It took me five days to watch this film: I couldn’t bear to watch more than fifteen minutes of it at a time, and I couldn’t do more than two sessions in a day.
That’s what Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya is like. Despite starring Dharmendra, Nutan, and Rehman. Despite being picturized in some very pretty locales. And despite having a couple of not-too-bad songs. By the time this travesty of a film ended, I was wanting to tear my hair out. I thought I wouldn’t review it, but then decided this did need to be reviewed, so that other potential viewers could be warned.
This is going to be a shortish review, since I can’t bring myself to explain every fiddly little detail along the way in what is a convoluted (but pointlessly convoluted) plot.
Ashok (Dharmendra) and Amjad (Rehman) are best friends. They live in the same pokey little flat (for which they haven’t paid the rent in a long time), they work in the same toy store, and they spend all their free time telling each other about their respective girlfriends. Ashok’s sweetheart is Ashu (Nutan), who lives back in the village and is constantly being plagued by Ashok’s nasty stepbrother Bhagat (Jeevan)…
While Amjad’s beloved is Shabnam (whose face we are not shown at this stage). Shabnam is a modern girl, a poetess and a radio performer, which is why Amjad’s somewhat orthodox mother disapproves and has forbidden the marriage.
But Amjad’s luck is about to turn. He is thrown out of his job for accidentally breaking a showcase, and an indignant Ashok—infuriated at the boss’s attitude—also resigns.
Fortunately for Amjad, he’s also received a letter from his mother, saying she has no more objections to Amjad marrying Shabnam. Amjad decides he’ll hurry home and get married (presumably before Ammi can change her mind again), and Ashok says he will go home and fetch Ashu, so that they can attend the wedding together.
Ashok gets home to his village, only to have Bhagat (Jeevan), along with his servant, Lotay (Randhir) try to kill Ashok by giving him some poisoned milk. Ashok smells a rat and manages to get out of this, but soon discovers, too, that Bhagat has:
- Killed Ashu’s brother (IS Johar, who pretty much appears in this film only for the dubious distinction of being dressed in drag and wooed by Bhagat under the mistaken impression that this ghoonghat-mein-lipti belle is Ashu).
- Kidnapped Ashu and is keeping her imprisoned.
Ashok’s in luck. Ashu has both ESP and a carrying voice: she realizes that help is at hand, and she breaks into song loud enough to guide Ashok towards where she’s hidden. Much “Ashooo!”- “Ashok!” happens, there’s a happy reunion alternating with the beating up of Lotay and sundry goons.
Ashok and Ashu escape, and in between being chased (and nearly killed) by Bhagat, Lotay and crew, they:
- Ride horses
- Change outfits a zillion times
- Pull a fast one on Bhagat, by disguising themselves as a fakir and his wife
And, as a result of #4, get captured all over again. Fortunately for Ashok, he’s kept prisoner in the house of a man (also played by Dharmendra), who, under all that facial hair, is Ashok’s lookalike. This man is married to Ramkali (Tuntun), who has a penchant for disappearing from the scene every now and then, just as her husband has a penchant for drinking bhang.
This makes it easy for Ashok to knock him out, wrench off his moustache and hair (and, presumably, use them as false moustache and wig—though how that’s possible, I don’t know)… and go, in this disguise, to save Ashu once again.
After all this exhausting activity, Ashok and Ashu wind up in the train taking them to Amjad’s town to attend his wedding. This being Hindi cinema (and travelling by train almost an invitation to being killed/maimed/near-drowned), the train has an accident. Both Ashok and Ashu are seriously injured, and Ashu dies in the hospital just as Amjad, having heard the news, arrives. Ashok is still unconscious, so Amjad (naturally) takes him home to recuperate.
Now, since Ashok and Ashu had wasted so much time gallivanting about the countryside, Amjad and Shabnam had got married. We are now introduced to Shabnam. And (this came as no surprise to me, really: there has to be a reason why her face was never shown earlier): she is the spitting image of Ashu.
Amjad being the devoted friend that he is, is very concerned about Ashok. When the doctor tells him that Ashok would recover if Ashu were around (but Ashu, of course, has handed in her dinner pail…), Amjad decides there’s only one thing to be done: Shabnam should masquerade as Ashu and nurse Ashok back to health.
Shabnam baulks at the plan, but Amjad is adamant: does she think he doesn’t value his friendship at all? Will she not do this much for his friend? He’s not even asking for much; just that she should act as nurse, no more. Eventually, because she cannot say no to all the hectic emotional blackmail, Shabnam agrees.
What happens next you can well imagine, because nobody has told Ashok that ‘Ashu’ is supposed to only be his nurse.
What I liked about this film:
A couple of the songs (the music was composed by Sonik Omi, to lyrics by GL Rawal). Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya is full of songs (many of them just there for the sake of it, not because they fit with the story). Some of these were fairly popular, but about the only ones which I like somewhat are the title song and the oft-repeated Aaja re pyaar pukaare.
What I didn’t like:
Oh, so much.
For one, the completely inane, meandering plot through most of the film. Until Ashok arrives at Amjad’s home half-dead, very little of lasting worth to the story really happens; the mindless singing-dancing-fleeing from Bhagat business is very tiresome and eventually achieves little. There are pointless comic elements (IS Johar’s brief stint as Ashu’s brother, Amjad’s servant’s aborted romance with a seamstress, Tuntun acting as the wife of the Ashok-lookalike). There are too many songs, several of them screechy enough to be unpleasant.
Plus, the plot holes. How does Ashu (given her antecedents, which emerge at the end of the story) have a brother? And why does he get disposed of so suddenly (and why was he even part of the story)? How come Ashok and Amjad, despite being such close friends, never think of showing each other their sweethearts’ photos (given too that they carry around these photos all the time)?
Then, the horribly regressive behaviour of Amjad. You want to save your friend’s life by making your wife masquerade as his sweetheart? And you bully her into doing so, no matter how much she may hate it? This was a man I didn’t like one bit: for him the bromance seemed to be important enough for it to override every other sensibility. It made him ruthless, mean, manipulative, and ultimately exposed as pretty stupid too, since anyone could’ve predicted what would happen.
And, finally, Dharmendra’s acting. I have seen Dharmendra turning out some pretty good performances in films like Satyakam and Anupama, but here? Here he hams like there’s no tomorrow, not another film coming his way.
Final verdict? Avoid. Avoid like the plague.