As you might know, I love Hindi remakes of old Hollywood films. This is a copy of Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) which has also been remade a few times in Hollywood; the version that I’ve seen is Heaven Can Wait (1978) with Warren Beatty. The subject is perfect for a Hindi film, actually; reincarnation is a no-brainer, and since identical people who aren’t related is a common occurrence, our hero gets put into an identical body. So convenient! I would have liked this more had it starred Shammi and Asha (I know: duh) instead of Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu (who honestly were just fine); but it’s thoroughly entertaining with lovely songs courtesy of Shankar Jaikishan, and a strong supporting cast of character actors and goofy Rajendranath.
Sanjay (Rajendra Kumar) is a tour guide in Darjeeling who shares a house with his best friend Hanuman Singh (Rajendranath). This is a loony role even by Rajendranath’s standards; sometimes he’s so funny I just had to laugh even while shaking my head at his antics—and Rajendra Kumar is the perfect deadpan foil for him.
The owner of Sanjay’s jeep, Motumal (Ram Avtar), wants to repo it since it isn’t paid for, and Sanjay devotes a lot of time and energy either bluffing him into believing payment is imminent or avoiding him.
A gaggle of girl tourists have hired Sanjay to take them around Darjeeling. Their leader is Priya (Saira Banu), a wealthy girl from Calcutta, and Sanjay is has fallen head over heels for her at first sight.
It takes some time, some songs, and a number of ill-conceived plots, but he finally wins her heart in return.
Their new-found bliss is short-lived, however. Priya gets a letter from Calcutta, telling her that her father has been arrested. He works for two brothers who are ruthless in character and have amassed great amounts of wealth using dubious means. They have framed him on charges of embezzlement.
Sanjay takes Priya to the airport for her flight home. On the way back, he sings the lovely “Kaun Hai Jo Sapnon Mein Aaya” as he speeds along in his jeep. It’s wonderful song, bursting with the joy of new love—and especially poignant since you know he is about to die.
Sure enough, rounding a corner he swerves to avoid an oncoming truck and is thrown from the jeep as it bounces down the steep mountain side.
The humanity! As he lies there bleeding, a dark figure appears over him.
Considering the fact that this was made in 1968, the special effects were actually generally very good. Anyway, Sanjay leaves his body and goes with the dark angel; but it takes him awhile to comprehend that he’s dead.
When he finally does, he protests loudly against the injustice. This draws the attention of a Bigwig Swami (David) who consults the Recordkeeper Swami. Sure enough, there’s been an unfortunate mistake. Angel 702 (whom Sanjay keeps calling “The Indian James Bond”) is new to the “Human Department.”
Sanjay is not supposed to be dead. Oops! This causes quite the flutter in filmi heaven (which, by the way, is enormously entertaining).
Alas. The fat crows of Darjeeling haven’t gotten Sanjay’s body, but Hanuman Singh has, and Sanjay’s body has already been cremated in front of his weeping friend and creditors. This doesn’t stump Bigwig Swami for long, though. He tells Sanjay that there’s another body he can have, which incidentally belongs to a man who looks just like him, and who was the person who should have died anyway (hence Angel 702’s error in identification).
This man is one of the brothers for whom Priya’s father worked. He is the elder brother, TK by name, and his younger brother Prem (Prem Chopra) wants to kill him and take over everything. Priya tells her jailed father that she will plead with TK—he doesn’t want her to have anything to do with them, and in fact has always kept her far away from them, but she’s insistent. She meets with Prem, who is struck by an idea.
He tells her that he believes in her father’s innocence, and that he’ll convince TK to meet with her if she can return at 7 that evening. Shortly before 7, Sanjay and Bigwig Swami arrive at TK’s house just as Prem is preparing to shoot him. TK is in his study, reading a girlie mag (just in case we haven’t realize yet what a debauched and awful character he is):
Prem shoots his brother and kills him just before Priya arrives. He escorts her to TK’s study and she goes in to find his dead body. Sanjay, watching, is horrified as Prem calls the police to have her arrested for TK’s murder. The only way to save her of course, is to take over TK’s body, which he agrees to do although he has one slight reservation.
Bigwig Swami tells Sanjay that he will have to wipe clean TK’s bad deeds (his bag of bad deeds!), and assures him that Priya and Hanuman will recognize him if he does so.
Sanjay enters TK’s body, and the police arrive to find TK alive and well at his desk. The Inspector (Jagdish Raj—is he always a police inspector?) sends Prem in to see for himself, and tells Priya she’s free to go and that TK isn’t dead. She’s hardly placated!
Her hair is sprayed into an unbelievable helmet throughout, just FYI. She storms off and a confused and frightened Prem faces his brother.
Over the next few days Sanjay adjusts to being the malik with everyone jumping at his every whim; his servants try to adapt to a boss who has suddenly stopped drinking champagne and drinks chai instead, and his lawyers and employees struggle to comprehend his changed policies. TK’s secretary Rita (Parveen Choudhary), who was romantically involved with TK, is especially bewildered by his vehement rejection of her advances.
Sanjay himself is not too happy. He misses Priya desperately, and discovering what a bad person his body’s former owner was is not fun. I love this shot of him slumped at the piano, it reminds me of a Raj Khosla film:
TK has been estranged from his grandmother for some years, but when her doctor calls to say she’s very ill, he goes immediately to see her. His servants Ram Das (Krishan Dhawan) and Devi Das (Brahm Bhardwaj) are overjoyed at TK’s transformation into a nice guy with a heart. Daadima (Durga Khote) is a bit of a cranky old lady herself, but she is overjoyed to see her grandson and they make up.
Sanjay then writes to Hanuman pretending to be an insurance agent, telling him that Sanjay had left him 10,000 Rs. in his will and that he must come to Calcutta. He sends Ram Das to meet Hanuman at the airport.
After some comedy bits involving Hanuman fainting, being revived (Sanjay uses Hanuman’s shoe as smelling salts) and then screaming “Bhoot” and running around, Sanjay manages to convince Hanuman that it’s really him.
Don’t ask about the clothes. Anyway, with Hanuman to support him, Sanjay decides it’s time to approach Priya. She’s initially overjoyed to have Sanjay there (nobody has told her about his death, apparently, and she’s also not ever seen TK’s face) but when her father sees him, and tells her that it’s TK she’s running around trees with, she is stunned and angry. (See, this blind acceptance of identical though unrelated people works here—she’s easily convinced that he’s not Sanjay.)
Meanwhile, Rita the spurned secretary reminds Sanjay that she’s his wife: TK had married her! And Prem bhai isn’t done with his scheming, either.
Can Sanjay make up for TK’s sordid past? Will Priya ever be able to love him again? And anyway, what about Rita? Watch Jhuk Gaya Aasman to find out. It’s a solidly heartwarming and funny entertainer!