My latest Manmohan Desai kick (triggered by the insanity of Mard) continues with this film, and it’s oodles of fun too although not nearly as unpredictable. I didn’t even mind the innocent rustic Raj Kapoor-type character, mostly because it was enacted by his son Randhir, who is much more believable in the role (not sure if that’s really a compliment or not, but I mean it as one). Rekha and her sarees and hairdos were spectacular, and Shatrughan Sinha had plenty of style—and youth—on his side as well. Ranjeet and Padma Khanna (and Faryal) also made brief but gorgeous appearances, and the plot contained plenty of separated family members and coincidences.
So: lots of eye candy and a fast-paced action-packed story equals solid Desai-style entertainment, which is only enhanced by RD Burman’s lovely songs! Plus, removable snake tattooes!
I couldn’t wait to see what the cause of this disclaimer might be:
We start off, predictably enough, with the separation of a family. Kedarnath Bhargave (Manmohan Krishna), his wife Laxmi (Sulochana) and their two young sons Ram and Laxman have been left homeless in the wake of Partition. The train they are traveling on crashes, and Kedarnath and Laxman are separated from Laxmi, and all are separated from Ram, who is kidnapped by a man with criminal intentions (Tiwari).
Kedarnath and Laxman meet a kind farmer from the village of Rampur, Ratanlal Verma (Keshav Rana), who is traveling with his son Prakash. Ratanlal saves Laxman from being hit by a truck, but is himself injured, resulting in an amputated leg. Kedarnath and Laxman go to live with the Vermas and Kedarnath takes over the running of Ratanlal’s farm. Prakash does well in school, but Laxman prefers to spend his time at the local temple.
In the meantime, poor Ram is being inducted into a life of crime, against his will. When he protests at being forced to steal, his new mentor threatens to kill him and he has to give in.
Years later, Prakash (Ramesh Deo) has gone off to Bombay to finish his education and get a good job. He’s been working for a jeweler, but it’s been a few months since his family in Rampur has heard from him. Worried, Kedarnath and Ratanlal decide to send Laxman (Randhir Kapoor) to look for him. Laxman has not been nearly as successful in his studies, but is a bumbling, good-natured guy with a taste for amateur religious theatrics.
Doesn’t he look like Kareena there (or vice versa)?!
Laxman sets off for Bombay, where Prakash is on trial for murdering a man named Kundan (Randhir) who cheated Prakash’s employer (Moolchand) out of Rs 70 lakhs in a fraudulent diamond deal. Since Prakash had introduced Kundan to the jeweler, he tracks down Kundan to clear his name. Unfortunately this places him at the scene—having just argued with him—when Kundan is knifed in the back. Witnesses quickly point the finger at Prakash.
Now we meet a pretty girl named Rekha Chowdhury (Rekha), the daughter of Bombay’s Mayor. She is attacked by hippies intent on molesting her when Laxman happens by. He saves her with his dishoom-dishoom skills (and his lathi), and she takes him to meet her father (Raj Mehra). Laxman is thrilled to find out that her father is such an important man.
I am thrilled by the set decoration! While he waits to meet Chowdhury, Laxman hears singing and sees a woman in the prayer room. He joins her in a beautiful bhajan, “Kahe Apnon Ke Kaam.”
It’s Laxmi! When Rekha and her father come down, Rekha introduces her to Laxman as the woman who brought her up after her father gave poor destitute Laxmi a home. Laxmi asks Laxman where he’s from; when he says Rampur, she is disappointed—she’s lost her son by that name, she tells him (I’m not sure why she doesn’t think her son would be living in Rampur now, but possibly I am too focused on details).
Chowdhury is very grateful to Laxman for helping Rekha, and instantly recognizes Prakash’s name from the newspaper coverage of his trial. Laxman is shocked and disbelieving when he hears what has happened to Prakash. He rushes to Prakash’s sentencing, but the court doesn’t think much of his “proof” that Prakash is innocent.
Prakash is sentenced to death by hanging but Laxman assures him that he’ll find the real culprit.
This brings us to Ram. He’s all grown up, and is called Kumar Sahab. He leads a gang of nefarious criminals who steal (among other things) valuable antique statues from temples (nooooo!). His “uncle” who is now in a wheelchair wants him to stop his activities, but Ram—or Kumar rather—has taken his childhood lessons to heart. And really, who would want to give up a lifestyle that includes a lair which is accessible through a revolving book case, and clients like this?
He also has a moll named Julie (Padma Khanna) who sports an orange pleather mini-skirt and knee-high boots.
One of Kumar’s henchman has recruited a new “sharpshooter” named Peter (Ranjeet) for the gang. What other villain could rock a lemon yellow velour tee like this, I ask you?
So handsome! Kumar insists that all his gang members sport a snake image on their left arms. It’s not really a tattoo so much as a brand, and Kumar burns the snake image onto Peter’s arm with a device that looks like my hair straightening iron.
Kumar has dinner with Rekha that evening. It turns out that her father wants her to marry Kumar, whom he thinks is a successful businessman. A dancer at the club (Faryal) was also at Prakash’s trial; when Laxman turns up and interrupts Rekha and Kumar’s dinner, she slips him a note (after the requisite cabaret number) asking him to meet her. No expense was spared on the sets and costumes for this either, I can tell you!
She tells him that Prakash was framed by a gang who go around with snakes tattooed on their left arms, and then she’s killed by a knife in the back.
The next day Kumar comes to take Rekha to see a film (Sachaa Jhutha!), but she prefers to stay home with Laxman who wants her to write a letter for him. Kumar is very rude to Laxmi as well—ahh, if only he knew she was his long-lost Maa!
Kumar is not at all pleased with Rekha’s growing affection for Laxman, or with Laxman’s detective activities; he instructs his new sharpshooter Peter to kill Laxman at Rekha’s upcoming birthday party and gives him a toy BB gun which he equips with a knife.
Rekha and Laxman sing a pretty song about their feelings for each other, “Gum Hai Kisi Ke Pyar Mein.”
The party is as fabulous as you’d expect. Laxman shows up with his friend Chaganlal Pandey (Roopesh Kumar), who is a costumer, dressed as the main character from Shree 420 for no good reason except he just saw the film (as he tells us, a “beautiful movie”). A shameless plug! Manmohan Desai seems to love them (he was also a huge Raj Kapoor fan). Rekha is dressed like a Disney princess, and Kumar and Peter are just as stylin’.
Peter is a hilariously bad sharpshooter, missing his target not once, but three times (although on the third try he does hit Laxmi in the arm). An exasperated Kumar manages to kill him with a pin to his neck before he can be questioned.
Laxman has survived the first attempt on his life by his long-lost brother Ram. Will he survive the next one? Will he discover that Laxmi is his mother? And Ram his real brother? Can he sacrifice his brother to save his life-long friend Prakash, the son of the man to whom he owes his life? Will Rekha find true love with someone? And how has Manmohan managed to potentially embarrass Air India?
Watch Raampur Ka Lakshman to find out! It’s good masala fun.