Chalta Purza (1977)

chaltapurza

The really burning question which this film poses (besides the standard corruption and wealth versus honor and poverty blah blah blah) is this: Which is worse, Rakesh Roshan’s wig, or Rajesh Khanna’s actual hair? Really, at times it’s a toss-up. It does contain goodies such as a soothing all-white wedding-cake villain’s lair with Ajit at the helm of said lair; Ranjeet, Manmohan and Kuljeet as Ajit’s go-to guys; Parveen Babi at the height of her gorgeousness; several dismembered dolls and some genuinely funny moments. On the downside (besides the distracting wig/hair equation) is a seriously annoying child and a patchy nonsensical plot that wanders off on tangents, accompanied by a lot of overacting and very shallow characters. 

The opening scene is hilarious. We are introduced to Amar (Rajesh Khanna) as he drives a Roman chariot pursued by Indians (the feather kind) on horseback for a soft drink commercial.

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LIMCA! Amar has been struggling to find work (it’s not clear to me why someone as unsuccessful as he appears to be is doing a commercial). At the dismal hovel he shares with his Ma, the electricity has been cut off and the landlord is nagging them for the rent. There is a prolonged maa-beta interchange with plaintive violins sawing away in the background. Bhagwan is called upon and scenery is chewed. Even though Ma looks like she’s about 35, she can’t see very well without her spectacles, and they can’t afford to get them fixed either. We understand that the situation is desperate.

Amar’s good friend Shankar (Asrani) convinces Amar to try gambling as a means to earn some money despite Amar’s morally upright values.

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How I love his t-shirt and loud tie combo! The gambling den is lots of fun, with an appropriately decorated dancer and scowling large men, plus it is managed by Ranjit (Ranjeet).

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Ranjit’s brother Captain (Ajit) owns the gambling club, and he watches in fascination as Amar fights his way through a bunch of bad guys after winning lots of money (to the tune of a very fun song and dance, “Yeh Raat Ne Rang”). I am also fascinated because Rajesh’s double is very obviously NOT Rajesh, but Captain is impressed enough to offer Amar a job, which he says he’ll think about.

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On his way home, Amar sees an old friend—Police Inspector Sunil (Rakesh Roshan)—chasing a suspect named Jaggi (Dev Kumar). He saves Sunil from being killed by Jaggi and we have a “bhai-bhai-dost-dost” moment with them.

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See what I mean about the wig-hair thing? Anyway, in one of those godawful filmi coincidences, Amar’s Ma sees Captain and his men loading a dead body into the trunk of a car. They run her down as she tries to flee and she dies. Amar makes a leap of logic and decides that it’s his poverty which has killed her, and so he decides to join Captain’s gang. Oh, the irony.

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I just love Captain’s color-wheel door:

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and his gang member intros:

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not to mention Ranjeet’s flared plaid pants! But I digress. Needless to say, Amar proves himself quite capable at crime, and latches on pretty quickly to the debauched lifestyle that goes along with it. From Mama’s boy to ladies’ man in one easy step!

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His womanizing almost gets him killed by an angry cuckolded husband (Shyam Kumar), but a girl named Sheetal (Parveen Babi) overhears the husband threatening to kill his wife and her lover when he meets a private detective he’s hired in a movie theater (where they are screening Tum Haseen Main Jawan, hee). She takes him seriously because he also takes out a pistol and brandishes it about, although nobody else in the audience seems to notice.

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The detective gives him the address—but Sheetal gets there first and rescues them by taking the wife’s place in Amar’s bed while the wife hides in the bathroom. The angry husband is horrified and sorry when he barges in on them.

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Captain assigns Amar the task of stealing diamonds worth eighty lakhs from an elderly Maharaja and promises to split the proceeds with him. But he doublecrosses Amar afterwards and pretends the diamonds have in turn been stolen from him. In reality, he puts the diamonds inside a doll and gives the doll to Ranjit, instructing him to smuggle them into Singapore to sell them, and to put the money in his bank account there.

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In my opinion, this only clinches my already strong case for Ranjeet’s hotness. Look how cute he is holding that doll!

At the airport, the police are searching children’s toys, having received a tipoff. Panicked (he does look rather obviously suspicious clutching the doll at the airport), Ranjit shoves it into the arms of a little girl exiting the airport with her father, and then loses track of her before he can get it back.

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Meanwhile, the little girl’s father (Murad) loses big money while gambling with Amar and kills himself, leaving little Pinky in Amar’s care. I don’t know who the child actor is, but she is really irritating and delivers all her dialogues in a monotone. She also puts the doll—still filled with diamonds—into her father’s grave with him.

In addition to all this, Inspector Sunil’s wedding is fixed to none other than the girl named Sheetal who had rescued Amar from the angry husband—who in turn happens to be a relative of Sunil’s. He remembers Sheetal and stops the wedding. Amar has left after a lively song with Bindu (Captain calls him away), and so he’s not there to stick up for her.

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The wedding is called off and poor Sheetal is humiliated. Luckily she finds annoying little Pinky on the beach the next day where Shankar has “lost” her on purpose. She takes Pinky back to Amar’s house, and is glad to have found Amar so that he can vouch for her character. He promises to straighten things out with Sunil, but Sunil has gone away for ten days.

In the meantime, she moves in with Amar and Pinky. It’s not long before she and Amar have fallen in love, and along with Pinky are a cozy little “family.” But what about Sunil? And Amar’s criminal activities? Will Captain let him leave the gang? Will Sunil, who is hot on Captain’s trail, figure out Amar’s place in the gang? And what about the diamonds, still hidden in the doll now buried with Pinky’s father?

I realized while watching this that I generally prefer Rajesh Khanna in more intense dramatic roles than in silly ones (he really hams it up in places here). Apart from the minor annoyances (Pinky!) I’ve mentioned, the film does roll along at a good pace with lots of twists and turns (most of them really unbelievable, but still) and several nice RD Burman songs (although I am sorry to say that Lata really screeches her way through a couple of them). If that plus some good eye candy is enough to make you happy, then you can probably tolerate—and might even enjoy—Chalta Purza.

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45 Comments to “Chalta Purza (1977)”

  1. It is certainly….a colorful looking movie! I have to admit that Bollywood has eased my fear of 1970s fashions which in the past I have always tried to block out of my memory.

  2. It is very bright, and I know EXACTLY what you mean! I hated memories of those pointy collars and those dreaded synthetic fabrics until I discovered 70s Bollywood :)

  3. Perhaps Pinky was so annoying because she was actually a he? At least I think that’s what I must’ve read somewhere about this child. However, I’ve seen Sarika as an adorable little boy so don’t know that gender changes have anything to do with this–you’re right though, she was a sore thumb.

    The film, bah! It’s a toss up between this and Maha Chor–one of those inexplicable choices of RK’s in the 1976-79 period.

  4. Yes, Pinky’s gender was definitely up in the air, but what annoyed me about him/her was just the monotone voice. Ugh! And really poor, poor acting.

    And yeah, I thought of Maha Chor while watching this, and not in a good way. At least this film has Ranjeet :-) But LIKE Maha Chor there were enough things to appreciate that I didn’t completely give up on it. Although at times I wanted to :)

  5. I think this sounds delightful! Praveen and Ajit would make up for any amount of bad hair- and I have an intense need to check out Rajesh’s commercial for Lima :D so gr8!

  6. The Limca commercial is just HIGHlarious. And it’s at the very beginning :) I think if you set your expectations appropriately low, you might enjoy it. Certainly I did not hate it, but it was pretty run of the mill in many ways. Mediocre Masala, if you will.

  7. minor annoyances (Pinky!)

    Was that intended pun?

  8. Ha ha!!! No, but thanks for pointing it out! :D

  9. I love Parveen Babi. that is all. Sometimes it just needs to be restated.

  10. I do too :-) I think she was just gorgeous, and I love her free spirit too…

  11. why is the movie called chalta purza?
    Walking part!?!

    anyway, sounds very interesting!
    Is that a wig too, what Rajesh Khanna is wearing?

    I hate these scenes, about chaste and unchaste women! double standards.
    BTW didn’t really understand, why sheetal wants to save Amar’s skin, by getting inb ed wiht him. I mean there are other ways, aren’t there? okay, but then we wouldn’t have this silly plot.
    Maybe that is what the title wants to say a walking plot.

    Did Rajesh Khanna borrow Ranjit’s pistachio coloured shirt for Kudrat?

    • Memsaab,

      This blog is like a college education for me in regards to the Old Movies 70s-Mid 80s.

      In the 70s is it true that Rajesh Roshan wear a wig in his movies ?
      I thought that was hiss hair? I know that in recent years he had shaven his hair all off.(lol).

      • Do you mean Rajesh Khanna? Rajesh Roshan wore very obvious wigs through his career as an actor; Rajesh Khanna I think had his own hair into the 80s, although his hair stylist should have been fired.

        • Thanks. I never ever knew that Roshan wore rogs in the 70s-80s although i suppose i was too young at the time. I always notice at the time that his hair some how look funny almost covering his forehead & his left eyeball. Has he always been bald?
          What about his brother Rakesh Roshan did he were a wig too in those days?

  12. Valid questions, for which I have no answer except to say that is why it’s not a good film but a very average one. There was no real attempt at a script that made any sense, instead events were forced into a story arc. Rajesh’s hair is real, I think, although his hairdresser should have been taken out and shot.

  13. LOL at mother looking 35 and needing glasses plus doesn’t take long to turn from Mama’s boy to Ladies Man!

    Good review as usual. Didn’t know such a movie existed!

  14. ‘Chalta purza’, though it translates literally as `walking part’, is used colloquially to refer to someone who’s street-smart: I’m guessing (from memsaab’s review) that Amar’s supposed to be street-smart.

    Eeeww, I’m not sure I want to see this film. Rajesh Khanna’s hairstyle+Pinky+Screecy Lata = not very attractive. And I’m still not clear about why Sheetal was ready to jump into bed with Amar and ruin her own `chaste’ image to save someone she didn’t know from Adam – was that pure generosity?

  15. Which is worse, Rakesh Roshan’s wig, or Rajesh Khanna’s actual hair?

    I think Rakesh Roshan’s awful wig is way better than Kaka’s awful bob! But his Limca ad seems hilarious and he wears a mini-dress. Looks like he was all ready for Dharam Veer and MD took Jitendra instead!

    Let me guess how the movie ends. Ranjit comes looking for Pinky. Sheetal takes one look at him in all his plaid beauty and forgets all about Amar and Sunil. Ranjit and Sheetal recover the doll from the grave and use the proceeds to live happily-ever-after in a big house with color-wheel doors. No? No Ranjeet+Parveen=hotness squared? No wonder you dont think its a great movie!

  16. Bollyviewer’s end would have taken the film above mediocre.

    Yes, why does Sheetal jump into bed with Amar? Destiny?

    I love that red machine with yellow, blue and sundry other knobs. What does it do, I wonder?

  17. thanks dusteddoff, for the correction!

    love bollyviewer’s version. but it can’t be a really happy end that way though a realistic one. Who won’t fall for the mint-pistachio colored shirt?
    rajesh’s miniskirt is great

    banno: red machine with yellow, blue and sundry other knobs are always ready to launch rockets or take over the world power. It’s oyur choice

    Bollywood’s child actors are normally all doof headed and irritating because they drink lots of milk, not really their fault. Exceptions to the rule master raju and baby pinky and master alankar.
    Child artistes with their master and baby sound so “nice” =-0
    Whoever came up with this idea?

    BTW, to all those who are interested: I dreamt Ijaazat last nite, the whole movie!
    Wonder if I can pre-order?

  18. Thanks memsaab great reivew on our Super Star Rajesh Khanna’s movie Chalta Purza.

    Super Star Rajesh Khanna is an unique mix of style and substance. Super Star Rajesh Khanna rewrote cinematic performance’s syntax, yet will be remembered as a peerless romantic hero forever. He has established himself as a most successful Superstar-Actor-both as a romantic hero and a most versatile serious actor, who can perform emotions and inner feelings with depth effortlessly. He ruled Bollywood like no one else before as well as after him. His class movies like Anand, Aradhna, Dushman, Haathi Mere Saathi, Amar Prem, Avataar, Prem Nagar, Amar Deep, Dard, Babu, Amrit, Chalta Purza etc., etc., etc. got him a place of honour in Indian cinema’s hall of fame in such a manner that nobody can be matched with him in terms of balancing artistic and commercial aspects simultaneously.

  19. wow, this movie must have been long in making.
    look at parveen in pic no. 12 in th ecinema hall and the last pic.
    What a metamorphosis!

  20. I never could stand RK myself, even as a kid. Those mannerisms were imitated and they do not look pretty on kids or young teenagers, I tell you.

  21. Anonymous: She and Rajesh looked like siblings and not a Ma and her beta. Sigh.

    dustedoff: He made a much better film in this year called Chhaila Babu. See that instead :)

    bollyviewer: If only you had written the script! I would just add that Ranjit and Sheetal also push Pinky into the river when she whines one time too many :)

    Banno: It made no sense, but many other things about the plot made no sense either. The red thing with all the buttons appeared to be some sort of housing for the telephone. That’s all it was used for.

    harvey: anonymous from Down Under was asking about Ijaazat the other day. She just saw it…I have not yet.

    V. Manohar: I always look forward to reading what you have to say about the Super Star :-)

    bawa: I love RK, but not in this. His mannerisms were more suited for drama and romance than mediocre silliness, I guess.

  22. u haven’t seen ijaazat!!!!!

    yeh tum kya kah rahi ho (What are you saying?)
    tumne hamari izzat mithi me mila di [you mixed our honour in mud (sounds like a cement miser, i know!)]
    *fall down from the stairs and bleed from the head*
    [acknowledgement: Rum]

    scene change
    *i lie in bed with a white bandage aruond my forehead with a red patch on the left side*
    memsaab: utho harvey, utho! maine ijaazat dekh liya. bahut acchi film hai (get up harvey, get up! i saw ijaazat. a great film)
    *harvey gets up, beams and embraces memsaab. memsaab goes to watch another gulzar movie – angoor*

  23. LOL, I have seen Angoor :) I have Ijaazat, and I guess between you and Down Under Anonymous I will now have to watch it!

  24. Memsaab, time for some palate cleansing perhaps? :-) How about a young, intense RK (with no hair issues!), Feroz and La Tagore in ‘Safar’ ?

  25. Good idea, Suhan!!!! Urgh…so many movies, and my job is keeping me busy :( Waaaaah!!!!!

  26. You have to catch (or better, create) those and then mention that it was unintended.

  27. I am utterly opulent in my air of wealth, but I think that Rajesh’s wig will make me want to crush him, rather than Maa, under my car. (Perhaps then I can pull a Tabu in Saathiya and run away to my handsome SRK-husband.)

  28. I loved that subtitle. I really think it’s Rajesh’s real hair, although he might have been better off with a wig. Although not Rakesh Roshan’s wig.

    :) My grandmother had a wig in those days and it wasn’t much better, as I recall…

  29. Hey Memsaab – I am not sure if you will like Ijazat. But it will be interesting to see if you questions while viewing like I did. Music in Ijazat is really good – RD tunes and melodious Asha songs.

    I think you have lots of movies to watch. I second Suhan’s recommendation that you watch “Safar” – one of my favourite movies for story, acting, songs etc. But again me thinks you may not like this also as much as we do.

  30. Chalta Purza is a movie not meant for Rajesh Khanna.
    He may have done the movie then as it had an action oriented subject and action was in thing those days.
    The movie has been poorly directed and the story and screenplay are weak. Strangely R D Burman’s music is very average. I will not comment on Rajesh’s hair as keeping long hair was in and Rajesh kept long hair briefly in 1976,77 and 1978 before returning to short hair style in 1979.

  31. Rajesh Khanna reaced on top when he acted sincerely, but came down
    when he started imitating Rajesh Khanna the super star.

    • I think you might have a point there :)

      • When compared to other stars who subsequently got superstar status, it can be seen that he was the most Versatile Superstar of Indian Cinema.He holds the record for consecutive 15 superhits in the period 1969-1972 and also has done BOTH the maximum critically acclaimed movies and the solo hero projects in comparison to his contemporaries till 1991 and in comparison to other actors of other eras in the age bracket of 24-55.He has had minimum of atleast 2 releases each year from 1967-1991 with him as the lead hero and did not allow himself to be typecasted with same genre of films or characters even after getting the superstar status and acquiring romantic image.He did most of verstaile roles from his age of 24-55 itself.

        He has played variety of characters as the lead hero – as a postman in Palkon Ki Chaon Mein, as a psychopath and woman hater in Redrose, as a rickshaw puller who sacrifices his own happiness to educate a girl in Babu, as an advocate who believes in ideology that his duty is to defend the client irrespective of whether his client is the real culprit in Awaaz, as an old man who helps an old woman who is suffering a lot in her life in Amrit, as an handicapped Inspector who motivates 3 other woman and with their help gets the traitors of the country killed and arrested, as an psychiatrist who solves the problem of his client in Phir Wohi Raat , as a widowed father in search of a mother for his daughter in Agar Tum Na Hote, as a lawyer who proves that his senior has committed a rape 25 years earlier in Kudrat, as the rich arrogant man in Dhanwan , as a corrupt politician in Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtaar , as a medical student in Bandish, as a righteous farmer in Bandhan, as a village boy who regards his sister in law as his mother etc…
        Rajesh Khanna has done the least number of multi star films in comparison to his contemporaries like Shahsi Kapoor and Jeetendra(who did number of entertaining films),Dharmendra(who did action or comedy films),Amitabh Bachchan(who from 1975-1984 when he was successful in box office kept doing angry young man roles the most and majority of his hits were multi star films and after 1984-1998 has very less films as hits to his credit as a hero).
        Rajesh Khanna accepted roles of different kinds even after gaining the Superstar status since the start of his career itself even though he had acquired romantic image since Aradhana and even in the multistar film era from 1975 till 1991 he kept doing films of different genres romantic, suspense, horror, action, political, social, fantasy, suspense , adventurous films with him as the solo hero of the project and each of the hits were critically acclaimed.
        In fact even before the films with lower class frontbench class Hindi lingo became common scenario, he played the role of a con man in Mahachor(1976) and after films with same plot got repeated with other stars he never accepted such roles. He occasionally accepted multi star films and even in those he had the main central character – the films were Ashanti, Kudrat and Dil E Nadaan and did three commercial potboilers with childhood and college friend Jeetendra – Dharam Kanta, Nishaan and Maqsad and with Rajnikanth in Bewafai.

    • In the films he acted as the solo lead hero, other actors who were by themselves a star acted in supporting roles in his films with Khanna overpowering them in performance and footage in the movie – like Vinod Khanna in Aan Milo Sajna , Sachcha Jhuta , Kudrat and Rajput, Dharmendra in Khamoshi Dharam Aur Kanoon (In Rajput ,Dharam did share equal footage as Khanna), Amitabh Bachchan in Aanand and Namak Haram( Amitabh became a star only in 1973 although), Raj Kapoor in Naukri, Vinod Mehra in Amar Prem, Anurodh, Chakravyuha and Amardeep , Shashi Kapoor in Prem Kahani and Alag Alag , Sanjeev Kumar in Aap Ki Kasam , Raajkumar in Kudrat and Dharam Aur Kanta and Amol Palekar in Aanchal. Also Khanna never had a problem in sharing space with his seniors like Ashok Kumar , Om Prakash and Pran .
      Khanna enjoyed 100% box office success ratio with Mumtaz as all the consecutive eight films of the pair were superhits. Khanna formed legendary on screen hit pairs with Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh , Mumtaz ,Hema Malini, Tina Munim , Smita Patil , Shabana Azmi and Poonam Dhillon. The maximum films(ie.15 movies) Rajesh Khanna has done is with Hema Malini and they had together ten superhits namely Andaaz, Premnagar, Bandish, Dard , Kudrat, Rajput, Hum Dono, Babu, Durga, Sitapur Ki Geeta and rest were not a success in the box office. His pairing with Tina Munim was hugely popular among the audience in the eighties with Fiffty Fiffty , Souten , Bewafai , Adhikar becoming hugely successful and Insaaf Main Karoonga being a average grosser and the critically acclaimed Alag Alag produced by Khanna himself.His pairing with Sharmila was artistically satisfying for him with Aradhana, Safar ,Chhoti Bahu , Amar Prem, Daag , Aavishkar and Tyaag as blockbusters to the credit of the pair. Poonam Dhillon was paired with Khanna in the eighties hits like Nishaan, Dard , Zamana and Awam and the unexpected box office dud Redrose. Asha Parekh had the musical hits like Baharoan Ke Sapne, Aan Milo Sajna, Kati Patand and Dharam Aur Kanoon.
      Another quality of Khanna was that he had music sense and used to sit with the music directors for selection of tunes for his films.This is the reason that all music directors gave very nice music score for his films. His best friends were R.D.Burman and Kishore Kumar and has done more than 35 films with Pancham.The three stood by eachother through eachother’s bad period in the industry.
      Rajesh Khanna has 77 golden jubilee hits and in all has 105 classics to his credit as an actor till 2010 of which 18 classic films became box office flops at the point of time of their release but has since gained a strong cult following over the years.Some of the films which are regarded as classics but were dud include the reincarnation drama Mehbooba,
      the fantasy films Bundalbaaz and Naukri, the social film like Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein and Janata Havaldar and the suspense film Chakravyuha, the unusual love stories like Aakhri Khat, Raaz , Maalik. and the Redrose whose Tamil original version saw the lead actor getting awards and becoming a blockbuster of the year and biographical story Khudai based on Guru Dutt’s life and dramas like Awara Baap and Asha Jyothi. ”

  32. Parveen Babi was so beautiful.I am very big fan of her.She was the real beauty queen of bollywood.

  33. As usual, you nailed the review Memsaab. The movie was alternately hilarious, painful to watch so lot to FF, and otherwise just begging the question why Rajesh, why?
    Yes, the kid was annoying and fake, yes, someone should have shot Rajesh’s hairstylist long ago and the guy who got him into those hats as well!
    loved Rajesh and Parveen in the hotel bed scene,and Rajesh in those dark red and green silk kurtas. I am beginning to like Ranjit now (never really thought of him as Hot but he is growing on me). It was worth a watch for me but would not recommend it for sure :)
    I am not sure if the actor who plays the annoying kid’s father who kills himself is Murad, I think that is Sapru or may be I am mistaken?

  34. shrikant,after reading what you wrote on rajesh khanna,you made my day and reaffirmed my faith in him being above all other actors..amitabh stands no way near him.what amitabh is trying to do now,rajesh khanna has done it long back.btw thanks for the new list of rajesh khanna films!

    • and FYI am only a 88 born boy and have seen films of all stars from yesteryesr till todays and contiue watching latest movies. Still i can undertsand y nad how rajesh khanna is above all other superstars and in 1970-1987 period no one is above him….all justifications u have already read , which prove what i say.

  35. Rajesh paired well with parveen babi but somehiw she did not do any other film with him. She did ashanti with kaka but she was not his pair.

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