Five seconds into the film (just after the censor’s certificate) this notice appears:
Hilarious! I absolutely adore the sarcastic, essentially unrepentant tone of it, and apparently it worked just fine for the censors too. This film could be used in a directing class as an example of what can happen when you work “over-enthusiastically” without a script. Halfway through, I had to stop so that I could diagram all the criss-crossing plot threads and character relationships in an effort to keep them straight. It’s not boring! but there is a definite seat-of-the-pants feel to the story, and little things like logic and continuity are thrown right out the window.
So let’s just dive right in, shall we?
A devout man paints Ganesha murtis in a workshop belonging to Kalicharan (Ajit). One evening he sees Kalicharan hiding diamonds inside one of the statues destined for export. He rushes home in a huge rainstorm, distressed, and tells his wife everything.
Kalicharan arrives just in time to murder the man and his wife, leaving their infant son Heeralal orphaned and afloat in a basket as the house collapses under the weight of the storm. It’s quite Biblical, actually!
That poor infant “actor” does not look happy. Kalicharan’s wife is herself about to give birth. When she goes into labor, he packs her off to the hospital but doesn’t accompany her. He has more pressing things to take care of, like killing the Police Commissioner (Murad) who is after him. He gives her his gold Ganesh medallion to take with her.
On the way, her car breaks down. The Police Commissioner is passing and instructs his driver to take her to the hospital; he stays behind. Unaware of this development, Kalicharan blows up the Commissioner’s car with his wife and unborn baby in it. He discovers his error on the way home. Ajit and his “Nahiiiiiiin!!!!!” face:
A local villager finds her and she survives just long enough to give birth to a son, Pannalal. The villager puts the medallion around the baby’s neck and carts him off to the orphanage.
Heeralal and Pannalal become best friends in the orphanage and swear undying brotherly devotion to each other. Heeralal’s grandmother tells him before she dies that his parents were murdered, and that he should take revenge some day. Credits roll, and grown-up Heera (Shashi Kapoor) and Panna (Randhir Kapoor) are presented as defendants in court.
They are accused of forcing people to buy bags of gravel along with their grains and water along with their milk. They cheerfully admit to doing that, but point out that their boss really wanted them to mix the gravel with the grains, and the water with the milk, which would have made people sick. So they asked people to buy them separately. They are acquitted and their boss Seth Dhaniram is arrested. Hooray!
On their way home, they come upon an injured tiger in some distress.
Panna pulls the thorn out and Heera gives the big cat some painkillers, and off they go. Next, they pass a steel factory from which workers are removing big sacks of grain.
They run to the local Police Inspector’s (Asrani) house. Inspector Arjun doesn’t want to get out of bed, so they snatch his gun away and take off—he and his havaldars are forced to chase after them, and run smack into the black marketeers. Arrests are made, Heera and Panna are thanked, and it’s all followed by a merry song about corruption (“Seedhe Raaste Chaloge To”).
RD Burman’s music, by the way, is lots of fun; far higher quality than the film itself. In any case, two of the goons evade “accidental” capture, and report to their boss.
It’s our old friend Kalicharan—Panna’s father. He vows to kill Heera and Panna.
Cut to the current Police Commissioner, Premlal’s (Premnath) office. Inspector Sawant (Ramesh Deo) has discovered old evidence of his superior’s wrongdoing in the form of a newspaper article, and he presents it to Premlal with a disapproving flourish.
Premlal explains that back when he was just an Inspector, then Police Commissioner Murad (who fortuitously escaped being blown up by lending Kalicharan’s laboring wife his car) asked him to entrap the local brothel-owner Bijlibai (Padma Khanna), who had connections to other criminals (mainly, Kalicharan). He romanced her as part of his job.
Premlal was forbidden even from confiding in his wife (Kamini Kaushal), so Kalicharan ensured that she found out about Bijlibai, and she took their daughter and left. Premlal has never been able to find them (this is the point where I felt the need to begin diagramming Kalicharan’s Bag of Bad Deeds).
Premlal now lives with his niece Neelam (Neetu Singh). She is friends with Ruby (Zeenat Aman) and brings Ruby home one day to ask Premlal for a donation to their college fund-raiser. Ruby’s mother (Kamini Kaushal!!) refuses to come in and stays in the car.
We’re not even forty minutes in, and already we have two fathers separated from their kids, one orphan, a wife separated from her husband, and they’re all just one little coincidence away from each other. This may also be the first film I’ve seen where the villain has managed to turn himself into a widower and lose his own child. That is some serious bad karma!
Premlal is charmed by Ruby but naturally has no idea that she’s his long-lost daughter.
Kalicharan’s henchmen are still after Heera and Panna, and several days later chase them into the theater where Ruby and Neelam’s fund-raiser is taking place. A song later, and Neelam is teasing her friend about Heera.
Kalicharan calls up his friend Panther (Amjad Khan). He has some priceless antique murtis stolen from temples, and Panther has a western contact to sell them to. Inspectors Arjun and Sawant are in charge of investigating the theft, and Sawant disguises himself as a laborer to keep an eye out for the thieves.
Kalicharan disguises himself as a blind beggar and lures Sawant into his underground lair (amongst the sewers) and kills him. He puts the body in a trunk which exactly matches the one containing the antique murti and instructs one of his gang members (Tun Tun) to deliver Sawant’s body to the Police Commissioner. He instructs two others to deliver the murti to Panther. Naturally, the two trunks get mixed up.
Tun Tun sees Heera and Panna on her way to the Commissioner’s.
She talks them into delivering the trunk to Premlal. They do so, and he is thrilled to get the antique murti back. Heera and Panna are heroes again! Panther, though, is not that thrilled to receive Sawant’s body instead of the gold and jewel-encrusted statue.
[Side note: Amjad Khan was getting very large at this point in his life, and green satin was a big time fashion no-no for him. Fire the costume designer! End side note.]
Heera and Panna spot Tun Tun and follow her to a girls’ hostel to ask questions about the idol. She disappears inside, and Heera goes in after her, but ends up in Ruby’s room instead. He flirts shamelessly with her and she pretends to give him Tun Tun’s address—but gives him her brother Jaggu’s (Ranjeet) address instead and tells Jaggu to beat up Heera when he arrives.
Panna meanwhile has climbed into a car he thinks to be Tun Tun’s, but it is Neelam’s. He falls asleep and wakes up in the garage the next morning, still in the back of the car. Inspector Arjun finds him there; Panna tells him that the car belongs to the idol thief. Arjun is Neelam’s brother and when the confusion is cleared up Neelam calls Ruby and explains what Heera was doing in the hostel.
Luckily one of Kalicharan’s men see Heera on his way to Jaggu’s, follows him, and is the one beaten up by Jaggu. Ruby is remorseful over misunderstanding his motives; she goes to Jaggu’s also to prevent Heera from being thrashed and romance blossoms with a song, “O Padosan Ki Ladki.”
Romance is proceeding between Neelam and Panna as well (she finally begins to like him when he slaps her for smoking a cigarette. Aaargh.). Then Panna is caught by Kalicharan’s goons and taken to his lair. Kalicharan slaps Panna around a bit, and then throws him into a cage with a tiger—the very tiger that Panna had de-thorned earlier. The tiger breaks them both out of the cage and they escape.
Are you as exhausted yet as I was? It’s not even an hour and a half into the film yet! If you want to know what happens in the next hour—do Panna and Heera find Panna’s father and Heera’s parents’ killer (who is of course the same man)? Does Commissioner Premlal find his daughter (who is his niece’s best friend)? His wife (his niece’s best friend’s mother)? Will Kalicharan get what’s coming to him for all those Bad Deeds?—then by all means watch it.
If you are a fan of David Dhawan (who also works without a script, I think) you might enjoy it. Otherwise, it’s a dizzying kaleidoscope of events that make little sense. But Shashi, Zeenat and Neetu are good eye candy, even if they seem equally bewildered by the whole thing. Randhir seems most at home with the buffoonery (along with Asrani). I think that sums it up nicely.
Edited to add: Here is the somewhat incoherent diagram that I made so that I could keep straight all of Kalicharan’s evil deeds and the characters’ relationships to one another. Yes, my handwriting is always this bad. Enjoy.