting diverted on several fronts – I know of friends who check their email once a month ..now how do you react to this? So, when there a plethora of things, people fail to prioritize. Plus, reading habits are on the wane and everyone wants to write!


    • “You have a great flair for writing – for heaven’s sake do not give up your core competency!

      Thank you so much for the lavish praise. That’s really flattering, and I’m truly grateful to you for that.

      My problem, though, is a little different. It’s not as if my writing isn’t getting read. The fact is, I am a writer by profession. I’m a novelist and short story writer, so I actually have a lot to write. I began this blog before I was writing books back-to-back, and now, when I’m at the stage where I work on several books simultaneously, I need a solid reason to take time out from writing books to keep this blog running. Sometimes, I feel I should just chuck this blog and focus on my books. Other times, I think of all the people – like you, today – who have praised my writing, and that brings me back here.

      So, thank you, again!


          • i thought as much . the film did not do well because of complicated mystery . compare this movie to c i d which was runaway success which had a simple story and lock up death issue . otherwise both films had tilting music . infact the lock up death suspense did repeat in dostana 1970s


            • Personally, I liked the music of CID more, but yes, overall, this film also had good music. I think in CID the entire package was excellent – the direction, the very noir feel, plus of course the cast.


              • Yes I fully agree about music of c i d I dont remember how many times i have seen this movie and each time how i miss the deleted song . There is no way to retrive the Reel of that song?


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