This movie is so dreadful that I normally would throw it in the “I’ll never watch this one again on purpose” bin and not give it another thought. But it’s interesting in that it has three actors I really like generally (Dharmendra, Rehman and Nutan) and I’m sort of amazed that they would DO this film. And, it’s a perfect example of what I find hard to tolerate sometimes on my journey to watch every Hindi movie ever made (at least the ones on DVD). People often ask me what I don’t like about Hindi movies; here’s your answer.
This should have been my first clue that I would hate it, except I didn’t realize yet that by “Man” they really meant “men” and had forgotten to add “women don’t count” at the end.
The story is about two friends, Ashok (Dharmendra) and Amjad (Rehman). Ashok is a poor orphan with only an evil stepbrother Bhagat (Jeevan) as family. He loves Ashu (Nutan), but Bhagat wants to marry her for her brother’s property, and has threatened to kill Ashu if Ashok comes near their village. Amjad is from a wealthy family, but has left home and moved in with Ashok because his mother refuses to give her approval for his marriage to his beloved, Shabnam.
At least they have each other.
Back in the village, we meet Ashu, who is harassed constantly by Ashok’s stepbrother Bhagat and his servant Lote. She can’t stand them, with good reason.
After this interlude, we go back to the city where Ashok and Amjad lose their jobs as salesmen at Modern Tie Shop. Incidentally, recently-deceased Manorama has a brief scene here. Update: bluelotus in comments below has identified this actress as Indira Bansal, who looks a lot like Manorama to me but isn’t (I’ve since seen them in the same film together too).
As they discuss how they are going to pay their rent, a telegram arrives for Amjad. His mother has relented! She misses him so much that she has arranged his marriage with Shabnam, and asks him to come home as soon as possible. Amjad is overjoyed and convinces Ashok to go and get Ashu from his village, and then the two of them can come and live with him and Shabnam because
Off Ashok goes to get Ashu. Now we find out that her brother is dead, murdered by Bhagat, and Bhagat has imprisoned her in a fortress. He is planning to force her to marry him.
The movie is still okay at this point because a) Bhagat and his servant are so repulsive that it’s funny; b) it’s fun trying to identify the various character actors (and they are plentiful); c) Dharmendra is hot; and d) Ashok and Amjad are a little gooey together, but I do like that Indian men are comfortable being demonstrative with their friends.
Anyway. Bhagat is undeterred by Ashu’s hatred.
He is a little surprised when Ashok shows up. They act buddy-buddy until Bhagat tries to poison Ashok. The unfortunate family dog gets it instead and all bets are off. Luckily Ashok hears Ashu singing “Aaja Re” and tracks her down in her prison. After a lot of dishum-dishum he rescues her from Bhagat’s men. Aren’t Nutan and Dharmendra beautiful together?
Escaping is not that easy though. An hour-long cat and mouse chase ensues. Nutan does shine as a comedienne in one scene, when—posing as an old Muslim woman—she convinces Bhagat to help them escape.
But by the time they reach the train which will take them to Amjad, I am bored. There are only so many “Bachao! bachao!” scenes, comic sequences, and strange coincidences (one of the bad guys looks exactly like Ashok) I can take. My boredom turns to horror as the train Ashok and Ashu are on crashes, and Ashu dies. I realize that from now on, the film will be unbearably stupid and sentimental (even for me, and my standards are not that high).
It is. Amjad naturally comes to get Ashok—who is in a coma with a brain injury—and takes him home. The doctor doesn’t hold out much hope:
What a quack! (And note the photograph of Ashok hanging on the wall behind them—it falls off abruptly as the doctor leaves. Oh portent of doom!) Of course Amjad pleads with God to take his life instead, blah blah blah. Ashok comes out of his coma when he hears Ashu’s voice singing “Aaja Re” again. Amjad finds him and Ashok shows him a photo of Ashu (which somehow was in the pocket of his pajamas). Amjad is shocked by the photo. Uh-oh.
We haven’t met Shabnam yet, but when we do it comes as no surprise that she is identical to Ashu.
He “convinces” her to pose as Ashu so that Ashok can recover.
How does that make any sense? Anyway, she very sensibly resists and he tells her that if she doesn’t do it and Ashok dies, then he will also leave her. So she agrees, and of course it’s a bad, bad idea.
Ashok doesn’t understand why Ashu doesn’t respond to his advances any more; the quack doctor keeps telling everyone that he’ll die without her; Amjad continues to force her to pose as Ashu; and of course eventually Bhagat and his servant show up again. It all ends in tears.
Let me sum up by saying that the film contained every single element that I dislike in Hindi movies (I can tolerate them alone, or even in pairs, but not ALL in the same film):
- Repetitive harping on one subject in case we don’t get it the first 100 times: “You mean more to me than my life”; “I will never love my wife as I love you”; “I would die for you” and so on.
- The interminable dragging-out of a plot element that would have been fine had it taken a tenth of the time.
- Not a single female character who is more than a chess piece to be manipulated by the men around her.
- Ludicrous medical diagnoses that don’t even pretend not to be laughable.
- Lame attempts to explain away some incredible coincidences but not others (at the end we learn that Shabnam did have a twin named Ashu, but their parents somehow lost her?—there’s no explanation given for that; or for Ashok’s identical twin who was a bad guy earlier in the movie).
- Copious amounts of blackmail through guilt.
I’m sure there are others, but I’m tired of it. Into the bin it goes!