Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966)

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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:

  1. Sing
  2. Ride horses
  3. Change outfits a zillion times
  4. 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.

38 thoughts on “Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966)

  1. Oh man! I admire you for sitting through it, even if for 15 minutes at a time!

    Are we supposed to admire the ‘yaari’ that makes men do stupid things all the time? And of course! the woman gets no say in the matter. Honestly, if my husband put his friends first and made such a cockamamie plan to ‘save’ them, I think he would have been handed divorce papers on the spot.

    Poor, poor you!

    p.s. Poor Dharam hammed his way through sooo many movies! :)

    • “Are we supposed to admire the ‘yaari’ that makes men do stupid things all the time?

      Seriously! And Hindi cinema is so full of men being completely idiotic when it comes to bromances. Look at Feroz Khan, for instance, acting as countless characters for whom the man whom the woman really loves gives up his love. All because of dost. Who cares whom the woman wants?

      Yes, Dharmendra did end up hamming his way through a lot of movies. He got some frightful roles in some ugh movies. I’m trying to forget International Crook

      • looool International Crook! It was terrible but I still enjoyed it because it’s so weird. I love the way they obviously ran out of money to finish the film it was supposed to be so then they slapped on some more footage 5 to ten years later and pretended it was a movie.

        • I, thankfully, have forgotten the nuances (if you can call them that) of that awful movie, but I still remember that credits song (was it?) that went International crook-crook-crook-crook.

          Oh, God. Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya is Oscar-worthy material compared to that.

      • From Wikipedia:
        Ashok (Dharmendra) and Amjad (Rehman) are thick friends. This movie showcases their immense loyalty and selfless friendship.

        *head to desk* You know what? If they love each other so much, perhaps they should stick together, and leave the poor women alone!

        (You can tell I’m not in a good mood!)

        • LOL! That’s probably taken directly from the movie’s credits:

          So irritating, this idea that everything must be sacrificed to somehow uphold that friendship. A pretty shabby friendship, I’d think, if it must need such sacrifices to protect it.

    • You know I always thought that Hindi cinema was and even today for the most part, is quite homoerotic when it comes to bromances.

      • I read this comment yesterday, and since I couldn’t respond to it right then, ended up thinking about it. It also made me wonder why friendships between women are rarely (never in old cinema, at least?) ever shown in such a way – not merely homoerotic, but even the I-will-do-anything-for-you way. Sahelis seem to be there only to tease the heroine and to help her in her romance, but that’s all. Rarely, if ever, are they in a position of being a rival and of causing a real dilemma.

        I wonder if that’s another manifestation of the patriarchal structure of Bollywood, which gives no importance to a relationship – even if just friends, not necessarily lovers – between two women.

  2. I have heard this film was terrible, now I know why. You suffered great pain but we got a funny review. Thank you.

    I like Kaliyon ne ghoonghat khole and Main Suraj Yoon tu meri Kiran in addition to the songs you mentioned.

    • You’re welcome, Ava! And thank you. :-)

      Kaliyon ne ghoonghat khole is a good song, yes. I think by the time Main suraj hoon came on, I was already so sick of this film, I didn’t pay much attention to it. I should listen to that song again.

  3. I loved this review. For more things than one, but mostly for the subtle humour. I have a connection with this film, in the sense that this is the first Hindi film I saw after bunking school. In 1977. We had lined up at the counter of Elphinston to see Sangram (Shatru, Danny, Reena Roy, et al) but there was such chaos in the queue (which is normal when it is Patna, but we were 13-year-old rookies with absolutely no experience) that we went to the next hall in the line – Regent. Saw one half on day 1 and the second half on day 2, else moms would have been suspicious.

  4. Your sacrifice of those torturous 15 minutes won’t go in vain!! I wonder what circumstances must have led these actors (or their discretion) to accept this film(if it can be called that.)🤣

    • I suppose it was a question of sacrificing quality work for work which paid. Nutan (possibly) was getting fewer good roles by the late 1960s, and she worked in some very melodramatic and painful films by this time. Dharmendra seems to have not been very judicious in selecting roles; I’ve seen him in some pretty awful roles – and the same goes for Rehman.

  5. :) I might be tempted to watch the movie just because of the review DO !!!
    It seems borderline hilarious , you know …so bad that it is good :D

    And I don’t like the title song even.. in my memory it drones on and on and on…

    • Glad you liked the review, ak. :-)

      To be honest, it’s not as if I really like the title song – it’s just that in comparison to the rest of the movie, at least that comes across as somewhat better. I was scraping the barrel for good things to say about this film, I guess.

      • And guess what ! The review compelled me to watch the movie… on fast forward though… but it was rip-roaringly cringe-worthy ! OOF !!

        SPOILER (as if anything can spoil this movie that is !! )

        And the last scene … Ashok , who has been hit by a bullet to his heart, first scrunching up his face in Rahman’s lap and the next scene is him clutching his ripped (all puns intended ) heart and walking off (how did he get up and all that ???) behind a full-blooded spectre (the movie abounds in contradictions ! ) of Ashu-Nutan … who goes prancing off the hill ..

        Side splitting hilarious !!

        I thoroughly enjoyed this … perfect get-your-mind-of-the-lockdown fare !

        :))

  6. Bang on. This one, and a few others, are so very difficult to sit through. One wonders what makes producers and directors unleashing such inane stuff on the unsuspecting public.

    • Very well summed up! I got the feeling the Rawals (who seem to have be in charge of this film, doing everything from production to direction to lyrics) had more money than they knew what to do with.

      • Thank you. One of these days, you could consider whipping up a list of movies which are best avoided even in these lockdown-ridden times, even if the producers promise a hapless viewer a substantial sum being credited to their account!
        The only silver lining of watching such inane movies is to make the relatively better ones more palatable; indirectly promoting better cinema!

        • Yes! I’ve been toying with a list of films like that. Chandan ka Palna and Parivaar (not the 1956 one) would certainly feature on that list. Some films redeem themselves (somewhat) by having good music, but some don’t even have that, and then I get really annoyed at having wasted a good three hours or whatever.

          • The one that tops my list is Banphool, starring Babita and Jitendra! It is the only one which I have ever walked out of even before the smell of popcorn to be served during the upcoming interval had started wafting across the lobby.

  7. “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.”

    LOL. I’m commenting before reading your review, Madhu because your opening line truly made me laugh out loud – in sympathy. This movie is SUCH a mess isn’t it? I watched it as a kid back in the 80s and still remember the cognitive dissonance of trying to reconcile that cast with those fabulous songs in this nonsensical a movie.

    • I’m glad even the first line gave you a laugh, Shalini. :-) The only way I could sit through this movie was by trying to figure out creative ways of writing the review. Such a mess, really.

  8. I started reading this review with a heartfelt wish that you will roast this movie thoroughly. And I must say, as usual, your post has lived upto the expectations.

    A few days ago, I had written ‘washing your dirty linen publicly’ aka ‘embarrassing your ex in presence of their current beloved’ song post. One of the reader had mentioned title song of this movie in the comments.

    She was so frustrated with the song and movie that she wanted to push them all of the boat they were sitting in and singing.

    This piqued my interest and I started searching for the movie. But luck prevailed and I found storyline instead of movie. Since then I have avoided this movie like plague.

    So I must appreciate your patience to go through this and entertain us.

    • “She was so frustrated with the song and movie that she wanted to push them all of the boat they were sitting in and singing.

      I completely concur with that sentiment!

  9. This review was a wonderful read, and I will never watch this film :-)
    I don;t particularly like any of the songs too.

    Embarassing your ex in presence of their current –
    (but what if ex again becomes current?)
    great idea for a full post. Gambles, Gumraah, Hum kisise kum nahin, …
    Do a 10-song-list on this theme, please! Your humourous twists will
    make it even more fun.

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