Joroo Ka Ghulam (1972)

I haven’t been able to find an exact translation for the title, but it seems to mean something along the lines of “hen-pecked husband.” The whole concept of a hen-pecked husband irritates me beyond measure, but that rant would need an entire post by itself. In any case, the woman in this movie is fairly traditional and conservative; she does stand up for herself when appropriate, but I wouldn’t call it hen-pecking.

It’s a very sweet quirky little story about a wife who embellishes the facts of her married life in her letters home, and the subsequent complications when her parents visit. It reminded me in style of later films Katha and Kissise Na Kehna, and the married couple (Rajesh Khanna and Nanda) enjoy a very loving and equal relationship. Have I made it clear yet that I hate the title? But I do like the film.

Kalpana (Nanda) is heading off to college in Bombay, leaving behind her wealthy father Shyamlal (Om Prakash) and mother Saraswati (Achla Sachdev).

She is to stay with her uncle (Iftekhar), who manages a clothing company.

Rajesh (Rajesh Khanna) is an artist who sketches advertisements for the clothing company’s publicity firm. One day, faced with a deadline, he is uninspired until he spots Kalpana (who is visiting her uncle’s office) through a window. He quickly finishes his assignment using her as an unwitting model.

Kalpana then meets up with her friend Sudha, Sudha’s brother Deepu, and Deepu’s fiancee Beena at the Jehangir Art Gallery. They get into an altercation with a photographer who takes Kalpana’s picture—it’s clear from this that she is a relatively conservative girl. Girls from decent homes do not have their photos taken!

And indeed, when she and her uncle see the ad the next day, they are livid. Once Kalpana gets a look at Rajesh, though, she feels a lot more forgiving (hey, it IS Rajesh Khanna looking v.v. handsome). She convinces her uncle not to have him fired, and gives him a ride home. A song and lots of flirtation later, and they are in love. Rajesh is a painter (he sketches ads to make ends meet) and he lives very simply, being poor.

When Kalpana’s parents get wind of the romance from her aunt, they call her home on the pretext that her mother is ill. Once home, her father tells her that she’ll no longer be studying and that her marriage has been arranged with a well-fed local boy whose father is also wealthy. Kalpana is horrified.

She runs away, back to Bombay and Rajesh. He is initially reluctant to marry her, since he would rather have her parents’ approval and a little money saved up, but finally agrees. They are married at a registrar’s office with Sudha and Deepu as witnesses.

Shyamlal is furious and disowns her. When Kalpana tries to introduce Rajesh to her parents, he insults Rajesh without meeting him and throws her out. This makes her cousin Ramesh (Ramesh Deo) very happy, since he’s now her uncle’s only heir. Ramesh is a badmash who spends all Shyamlal’s money on gambling and nautch girls.

With just a few minor hiccups, Kalpana and Rajesh settle into happy domesticity. Then Kalpana gets an idea one day from a visiting friend.

She writes to her mother first that Rajesh has been promoted, then that they have bought a house, and then a car. None of this cuts any ice with her father, though, until they have a baby boy. After that it’s fairly easy for Saraswati to convince her husband that they should visit their daughter, son-in-law, and grandson for two days to participate in the naming ceremony.

Kalpana is horrified. She and Rajesh still live in a simple one room apartment and have little money, let alone a car! She asks her friend Sudha for help.

She rents a car and a large furnished bungalow on credit, and when Rajesh wants nothing to do with this plan, she hires a husband too—Sudha’s brother Deepu, who is engaged to marry Beena in a few days’ time.

What could possibly go wrong? Especially when Rajesh feels guilty for not supporting Kalpana and changes his mind, after her parents have already been introduced to Deepu masquerading as Rajesh.

They take him for a servant, although Shyamlal wants to know why a servant looks like a “film star.”

Even when he gets his hair cut and changes his clothes, Kalpana’s mother has reservations too.

The ensuing comic maze of deception takes us through the end of the film. Can Kalpana and Rajesh’s marriage withstand the pressure? Will her parents find out the truth? Will Ramesh the nephew throw a monkey-wrench into everything for fear of losing his inheritance?

I really liked this film; Nanda is unpopular with many, but I’ve always liked her. She is sweet without being cloying, and she and Rajesh have an easy familiarity together here that’s convincing. Rajesh has great chemistry with Om Prakash, as well. They are hilarious together as servant and master, with Rajesh constantly getting the best of poor bullying, blustering Shyamlal by charming the socks off of him. Kalyanji-Anandji’s music is melodic and fits perfectly with the spirit of the film. I loved particularly the song “Baras Gayi Re Taras Gayi,” sung by Kishore and picturized on Rajesh, who alternately pummelled Om Prakash (using him as a drum) and pressed his feet like a good servant.

So cute!

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35 Comments to “Joroo Ka Ghulam (1972)”

  1. Hey Memsaab, this sounds like a fun movie! (The premise seems almost like Chupke Chupke, no? With Dharmendra there as the “servant”, and same old — no pun intended!– Om Prakash as the “master”!)

    As for Joroo Ka Ghulam, if I’m not mistaken, (Hindi is not my first language) the name derives from the game of cards. Ghulam (“servant”) is the equivalent of Jack, and Joroo is the Queen. And hence, it’s a play on words here… — Joroo Ka Ghulam is a phrase used to indicated “hen-pecked husband”, yes! — But also since in the movie Rajesh Khanna becames a “servant” to his wife, literally, the filmmakers probably thought it would be a clever use of the phrase as the title!

  2. Ah, that makes sense (the card thing). I knew Ghulam was the Jack but not that Joroo was the Queen. Thanks :-)

    It is a fun movie, it reminded me in spirit of the nice comedies from the late seventies/early eighties.

  3. Yes, girls from decent homes do not have their photos taken… in their bikinis! But that picture in the newspaper looks hand-drawn.

  4. It is, and he plopped her head on a bikini-clad body, but it was just as bad as a photo judging from their reactions :-)

    Speaking as an artist, it’s not a very good drawing either—her head and neck are way out of proportion and perspective from the body. But—that’s not what offends Kalpana and her uncle :-)

  5. I believe this movie was remade fairly recently in Tamil – only the baby was also rented in that case!

    M

  6. I was going to recommend this movie but couldn’t remember it’s name. And since I frequently get Sadhana and Nanda mixed up (I don’t know why!) it’s a good thing I didn’t mention it because I would have asked you to be on the lookout for “that Sadhana-RK movie”.

    You’re on a Charming RK streak!

    M – I’m surprised this wasn’t remade from a Tamil movie. I’ve always felt it had a slight South Indian twinge to it.

  7. Saw this again a couple of weeks back. Good fun! Nanda and Rajesh Khanna do make a very watchable pair: The Train is good masala entertainment (if hard to believe!) and Ittefaq is really quite riveting in its own way.

  8. Hey…I really enjoyed JKG…saw it almost a decade ago…have to hit the refresh button…hope I get a DVD

  9. Kaka & Nanda were great in The Train too…

  10. ‘Joroo’ is usually used for spouse, the wife. I didn’t know it was also used for the Queen. But I love this film too. Didn’t remember that he drew her in a bikini. That was outrageous, no?

  11. One of my favorite RKs, so handsome here, no?! Have you noticed that in quite a few of his films of that period there’s always a scene of him in the bathroom taking a shower! Objectification aside, it’s a very appealing character he plays here—none of the filmi angst about being a poor guy married to a rich man’s daughter. He’s especially endearing when joking about his reception after the abortive trip to see the in-laws.

    Some trivia—I think that Beena (Deepu’s fiancé) is Poonam Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha’s wife and Hrithik’s mom in Jodhaa Akbar. RK’s photographer friend I believe is Gurnam who also was his secretary and close personal friend from his theatre days. He does quite a few of these comic cameos in RK’s films. Who plays Deepu by the way?

  12. M: do you remember the Tamil version title?

    Amrita: ha ha re: Sadhana-RK :-D I am catching up on all the RK I’ve been missing!

    madhu: I loved Ittefaq; I have The Train and need to rewatch it, I saw it a long time ago.

    Alok: time to see it again!

    Banno: I love learning new Hindi terminology! Yes, the bikini was quite outrageous apparently :-) although to my 21st century American eyes it is quite tame!

    Suhan: RK is v.v. handsome in this, very funny too. And there’s a great shower scene with him in this one, where he pulls Nanda in with him at the end—quite sexy for the time! Beena was played by an actress named Alka (who starred in Ansoo Ban Gaye Phool opp. Deb Mukherji). I don’t know who plays Deepu, I didn’t recognize him. If anyone else knows, I am always happy to learn new names (imdb doesn’t say who played Deepu either—Kabir maybe? or Sharad Kumar?). Thanks for the info re: Gurnam—he looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him either (and imdb was no use!)…I love having the background scoop!

  13. You know, I’ve watched this twice, and just been v dissatisfied with it somehow- I always wondered if Shashi (like his comedy in “Pyar Kiye Ja”) /Shammi (the way he was in “Professor”) /Dharam ((like he did in “Chupke Chupke”) would have been better choices than Rajesh- I just couldnt handle his ugly wig in the 2nd half of the movie- perhaps if they had just gotten rid of that wig it’d b fine :)

  14. I thought Rajesh was just perfect. He wasn’t too macho, or silly—he played it with a quiet strength and a bit of mischief that was perfectly calibrated for the part. He didn’t approve of his wife’s activities, but loved her enough to try and support her, although he wasn’t going to take any guff from his in-laws either—and he wanted to win them over. Not an easy balance to achieve.

    As I’m watching all these RK movies I’m realizing what a very gifted actor he is—true, he is OTT at times, but that was the norm for that period (all of them scenery-munched on occasion) and mostly director-driven, I’d bet.

    His Mundu hair didn’t look like a wig to me. He looked v.v. cute in the whole getup. Each to his/her own! :-)

  15. I missed this one…..sounds like Om Prakash had a role similar to the one in Chupke Chupke where Dharmendra fools him into thinking he is just the driver…will try and catch this sometime :)

  16. I love how we disagree about Mr. Khanna- I almost cant wait to read what else u pick of his… so I can quibble some more [sheepish, guilty smile].

    Seriously, I did like him in Mehbooba (1976)- have u seen that?

  17. shweta, heh. Why not disagree? It’s what makes the world go around. But I seriously do think that he’s a great actor, and I have more proof lined up (Namak Haraam). You can quibble away! with no hard feelings.

    I have Mehbooba, but haven’t watched it yet. I will let you know when I do :-)

  18. Nice. And re Amrita’s observation, I too have independently reached the conclusion that Sadhna and Nanda are the same person, but wearing different bird’s nests on their heads. Proof ofcourse of the dictum that great minds think alike, though my better half has on occasion derisively observed that fools seldom differ, when I pull precedent on her.

    First time on your blog and definitely not the last!

  19. Ah Narendra. I have been a fan of your hilarious blog for some time, glad you came over here to add your sense of humor to mine. LOL at “…bird’s nests on their heads”! Women in that time ALL had bird’s nests on their heads :-) Even Jackie O, that fashion icon, is guilty of it upon occasion.

    Sadhana is so much prettier than Nanda! One of the things I like about Nanda, in fact, is that I don’t find her pretty—makes her more real, I guess.

  20. When it comes to bird’s nests – or bee hives, as I like to call them – it’s hard to beat Sharmila Tagore, especially in Mere Humdum Mere Dost… there were scenes in that movie where I wondered how her hairdo was fighting gravity.

  21. If you’ve ever passed through the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport, you’ll know that some ladies there could compete, anyway!

    Enough hairspray can defy gravity, it’s been proven.

  22. I saw this one. It was cute, though I have to admit it wasn’t one of my favorites. The best thing in this film was the dance by Jayshree T.!

  23. Oh, memsaab, why did you get with of the Other Blogs section of your blog? :(

  24. FiLMiNDiA: I haven’t gotten rid of it, there seems to be a problem on the WordPress side…hopefully fixed soon!

  25. Just wanted to let you know that since my prof/boss (I am a grad student and a research assistant) didn’t show up today, I am watching Joroo ka ghulam in lab!!! Something that I couldn’t even imagine happening ever (with the 70′s n 80′s bollywood i.e., I have watched many a episode of Frasier in lab before, just shows how much work gets done eh?!:P)I am doomed! and still have one more semester of research. God save me :P

  26. Ha! Research will be set back decades now because of 70′s Bollywood :-)

  27. chaliye aapko main apni bangla ke sair karaadoon sings Kishore for Rajesh Khanna who shows himself in the house serving in the kitrchen..Good song..Did it find mention here?

  28. A great romantic-comedy movie.
    Khanna has done all roles.
    surprsingly all the movies of his till 75 people term it as romantic alone.as rajesh did many different movies even in this period from 1969-75 with romance being only a part of it.they werent out n out just romantic films.

    it was a hit and not a flop

    mahacor was a big hit in 1976 and it was light hearted comedy flick like a david dhawan-govinda movie of 90′s

    aaviushkar and choti bahu –do review them and post nice fotos from the films – those which hve never been uploaded as nicely as you can do

  29. joroo ka ghulam does not mean “hen pecked husband”…it translates more closely to “slave of one’s wife”…generally used for husbands who follow their wife’s every whim & fancy…whereas a “hen pecked husband” would mean a person who has been harassed by his wife…a joroo ka ghulam can actually be a cheerful person unlike a henpecked person as he does not mind being what he is !!!

    seen in this movie’s context the title makes sense…becoz dharmendra is hired by anita raj to play the part of her husband…so in a way he is her servant / slave…

  30. sorry my bad…i wrote the above comments without reading the review and mistook this movie for the one with dharmendra & anita raaj…with the same name…

  31. Mera Chain Khoya Hua Hai was the most popular song from the film.
    such a melodious duet by Asha Kishore and well choreographed on Rajesh Khanna and Nanda.

    a great superhit film.
    It makes us feel so good

  32. Remember seeing this movie as a 12 year old so all I remember is Rajesh in the servant garb and the song with the monkey. So this time around this was so much more fun and enjoyable, specially the interactions between Rajesh and Nanda, and Rajesh and Omprakash. I believe Nanda had been acting a while before teaming up with Rajesh and I am amazed how good these two are together! Love the cooking fiasco scene as well as Deepu fleeing thru window when his bride arrives. Simply hilarious!
    And how could I not remember the shower scene (naive 12 year old in 70s!)
    Thanks for yet another wonderful and spot on review, memsaab!

  33. Nanda was lousy. She looked older than kaka in all the films they did – ittefaq, train & JKG. Kaka has underplayed his role beautifully here.

    Rajesh was handsome in the film as always. Somehow even in his later films in 1980s like maqsad & masterji, he still looked handosme even though his hairline was receding.

  34. I just hate the term ‘joru ka ghulam’ = servant of wife. Even women use this term without understanding.. it’s not funny at all.
    Lovely review :)

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