Night in London (1967)

In which Biswajeet’s character ends up facing a wall studded with red-hot spikes. You don’t just skewered to death, you get barbecued in the process.

And Anwar Hussain, in yellow face, masquerades as a Chinese madman named Fu Chin, who first starts off in rumpled and faded orange monk’s habit, which disguises the fact that he’s actually a colonel… which, frankly, has no real bearing on the plot anyway.

In which, too, there are nine spectacular diamonds, which look more like bits of cheap red glass [diamonds, red?] but are very valuable—for reasons that emerge far down the line.

And London is only incidental [and is anyway often Bombay being passed off as London]. It’s mostly Beirut or Hong Kong instead.

But. To begin at the beginning, in Calcutta, where Renu (Mala Sinha), the daughter of a jeweller, reaches her father’s shop to find Daddy missing, and a stranger holding a message from him. Daddy has been kidnapped and taken away to Hong Kong, and he’s told Renu to come immediately. The stranger holds out Renu’s passport and ticket, and Renu hurries off…

In the den of Fu Chin (though he isn’t introduced as such to Renu at this point), Renu is brought up to date on matters. Her ancestors, too, were jewellers, and some generations back an ancestor of hers had crafted a necklace of priceless diamonds for a raja. During the uprisings against British rule and whatnot, that raja found himself in danger of his life and handed over the necklace to an English friend for safekeeping. It has since been in the custody of that Englishman’s family, his descendants.

Now Renu has to go to England, pretending to be a princess, laying claim to the necklace. If she doesn’t, it’s barbecue spikes for Daddy [see start of this post].

Renu complies, going to London and meeting Lord Statham (Sopariwala), an old and ill man, who seems happy to be able to finally return the necklace to its rightful owner.

Renu takes the necklace from him, and the next we see, she’s holding an auction where she’s trying to sell it off. [Why? Didn’t Fu Chin, with his barbecue-spikes wall, scare her enough? He wanted the diamonds, not any proceeds from the sale thereof, so why is Renu going rogue?] Among the bidders is a sinister-looking Shetty, who is willing to pay up to Rs 5 lakhs for the stones.

Weirdly enough, Renu puts a stop to the auctioneering [which was weird to start off with, anyway] at this point and goes off to party. Unfortunately, Shetty and his gang (of whom the main henchman seems to be Surya Kumar, acting as a guy called Robert) are also there. They chase Renu all around the place, leering at her and frightening her out of her wits.

Finally, Renu escapes and gets into a cab, only to have the cabbie turn around and leer at her. It’s Robert! He pulls a gun on her and shoots.

Fortunately, the bullet only grazes Renu’s neck slightly. It knocks her out but doesn’t kill her, and Renu is [presumably] dumped by the side of the road. Here she is [again presumably, since this isn’t shown] found and brought home by a man named Jeevan (Biswajeet). When Renu comes to, it’s to find herself in his home.

While Jeevan has been looking after the unconscious Renu, Shetty and Robert and their crony closely examine the diamonds. Shetty is disgusted to discover that the diamonds aren’t the ones they’re after. He explains to his baffled companions: the diamonds they want have a formula written on the back of each stone, a formula to destroy the world. That’s why those diamonds are so valuable.

[This, of course, raises a bunch of questions: at what point was that formula put on those stones? By whom? And what has Renu, who seemed a complete innocent, done with the real diamonds? Where did she get these substitutes and how did she know to substitute them?]

Renu, meanwhile, is busy falling in love with Jeevan, who takes her around town and sings songs to her while bemused Londoners look on and terrified pigeons flap away in Trafalgar Square.

Now and then Renu remembers why she’s in London, and she tries to leave. Especially one night when Jeevan’s long-lost step-brother Bahadur Singh (Johnny Walker) turns up, having first broken a bathroom window and frightened Renu. Bahadur Singh confronts Jeevan: isn’t his real name Vijay, isn’t he the son of Ajay? Jeevan accepts all of this [though this is the last we hear of him being actually Vijay, and it’s never even clarified why he’s going around calling himself Jeevan].

Renu had been happily reading in bed before Bahadur Singh came calling, but now she packs her suitcase and walks out. [Why? Does she wonder if Jeevan will ask her to give up the guestroom for Bahadur Singh?] As always, Jeevan gets her back and this time, with Bahadur Singh looking on, proposes to Renu. They’ll get married, everything will be all right. Renu is happy. [And absent-minded; this woman seems to have forgotten all the deep shit she and her father are in].

Sadly, just as Renu is getting ready for her wedding [which is being held downstairs, with Bahadur Singh officiating and the only witness around], the goons catch up with her and kidnap her. This time, Shetty puts the screws on Renu. She is tortured with psychedelic lights and Shetty’s voice booming at her to tell him where the real diamonds are. Finally, Renu crumples and agrees to tell all.

The next we know, Jeevan and Bahadur Singh, hot on Renu’s trail, discover that Shetty & Co. have taken her off to Beirut. They’ve injected her with some drug, so Renu goes quietly along, tottering about as if she’s tipsy, but otherwise complying.

While Bahadur Singh falls in love with a local dancer (Helen), he also finds time to help Jeevan rescue Renu and get her out of the clutches of Shetty.

But what Renu doesn’t know is that Jeevan is not quite the clean-as-a-whistle, good-as-gold Hindi film hero she imagines him to be: when night falls, he creeps out surreptitiously to meet a shady-looking stranger, and a deal is struck. For so many thousands of dollars, Jeevan will get hold of the diamonds and pass them on to shady stranger, above.

What is going on? Who is Jeevan, really? How did Renu manage to get the diamonds away, and to whom?

Your guess is as good as mine. Or Brij Sadanah’s, who directed the film, or Omar Khyam’s (whose story this was) or Ramesh Pant’s, who wrote the screenplay. Or, perhaps, whoever edited the version Ultra have uploaded on their YouTube channel.

What I liked about this film:

The music, by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, to lyrics by Anand Bakshi. As was the case with several of Biswajeet’s films in the latter half of the 60s, the songs are far better than the film itself. In Night in London, among the songs I really like are the title song; Ba hosh-o-hawaas mein deewana, and Nazar na lag jaaye kisi ki raahon mein.

Mala Sinha, who I think was far better in films that involved Western chic and spy games. Aankhen was where she especially excelled, but she’s nice enough in this: pretty and pretty stylish in many of the scenes.

What I didn’t like:

I think that should be amply clear from all the asides and remarks scattered through the synopsis, above. This film doesn’t merely have plot holes; it’s riddled with them. There is plenty of stuff—mysterious conversations, even more mysterious people doing odd things, etc—which seems to have been put in simply to up the thrill of the film, to increase the suspense. They’re not explained, there’s no rational reason for them. What you end up with is an occasionally (very occasionally) slick-looking film which, in the final analysis, makes very little sense.

However, here I am willing to give Brij Sadanah and his crew the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know how much this film has been tampered with by more recent editors, the butcher-crowd that mans the YouTube channels of various movie uploaders, including big guns like Ultra. I’ve seen several other Brij Sadanah films, including Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi and Victoria No. 203, which have had mostly coherent and suspenseful scripts and direction. It may very well be that Night in London did have its loose ends tied, its questions answered.

On the whole, a pretty enough film, but a damp squib as far as the suspense is concerned.


20 thoughts on “Night in London (1967)

    • I too had watched this one ages back – I think on Doordarshan. And yes, didn’t like it back then, either! But I was wondering if maybe I had been too young to understand it. ;-) Therefore the repeat. Now I wish I hadn’t rewatched it!


  1. Brij Sadanah had a penchant for movie plots involving diamonds as is evident from the plots of several movies directed by him. Due to good music, pretty leads and beautiful locations; many illogical old Hindi movies (studded with WTF moments) become worthy of a decent watch. This movie nicely narrated by you, appears to be one such movie. I do remember that Dilip Kumar had won the Filmfare Best Actor award for Leader (1964) which had everything but not even an ounce of logic. And yes, the moth-eaten versions of golden oldies also mar the viewer’s cinematic experience. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes. Leader was another of those senseless films. I watched it because of the songs, and because I like Dilip Kumar and Vyjyanthimala; but it was such a disappointment.

      Thank you for reading, and for the appreciation, Jitendraji.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review. And a hilarious one. I have seen the film ( TV or VHS, don’t remember what) in the late 1980s and have scratched my head continuously trying to make sense of what the director was trying to say. And finally gave up. Good that I remember almost nothing of the ordeal.

    What a horrible film. I deeply empathize with the audience who had to undergo the torture at the theatre. Poor souls. Thankfully my parents did not see this film IIRC (they are no more to answer the query though).

    My sympathies with you for enduring this film, even if you did via multiple sittings :D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s a frightful film, no logic to it at all. One wonders what the director and scriptwriter were thinking. Were they even thinking at all?! But at least the songs are good, so I guess that is some saving grace. Not enough, though, to redeem the film if one had to pay money in a theatre to watch it. I would have demanded my money back. :-)


  3. I cackled through your review. I feel for you, Madhu, truly, I do. What a horrendous film to sit through! While I second your view that the DVD guys had something to do with the holes riddling the plot, I could almost visualize the makers thinking that the suspense must come from the audience wondering what the hell was going on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “the suspense must come from the audience wondering what the hell was going on!

      LoL! True, that.

      But you know which film I really want to see? Or don’t, I don’t know. Spy in Rome, mostly because I don’t recall any other Hindi film of back then that’s set in Rome. I have a feeling that will outstrip Night in London, though. ;-)


  4. Don’t know about the movie but this review is very interesting and funny (I can quote several lines from your review that made him laugh). Bishwajeet is good looking yet I don’t like him, don’t know why. Also, I am wondering about the length of the movie. Too many things happening. And Mala Sinha going to Hong Kong because a stranger said her father had been kidnapped sounds like a classic case of kidnapping children by saying ki ‘tumhaare papa ka accident ho gaya hai aur hum tumhein wahan le jaayenge.’ :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Biswajeet is a bit feminine, to me. ;-) I like Prosenjit’s looks much more than his father’s! And yes, this film is too long, too complicated, and the complications utterly pointless, too.


  5. This film made the previous Biswajeet thriller ‘kismat’ look like a great movie! Songs are great and the cabaret song ‘Mera Naam Hai Jameela’ in the film is actually sung by Lata. These days lots of fake film trivia keeps floating on youtube. One has to be careful, Many assume ‘aa jaane jaan’ (Intequam) being the lone cabaret sung by Lata which is not true at all. Apart from these 2 songs I recall an overlooked song ‘Dil Ka Lagaana Iss Duniya Mein’ from Smuggler (1966), another crime thriller starring Sanjeev kumar, that is probably better than this movie.
    Incidentally, I thought the title ‘night in London’ is some sort of an ode to ‘an evening in Paris’ which also came around the same time.wonder if there is any connection. another film ‘around the world’ which had RK in the lead also came out in 1967.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It had never struck me that Mera naam hai Jameela was sung by Lata! Yes, indeed, that does put paid to the idea that Aa jaan-e-jaan was her only ‘cabaret’ song. I looked about for Smuggler online, but sadly, except for a few songs, it doesn’t seem to be available.

      Yes, I did think this one, at least as far as the title goes, was probably inspired by An Evening in Paris. Incidentally, just the previous year – 1966 – Love in Tokyo had been released.


  6. This was a weird movie but I do love that Rafi ditty “Nazar na lag jaye…”. Come to think of it, I have watched a lot of these kinds of movies because of my mom’s love for old time Hindi movie songs. ‘Good songs, weird movies’ is an entire category for me. 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • “‘Good songs, weird movies’ is an entire category for me.

      For pretty much anyone who watches old Hindi cinema, I think! :-D So many films which fit into that category.


      • Yeah, for me these straddle the line between outright bad and strange enough to keep watching. 😅 Another Mala Sinha-Biswajit starrer comes to mind, “Jaal” from 1967. That has the song ‘Dhadaka hai dil mein pyar tumhara’ which I like, but man is it a weird movie!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have very vague memories of Jaal! I remember watching it on DD many years ago, but beyond the fact that it was confusing and weird, I remember very little! – Not even the songs.


  7. I think they must have written the script on the set daily like soap opera. Make it up as you go. Few holidays in between and lo and behold lost the plot. Oops vaguely remember few thing so may be if we add few scene audience won’t notice the loss. So on and so forth. So frightfully funny Dharam Paaji and Saira Banu’s similar kind of movie where not just plot but every one in it seemed lost..

    Liked by 1 person

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