Despite a silly plot filled to the brim with irresponsible adults and many creepy (as in “ewwwww” creepy) developments, I could not help but find this entertaining. As noted in my previous trivia post, the film featured all of the best dancers of the era in several very fun songs: Laxmi Chhaya, Padma Khanna, Bindu, Faryal and Jayshree T, along with the inimitable and legendary Helen (who appeared as herself, and was given a well-deserved tribute in the dialogues). Hema Malini and a very young Neetu Singh had dances too, and Madan Mohan’s music along with the plentiful eye candy—both human and inanimate—conspired to prevent me from running away screaming as I should have, in all honesty.
Warning: Post below contains many screen shots of dancing girls, so if they are not your thing you’ll need to use your scroll bar (although I must ask: how could they not be your thing?).
Rough and tough (and jobless) village boy Raju (Feroz Khan) is left disappointed when his beloved Preeta (Hema Malini) gives in to her emotionally blackmailing father (Manmohan Krishna) and marries someone else.
So hurt is he by her betrayal that he vows henceforth to treat all women as playthings; and he leaves the village to make his way in the city. Preeta’s little sister Geeta (such a cute little girl!) chastises her; she has grown fond of Raju over time, acting as lookout while they romanced each other.
Raju is soon befriended in the city by Kalu and Jangid (Jagdeep), a pair of rascals who introduce him to their boss, the wealthy Rai Sahab (Dev Kumar). It’s never clear to me exactly what they all do for a living, but let’s just say their doings are possibly less than legal.
Jagdeep has always been on of my favorites, but he does get on my last good nerve in this film. He has been obsessed with rats ever since one of their kin chewed up a saree he had planned to gift his girl, and she rejected him when presented with the tatters. He appears to get on Rai Sahab’s nerves too.
Rai Sahab quickly becomes very fond of Raju, though, since he is adept at nefarious and fraudulent activities and bashing people up. Raju has developed a quirky drinking habit: he will use a glass only once, and then smash it, even if he has a whole bottle of booze to get through. It’s a not-very-subtle metaphor for the way he treats women.
During this time we are treated to a Laxmi Chhaya dance number. How I love her and her completely spastic style! And the nightclub decor is just…well, you can see it for yourselves:
In the meantime Preeta has given birth to a baby girl named Radha and died. Her father hands both little sister Geeta and baby Radha over to Preeta’s bereft husband to care for, and he brings them up with a lot of love and educates them per her last wishes.
Rai Sahab is getting older and wants to retire, so he gives ownership of his empire over to Raju, who takes on the title of Rai Sahab. (I want to know if the curtains are part of the deal!)
Now a wealthy man himself, Raju spends his days and nights carousing. As the years pass, he cheats and tosses aside numerous women (this is only very vaguely shown, however, which makes it hard to take seriously; probably it’s also partly why I couldn’t hate the film).
A song in which he is seen visiting a series of kothas, all while drinking heavily and getting grayer and grayer, shows us the years passing measured against his debauchery. It is just an awesome tune (“Subha Savere“), with Meena T in the first and last pics (thanks harvey), Padma Khanna, Faryal, Bindu and Jayshree T dancing up a storm. I am more than a little covetous of their outfits, too.
Wah! One of the best “passage of time” songs ever.
Meanwhile Geeta (Hema Malini again) grows up to look exactly like her older sister, and devotes herself to running a home for women, where unwed pregnant girls come to find shelter. Raju has contributed to at least one’s plight, too.
Geeta primly chastises them for allowing men to use them and then discard them.
One night, in a completely random and unnecessary incident, Raju’s driver hits the widower husband of Preeta (he’s on a motorbike) and kills him. I guess we needed to get the responsible male head of the family out of the way for the scenario about to unfold.
Radha has grown up to be Neetu Singh. Yay! She is a bouncy and happy schoolgirl, in love with a college student named Shyam. At a fund-raising show for Geeta’s ashram, she performs a lively dance which her mother used to perform in the village long ago. Raju, being a generous benefactor of the ashram, is in the audience and memories flood him.
He is completely unaware of Radha’s parentage, but tells the ashram manager that he would like to sponsor Radha’s education and further her dance training. Innocent Radha is thrilled at the opportunity, and Geeta gives her the okay to go and live with Rai Sahab, despite having never met him or even talked to him. Sigh.
Radha moves in with Raju and he is extremely happy to have her lively presence in the house.
Oh dear. Curse that metaphor! He confides in Jangid that he wants to change his life and marry Radha in a year when she comes of age, and then he showers her with clothes, jewelry and other gifts. Radha continues to see Shyam but he is worried by her lifestyle and tries to warn her.
(Does anybody know who the actor playing Shyam is? He’s very sweet and cute, and I liked him.) She tells Raju one day that she has spent the evening with Shyam and he is furious.
I shout: RED FLAG! but am ignored. Meanwhile, Geeta finds out from one of her ashram residents that the Rai Sahab who has taken Radha in is in fact Preeta’s Raju, and despite acknowledging that probably it’s not a good place for Radha to be, she does absolutely nothing.
Another huge red flag is thrown when Radha, on receiving a pretty sari from Raju, offers to call him “Daddy.”
She, at least, has the good sense to go and see her Aunty Geeta, and Geeta tells her the whole history between “Rai Sahab” and Radha’s late mother. Radha decides in that instant that she will marry Raju and clear her mother’s debt. Geeta apparently approves of this plan, and it doesn’t seem to occur to either of them that perhaps if Raju knew who Radha’s mother was it might creep him out as much as it’s creeping me out (but then again, maybe not).
Geeta is only galvanized into some form of action when Shyam comes and tells her that he and Radha love each other. Her main worry is still not for Radha however—in fact, she still seems to think it’s a good idea for Radha to marry Raju.
Hindi movie psychology, thy name is bakwass. It gets better. In an attempt to talk Raju out of the marriage without actually telling him any of the facts, Geeta disguises herself as a man and goes to see him, carrying photos of his past female conquests with her (I guess by now they have all wound up at her ashram).
Raju assumes that this impertinent fellow wants money, but “he” tells Raju to reform, or else all these women “will join hands and ruin you for life.”
What will happen next? Will any of the adults in the film get a clue? Will Radha sacrifice her love for Shyam and marry Raju? Will the ashram ladies show up and protest? Will Shyam truly become a monster? Will Raju ever get a look at undisguised Geeta, who is the exact image of his lost Preeta? If he does, will it lead to more ickiness?
To be honest, nobody with any common sense appears to even exist in the film, but as I said: there is so much to enjoy, and the story is really so very very stupid, that I couldn’t work up even a little bit of disapproval beyond a fairly mild “oh yuck.” And there were some weirdly feminist moments sprinkled throughout too, so—yay!
Tiki-decor and gorgeous Neetu!
And my girl Helen, invited by Raju to dance at his wedding to Radha on her birthday!
She wears an outfit that matches the tableclothes.