Aadhi Raat ke Baad (1965)

I dithered over this film for a long time after I’d finished watching it. Should I review it? Should I not? It wasn’t a great film, but it wasn’t terrible, either. It wasn’t as if a review was needed to warn potential viewers off it. Or vice-versa, to alert people to a film they must see.

Eventually, I decided that at least a brief review was in order, because this film had an interesting connect to another film I’ve wanted to watch for a while: Mr X.

In 1957, Nanabhai Bhatt had directed a science fiction film (borrowing from HG Wells’s novel The Invisible Man) that starred Ashok Kumar and Nalini Jaywant. According to this web page on Mike Barnum’s blog, the film is about a man who ingests a drug that makes him invisible; he uses this invisibility to go on a Robin Hood-esque spree, helping the poor by robbing the rich. The cops, baffled by the invisible man, dub him Mr X.

I’ve long wanted to watch Mr X, mostly because it features one of my favourite N Dutta songs, Laal-laal gaal. The film isn’t available online, at least, or even on DVD, from what I can tell; perhaps there are carefully guarded prints deep in some archive…

The interesting thing is that, eight years after Mr X, Nanabhai Bhatt directed another film about Ashok Kumar as an invisible man who gets on the wrong side of the law (even if unwittingly) and is dubbed ‘Mr X’ by the cops. In fact, the policeman who first comes across this case suggests that it is the same Mr X of a few years earlier. Aadhi Raat ke Baad is, in that sense, a sequel to Mr X; but from the information I’ve been able to gather of Mr X, there doesn’t seem to be any continuity between the plots of the two films.

Interestingly enough, while one would expect Ashok Kumar—an acting heavyweight, and with star power—to be the ‘hero’ in this film, he shares the limelight with Sailesh Kumar. It is Ashok Kumar who does the fun stuff, the running about and swigging-invisibility-drug and giving-the-cops-the-slip. But it is Sailesh Kumar, as Ramesh, who gets to romance Ragini’s character and sing plenty of songs. It’s an unusual sort of contrast, of splitting what would generally (in Hindi cinema) be part of one larger-than-life character.

Anyway. So that was the interesting bit about Aadhi Raat ke Baad, why I felt it important to at least write a bit about this film.

As to what this story is about:

It begins with a man named Ram Lal (Sajjan) being thrown out of a moving car onto a forest road in the middle of the night, obviously dead as a doornail.

Soon after, Ram Lal’s business partner, the very wealthy Jamunadas (Murad) comes from Nairobi to Bombay to revise his will; Ram Lal’s death has jolted Jamunadas into a realization of his own mortality. Jamunadas checks into a hotel, where he is met by his lawyer (Jankidas) and an acquaintance named Singh (Rajan Haksar), who seems to be part of the hotel staff.

Later, Jamunadas discusses the will with his lawyer. In the event of his death, all his wealth will pass to his daughter Nimmo; if she dies intestate, the wealth will pass on to Jamunadas’s niece Ragini, and in the event of her death… Jamunadas gives a satisfied sort of smile and leaves it at that, signing the document and handing it over to the lawyer.

Jamunadas’s daughter Nimmo’s boyfriend is Ashok (Ashok Kumar), whom we first see only by way of two white gloves that float through the air in a laboratory. We do not discover what this drug is, whether Ashok is the inventor of it, or how he possesses it; all we know is that once he’s drunk an antidote, he becomes visible. Having put on his clothes, he says hello to Nimmo (Naina), who’s come visiting.

Meanwhile, Jamunadas has a visitor: his younger brother Jeevan (Ulhas) arrives, blustering and angry. He’s obviously drunk, and demands his share of the wealth. Jamunadas refuses, saying it’s his hard-earned money, Jeevan has no claim to it.

They come to blows. The light conveniently goes out. Jeevan pulls out a gun. There is a tussle, a shot is fired, and Jamunadas falls down, dead. Ashok, come to the hotel to meet his future father-in-law, sees Jeevan and Singh coming out of Jamunadas’s room, looking rather sneaky. Ashok pays no heed to this, and goes into the room…

…only, of course, to find Jamunadas dead. Just then (this was bound to happen), a waiter blunders in, and raises the alarm. Instead of protesting his innocence, Ashok flees. And while fleeing, he consumes some of that invisibility drug, so that when the cops come after him, they soon lose the trail.

Ashok goes to his friend Murli (Agha) to take shelter and to puzzle over what happened. He’s certain Singh and Jeevan are involved; they were looking very shady. He has since discovered that they have gone off to Rangoon (where Ragini also lives). It might be worthwhile to go to Rangoon to get to the bottom of this and to clear Ashok’s name. Murli offers to come along, masquerading as a prince.

Meanwhile, other things are happening. The police have begun investigating Jamunadas’s death, and helping them is private detective Ramesh (Sailesh Kumar). The inspector (?), who is Ramesh’s friend, confides in him: this invisible culprit might be the Mr X of a few years ago: he’s resurfaced.

Before they can do very much about the Jamunadas case, there’s another crime. Nimmo is alone at home one night when someone enters: someone invisible. Nimmo’s gauzy dupatta is pulled across her nose and mouth until she passes out, and once she’s unconscious, she’s carried out, dumped in a car and driven away with—all by someone invisible.

However, a passing drunk sees Nimmo being bunged into the car and kidnapped, and he reports to the cops. The inspector and Ramesh, inspecting Nimmo’s room and her belongings, come across a letter from Ashok, asking her to come to Bombay. There’s also a photograph of Ashok, which the inspector identifies as being that of Mr X. In addition to that, they find a pipe, on which is inscribed something about it being from Rangoon.

Has Ashok kidnapped Nimmo? After all, that invisible kidnapper: there can’t be two men, both invisible?

Ramesh suggests he go to Rangoon to meet Ragini, who might know what is going on, or might at least have some idea of who might be a suspect.

So Ramesh lands up in Rangoon and meets Ragini (Ragini), whom he is soon romancing. Also in Rangoon at the same time is Ashok, who (having heard that Nimmo has been abducted) is busy searching for her and thinks Ragini might have some suggestions to offer.

And that’s the set-up.

What I liked about this film, and what I didn’t:

Chitragupta’s music, with lyrics by Prem Dhawan and Anand Bakshi, for what I really enjoyed. Badi rangeen hai Rangoon ki yeh shaam, O gori tori baanki-baanki chitwan, Bahut haseen hain tumhaari aankhen and Mera dil bahaaron ka woh phool hai are my favourites, but the rest of the songs too are good.

The overall premise of the film isn’t bad, but slipshod editing (including, I fear, by Ultra?) has resulted in lots of gaps. How Ashok manages to find his way to where Nimmo is being held captive is never explained; how Nimmo’s kidnapper managed to become invisible is a mystery, and so on. The denouement isn’t bad, because it does make sense, but only to some extent. A few things are left unexplained, or breezily brushed over without bothering to get into the embarrassing details of logic and stuff.

And, seriously, Ramesh being a detective and gone to meet Ragini in connection with an investigation into Jamunadas’s murder and Nimmo’s kidnapping? Just an excuse for lots of love songs. Easy on the eye and the ears, but pointless. What’s more, Ramesh’s relationship with Ragini is very odd: at one point, he confides in a friend that he’s only leading her on for her wealth; but later this is seemingly forgotten, both by Ramesh and by Ragini, who had (unsurprisingly) been very hurt when she had overheard that. We don’t even get to know if that was the mercenary truth or not…

Not a great film, as I mentioned; but it’s okay enough for ‘time-pass’, as they say.


12 thoughts on “Aadhi Raat ke Baad (1965)

  1. I have always wondered why an actor of Ashok Kumar’s stature acted in so many B grade films, a la Geeta Bali.
    Was it it during his transition from Hero to character artiste roles?
    Or was it to counter the dominance of Dilip, Dev and Raj in this phase?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such an interesting observation. I have no idea, but I think you’re probably right about this being during his transition from hero to character actor roles. Taking pretty much anything that came his way. Perhaps there was a fear, too, that if he began declining roles that weren’t exactly what he wanted, work would dry up completely, since he was past his prime? I see that happening with several others too – Nutan, for instance, who acted in some truly painful films in the mid-60s.


    • Exactly! So much potential, and so wasted. It was as if Nanabhai Bhat (or whoever wrote the screenplay) had been given a two-line description of the story, and had been asked to fill in the blanks… without really knowing how to do that.


  2. That’s a very nice post on this long forgotten movie whose one song I had heard (and seen) long long back courtesy the Chitrahaar program of Doordarshan. If it’s a decent timepass, I’d like to watch it. Hearty thanks for the enlightenment. It would have been the good luck of people like me, had Mr. X also been available somewhere as Laal Laal Gaal is a very lovely song. Thanks and compliments to you once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Madhu, it was interesting to see you do a writeup of Adhi Raat ke Baad. I saw this film something like 14 years ago (after finding it in a “Bollywood DVD” discount bin in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY – back when all the DVD stores were still around), and I never saw anyone mention it anywhere. :) I hardly remember it, either. Obviously, it didn’t make much of an impression on me, except I remember that I wondered why a film starring Ragini had so little dance in it. (I remember something like one dance by her? Or am I misremembering?)

    I never saw Mr X, but I did see another film with a “Mr X” in the title, which also had a plot derived from The Invisible Man (and obviously was intended as a sort of sequel to, or at least reference to, the original Mr X). That was the 1964 film Mr. X in Bombay, starring Kishore Kumar and Kumkum. That film was kind of silly, and I do not have a good idea regarding how much it may have resembled the other two “Mr X” films (or not). But I still found it enjoyable, especially because the stars of the film did a really nice job – especially in song and dance. (Lata did playback for Kumkum and, well, the other star was Kishore Kumar.) In fact, it contains one of my favorite Kumkum dances, done to the song “Chali Re Chali Re Gori.” (She actually does at least a couple of semi-classical dances in this film, and they are delightful.) By the way, there’s always a copy of the film on YouTube, though I can’t vouch for the quality. (I even found it online (for free) with English subtitles – though I can’t exactly remember where.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Richard – Ragini does have one dance in Aadhi Raat ke Baad; it’s this one, Badi rangeen hai Rangoon ki yeh shaam:

      A shame (and a case of miscasting?) to have Ragini star in a film and only do one little dance. Incidentally, I’m so glad I finally found someone else who’s also seen this film – though I suppose if you remember little or nothing of it, you won’t be able to answer my question: did it seem as if any of this film was actually shot in Burma? :-) To me, most of it could well have been Bombay and the countryside around. There was a brief scene where Ragini and Ramesh go to a big department store named Casa Internacionale (I think), which seemed somewhat exotic, but I cannot be sure.

      Mr X in Bombay is a film I’ve wanted to watch for Kumkum and for the lovely songs. But… Kishore Kumar. Kishore Kumar in his comic roles can be extremely irritating! But someday, I guess, I will watch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. that’s the dance – thanks for the clip. It’s not one of her more exceptional dances, either, though the part where she suddenly slides across the floor knees-first is pretty good (but the choppy cut in the camera work makes me wonder if there was some technical trickery involved).

        I do remember the slipshod editing in different parts of the film…

        As for whether any of it was really filmed in Burma, your guess is probably much better than mine, but I think your suspicions are probably right.

        Regarding Mr. X in Bombay …. Oh, that’s right, you’ve mentioned being irritated by Kishore Kumar’s comic acting before. I think there was a brief exchange about that between you and Anu in her blog not long ago?

        Oh, well, the film is silly, but the silliest parts seemed to pass by pretty quickly (at least for me), and I found that film worthwhile exactly because of the dances and songs.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have seen neither this film nor the elusive “Mr. X”–but I have seen “Mr. X in Bombay” (1964), in which a similar invisibility potion lands up in the hands of Kishore K. I wonder whether the original “Mr. X,” despite its present-day obscurity, was sufficiently popular as to lend its name to a B-film of seven years later, or whether there is some external impetus impelling the forces of law and order to solve for X whenever they find an invisible Ganguly bro on their hands.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “impelling the forces of law and order to solve for X whenever they find an invisible Ganguly bro on their hands.

      LoL! I should ask my father, really, is Mr X was popular enough to have spawned all these sort-of remakes or retakes. He might know, or remember. On the other hand, given that my father tends to associate films with their music rather than their stories, I’m not sure!

      Liked by 1 person

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