The Bhappi Sonie-Shammi Kapoor pairing gave us Janwar, Preetam, and this film. A fourth one is Jawan Mohabbat, which I sadly haven’t been able to find on DVD yet—but that gives me another reason to live.
Bhappi Sonie seemed able to restrain Mr. Irrepressible more than some, and Shammi’s performance in this heartwarming tale of a penniless bachelor who has opened up his heart and his house to a bunch of (equally irrepressible) homeless orphans won him the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. It also garnered five other Filmfare Awards: Best Film, Lyrics, Story, Music Director, and Playback Singer. Shankar Jaikishan wrote the fantastic songs, and the story neatly combines socially relevant subject matter with comedy, romance and just enough dishum-dishum.
Brahmachari (Shammi Kapoor) lives with his servant Choti (Mohan Choti), twelve children whom he’s picked up from the street, and a dog (“Dog King”). His house is mortgaged to the hilt and if he doesn’t pay up at least some of the interest soon, they will all be out on the street. He works as a freelance photographer but the kindly newspaper editor (Brahm Bhardwaj) who buys photos from him finally tells him he needs pictures of something other than children. An exclusive!
As he’s walking along the beach one evening, he sees a girl (Rajshree) about to commit suicide by jumping into the ocean.
He asks if he can take her picture before she jumps—it’s just the “exclusive” he’s been looking for. Lots of people will take photos of her body, he says, but only he will have a photo of the “optimum” moment. She stands there numbly as he arranges her pose and takes her photo.
Stung by his seeming indifference, the girl follows him back onto the beach and he takes her home with him. The children welcome her as Didi, and ask why she wants to kill herself. She says that her name is Sheetal and that she’s been engaged since childhood to Ravi (Pran) who moved to the city and became wealthy. She has loved him her whole life, and came to the city to find him. He has scorned her, and heartbroken, she sees no option but suicide (*le sigh*).
Brahmachari consoles her, telling her he will meet Ravi and help her out. He heads over to Ravi’s house and finds a birthday party in full swing. Posing in such politically incorrect blackface as a waiter, Brahmachari eavesdrops on the party guests and discovers that Ravi is a womanizer and cheat of the worst kind, and the current object of his affections is Rupa (Mumtaz).
He is kicked out by Ravi in a really funny scene, but returns as himself (he works nights at this hotel as a singer). We are treated to one of my favorite songs of all time: “Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyar” with Mumtaz shimmying her gorgeous way around nimble-footed Shammi.
He returns home to tell Sheetal that it’s an uphill battle for her to win Ravi’s heart, but that he’ll help her on one condition.
She agrees, and he tells her that he’ll make her over in the image of all the girls that Ravi is attracted to. Then he sings the gorgeous lullaby “Main Gaaon Tum So Jao” and I melt into a puddle. Oh! to be one of those kids!
At this point our story is interrupted for some time by the comic side plot; I won’t spend energy and time on it—suffice to say that Jagdeep plays the guy in love and Dhumal is the girl’s father. Same old, same old! I guess I will never really be a big fan of the comic side plot.
The next day, Brahmachari embarks on his Professor Higgins-like transformation of Sheetal. To effect this transformation he needs money. Fortunately, the landlord (Asit Sen) next door has prospective tenants looking at his house; as usual, the kids make lots of noise, driving the would-be tenants away, and the hapless landlord pays up to ensure quiet next time (which he never gets). Sheetal is horrified by this blackmail; Brahmachari tells her that it helps in paying for the children’s upkeep and education. Her makeover doesn’t thrill her either.
I have to agree with Brahmachari and the children though, who assure her she looks beautiful. Her lessons continue: she learns to use a knife and fork, how to walk gracefully in heels. In turn, she quizzes Brahmachari about himself and discovers what a lonely life he has led, and why he has dedicated himself to the children.
Finally the day comes when he feels she is ready to meet Ravi in her new avatar. She seems depressed and to distract her Amit (Junior Mehmood) performs Mehmood’s dance (with Helen) from Gumnaam. It is a dead-on and hysterical imitation.
Anyway, that evening Brahmachari takes her to the club where he works as a singer. Ravi often comes there, and tonight is no exception. He asks Brahmachari to introduce him. Sheetal’s response to Ravi’s advances is cool.
Unused to the hard-to-get routine, Ravi is hooked and follows her out. Brahmachari disguises himself as a goon and harasses Sheetal outside the club. Ravi beats him up and takes her home. When she gets to know that Brahmachari was the badmash who teased her, she asks him why he would take so much trouble.
She’s not as happy as she should be with her success. Choti brings a letter for Brahmachari: the newspaper editor has done as he requested and has found a couple who wish to adopt a child. They are coming the next day. Brahmachari explains to the kids that it’s for their own good, but they are not happy.
Meanwhile, Rupa has called Ravi over to pressure him to marry her: she’s pregnant. He balks at talking to his mother about it but she is way ahead of him.
The next morning when the couple arrive to adopt one of the children, the kids have smeared mud all over themselves and behave like little hooligans. It doesn’t make any difference, though, and they pick Ujala (Sachin). It’s a heartbreaking scene as Brahmachari makes him go with them for his own good.
Things haven’t improved when he gets home at the end of the day. Sheetal and the children are silent. Brahmachari tries to explain again that they’ll have plenty to eat, and clothes, and lack for nothing, including the love of two parents.
They refuse to eat and the crying continues until Brahmachari relents. He goes and gets Ujala back. Peace—or at least harmony—is restored.
Sheetal meanwhile continues to see Ravi, whom she has started to hate now that she sees him as he really is. She knows that she’s in love with Brahmachari, but equally knows that her marriage to Ravi is the only thing that will keep them all from being out on the streets. But when he begs her to marry him, she refuses, throwing his words back in his face.
She returns home just as one of the children is bitten by a cobra. She sucks the poison out of the wound, but then is herself poisoned and she passes into a coma. The kids all pray to all the gods (a nice plea for secularity) and she wakes up. She tells Brahmachari that she’s let him down by refusing Ravi’s proposal; he brushes it off as a minor thing in the face of her almost dying. She tells him that she loves him and they get engaged to everyone’s delight.
Except, of course, Ravi’s. Humiliated and furious, he’s not going to let her go so easily. And we all know what Pran is capable of!
What heinous things will he do? Will Sheetal and Brahmachari survive them? Will the orphanage? And what about poor pregnant Rupa?