May is now officially Bhappi Sonie month here at MemsaabStory. I’ve already written about Janwar and Pyar Hi Pyar, and now this! It’s a story with plenty of pathos, villainy, and some sweet loving for Dharmendra and Mumtaz, ably supported by Veena, Iftekhar, Shatrughan Sinha and (for a sadly short time) Pran.
Sameer Rai (Dharmendra) is the son of the late Kulwant Rai and his widow Rani Maa (Veena). He has just returned home from a long painting trip through India (he’s an artist). His mother and her estate manager Diwanji (Iftekhar) are occupied with a court case filed by Pratap (Prem Chopra), the town’s drunken badmash, for half of the Rai property. Rani Maa explains to Sameer:
Pratap has just discovered that he’s Rai’s illegitimate son. When Sameer goes to confront him, Prem Chopra is in full villain mode, spitting out his dialogue (and pieces of scenery) from a clenched jaw.
His wig is better than Veena’s, but only marginally. Anyway, Pratap’s mother defends Kulwant; he took responsibility for Pratap’s education and expenses as he grew up. Pratap keeps her locked up in a room, but on the day the case goes to court she manages to escape and get to the courtroom, where she testifies on the Rai family’s behalf before keeling over dead on the stand. Thwarted and enraged (but not grief-stricken), Pratap leaves the courtroom.
Later at the Rai house, Jugnu (Yogeeta Bali), who is Diwanji’s daughter, arrives after finishing school. Rani Maa is very fond of Jugnu, and would like Sameer to marry her. Jugnu is very fond of Sameer and would like him to marry her. Sameer is less enthusiastic.
One day while he is out painting, Sameer sees a girl named Neelu (Mumtaz) sitting by the lake singing. He sets up his easel and paints her; when her song ends he tells her to come look at the painting.
She tells him that she’s blind, although she could see as a child, and walks away. When she reaches home a neighbor boy Chiku (Jr. Mehmood) comes to talk to her. Her father is out drinking as usual, and he blames her stepmother.
Poor Neelu! She is sweet and eager to please but her stepmother Phoolwa (Sujata Bakshi) is a shrill, nasty woman who dislikes her intensely. Neelu does all the chores in the house despite her blindness but is abused constantly. Her father drowns his sorrows at being married to Phoolwa in drink.
Then one day Phoolwa tells Neelu that she’s getting married, dresses her up in wedding finery, and sends her off with Pratap, who has no intention of marrying her, but has paid Phoolwa a handsome sum for her! Sameer hears her scream as he is passing Pratap’s house.
He rescues her and brings her home. BTW, I couldn’t screen-cap it but when stunt-Pratap (in the pink pants) fell through the railing, he hit his head really hard on the opposite railing before falling the floor. I’ll bet he isn’t faking his pain!
Hearing the story, Neelu’s father Rasila (Pran) flies into a rage and beats her stepmother, and then has a heart attack himself. From his bed, he tells Sameer that Neelu was blinded when Kulwant Rai’s horse carriage ran over her. Like one of Rai’s other victims, Rasila is not upset with him, since he paid her medical expenses.
I know that I’m not supposed to be thinking this, but Kulwant Rai seems to me to have been a singularly reckless and selfish man. After Sameer leaves, Rasila asks Neelu to play the rabaab (musical instrument) for him. He used to play it for her mother when she was ill and after she died couldn’t bear to touch it again.
I write on my notepad: HE’S GONNA DIE! And of course he does, tears pouring down his face as Neelu sings a sad plaintive (but beautiful) song.
It’s heart-wrenching, it really is. The next day Sameer, who seems to agree with me that maybe Kulwant Rai got away with a little more than he should have, takes her home to live with him and Rani Maa and Diwanji and Jugnu. Cozy household! Rani Maa isn’t thrilled, but agrees to let her stay for a short while. Sameer has to go to an exhibition of his paintings for a couple of days.
What a splendid idea. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that. At the exhibition, Sameer’s paintings are universally lauded by all present, including:
I love it when grandiose statements are qualified! Like: “The most prestigious auto race in this part of the world.” Anyway, his painting of Neelu has caught someone’s attention:
Sameer is astounded that this art lover has perceived Neelu’s blindness. I am unsurprised by this revelation:
It’s Dr. JP Tandon (Shatrughan Sinha), India’s leading eye surgeon (at that particular hospital—no no! just kidding). He agrees to treat Neelu in exchange for the painting. When Sameer reaches home he gives her the good news. Neelu is overjoyed; Jugnu is even more jealous. She offers to help Neelu dress for Sameer’s birthday party.
Sameer tries to get Neelu to go back to her room since everyone is laughing at her. She tells him that people always laugh at the blind and helpless, and insists on singing for him as he’d asked her to. She sings her song with such dignity that even Jugnu looks ashamed of herself—and Sameer is bowled over.
Meanwhile, Pratap has gotten a visit from an old flame, Maya (Faryal). Because he is a bastard (literally and figuratively) her father refused to let them marry, and she married Balraj instead. Balraj has died, and she’s about to collect on his insurance. She wants to share it with Pratap, whom she still loves.
It turns out that Maya is also Dr. Tandon’s bhabhi! Sameer and Neelu arrive for Neelu’s appointment, and Dr. Tandon introduces them. He later shows Sameer a photo of Maya’s dead husband.
Sameer watches from an office window as Maya climbs into Pratap’s jeep and drives off with him. After his exam, Dr. Tandon says that he is confident he can repair Neelu’s eyes. Afterwards, an elated Sameer tells Neelu that he wants to marry her.
The surgery goes well.
Dr. Tandon says the bandages will come off in a week. Pratap sees Jugnu by the lake one day, and taunts her about Sameer’s love for Neelu. He offers to help separate Neelu and Sameer for her if she steals some jewelry from Rani Maa. To her credit, Jugnu is reluctant to do this. She decides to seduce Sameer instead, by pretending to be ill and then dancing suggestively for him.
Well, yes, being a Scorpio myself, yes I have. It’s equally painful to watch poor plump Yogeeta Bali wriggling suggestively in a tight dress. Sameer seems to agree. He rejects her advances and scolds her for being a shameless hussy, unlike perfect Neelu. Rani Maa finds Jugnu in tears.
She goes to the hospital and tells Neelu that she cannot marry Sameer. She isn’t good enough for him and will ruin his life, etc. etc., and he is engaged to Jugnu. Neelu of course falls hook, line and sinker for this. When her bandages are removed, she pretends that she is still blind. Sameer is devastated, Dr. Tandon confused.
The next day when Sameer goes to see Neelu at the hospital, she is gone. She has checked herself out.
What will happen next? Will Sameer find her? Will he discover that she really can see? What will Jugnu do if Sameer continues to reject her? Will Pratap finally get his revenge? Is Maya’s husband Balraj really dead? Does Dr. Tandon’s relationship to Maya have any bearing on the story at all? If not, why did they bother writing it in?
For the answers, and much, much more, watch this film. It’s a solid entertainer! Not great—but solid.