Do Dil (1965)

Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Music by Hemant, lyrics by Kaifi Azmi.

That, by itself, would be enough to make me want to watch the film. But then, there was the fact I hadn’t known anything about Do Dil before other than its name. And that, for a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film, is odd. I guessed there must be something about it that was very forgettable.

There was only one way to find out: to watch the film for myself. With a crew like that, I figured that it would almost certainly not be outright awful.

Do Dil begins at a palace, with the death of the Maharaja (we are never shown this man). Some days later, though, a number of courtiers convene along with the Maharaja’s lawyer, who reads out the will. The Maharaja appoints his grand-nephew Kunwar Pratap Singh (Pran), who also happens to be the state’s senapati (commander) as his successor, though with Rani Indumati, the Maharaja’s sister (Durga Khote) as regent (this is all spelled out in very vague terms, so it’s not exactly clear what powers Ranima, as she’s known, will wield). Pratap Singh looks very pleased with himself…

The Maharaja's will is read out

… until the will continues, to state that the Maharaja has been feeling very remorseful for having disowned his daughter Aruna for having married a commoner. He wants that a search be instituted for Aruna and her husband; their offspring, if any, if found within the next month, will become the Maharaja. Pratap Singh, naturally, is very indignant.

Fortunately for the good guys, Ranima (who had brought up Aruna after her mother’s death) has already been searching for Aruna all these years. Her right-hand man is therefore able to find the real heir to the throne quickly enough: it’s a young villager named Mahendra Singh ‘Manu’ (Biswajit). Aruna and her husband died when Manu was a child, and Manu has been brought up by the local pandit (Brahm Bhardwaj). Manu is not at all keen on being king, but Ranima’s man is very persuasive, as is Panditji.

Manu is found in a village

And Ranima, when she meets Manu at the palace (Manu is quite awed and intimidated by these luxurious surroundings), is also very persuasive. If Manu only wants to help the poor and downtrodden, the best way he can do that is by being king, she says. It is his duty to do good. Manu is finally won over, and agrees. Ranima (whom he decides he’s going to call ‘Nanima’) is very happy.

Manu and 'Nanima' make friends

Nanima has already appointed a servant for Manu: Bahadur Singh (Mehmood), whom Manu soon befriends (they start off on a fairly informal footing, since Bahadur Singh, mistaking the humble Manu for a wayward villager, tells him off for barging into the new Maharaja’s private chambers). Bahadur and his girlfriend Albeli (Mumtaz) are constantly having to dodge her silly brother-in-law Buddhi Singh (Asit Sen), who, since the death of his wife, has taken it upon himself to make her sister Albeli’s life miserable.

Bahadur Singh, Albeli, and Albeli's brother-in-law, Buddhi Singh

Pratap Singh is most dissatisfied with these developments, and attempts to rather blatantly kill off Manu while, ostensibly, teaching him sword-fighting. Manu, though he knows nothing of swords, had been taught by the panditji back in the village how to fight with a single stick, and he improvises. Pratap retreats, hurt and resentful, and confides in a lady friend named Radhika (Indira Billi), whose role is not quite defined. Radhika seems to be accepted by all, even Ranima, as a resident of the palace, but not a maid or other form of attendant. Radhika smirks and tells Pratap not to worry; she will use her charms to attack Manu.

Radhika promises Pratap Singh she'll get rid of Manu

But even Radhika fails: Manu, waking up to find her in his bedroom, manages to get rid of her with consummate ease, and some help from Ranima.

Manu has been hard at work doing all the things a good king should, working late into the night, long after all his ministers and officials have gone to bed. He’s so tired and heartily sick of it all that he begs Ranima to let him go, he doesn’t want to be king, he needs a break. Ranima is understanding but refuses to let him have his way and go where he will. Sure, Manu can have a break; he can spend some days on vacation, in a pavilion by the river (or lake; it’s not clear where this is). Go in the morning, spend the day relaxing, and return to the palace by night.

This isn’t Manu’s idea of a break; it’s too stifling. So he bullies Bahadur into exchanging clothes with him, Manu staying back in the pavilion to hoodwink everyone into thinking he’s Manu, while Manu goes where he will…

Manu bullies Bahadur into exchanging clothes

… which, this being Hindi cinema, quickly brings him within earshot of a tribal girl, Bijli (Rajshree), who’s running about and singing. Manu, of course, is fascinated: so fascinated that he doesn’t see where he’s going, and falls off a cliff. Bijli comes rushing back and rescues him.

Then, because she’s quite taken up by him (and tells him so, too, to Manu’s surprise), Bijli takes Manu to her village in Parvatipur.

Manu meets Bijli

Here, her father (Kamal Kapoor) is the chief, and to him Manu is presented with much glee: Bijli tells Daddy she approves of this man, she thinks he will fit perfectly. Daddy is initially angry because Manu’s clothes identify him as the Maharaja’s servant (and Bijli’s people have suffered much humiliation and torment at the hands of the Maharaja in the past). But Manu convinces Daddy that he’s a good man, and that the Maharaja too is good (Daddy is sceptical). Mau says his name is Baadal. (Yes, well, he’s just become besotted by Bijli, so this is an appropriate name to be masquerading under: in fact, later in the story, Bahadur Singh comments on this).

And then it turns out what Bijli’s approving him for: to be a spy in the Maharaja’s palace for Bijli’s people.

Bijli's father approves of 'Baadal'

How is Manu going to swing this? Spying on himself? And little does he know just how the people of Parvatipur are viewed in the palace. Not just by the dastardly Pratap Singh (who, of course, would be expected to be anti-poor, anti-tribals), but even by Ranima…

I have always said I like ‘raja-rani’ films. The costumes, the swashbuckling, the intrigue, the sets: even when it’s not supported by a great story, most films of this genre can at least be depended to be fairly entertaining.

Do Dil, I would have imagined (given Hrishikesh Mukherjee as director) would have had a good story too. But…

What I liked about this film:

First, the good things. The music, which is quite nice, and includes some good songs, like Pyaasi hirani ban-ban, Saara mora kajra chhudaaya tune, and Tera husn rahe mera ishq rahe.

The sets (in Jaipur? I thought I saw the City Palace, and possibly some parts of Amber): stunning, and lending an air of verisimilitude to the film.

The beautiful settings of Do Dil

Then, the moments of humour. Hrishikesh Mukherjee was one of those directors whom one could depend upon to make great comedies (think Biwi aur Makaan, Chupke-Chupke, Golmaal, etc) and here, too, there are fleeting moments which are fun. While Mehmood gets some of that fun (Bahadur Singh is constantly mispronouncing ‘Buddhi Singh’ and calling the man ‘Buddhoo Singh’ instead), there are other occasional bits of humour too.

Most notably, there’s that scene where Bijli is going on and on about how much she approves of ‘Baadal’ and simpering while she recommends him to her father. If you know Hindi cinema, you can pretty much guess what’s coming: brazen tribal girl that she is, she’s chosen this strange man to be her husband, and she’s telling her father she wants to marry Baadal. And then, the googly: no, she’s only approving of him as a potential spy.

How I wish this film could have been completely like this! A spoof on the raja-rani trope, an entertaining twist on the usual.

Now, that would have been classic Hrishikesh Mukherjee. This, as it is, isn’t a dreadful film; it’s entertaining enough (though I’m not a fan of either of the two leads), but there’s nothing that makes it stand out from the long list of other similar films. Democratic-minded, public-loving raja; evil, tyrannical senapati: haven’t we seen that before, and doesn’t it play out this way?

There was nothing I outright hated, though there were some niggling bits I am still wondering about: for instance, who is Radhika? And why was Indira Billi in this film anyway, given that there’s little reason for her character to be part of it? Who designed that atrocious outfit Rajshree wears in Tera husn rahe mera ishq rahe?

And, lastly, why did Hrishikesh Mukherjee make a film so different from his usual style?

23 thoughts on “Do Dil (1965)

  1. Thank you for bringing back some nice childhood memories. Saw it is a young school boy on Doordarshan on Saturday evening in early 80s. No TV at home and hence saw at neighbour’s house. Remember that it was a Raja Rani film and the song – “Tera Husn rahe” and nothing beyond that. Does not matter if it is good, bad or average. Just want to watch it for the old memories sake.

  2. Thank you for the review. I seems to be a average film, though entertaining.
    Oh! I couldn’t control myself but to watch the atrocious outfit of Rajshree. I watched the song. The song makes a pleasent listen, but horrible to watch.

    • PradeepKumar, Joy Mukerji n Biswajit were lucky to have Rafi’s hit songs n becoz of hit songs their films ran house-full.

      • I agree that Rafi probably played a big hand in the success of these men! And, at least in Biswajit’s case, so did Hemant – Hemant, after all, was his voice in some of his earliest films, like Bees Saal Baad and Kohraa. Superb music, great songs – and I think pretty good stories too.

        • Actually, I beg to differ here. In case of Joy Mukherjee, yes Rafi saab played a big role in making him a star. But Biswajeet and Pradeep Kumar became stars on songs sung and often composed by Hemant Kumar. It’s important to remember here that Biswajeet and Pradeep Kumar became stars with the success of Bees Saal Baad and Anandmath respectively – both having songs sung and composed by HK. In Pradeep’s case, his subsequent mega- blockbusters likes Anarkali and Nagin too had all songs sung by HK. All these films had nothing to do with Rafisaab – who is my favourite singer of all time. But that doesn’t mean that truth should be compromised in favour of fandom and favouritism.

  3. Madhu, I’d never heard of this, or if I had, Biswajit and Rajshree would have turned me off it very quickly. Hrishikesh Mukherjee? Direct something like this?? Your review is so unusually tepid towards the film (the views, not the writing!) that I feel it wasn’t even good (bad) enough for you to write your wonderfully amusing asides. I think, with so many other better movies to watch – including Hrishida’s – I’ll pass on this one.

    • It is just so odd, you know. It’s not a terrible film (could Hrishikesh Mukherjee ever make a terrible film?), but it just doesn’t have the sort of stellar quality of most of his other films. Definitely the sort of film you should pass up. There are far better raja-rani films around, and far better Hrishikesh Mukherjee films.

      • He could.. atleast once he did..I find his Aashiq starring Raj Kapoor, Padmini and Nanda; a huge disappointment. The only saving grace was Shankar- Jaikishan’s music and Abhi Bhattacharya’s acting. Rest it was a mega Hodgepodge.

        But than that can happen once or twice in a 43 films filmography of a director. Most famous filmmakers in Bollywood don’t even make so many films – the average is rather around 21- 22 for most iconic bolly directors. The only exceptions that come to mind are Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee, Shakti Samanta & Satyen Bose – all of whom made over 30 films. And by and large, they were fairly consistent and innovative in their filmmaking, especially given the constraints – both financial and creative, that Bollywood places on its directors.

        • Given that I can’t bear RK, and don’t especially like Padmini (Nanda is sometimes good, sometimes irritating), I wouldn’t be inclined to watch the film anyway… but one terrible film out of so many good (or average, like Do Dil is still a very good track record.

  4. Madhuji, difficult to call it a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film. He had already come a long way. Maybe, he had some old commitment to keep! However, the song Saara Mora Kajra sung by Aarti Mukherjee and Rafi is one of my favourite songs.

    • Yes, I also thought it was perhaps some old commitment, some obligation he was obliged to honour. Because it’s otherwise just so difficult to associate this film with Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

  5. Madhuji, This was probably a challenging task. Since the movie was neither bad nor good and music too not one of it’s strong points. You could have written more about the director. Unlike Bimal Roy and Gulzar, I haven’t come across any interesting stuff about Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

  6. Has Hrishikesh Mukherjee produced this film or only executed the directorial job assigned to him (by whosoever has produced it) ? I feel, the quality of work of certain good directors is too much dependent on the script at their hand. Yash Chopra, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee etc. fall in this category. If the script is bad (or weak), their mojo does not work. Besides, the question put forth by you at the end is also pertinent because every theme (or zonar) is not everybody’s cup of tea. I remember watching Buddha Mil Gaya (1971) directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee only which was a murder mystery and though the script wasn’t bad, I found the film as boring. Things like costume drama and murder mystery were not meant for Hrishi Da.

    • No idea if he was merely dancing to someone else’s tune here, or had decided to dabble in a different genre. It may have been, as someone else remarked, that he had an obligation to fulfill. I suppose we will never know…

    • The film was produced by NC Sippy under the Uttam Chitra banner. Later on NC Sippy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee became producing partners and under the banner of Rupam Chitra, produced some very memorable films in the 70s and 80s – including the likes of Anand, Guddi, Mere Apne, Sadma etc.

      I guess, Do Dil was just another attempt by Hrishida at being versatile. And I think it’s fine because it was Hrishida’s consistent endeavour at attempting various genres that he could come up with both sublime tragedies and uproarious laugh riots – a feat not many can claim to have. Of course it meant that there were instances when one has to put up with the likes of complete downers like Aashiq or Pyar Ka Sapna.

      But than, such disappointments can happen otherwise also, esp when you make over 40 films. Hrishida, given his large filmography, was by and large, very consistent and impressive.

      As far as Do Dil goes, it is not a bad film. It is rather pretty entertaining. But then again if one has the expectations of seeing it through the prism of the typical raja- rani potboiler, one is bound to be disappointed. Rather the best way to appreciate Do Dil is to see it as a Raja – Rani film made in a comic, middle-class way.

      PS: The script of Do Dil was by the legendary scriptwriter Sachin Bhowmik ( who contrary to popular beliefs, is actually Bollywood’s most successful scriptwriter of all time and as usual it had all the masala, music, romance and fun that a typical Sachin Bhowmik script had; though yes, it wasn’t in the class of other Sachin- Hrishida collaborators like Golmaal, Anuradha or Biwi aur Makan.. Or even other Sachin Bhowmik cult films like Brahmachari, Aradhana, Dost, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin or Lajwanti.

  7. An interesting and well-written review!!
    I remember watching Do Dil for the first time on DD somewhere in 80s. I could only remember the songs and the film as a colorful period drama.
    Second time viewing was 3 years ago mainly for the songs. I found it strictly average with few interesting scenes here and there. Of course, it doesn’t come anywhere near Hrishida’s classics and I agree that it is surprising that he directed it.
    I believe, he was trying our various genres in the 60s. As a result, there was a melodramatic Sanjh aur Savera too. Another movie that I found odd in Hrishida’s 60s filmography is Pyar Ka Sapna 1969. I wonder if anyone here has seen it. The positive points here too were the songs along with the foreign locales and a good looking cast.. On the storyline front, I preferred Do Dil to Pyar Ka Sapna.

    • Ah, yes. I’d forgotten Saanjh aur Savera was Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Another very odd film coming from him!

      I have seen and reviewed Pyaar ka Sapna. Mala Sinha looked stylish in that, the locales were good, and one of the songs – Ae meri zindagi tu ajnabi toh nahin – was pretty good. But yes, it’s not classic Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Very different from his usual style.

Leave a Reply to Ravi Karri Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.