So much fun and stylish goodness packed into one movie, it is beyond belief. Mumtaz is gorgeous, Feroz very manly in his hirsute way (and their chemistry sparkles). It’s really more like two films for the price of one. The first half takes place in glamorous Europe and revolves around a jewel theft, with some pretty scary-insane bad guys and some gloriously kitschy sets and costumes.
In the second half our hero and heroine return to India where the hero’s crime-lord brother awaits. Prem Chopra has an opportunity to do more than spit out one-liners through his clenched jaw, with a more nuanced role than he usually gets; and it contains one of the best nightclubs in Hindi cinema (my screencaps are out of control) complete with one of my favorite Helen songs of all time. In fact, all of Kalyanji Anandji’s songs are great. There’s plenty in general to entertain, and it’s clear that producer-director-star Feroz Khan spared no expense or imagination! (Also see Shweta’s review for her take on it—and more screen cap delights!)
Ram Khanna (Feroz Khan) is a Formula-4 race car driver, and the credits roll over a great vintage F-4 race in Europe. I love auto racing, and this footage evokes the breathless fun of it all perfectly. Elsewhere in Europe, a lovely girl called Rita (Mumtaz) scams a jeweler out of a $200,000 diamond necklace with the unwitting aid of a psychiatrist (Madan Puri in a funny cameo).
With the police hot on her trail, she calls in via radio to the gang she’s working for: it’s a pretty unsavory bunch, all the way around, and includes Fifi (Faryal), a jeweller (Mukri), a weird doped-up guy with round sunglasses (Kuljeet) and their vicious leader Nath (Siddhu), who sports a very Victorian moustache and waistcoat.
Hearing Rita’s predicament, the boss has only this to offer by way of advice:
Fortunately, Ram happens to come along. After he figures out that she speaks Hindi (he tries English, French and German first), he offers her a lift (she tells him she’s run out of petrol). As they approach the border she hides the diamond necklace in one of his coat pockets—a gesture that doesn’t go unnoticed by him! With his racing fame paving the way, getting across the border is easy; and he delivers Rita to the hotel where she is to meet her gang—and where he is conveniently staying as well.
The boss sends Fifi to get the necklace from Ram’s hotel room. She finds it in a drawer, but returns to tell Nath that there is no necklace in the room. Luckily Ram shows up and returns the necklace to Rita, but Mukri the jeweller discovers it to be a fake, and Rita is in big trouble. With Fifi dancing in a frenzy to crazed music in the background, the guys in the gang beat her and threaten her with a hot poker. It’s quite scary despite the cartoonish ambience of it all.
Nath (the boss) gives Rita one more chance to retrieve the real necklace, and she goes to meet Ram at a race track where he is testing a new car. He is very happy to see her, and clearly smitten; he gives her a lift and they sing a sweet duet—”Humare Siva”—as the gang follows. Ram loses them fairly easily (he is a race-car driver, plus they aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer) and asks Rita to tell him the truth. She tells him that her real name is Meena, and she has nobody in the world. She has gotten involved with the gang by mistake, and they will kill her unless they get the real necklace. He promises to help her.
Of course, Fifi has the real necklace and is the one who has double-crossed the rest of them. She and her lover (Kishen Mehta) plot to sell it and run away. I simply adore the neon sign overlooking their hotel room window!
Ram bursts into the room and defeats Fifi’s amour, whose pants are too tight for him to do much more than strike some awkwardly stiff karate stances. Fifi comes through with a despairing, sobbing, tantrum which makes me feel sorry for her—it’s clear how much she desperately wants a different life, and how she had pinned her hopes on the necklace. Plus, he’s kind of mean to her.
Ram returns to his room and Meena; Nath and the strange doped-up guy have arrived in his absence. There’s a bull-whip hanging on the wall, which Nath uses to whip Ram with (note the neon sign outside of his window):
Meena saves the day by wresting the gun from the doped-up guy and biting him, giving Ram a chance to take the upper hand. Go Meena! (I’m jumping up and down on my chair)…
They escape (and I assume return the necklace to its rightful owner since that was Ram’s plan). Poor Fifi is not so lucky.
The first half draws to a close with Ram and Meena deciding to return to India together. Ram wins one final F-4 race, and manages to capture Nath and the crazy doped-up guy (how I love his outfits, though!). He delivers them to the German police and meets Meena at the airport. As they go to board their flight, a twitchy blond guy gives Ram some “medicines” to deliver to his brother.
End Part I.
In India, the “medicine” turns out to be smuggled diamonds. One “Sheikh Arab” (Habib) who is a rival of Ram’s brother Harnam’s (Prem Chopra) has informed the police in revenge, and Ram is arrested on arrival.
Despite his protestations of innocence, Ram is sentenced to jail. As he serves out his sentence, Harnam mopes at the best den of iniquity ever put together. It features (among many other things): a revolving bar (which seems to me somewhat dangerous), a series of swimming pools where bikini-clad goris gyrate, a singer/guitarist in a Mexican sombrero (please, someone tell me who he is! I’m in love!), a stuffed glaring leopard, and—not least of all—Helen (in the white spangled swimsuit).
Harnam is brooding about Sheikh Arab, and his brother. A henchman approaches and says that Ram has been traced.
Cut to the jail, and Ram is being released. Meena is outside waiting, and they are joyfully reunited. She’s been working at a factory, and has gotten him a job as foreman there. He works hard (and makes her quit), and they spend all their free time together.
Eye candy for everyone! They also get married, but their newly wedded bliss is short-lived. Perhaps Meena’s blinding wedding saree is inauspicious.
Harnam comes to see Ram, and asks him to join his gang. Ram scornfully refuses, and when Ranjit (Shyam Kumar), one of Harnam’s goondas, leers at Meena, Ram thrashes him. Harnam is thrilled that Ram has gotten married, but Meena hides from him in fear and Ram asks them to leave.
Back at the club (I can’t resist! Shetty! the Sombrero Man! a gyrating girl!)…
…two of Harnam’s henchmen have little sympathy for Ranjit, who is mad that Ram hit him and vows to take revenge.
I swear, I could live here! Look at those cozy swings!
But Ranjit takes his huge gold chains and leaves Harnam’s employ, and frames Ram for looting the factory and killing a security guard in the process (Ram is also wounded). At the hospital under police guard, Ram is interrogated mercilessly (by Iftekhar of course!). When Harnam sneaks in with a plan to rescue him, Ram is torn between keeping to his principles, which may get him hanged; or escaping with his brother and joining the underworld.
What will he do? What will happen to Meena? Can Ram prove his innocence? Will he be lured in by the greatness of Harnam’s nefarious hangout? Can Ram convince Harnam to reform and lead an honest life? AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD—WHO IS THE SOMBRERO MAN????? I must know!
And I want that crystal umbrella over the circling bar.
So much cracktastic goodness.