Izzat (1968)

izzat

I watched this film in the hopes of seeing some Dharmendra-Tanuja magic, but sadly Tanuja didn’t have much to do. However, Dharmendra had a double role, so: two of him! Never a bad thing, although it didn’t much help the movie, which was cliched and ham-fisted to begin with and descended into over-acting and melodrama by the end. The basic theme has to do with class division; Dharmendra plays both the legitimate and the illegitimate sons of a Thakur who has an extramarital affair with a tribal girl.

The only difference in appearance between the two sons is somewhat hilariously (but increasingly tiresomely) delineated by their skin color, the legitimate son naturally being fair and his lower caste half-brother dark. For some reason, Dharmendra gets darker and darker as the film goes on too, so that by the end he looks like he has been roasted on a spit.

The film starts with Shekhar, the illegitimate son, returning home from college to find his mother dead.

izzat_maa

Before dying, she asked the village priest (Manmohan Krishna) to tell Shekhar about his father, Thakur Pratap Singh (Balraj Sahni) from Ramgarh. The Thakur had refused to marry her even though she was pregnant because her status was too low. Shekhar vows to avenge his mother’s ill-treatment and sets off for Ramgarh. Father Ibrahim, worried that something bad will happen, sends Shekhar’s friend Mahesh (Mehmood) after him.

Shekhar arrives at the Thakur’s mansion in Ramgarh only to be greeted as “Bhaiyya!” by the Thakur’s daughter Neelu (Sunita), whose birthday party is in full swing. She is momentarily confused by the darkness of his skin color. I am confused by her confusion because he doesn’t really look that dark (yet).

izzat_neelu

Everyone else agrees with Neelu, although they attribute it to being his party fancy-dress. This point is hammered home with the force of a heavy blunt object.

izzat_party1

izzat_party2

At Neelu’s request, he sings a bitter song about hypocrisy while the guests do a happy little cha-cha-cha, which in the hands of a good filmmaker may have been a nice touch of irony, but here is just amusingly incongruous. Afterwards, she asks for his brotherly blessings and he clasps her to his heaving bosom. This is followed by scenes of a dilemma as Shekar thinks about the ramifications of his vengeful plan while his father’s portrait and awesomely kitschy statues flash before his eyes: must.take.revenge..must…not….let….sisterly….love…..stop…must…..uhhhh…

izzat_dilemma

The next day he meets Dilip, his lookalike brother, who is astonished, but only for a minute. He gives Shekhar a recommendation letter to take to the estate manager.

izzat_dilip

On his way to see the estate manager, Shekhar runs into a pretty tribal girl named Jhumki (Jayalalitha) who sings and dances around him. She’s upset when he says he doesn’t know her.

izzat_jhumki

The estate manager greets him obsequiously but is a little puzzled too.

izzat_manager

Shekhar clears up the misunderstanding, and the estate manager hires him and sends him off to the Thakur’s guest house to settle in. Meanwhile, Shekhar’s friend Mahesh has finally made it to Ramgarh, and he goes right past the guard at the gate of the Pratap Singh’s mansion.

izzat_mahesh

The Thakur wants Dilip to go and see a girl he’s picked out for him to marry. Dilip doesn’t want to; he’s actually in love with the tribal girl Jhumki and wants to marry her, but sadly—although he’s as fair as a sack of flour—he has no courage to stand up to his autocratic father.

When Mahesh mistakes him for Shekhar (noting how white he has gotten), it gives Dilip an idea. He asks Shekhar if he will go and visit the girl and her family, posing as him. After all, there’s nothing his father can do if they don’t like him.

izzat_relation

Shekhar feels bad at the thought of deceiving a decent girl until it occurs to him that ruining Dilip’s arranged marriage will be an excellent way to avenge himself on the Thakur. It will have a certain symmetry.

izzat_tribal

Of course, what he hasn’t counted on is that he’ll find the girl, Deepa (Tanuja), absolutely lovely. She’s intelligent, beautiful, and well-read. Shekhar picks up her copy of Shakespeare’s plays and discusses it with her.

izzat_othello

Another big oops: she likes him too! She says gently that appearance is nothing compared to virtues, and that she’s very pleased to find that he’s not just the shallow son of a rich man. He shouldn’t worry about the color of his skin.

izzat_complex

Uh-oh. If he stops worrying about his skin color, what will the film do for a script? Back in Ramgarh, Dilip continues to romance Jhumki, and Mahesh strikes up a romance with one of the Thakur’s housemaids, Gangi (Laxmi Chhaya). This is naturally the Comic Side Plot, since another servant played by Mukri is in love with her too.

Mahesh also accidentally spills the revenge beans to the Thakur since Father Ibrahim failed to give him any details on who exactly Shekhar was going after.  In Shekhar’s absence, Dilip has rubbed coal on his face and hands and then pretended to do work at the office (much like I do, except for the coal part). When his office staff inform Pratap Singh that a Dilip lookalike has come to work at the estate, Pratap Singh starts to put the pieces together.

Shekhar and Deepa’s attraction is blossoming.

izzat_blackroses

How can this possibly go wrong? Can Shekhar confess the truth to her? Will she still love him? What about Jhumki and the real Dilip? Can society accept their relationship? Has the Thakur figured out that he has another son? What will he do?

To find out, and to see Dharmendra turning orange, watch Izzat if you must. Or, ask me and spare yourself the wasting of two and a half hours you will never get back (after all, I watch crappy movies so that you don’t have to).

Edited to add: I didn’t realize there would be so much interest in Jayalalitha’s presence, but there are a lot of comments below referring to her. The songs are growing on me, although they were overshadowed by the badness of the film. Laxmikant-Pyarelal composed the music and the eminent Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the lyrics, and fortunately they were subtitled too! Here are two screen caps of Jayalalitha’s two songs (she is a lovely dancer). 

izzat_rukjaa

izzat_jaagi

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38 Comments to “Izzat (1968)”

  1. Didnt realise Balraj Sahni featured in this! I always wanted to watch it for Dharmendra (even in brown paint he is gorgeous!), Tanuja, the great songs and the supreme novelty value of seeing Jayalalitha in a movie (AFAIK this is her only Hindi movie). Considering her political shennanigans (she is an ex-chief minister and political supremo in Tamil Nadu) – I’ve always wondered if her drama-queen persona shows up in the movies too. Guess I can afford to wait a bit longer to watch it though!

  2. Dharmendra is gorgeous even over-tanned, and Balraj Sahni doesn’t overact which is a welcome blessing by the end, but Tanuja is hardly in it. Jayalalitha is okay but didn’t bowl me over, and I didn’t even really like the songs (except for one).

    It isn’t as bad as some, but it’s not really very good either. I had hopes in the first 30 minutes or so, but they were quickly dashed…

  3. Is this the jayalalita of political fame?

    Okay Im asking, what happens next? Do tell.

  4. Yes, same Jayalalitha…

    Okay, you asked! *SPOILER* Shekhar tells Deepa the truth and dumps her (doesn’t ask what she wants to do). He goes home to find Dilip in a funk because he’s still afraid of his father, so he goes to see Pratap Singh on Dilip’s behalf and so of course they have their father-son confrontation (you screwed over my mom!) (she wasn’t good enough to marry me!) and so on. Pratap Singh has learned nothing, and refuses to give Dilip permission to marry that tribal girl. Dilip decides to do it anyway and takes Jhumki to a temple to marry her, but they are interrupted by the local village men who are as prejudiced against the higher classes as the higher classes are against them. See, it gets v.v. tiresome. Anyway, the village men crack Dilip over the head with a stick and take Jhumki away. Mahesh happens by, and takes Dilip home where he asks Shekhar to rescue Jhumki. Jhumki doesn’t need rescuing since by then the village men have decided to torch the Thakur’s factory. Shekhar stops them and is shot for his trouble. He gives a dying speech as he lies in the sobbing and repentant Thakur’s arms, but then someone smart thinks to take him to a hospital where he gets better and the love and forgiveness spreads. He and Dilip marry their girls (and Mehmood marries Laxmi Chhaya) and they all get blessed by Thakur Pratap Singh. The End. *END SPOILER*

  5. omg- is it truly THAT Jayalalitha??? I had no clude she did ANY northern indian movie at all. Even though the movie sounds bad, I am v v glad u posted it- its history! :D

    Unless justified, and sometimes I agree it is, actors making themselves look darker/lighter with bad makeup just feels v odd- Dharam did this in Razia Sultan as well, and just looks strange. That, plus the fact that even Tanuja doesnt get enough screen time is just sad :S

  6. There is only one good song in this movie ” Yeh dil tum been kahin lagta nahin hum kya kare” – that I have seen on a song DVD.

    Thank you Memsaab, I think I will skip this movie.

  7. shweta: If they had just stuck to one shade it wouldn’t have been as bad (and also if the dialogue hadn’t been so repetitive about it!) but he got visibly darker and darker (or oranger and oranger, at least he didn’t turn green).

    Anonymous: yes, that’s the one song I liked :)

  8. It really was a pity that Tanuja didn’t have a much bigger role. I didn’t care about the Jhumki-Dilip love story or the evil rapist dad, and I certainly didn’t care about the annoying comic sideplot. The very short Shekhar-Deepa part was my favorite part of a rather mediocre movie, although I thought it was funny that all of their conversations revolved around color. (Also, I thought it was funny that they had a conversation about whether Desdemona or Othello was responsible for that tragedy. I can see having a debate about Iago vs. Othello, but why would anyone think that Desdemona was the responsible party?)

  9. Cindy, I agree! the Jhumki-Dilip story just didn’t gell and the very very short Shekhar-Deepa interactions were all that was interesting. “Mediocre” is the perfect word for this film!

    I did love the many references to “dark” at first, but even I got tired of it after a while. I mean, I made practically an entire post out of those dialogue screencaps and didn’t even have to try. I left a whole lot of them out! (Shekhar had to drag Desdemona into the Othello argument otherwise what could she have said to make her position clear? It didn’t make sense otherwise but it did give me my favorite line of the film: “the complex that kills your confident.”)

  10. Holy moly! *SPOILER REFERENCE*A film where there’s a dying speech AND no death? Where someone smart thinks to take the should-be-soon-to-be-deceased-as-per-BollyFilmConvention to the hospital?*END SPOILER REFERENCE* I am utterly shocked and amazed. If that was the whole film by itself it would probably be well worth watching! :D

    But thanks for sitting through the whole thing and living to tell us about it… thereby saving us the trouble/torture/tension/torment/and any other negative t-words!

  11. It’s been a long time since I saw this film, so I don’t really remember very much of it, except that I loved “Yeh dil tum bin kahin lagta nahin”, and hated Jayalalitha. And yes, the other thing that stuck with me was the Othello conversation… and memsaab, thank heavens (or whoever did the subtitles) that your favourite line didn’t read “the complex that kills your confidant” instead!

  12. Atleast people are confused, and realize that they are two different people, unlike wives not recognizing husbands because they don’t have a mustache anymore (Rab ne bana di Jodi)

  13. I always like watching Jayalalitha. I saw Adhiparasakthi (1971) some months ago and thought she was excellent in that. (Though so was Padmini, of course. :) Then I had lots of fun watching a bunch of clips of her dancing with MGR.

    By the way, Izzat is up for free on YouTube. There are no subs in that version, but judging by your post, maybe it’s better that way. :)

  14. made really an amusing reading.
    you’ve got a great sense of humour.
    bring in more screen caps!!!!!!!!!

    basically though, the story sounds good. after all colour does play a big role in india (mostly for women). many girls are “rejected” by men for being dark. and if somebody marries a dark girl, they would say “he married her for her dowry”
    an often cited statement in our family about a cousin was “he is dark but smart-looking”. and most of darker skinned people (in India?) do grow up with this complex, that they are not good-looking.
    my siblings are fairer skinned than I and even though she loved me more than them, I overheard her telling a relative, that my brother and sister are better-looking (=fairer) than I.
    so maybe the director wanted to put the message, that beauty has nothing to do with the skin colour, across.
    But naturally, in the hands of an inept director, it can turn out to be a farce.
    Who is the director?

  15. Sy: I know! FINALLY someone onscreen took notice of me shouting at them from my chair :)

    dustedoff: *falls off chair giggling at confidant remark*

    Banno: You make an excellent point!

    Richard S: Since the subtitles consisted mostly of comments about dark vs fair Dharmendra, you could just insert them yourself, so no—lack of subs probably doesn’t matter.

    harvey: Yes, see this is the thing: the story was good. It was just so completely ineptly handled that it was ruined. Which almost makes me madder than a stupid story ineptly handled, such potential squandered. I know that the whole “dark” skin thing is a big deal in India and I approve of the message saying that it basically shouldn’t matter, but…I just don’t enjoy being bludgeoned messily with said message. The director was T Prakash Rao (explains Jayalalitha’s presence anyway!) :-)

  16. amazing blog.. i love it… thank you thank you thank you…
    just added you to my permanent links sidebar

  17. Hee hee hee, well at least orange is a step up from the sickly green they usually use to show “dark skin” – both Dharam in Razia Sultan and Rajendra Kumar in that other two-brothers=separated-by-color movie whose name I can’t recall right now used this odd Wizard of Oz color to show that they were darker skinned than the people around them. What’s really funny too is that everyone around Dark Dharam in the screencaps above seems to have generously applied a thick layer of powder to their face. Ah, old timey make up. How I love thee.

  18. dj carlito: thanks :) Will check yours out as well!

    Amrita: Yes, the thick pancaked makeup on everyone was rather scary by the end. I too was pleased that Dharam was orange rather than green which is more usual for Bollywood “blackface”…it was at least marginally more realistic :)

  19. I just want to know where to buy that red couch!

  20. And the matching chair! I’m glad you brought it up, I loved this furniture too :-)

  21. You know, a few years back I found a wall clock that looked quite a lot like those cool ones that you see in the 60s Bollywoods…Target had them!

  22. Jaylalitha, an important politician in India now, apperas in this movie. To me that is the biggest highlight of this movie. Does she get to sing any song in this movie. I read somewhere that “jaagi badan me jwaala” was a song picturised on her.

  23. Yes, she did a lovely song near the beginning where she mistakes Shekhar for Dilip and chases after him. And she had another song later in the film where she leads a village dance. The first song is “Ruk Jaa Zara Kidhar Ko Chala” (and it really is lovely) and the second one is “Jaagi Badan Me Jwala.”

    I’ve added screen caps and a comment about the songs to the post since they were the high point of the film, and I should give the film that much!

  24. hi
    How can I get a copy of the cd? URGENT!

  25. Saw this movie yesterday.
    And have just read your review.
    How do you manage to come up with such fantastic reviews ?

    Totally agree with you about the movie. It was between average and real bad, depending on how charitable you want to be.

    I cringed at the following :
    – the constant reference to “dark” skin (as if it is something bad)
    – Mehmood’s CSP. It was very irritating (though Laxmi Chhaya is pretty, no doubt) and had absolutely no relevance to a story that I was anyway keen to finish seeing as soon as possible
    – not enough Tanuja-time. She hardly had a total of fifteen minutes in the movie. And that includes that lovely duet with Dharam.
    – Dharam himself was boring. His role was cliched, the dialogues could have been written by me in my sleep.

    The only passable thing about the movie was the songs. Some of them were OK. The non-Mehmood ones.

  26. Sorry you wasted your time on it too :-) Ah well!

  27. That’s ok. :-)
    I like watching even movies like this – it helps to build appreciation for the good ones. :-)

    I watched Patthar Aur Payal (1974) yesterday. Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Vinod Khanna (strong bad-man role), Ajit, Iftikhar. And a very nice cameo from Rajendranath. Was better than I expected. Not a very new storyline and I did not like the songs but at least the story kept moving and the quality of acting was much better than in Izzat. Dharam in particular was the Dharam I knew from my childhood days. :-)

    If you have not seen this, it may be worth a watch. Don’t have high expectations though.

  28. I have it, but haven’t watched it yet :-) Great cast though! Might be time to give it a look.

  29. memsaab!
    Love it! I linked this into my “review” of the film.

    http://bollywoodfoodclub.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/izaat-1968-featuring-jayalalitha/#comments

    Hadn’t realized you’d covered it, but maybe I read this awhile back and ordered the movie, who knows. LOL on the orange Dharmendra. I have never felt so, so proud of my fairness until this film. :)

    • Ha ha :) I enjoyed your review—it’s always fun to see what other people think of a film you’ve seen. You were more impressed than I was with Jayalalitha, but as I said…I was so distracted by Dharmendra’s ever-increasing resemblance to an Oompa-Loompa that I didn’t notice much else.

  30. do laxmi hav any song in dis film..????if she hv so can u pls infrm da songs name n singer…???pls…

  31. LOL @ orange Dharmendra…I watched this movie as a child about 10-12 years back and I still remember asking my mom why he was turning orange!…the dark/fair references and the constant chanting of the word ‘izzat’ made things worse…
    ‘yeh dil tum bin’ is of course fab… i loved the ‘girl trying to convince the guy’ angle and the way Dharmendra acted rather shy around her…was unusual for a 60s movie…was reminded of Ankhein…Mala Sinha more or less hitting on Dharmendra…adorable :)

  32. Jayalalithaa had 28 commercially successful movies opposite MGR alone in Tamil. Plus in addition with others like Sivaji, Ravichandran etc.. She was at her peak when she did Izzat and IZZAT was a big hit too in Hindi. Her films , be it in any language have rarely seen failure at box office.

  33. This was the only Hindi movie Jayalalitha acted. She debuted in 1966. 2 years after her debut she got an opportunity to act in a Hindi movie.Really wonder why she never acted in any other Hindi film.

    Most of you have written about Tanuja’s screen time. Possibly, Jayalalitha had a hand in it ? Lore has it that Madam was very dogmatic about her screen time and possessive about limelight. No wonder she has become CM again.

    There was an actress called Sowcar Janaki. Once in the early 70’s both Sowcar and Jayalalitha had to jointly compere an awards program. Sowcar had prepared herself well. She was a veteran actress and had acted with Jayalalitha’s mother Sandhya.

    Jayalalitha insisted that she would do the compering herself and allegedly used the MGR influence to chase Sowcar Janaki away from the stage. The organiser of the awards – another actor called Major Sundarrajan teared his hair apart, trying to explain to Jayalalitha that she had to compere with Sowcar Janaki.

    Sowcar Janaki was so deeply hurt that she bowed out gracefully when MGR gave into Jayalalitha’s demands.

    So, it is possible that Jayalalitha influenced Prakasa Rao to reduce Tanuja’s screen time.

  34. Another interesting anecdote is that for Jayalalitha’s first Tamil movie, another girl from Delhi was shortlisted and rejected. Tamil cinema felt that she was not fit for movies or she was too young. As both the girls were from the Iyengar community, the Delhi girl’s intrepid mother felt that her daughter got a biased treatment. She took a challenge that she will prove to the world that her daughter is star material. True to her word, she proved to the world that her daughter had what it takes to become a super star. The girl from Delhi achieved superstardom in Bollywood, married Dharmendra, continues to rock and is also in politics. The Delhi girl was none other than ….

    • Well, one has heard that Hema Malini was considered to be too thin by the director Sridhar when the average South Indian film heroine was supposed to be on the heavier side. I did not know if she or her mother took this snub to heart and wanted to prove a point. I just assumed she wanted to try her luck where the pastures were greener, in the Hindi film industry.
      Incidentally, both Hema and Jaya got a lot of support from their mothers early on in their careers.

  35. Sorry folks but Dharm was always awful in tragedies. I never understood this movie, what does his dark skin have to do with anything. I remembered being bored to death as child. I never like Balraj Sahni movies. He was always very preachy and self righteous.

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