Manmohan Desai directing, Rajesh Khanna in a double role (for which he won the Filmfare Best Actor award) with beautiful Mumtaz opposite, plus Kumari Naaz (one of my favorite actresses), a co-starring dog, and Vinod Khanna! Believe me when I say I jumped through hoops to get my hands on a working DVD of this movie. Shame on you, Shemaroo! *shakes fist in their general direction* [Begin rant: Why do they not check master DVDs before duping them a million times, why? How hard can it be? End rant.] Thank goodness for BEI.
In any case, I DID jump through hoops because…well, read the first sentence again. Was it worth it? Read on!
Bhola (Rajesh Khanna) is a simple, good-hearted village boy who just wants to get his sister Belu married and settled happily. Unfortunately, Belu (Kumari Naaz) is lame and needs crutches in order to walk, and nobody will marry her (even though she’s drop-dead gorgeous) for less than a dowry of 10,000 Rs. Bhola and Belu have a toad-like stepmother (Praveen Paul) who works poor Belu like a servant, and Bhola decides that he will go to the city to earn the money by playing music.
He sets off singing a lovely song—Kalyanji Anandji’s music is fantastic—“Meri Pyari Behenia” leaving Belu in the capable care of their dog Moti (Rexy).
In Bombay, a master jewel thief has been plaguing the city. Inspector Pradhan (Vinod Khanna) is pretty sure he knows who it is (his explanation for this deduction is pretty weak and I won’t bother with it here).
Hmmm. Pradhan’s plan to catch Ranjit Kumar is to exploit his two biggest weaknesses: “exquisite diamonds and beautiful girls.” To that end, he puts CID officer Leela (Mumtaz) on the case.
There’s nothing quite like pimping out a fellow police officer! She will pose as a diamond heiress and make Ranjit Kumar’s acquaintance at a masquerade party being held for the rich and famous of Bombay.
Bhola happens to be outside the party venue in his band costume with his musical instruments when he is beckoned in by a party goer, who tells him everyone is waiting for him.
Inside, people seem to know him and joke with him about his “costume.” Bhola goes along with it all cheerfully although he’s a little bemused. Then Ranjit Kumar pulls up in his limousine outside.
He’s dressed as Zorro, and with the mask on nobody notices him when he enters. Surprised and thoughtful, Ranjit watches the confusion around Bhola for a while. Then Leela arrives, now in her guise as diamond heiress “Rita.” Bhola is smitten on sight by her and their introduction is quickly effected. After a song, the party breaks up and Rita dissects the evening with Pradhan.
No kidding! On his way out, Bhola is picked up by a car and driver and taken to Ranjit’s palatial mansion where he meets Ranjit sans the Zorro mask. He is astonished.
Ranjit tells him that he has cancer, and that he will pay Bhola a handsome sum to pretend to be him (I’m not clear why the cancer story is necessary or relevant but never mind). Bhola agrees, innocently, and Ranjit instructs his girlfriend Ruby (Faryal) to transform rustic villager Bhola into sophisticated city slicker Ranjit. It’s hard work, but she does it just in time for Ranjit’s birthday extranvaganza, at which Bhola will “be” Ranjit while Ranjit is occupied elsewhere with a big diamond heist.
The party buzzes in great style, with faux “Ranjit” glued to Rita’s side. Meanwhile, the real Ranjit has hit a speedbump: his latest client is really a police informant, and Inspector Pradhan and his men are waiting for him. An intense gunfight commences, with Ranjit finally escaping, though wounded by Pradhan.
While Rita entertains the party with “Karle Pyar Karle Aankhen Char”—one of my favorite Mumtaz songs ever—Ranjit grits his teeth in pain as his henchmen drive him to his hideout.
Inspector Pradhan shows up at Ranjit’s house and is astonished to see an apparently un-wounded Ranjit playing the trumpet and dancing with Rita in front of a houseful of guests, including the Commissioner of Police.
Ranjit’s men kidnap a surgeon and bring him to remove the bullet from Ranjit’s leg. The doctor says Ranjit will be laid up for a month, which does not please him one bit.
Does that mean he’ll never have any kids? Ruby visits him and tells him that Bhola fooled everyone, including the police. Ranjit, pleased, tells her that he’ll have to play him for a whole month while he recovers. Bhola, not knowing Ranjit’s true nature (or profession) agrees happily as long as he can see Rita.
Back in his home village, disaster has struck in the form of floods.
Tragically (well maybe not), Belu’s nasty stepmother is killed trying to retrieve her money, which is floating away. Belu and Moti set off to find Bhola in the city.
Inspector Pradhan gives Rita a truth-inducing drug to slip into Bhola’s drink, and tells her to record the subsequent confessions. But the tape machine ends up in the ocean, and she drinks some of it by mistake. They each confess their true identity and then their love for each other, and seal it with a gorgeous duet, “Yuhi Tum Mujhse Baat Karti Ho.”
When the drug wears off, neither remembers a thing and Pradhan is no closer to the truth than before. Meanwhile Belu and Moti have arrived in Bombay. In classic near-miss coincidence-heavy Desai style, she sees Bhola passing in a car and is almost run over by Pradhan who is driving behind. Ruby just happens to pull up next to them as Pradhan asks Belu what she’s doing in the middle of the road.
Hearing this, Ruby hastens off to inform Ranjit about Belu’s presence in the city. He is furious.
What will happen next? Will the police figure out that Ranjit has a lookalike? Will Belu find Bhola, or will the real Ranjit find her first? What will he do with her? What will Bhola do when he finds out what a bad guy Ranjit really is?
And, most anxiety-inducing for me, will Moti be hit by a car on the busy streets of Bombay? I fret as he runs loose and cannot pay attention to the plot.
It’s a fun film with Rajesh doing an excellent job differentiating between the two characters. Ranjit is cold and ruthless, and kind of scary; Bhola is simple and sweet without being annoyingly naive. And his chemistry with gorgeous Mumtaz as always is great. As is usual with Manmohan Desai, the end is tied up a little hastily, depriving us a bit of the big payoff promised by the beginning, but it’s still a worthy effort and well worth watching for the cast, performances, and the music.
Some favorite shots, randomly:
They just look like they have such fun together! *Sweeeet*…