Basant (1960)

Take the plot of It Happened One Night, sprinkle in some ingredients from An Affair To Remember, then stir in a third plot which is completely nuts, and voila! it’s Basant. Two of my favorite Hollywood films and some masala craziness for the price of one Hindi film! Sure, there are huge plot holes and it’s nonsensical at times, but what do I care—especially when the hero and heroine are my beloved Shammi Kapoor and beautiful Nutan. They are great together: his nonchalant silliness complements her feisty character perfectly.

Plus, there’s Pran! and lovely music from OP Nayyar.

Meenakshi Rai (Nutan) is the spoiled daughter of millionaire Rai Bahadur (Murad). We know that she’s a modern girl because she wears trousers and says “My foot!” a lot. She wants to marry Rajesh (Pran), a man of whom her father disapproves strongly.

Her father is escorting her to Calcutta by train to get her away from Rajesh, but she disembarks at another stop in the middle of the night as he is sleeping. Her bag is stolen on the platform by a scoundrel named Billoo (Johnny Walker) and she chases him to a nearby fairground, where she recovers her bag but discovers that her father already has the police after her.

To escape them, she takes to the stage and sings a lovely song (“Raaste Mein”) with a guy named Ashim (Shammi Kapoor). But when she returns to the train station to catch the Bombay train, it’s crawling with police and her father is there! So is Ashim, who has figured out who she is; he’s traveling to Bombay as well.

She decides to take the bus instead and sits next to Billoo—who steals all the money from her purse when she isn’t looking. For some reason never explained, Ashim is on the bus too, and sees a police roadblock ahead. He pushes Billoo aside and saves her from detection.

They enact a hilarious drama of a possessive husband and his shrewish wife, and the policeman flees to avoid getting involved. Shammi and Nutan are really fun to watch as he continues to needle her (and imitates her “My foot!” at every opportunity), and she gives it back to him as good as she gets.

To escape further notice, Meenakshi and Ashim take to the side roads. When Billoo the con man sees a poster with her photo and a Rs 50,000 reward, he starts trailing them. There is a lot of other comic side plot action with Johnny, but I won’t go into it here. He is pretty funny, though.

As Meenakshi and Ashim head towards Bombay by whatever transport they can find, they argue a lot but are getting acquainted too. She tells him that she is headstrong because her father has always been so controlling, and she is longing for a little freedom. They are so CUTE together.

Back in Bombay, Rai Bahadur just wants his daughter back, and is even willing to compromise with Rajesh.

But Ashim and Meenakshi are falling in love.

So true! When the two reach her home in Bombay, she confesses her feelings to Ashim. He tells her to meet him after one month apart, as a test to make sure their love is true. This seemed like a bad idea in An Affair To Remember, and it seems like a bad idea now, but she happily agrees.

Unfortunately, Rajesh is waiting in the wings, and he needs her money. On Meenakshi’s birthday—which Ashim attends in disguise—Rai Bahadur announces her engagement to Rajesh, as promised. Ashim is furious and confronts her, but she reassures him that she loves him. Rajesh overhears them, and sends his thugs to kill Ashim when he goes on a trip to deliver a valuable necklace in this place (our lunatic third plot development):

On the night when they are to meet, Meenakshi has a car accident and is paralyzed from her waist down. Rai Bahadur dies of a heart attack when he hears the news. When she recovers enough to leave the hospital in a wheelchair, Rajesh tells her that Ashim is dead too.

Poor Meenakshi is bereft. Is Ashim really dead? If not, where is he? Did he show up for their rendezvous and think her absence meant she had decided to marry Rajesh? Will she marry Rajesh? Will she ever walk again?

Oh, the drama! The tears! The beauty of Shammi!

The Indian Elvis, indeed.

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33 Comments to “Basant (1960)”

  1. OMG I need this movie NOW! It Happened One Night, Shammi AND Nutan and OP Nayyar – cant rest till I get this…. Shammi and Nutan do look so god together.

    I think I saw this in my Hindi video shop the other day but remembering your write-up about Parwana, wasnt willing to see something called ‘Basant’ unless I was sure it didnt involve baking/broiling! :-)

  2. Shama Parwana it isn’t :-) No cooking! except a pig on a spit about halfway through. Shammi is safe, though. And even more than It Happened One Night, I love An Affair To Remember (Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr). It was remade in Hindi as Mann with Manisha Koirala and Aamir too. I talk about it a little in this post.

  3. I love ‘An Affair To Remember’ too. Have seen all three versions of it – the 1939 version starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunn, the Cary Grant one and the 1995 one starring Warren Beatty and Annette Benning (this one was immensely forgettable) – but the Cary Grant one is my favorite. Didnt like what ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ did to my favorite movie, though!

  4. I’d like to see the 1939 version, although I can’t imagine liking Charles Boyer more than Cary Grant :-)

    I didn’t care for the Beatty-Bening one either.

  5. thanks for this exciting review. that reminds me to ask you where you get all the movies from? you must buy them online but where??
    anja

  6. Hi Anja, I buy them online from several places. There is a great site called Nehaflix.com which has excellent customer service, a large inventory and good prices. I also buy from India Weekly on occasion, although they are less reliable. I find some more difficult to locate films on eBay—sometimes they have to be shipped from India, but I’ve had no problem with the eBay stores either.

  7. thanks. i heard about nehaflix! i’m still searching for some of the shammi movies….actually there a lot a lot more to see…
    anja

  8. I need more Nutan in my life. NEED.

  9. anja: so many Shammi movies, so little time (and unfortunately some of the earlier ones have never made it to DVD; hope they do some day)

    carla: :-) She is beautiful beyond belief. She is Waheeda Rehman beautiful. And funny too.

  10. There was another interesting Hindi film based on ‘It Happened One Night’. It was ‘Solvan Saal’ , Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman starrer.

  11. Ooh! I have never heard of that one! Must look for it! :-) Thanks.

  12. Love love love the songs of this one, specially the ones by Rafi. It’s one of my favorite films!

    Btw, do you have posts on Jawan Mohabbat? I wanna read more about it. Just discovered that film like a couple of weeks back. Can’t wait to see it.

  13. I don’t think Jawan Mohabbat is available on DVD, only VCD and that too is hard to find, at least in the US.

    Hope it does get put on DVD one of these days! I would love to see it too. It stars Asha Parekh and Rajendranath along with Shammi and is a murder mystery apparently. If you find it on DVD let me know! :-)

  14. I have just found a song on esnips called ‘O Madame Nancy’ sung by Mohd. Rafi and Asha Bhonsle, a charming little duet which is supposed to be from basant although i must admit when i saw the film a few years ago, i don’t think this song was in it. Is it included in the dvd you have of this film or is it one of those songs that never made the final film.

  15. Norina, no that song isn’t on my DVD of Basant. There are some obvious gaps—I think it’s one of those deals where the original film was somewhat damaged or pieces were missing, and when it was digitized some of it got left out.

    Too bad!

  16. Thanks for your reply. I just bought the dvd myself and out of 14 songs there are only 11 in the film.
    It’s a shame, the O madam nancy is not in it but it is a beautiful song, if you want to listen to it this is the link

    http://www.esnips.com/doc/a8b2072d-744e-4f0c-b527-00ca8291c6d4/O_Madame_Nancy_(Basant)

  17. I have been desperately trying to recollect a song that I heard long time back, what I know is that this song is from the movie Basant. Could anyone of you share the list of songs from this movie. Please !!

  18. Madhura, the songs I have from the film are:

    Aaj Mere Saiyyan Ki (Asha); Main Chhoti Se Chhail Chhabili (Ukkad Dukkad Bamba) (Asha); Peeche Hath Babu (Asha); Chori Chori (Rafi, Asha); Ghoom Ke Aaya (Rafi, Asha); Humne Unke Samne (Rafi, Asha); Mere Dil Pe (Rafi, Asha); Mere Lehenge Mein (Rafi, Asha); Nainon Mein Suraj Ki Kirnen (Rafi, Asha) and Raaste Mein (Rafi, Asha)…there are two versions of Chori Chori.

    I think you can find them on iTunes or eMusic.

  19. Indeed, ” Solva Saal” was very much “It happened ne night” kind of movie. And it had Dev Anand and Waheda Rahman at their best. You may not have heard of he movie, but I bet you have heard the song- “hai apna dil to aawara, na jaane kispe aayega”. This song is from “Solva saal” and it stood number one in Binaca geetmala final of that year.

    I have the VCD of “Solva saal”. Let me look for the “Basant” video.

  20. Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin starring Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt in the 90s was also based on the same movie with the thigh showing included!

  21. Solva Saal is mixture of “It Happened One Night” and “Roman Holiday”

  22. Memsaab,
    You write “For some reason never explained, Ashim is on the bus too”!!! Does love need reasons?
    cheers

  23. The worst thing is nowadays you don’t get these films in the store. And i so want to watch them all!!! Ahhh!! Shammi and Nutan…don’t know how to not be distracted by the beauty of both!!! Indian Elvis indeed!!! Thanks for letting me know of this film!!!

  24. I don’t really mind the major plotholes as long as it doesn’t take away the enjoyment of the movie.

    Also, one thing I like about a lot of the Shammi movies is that it doesn’t contain sexist elements and he always sticks by his woman no matter what!

    But just to be on the safe side, are there sexist elements that could ruin this movie for me like in Chori Chori(1956)?- where Nargis is harassed by some holier-than-thou bitches, manually thrown out by them, followed by and ending that says a woman can only leave the house either when she marries or is dead?

    • Not that I remember, and I would remember I am pretty sure (unless just blinded by Shammi)…but this film wasn’t made by Raj Kapoor so the chances of it not being sexist are better :)

  25. wow.. Nutan is so incredibly beautiful

  26. Just saw and wronte about this movie…. I loved the first half – both of them are SO good!!! And I love the songs – they do them so well!!!

  27. agree with Sonali here. I couldn’t watch the second half without forwarding. First half was super though and Nutan and Shammi make a great jodi!

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