I managed recently to fill in a few gaps in my Shammi collection, including this film, which is quite enjoyable and even takes a stab at women’s rights issues (although there is no happy ending for a woman who breaks the rules, as usual).
Shammi plays Ashok, the son of a rich businessman (surprise!), who has just returned from several years in Europe. His father assumes he will have a new diet:
He meets up with a neighbor girl named Kavita (Saroja Devi), who travels in a gang of 7 or so giggling college mates, and in true fashion falls for her although she hates him (because he splashed her sari by mistake as he drove past, although he apologizes profusely and offers to replace the sari). Kavita’s sister is already bent on fixing her marriage to Ashok, but Kavita doesn’t want to marry a rich guy who lives on “his father’s crumbs”—which she also tells Ashok.
Ashok, being Shammi, is not about to give up just because the girl doesn’t like him:
He asks his friend Fernandes (Johny Walker) for a job as a mechanic in his garage, explaining that he needs to get a new image. Somehow he manages to convince Kavita that he is Mohan the mechanic, not Ashok the rich loafer. They fall in love, although Ashok continues to annoy Kavita as himself too. Kavita is distressed when her sister insists on fixing her marriage to Ashok, and tells her she will only marry Mohan. Her sister is unimpressed with this idea (“A third-rate motor mechanic?!”). Mohan comforts her with a song (and these puzzling lyrics):
Naturally when his deception is eventually uncovered, Kavita is quite angry. He points out that she’s loved him by one name and hated him by another, but that he’s the same person beneath the names. He talks (and sings) her around in inimitable Shammi fashion, and they get engaged.
But, as Beth would put it, there hasn’t been enough Trauma-Drama-O-Rama yet. Ashok is invited to a school friend’s wedding, but soon after his arrival the groom’s father is told about a scandal from the bride’s past (she ran away with another man) and he cancels the wedding. Ashok pleads with them on the bride’s behalf (“Why should she suffer for one mistake?”) which I thought was pretty forward-thinking for 1966, but they leave anyway. After a huge to-do including suicide threats, tears, chest-beating, etc., Ashok marries the bride, Sheila, to save her and her family from dishonor. He keeps repeating his belief that Sheila made one mistake, and why should she have to suffer the rest of her life for it? He says this to his father as well when he brings his new wife home, but his father is enraged and throws them out of the house. Ashok takes Sheila to his old digs at the garage, and they settle in to make a new life.
But what about Kavita? What will she do? Can Ashok live in poverty after growing up in great wealth? Will this tangled web ever be straightened out? Of course it will, but people will have to suffer first. It is a somewhat strange movie—the first half a light-hearted romantic comedy (I’ve left out commentary on the Johny Walker Comic Side Plot because it is pretty standard stuff); and the second half a somewhat grim social commentary on the double standard for women, with Ashok the voice of reason and “modern” thinking. It’s worth seeing though, especially if you are a Shammi fan. Kalyanji-Anandji’s songs are pleasant too, and Johny Walker’s romance with Dhumal’s daughter gives some laughs from the two of them.