Raj Khosla is one of my favorite directors. But man, this movie is a waste of time. It’s chock full of red herrings that never lead anywhere (and are never explained), along with clues which are so manifestly obvious that you feel clubbed over the head with them. Plus, it’s boring, with an ending so convenient and contrived that there’s no payoff for sitting through it at all. I don’t know if my dislike of Manoj Kumar contributed to my dislike of this film, but I do know that his presence didn’t help it any. The only bright spot really was Helen, and she was bumped off pretty early on. Sadhana looked gorgeous, but she appeared to be as bored as I was.
If you still want a synopsis, read on! Dr. Anand (Manoj Kumar) is driving home through a rainstorm one night when a mysterious woman in white appears alongside the road. He gives her a lift although she’s so rude and creepy that I would have left her standing there. Red Herring #1: the windshield wipers on his car stop working as soon as she gets in, and only start up again when she gets out. This happens twice in the film (maybe more if I slept through it), but is never explained.
She apparently can also see in the dark, since she guides him around potholes, etc. on the way to the graveyard where he drops her off. He watches as the gates open by themselves and she disappears into the mist. I roll my eyes.
Anand is engaged to Miss Seema (Helen), but he’s often preoccupied with his work. She’s pretty understanding about it, and down to earth and I like her. She has also decorated her house with a Gemma statue and the Air India Maharajah (which I would too if I could find one).
He’s called into the hospital by a fellow doctor, Lata Singh (Parveen Choudhary). I like her too. She’s in love with Anand but he doesn’t notice. Her father Dr. Singh (KN Singh) does, though. A lawyer arrives to ask Dr. Singh to give a medical certification as to Anand’s good mental health: he’s inheriting millions of rupees.
Apparently there are some loony tunes in Anand’s family background, and if he proves to be one of them then a close relative will inherit instead.
Enter close relative, cousin Ramesh (Prem Chopra). They bump into each other at a hospital benefit where Seema has choreographed a duet (“Riki Tiki”) and everyone does the Indian twist. So fab.
Anand introduces Seema as his fiancee to his cousin (=close relative, yes?). We learn that Ramesh is unemployed (so could probably use a few million inherited rupees). These are of course Obvious Clues #1 and #2.
Seema and Anand romance a little more with another song (“Chhod Kar Tere”) and we are introduced to Red Herring #2, who is always lurking outside Seema’s apartment when Anand drops her off. Her ominous presence is never explained either, and my guess is that she’s just there to creep us out. She doesn’t really creep me out so much as she reminds me of someone I can’t place.
While I’m puzzling over that, poor Seema is murdered with a cyanide injection. The Police Inspector (Raj Mehra) appears to suspect Lata and Dr. Singh, which probably counts as Red Herring #3 since it’s an angle that goes nowhere either.
Meanwhile, Anand’s Ma (Ratnamala) isn’t going to let a little thing like the murder of her son’s beloved fiancee prevent her from getting a bahu.
Anand agrees dully that she can marry him off to whomever she pleases, and then (since it is a stormy night) he is called out to see a patient. He is directed to a huge dilapidated mansion filled with cobwebs, and when he arrives it’s too late. The patient is apparently dead and…it’s the mysterious woman he had given a ride to earlier. I roll my eyes.
He doesn’t do anything doctor-like (like check for a pulse) but leaves instead, shocked. It occurs to me that Anand is not a very bright guy, and I’m glad he’s not my doctor. Dr. Singh approaches his mother to propose that Anand marry Lata, but she has already found a bride for him. That was quick work, Ma! Dr. Singh appears displeased by this development: Red Herring #4.
On Anand’s wedding day, the bride is veiled. Her name is Sandhya and guess what? No really, you’ll never guess. Well, maybe you will. I did. When Anand unveils her on the nuptial evening, she looks exactly like the graveyard (and dead) girl. Anand freaks out completely. I roll my eyes.
The rest of the film is as full of suspense and thrills as a drive through the English countryside on a bright, sunny day. Watch as Anand mistreats his new bride! and is further led astray by more Red Herrings! while we’re bashed over the head with more Obvious Clues!
It does try hard, I’ll give it that; but in the end it’s just a silly film, and worse, predictable. Even the climax is lethargic and heavy-footed. The songs by Madan Mohan are lovely, although the repetition of the “ghost” song (“Naina Barse Rimjhim”) gets old after a while. I know that this is considered one of Raj Khosla’s best, but maybe I’ve read too many good mystery novels or something (I am a mystery buff). I would recommend watching Anita or Mera Gaon Mera Desh or Kuchhe Dhaage instead of this one.
Edited to Add: Thanks to reader Nandu Narasimhan for this piece of trivia and the song!
One little piece of trivia about the song ‘Naina Barse’. Apparently, Lata Mangeshkar was down with a bad throat around the time the song was to be recorded. And the recording could not be pushed because the shooting schedule of the song couldn’t.
Enter Madan Mohan, master composer. He recorded the song in his voice so that Sadhana could lipsync to it. Which she did!
Madan Mohan’s version of the song: