I had three “new” Shammi Kapoor movies to watch this week.
Happy happy joy joy!
This film was made as he was reaching the height of his fame, and it is a delicious Shammi-fest indeed. Beyond his numerous charms, the movie is also blessed with a good story (although there is an inexplicable plot development involving a second Mehmood towards the end which I mostly fast-forwarded through), wonderful songs by Shankar-Jaikishan, fantastic(al) sets and solid performances from all involved.
Mohan (Shammi) is the playboy son of a wealthy businessman, who despairs that Mohan will never grow up and take on any responsibility. Mohan for his part enjoys running around and staging plays with his good friend Anokhay:
He longs for freedom from responsibility. Anokhay (Mehmood) for his part is poor and envies Mohan his family and his money. When Mohan’s father is finally sent over the edge by his son’s antics, he sends Mohan to an old military friend, now a jailer, Dayaram (Om Prakash). Dayaram lives with his daughter Malti (Shubha Khote) in Ooty and he is certain that he can reform Mohan with a little bit of discipline.
Mohan seizes the opportunity to switch places with Anokhay—he will have freedom, and Anokhay will have a comfortable place to live and no worries about money. Jailer Dayaram has never seen Mohan, so it will be easy. Anokhay uneasily agrees to the scheme and after they arrive in Ooty, he goes off to Dayaram’s while Mohan stays at a hotel. Unfortunately, when Mohan’s luggage is removed to go to Dayaram’s with Anokhay, his money goes with it. So when the hotel (in the form of a huge man with a fierce mustache) asks for payment (“Paise!”), he has a problem:
He manages to escape from the hotel, and ends up on a bus where he sits next to Meena (Mala Sinha), who takes pity on him and buys him a ticket. When she gets off the bus, she accidentally leaves her purse on the seat. Mohan gets off to find her and return her purse. Meena, it turns out, is the daughter of a poor blind man (Manmohan Krishna), who resembles a Moses-like Biblical figure. They own a taxi and have hired a sketchy guy named Ganpat (Pran) to drive it. He is cheating them and lusting after Meena at the same time:
May I say that Pran excels at this character—he is all twitchy and smokes constantly, and the cigarette shifts from side to side in his mouth. It’s a classic example of how he always imbued the characters he played with their own distinct traits. Meena gets angry and goes to pay him off so that she can fire him, and realizes that her purse is gone. She instantly blames “that loafer” who sat next to her on the bus. Mohan has meanwhile found out where she is from one of her neighbors, Raja. Raja takes him to her house and he returns the purse to her. Naturally she is grateful and there is a teeny spark of chemistry between them:
Raja offers Mohan a place to stay with him, which involves nothing more than a holey, bedbug-infested mat to sleep on and some water to drink. Mohan is shocked at the conditions in which Raja lives, but Raja says that if you pretend you are in a palace you can sleep really well. Mohan drifts off to sleep and has a Nutcracker-meets-the-Arabian nights kind of fantasy where he romances Meena:
When he wakes up, though, he is greeted by the sight of:
Meanwhile, at Jailer Dayaram’s house, Anokhay and Malti are falling in love and Dayaram is proud of how well his new “pupil” is behaving. Mohan’s behavior is nothing like his old friend’s description of his son! When Mohan’s father calls to speak with Mohan, Anokhay is horrified and refuses to talk to him; the jailer assures Mohan’s father that he is doing very well and that he’ll send his measurements every week (it’s not clear how these measurements—height, weight, chest circumference—will indicate his psychological growth, but never mind).
We return to Meena’s to find Mohan singing about his love for Meena in one of the film’s great songs by Shankar Jaikishan, “Nazar Bachake Chale Gaye Woh”:
Mohan swears that he will find a job and win Meena’s heart (he’s already most of the way there). Love has reformed him! Conveniently, Ganpat acts up again with Meena, and hits her father when he intervenes; Meena is furious and finally fires him after paying him off. Ganpat leaves, vowing that things are not over with them. Meena suggests that maybe they should sell the taxi, and her father gives a touching paean to their Ambassador—which I loved, because I am quite fond of them myself. I have spent many happy hours touring in them.
Meena then has a brilliant idea: hire Mohan to drive it! He needs a job, after all! Mohan happily agrees, and quickly endears himself to Meena and her father by bringing home money every day, unlike Ganpat. Time to cement the relationship with a song in the rain, “Dil Tera Deewana”:
It’s wet, windy, wild and very sexy!
Back at Dayaram’s, he has decided that he wants to put on a show to benefit the prisoners (it’s never quite clear what the benefit will be). The benefit for us is that we get a foot-tappingly lively song—with donkeys and rickshaws!—pictured on Anokhay and Malti.
Mohan’s parents meanwhile are worried about their son, who appears to have shrunk (according to the weekly measurements, which of course are Anokhay’s). They decide to visit and see how Mohan is coming along with the jailer. When they arrive they take Mohan’s taxi (of course) to Jailer Dayaram’s house; a comedy ensues with Mohan and Anokhay frantically juggling to keep their fraud from being discovered.
Somehow they succeed. Mohan’s parents are impressed with how mature their son has become and leave none the wiser. Mohan celebrates with my favorite song (and they are all so good!), the tender “Mujhe Kitna Pyar Hai” (I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop myself from overdoing it with Shammi screen shots):
Enter Ganpat for some villainy. His plot to separate Meena and Mona fizzles though, when he tells Meena’s father about their romance and despite initial anger over their secrecy, he is overjoyed and agrees to their engagement. This is where things go awry in the form of a second Mehmood named Sohan. Sohan (from what I could gather in between fast-forwarding) is a rickshaw driver who fights with his wife constantly and has three children, and a little bit on the side. Confusion ensues as Sohan is mixed up with his lookalike the fake Mohan and quack doctors of various sorts are brought in. It’s a bizarre, annoying and confusing interruption, and it is sweet relief to get back to Meena and Mohan.
Mohan is now reunited with Anokhay, who tells him that he’s had enough and he is going to go to Bombay and tell Mohan’s father the truth. Ganpat overhears this conversation. He goes outside and rams his truck into the poor Ambassador, pushing it over a cliff. As Mohan deals with the aftermath, telling Anokhay that he has to find a way to replace the beloved car, Ganpat tells Meena and her father that Mohan is really rich and was just playing at being a taxi driver, and with Meena’s feelings. He points to Mohan’s absence as being proof that he cares nothing for them. When Mohan does eventually show up in a different car with money to replace the taxi, Meena turns on him, accusing him (accurately) of lying to her and (inaccurately) of not loving her.
Unfortunately Mohan’s response is to grab her and force her into his car, saying that he is taking her to meet his parents (thereby proving that he loves her, I guess). She screams of course, and her father hears her and runs out. Ganpat returns at this fortuitous moment, and tells her father that Meena has been kidnapped by Mohan and that he will rescue her. He drives off. On the road, Mohan’s car overheats, and while he is administering to the engine, Meena jumps out and escapes into the nearby woods.
What can possibly go wrong? Ganpat? Wild animals? Two Mehmoods? Three Mohans?
Watch Dil Tera Deewana to find out, and to revel in the wonder and beauty of Shammi and S-J’s fantastic songs.