Reporter Raju (1962)

ff_headlines

Produced by Homi Wadia, and written by JBH Wadia, this film surprised me. It lacks their usual emphasis on stunts and crazy special effects, which I always enjoy; but is a solidly entertaining filmi noir more along the lines of Howrah Bridge and C.I.D. (although not nearly as competently done) than of Aladdin. Dwarka Khosla (any relation to Raj?) directed, and the plot is interesting (in spite of the many holes), with good performances and—best of all—spectacular music.

Feroz Khan stars in one of his first roles; as Todd pointed out in a comment elsewhere, he seems to have started off his film career as a poor man’s Shammi Kapoor. If that was his brief from the filmmakers, he certainly lived up to it during the songs at least. I will say that if Shammi and, say, Madhubala or Asha P. had starred, it would have probably taken the film to a whole other level; but as it is Feroz and Chitra deliver consistently if not spectactularly. 

All this is not to say that there aren’t silly Wadia Brothers touches throughout. There are! One of them comes immediately as Reporter Raju (Feroz Khan—billed as Feroze Khan) is felicitated by his newspaper for foiling a bank robbery. The entertainment: Miss Muni and Mr. Alex from Paris in a “puppet show.”

rr_acrobatics

This turns out to be a pretty blonde and a man in a clown suit doing acrobatics accompanied by swing music. Please also note the name of the band: Fats Benny. Someday I’m going to write an entire post about band names in Hindi cinema.

Anyway, we discover pretty quickly that Reporter Raju is not only a brave man, but also loyal to his employer and all-around good guy Mr. Sharma:

rr_painful

and he’s a loving, albeit distracted and busy, brother to his sister. Her name is variously subtitled throughout as Bindu, then Reema, then Vimla, then finally Vimal. This subtitle inconsistency was not unique to her name. I’ll call her Vimla, because that’s what her name sounds like when spoken. Vimla is engaged to Police Inspector Madan.

The next day Raju receives a very mysterious phone call from a woman who asks him to meet her in the Park at 5 pm.

rr_meetmepark1

Before he meets this mystery woman, he crashes into a girl as he hurries along and sends her flying. She’s unimpressed with his attempt at an apology.

ff_moron1

When he gets home, a note has been slipped under his door. It cracks me up. I guess someone was worried lest Raju (or maybe we) forget about his appointment.

rr_pram

At the Park later, his mysterious caller knits beside her pram while various nefarious-looking men skulk about. Also at the Park: the girl he’d sent flying, Radha (Chitra), accompanied by her little sister Honey (also randomly sometimes subtitled as Hani) (Baby Vidya Rani), who is one of Reporter Raju’s biggest fans.

Radha is still in no mood to forgive him and stalks off with Honey after calling him a moron again. Who knows why she’s so crabby, I never figure it out. Anyway, after some note-passing and surreptitious whispering, and a hit-and-run attempt on his informant’s life by the skulking men:

ff_secretfemale1

he finally meets the woman at the Royal Theater that evening. She asks him for his house key, and says she’ll meet him at his home after the performance. It’s all very needlessly convoluted!

But: we are treated now to a lovely qawwali. I must say here that S.S. Mohinder’s music throughout this film is wonderful! I must find more of his work! This qawwali is performed by the Kohinoor Theater Company led by Dewan Sunderlal (Sunder) and his beloved Gopi (does anyone know who she is? Majnoo maybe? She is way more beautiful and charismatic than poor Chitra! Wish she’d been the heroine instead).

It’s one of those funny gender-based back-and-forths, with the women telling the men what will happen to them when women take over the world.

rr_qawwali_gopi

These are some of the lyrics as subtitled on the DVD:

Women:
You males will take out our veils when we shall reign
Men:
The world will be ruined when you shall reign 
Women:
You will have bindi on your forehead
And we shall pierce a nose ring in your nose
We will go to the office proudly
And we shall make you sit in the kitchen
We shall hand over every kid who cries in your hands 

And here it is for your listening pleasure:


rr_qawwali_sunder

It’s truly clever, hilariously enacted, and a wonderful tune. If I’d known about this one before the post on my favorite qawwalis, it would have been up there at the top!

Anyway, when Raju reaches home, the mystery woman is waiting for him. She tells him that she’s a nurse, and that one of her dying patients gave her murder plot details and a ring before he expired. She wants Raju to take on the task he had given her: to take the ring to Thakur Sahab in Kamalpur, and warn him that the kingdom’s young Prince will be murdered on his return to India. He’s to be assassinated at the Royal Theater on the 26th of the month. All her informant knew about the mastermind behind the plot is that he is missing half a finger on his left hand. Whew!

rr_murder

She is murdered (of course) while Raju makes tea for them. At this point the subtitles go crazy (as they did on several occasions—*damn you, Shemaroo*) and don’t match what’s happening onscreen at all. In fact, nobody’s even talking as they continue to pop up. Urgh.

As you’d expect, Raju is framed for the murder, and his would-be brother-in-law Inspector Madan is hot on his trail. He manages to get away, and after a series of adventures involving his sister, Radha again (and Honey), and his sick mother, he makes his way with the help of the Kohinoor Theater Company to Kamalpur. Disguised as one of them, he performs another exuberantly awesome song (“Mujhe Dekh Na Kudiye”) in front of Radha—who turns out to be the Princess of Kamalpur.

rr_disguise

To be fair, I must say that at least the songs are subtitled, even though the subs are very lacking in other areas. Anyway, Dewan Sunderlal and company drop him off at the Princess’s guesthouse; I am thrilled to see that the woman who runs the guesthouse is Manorama. Raju sees photos of Radha all over the place and realizes who she is. She arrives soon after and he hides from her (she thinks he is guilty of the nurse’s murder, having read about it in the papers).

rr_killer

Doesn’t Manorama look so young?! Raju disguises himself as Radha’s driver, and leaves with her the next morning. When she discovers this deception she is furious (but interestingly, not scared). She makes him stop the car, and stomps off, prompting Raju to sing my new theme song, “O Chalo Ho Kahan Kaho”.

rr_stompsoff

He also gives her back her car and keys, and sets off on foot himself. After more adventures which include rescuing young Honey from drowning, eluding the police, and befriending the Rajmata (Radha’s grandmother), Raju finally gets to meet Thakur Sahab and give him the ring.

rr_lambswoolmitten

It cracks me up that Thakur Sahab is wearing ivory lambswool gloves, but of course there’s a reason. One of the fingers on his left hand is a sausage-like fake.

rr_finger2

Nahiiiiin! Reporter Raju has walked right into the lion’s den! How will he escape? Can he convince Radha of his innocence, and get her to help him? And fall in love with him? Can he save the Prince from the evil four-and-a-half-fingered Thakur? 

Despite the occasionally ragged plot, I really enjoyed this. It moved along nicely, had a good mixture of comedy, suspense and drama, and once Radha got over her annoying crankiness the love story was nice too. And the songs…oh, how I love the songs!

website statistics

About these ads

19 Comments to “Reporter Raju (1962)”

  1. This sounds like fun and the qawwali is hilarious – its going to the top of my filmi-qawwalis too! I always had a soft spot for young Feroze Khan. DoorDarshan used to show a lot of his B/W movies when I was a kid (sadly, not this one). And lambswool gloves! lol Why? They did have leather gloves in India, even back then.

  2. Feroz Khan’s always been a bit of a ‘case’ as far as I’m concerned! But I’m always game for something especially if it has great songs as you say. I think his best role, arguably, has been in “Safar” with Sharmila and RK. And that song with him and Sharmila in the Mahabaleshwar hills is right up there as one of Mukesh’s bests.

  3. bollyviewer: it’s even better when you watch the qawwali, the expressions on all their faces and the way they enact it all is priceless…hopefully someone will put it up on YouTube one of these days (or, just buy the DVD, it’s worth it)…And I know! those lambswool gloves were so ladylike, not to mention inappropriately cozy and warm! I loved the finger too, when it came off the Thakur’s hand.

    Suhan: I haven’t seen Safar (yet) but I’ve never been a big Feroz fan; actually haven’t seen him in much. But he was good in this, and did his best to be Shammi-like for the songs :-) I’ll send you the songs if you like; I think they are so good that I’m willing to flog myself and rip them from the DVD…

  4. Awww Feroz, he looks really cute here but I just can’t see a Feroz without a stylish car, funky score, and sexy babe on his arm, but I’ll definitely try to find it, especially coz Feroz looks like he’s doing some Giddha dancing in that song, and I can never resist an actor doing some Punjabi dancing as they plod around!

  5. I’m not a Feroz Khan fan either, but this one sounds like a lot of fun. Must put it on my list… btw, the basic premise reminds me a bit of Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. In that too, the hero meets a mysterious woman who tells him a dangerous secret – and reveals that the baddie is short half a finger. She’s subsequently murdered, and the police suspect the hero. He ends up trying to unravel the plot, prevent a state secret from being leaked, – and falls in love with a girl who doesn’t believe him.
    But yes, Hitchcock didn’t have great qawwalis or interesting side plots, so I think Reporter Raju will probably rank as more entertaining ;-)

  6. Rum: Yes, in the “Mujhe Dekh Na” song he definitely does some Punjabi dancing! He’s very cute with the fake beard too.

    dustedoff: Sounds exactly the same! but yes, Hitchcock was sadly lacking in the music area (at least compared to this) :-)

  7. Memsaab,

    A question. Do you know a black and white film in which Tanuja plays twins seperated at birth. One is sort of flirting with a photographer and the other is saintly of course. I caught it on tv some years ago and loved it. But i dont know the name.

  8. Oooh! I do! I think I have it too…will look for it and let you know :-)

  9. Oh Greta, I think my favorite was the color production number near the end. I hummed that one for quite some time.

    You might also find this Homi Wadia/Feroz Khan flick enjoyable:

    CHAR DERVESH:

    This is the story of Kamar, robbed of his wealth and made homeless by his brothers, condemned and exiled by the king, Kamar and Mash-allah manage to reach the underwater kingdom of Makaan the magician. With the Magic Lamp and with the help of the genie of the lamp, Holi Dust the flying horse and the cloak of invisibility Kamar battles with Yusuf Beg, the evil commander of the king’s armies and regains his fortune and finds his lady love.

  10. True, Mike, that last one is a GEM. What a tune! And Feroz looks like one of Santa’s elves :-P

    How can I resist a flying horse named Holi Dust? I cannot! I saw that Nehaflix had this one, it’s going into my cart :-)

  11. It looks like an interesting story. And Yes, it appears like “The 39 steps” plus songs.

    Honestly, I had never heard of this movie, but now that my curiosity is aroused, I will try to search for it.

    I thought Feroz Khan, after apeing Shammi Kapoor here, used to ape Manoj Kumar in his later movies.

  12. If I could find it Atul, you should be able to :-) It’s really a lot of fun. I haven’t seen a lot of Feroz Khan for some reason…but perhaps shall continue to avoid him if he goes on to imitate Manoj Kumar in his career! Yikes!

  13. thank you, thank you:)

  14. Haven’t forgotten, NS! But I can’t find it. Maybe I rented it from Netflix or maybe I’ve got it mixed up with something else. However my obsessive compulsive nature will keep me hunting for it.

  15. I have been looking for this for a long time- one day soon…
    I am totally in love w/ Feroze- gorgeousness overload, esp in the black & white era [swoon]

  16. I have recently watched Reporter Raju and Main wohi hoon both with Feroz as the hero, he does look very handsome in Reporter Raju and that also has the better story. Main wohi hoon was made a few years later and had Kum Kum as the heroine, believe me she is NOT heroine material. Both films had stories about someone being murdered, Main wohi hoon even had the same scenes where the lead pair are handcuffed together after being kidnapped by the villains, whose car then has a puncture, which all the villians get out to fix, and as soon as tyre is on, feroz drives off and yards later manages to crash the car forcing them to run while handcuffed. This was exactly the same as Reporter Raju. On the whole I would say that Reporter Raju was the better film, I wouldn’t waste any money on Main wohi Hoon especially as Feroz doesn’t have much to do in the first half of the film

  17. Thanks Norina :) I am always glad to find a film I can move DOWN on my list instead of up!!!

    • Great write-up and lol at the subtitles. As metioned in the comments, the handcuffs scene and the plot does seem to be much inspired from Hitchcock’s 39 Steps.

  18. Memsaab, I saw the same Shemaroo print today, w/o subtitles ( Thank God!). The movie is quite entertaining just as you said…, but your last snapshot of Feroz with the fake finger of Thakur was a dead giveaway… in fact there is hardly any twists and turns left after that..Good to see young Feroze and forgotten actresses like Chitra( Princess), Indira ( who played Gopi, the dancer) etc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 799 other followers

%d bloggers like this: