Main Sunder Hoon (1971)

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Pointless plot provides framework for awesome songs and cute star cameos: that pretty much sums this film up. It is a Mehmood vehicle, and although Mehmood does his best—and provides some funny moments—the fabulously picturized Shankar Jaikishan songs, peppered by short appearances by stars like Waheeda Rehman and Rajendranath in a “behind-the-scenes” look at movie-making, are what made it worth sitting through. I got this film on the strength of one of its songs which Richard over at Dances On The Footpath had posted. I defy anyone to watch it and then NOT spend the rest of the day bursting forth with “Naach meri jaan—fa-taa-fat!”

It was not the only good song, though, by any means. We are introduced to our saucy heroine Radha (Leena Chandavarkar) through a lively song (“Tujhe Dil Ki Baat”) with her college mates at a temple. The choreography makes excellent use of the lovely setting!

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Radha takes a liking to the simple, sweet rabbity-faced waiter who arrives with the food truck.

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His name is Sunder, and his unfortunate buck-teeth have burdened him with a feeling that he is ugly. He mistakes Radha’s kindness for love despite their obvious differences in class and appearance.

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Sunder lives with his beloved Ma (Sulochana) and works hard to scrape together a living as a waiter at the Hotel Rasraj, where his ability to make people laugh outshines his less stellar abilities as a waiter. His boss is Ramswarup (David)—and he is also Radha’s father, as Sunder discovers when she comes into the restaurant one day.

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Ramswarup has just opened a new hotel and sends Sunder to work there. Time for a lavishly mounted Folies-Bergere style production number, complete with Can-Can music.

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Sunder sees a childhood friend there with a big film producer, and scurries away when his friend spots him too. The friend, Amar (Biswajeet), calls him to his hotel room afterwards and they are reunited in one of those romantic bhai-bhai-dost-dost scenes that Hindi film men indulge in. Amar is hurt that Sunder avoided him in the restaurant.

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Meanwhile, Radha’s father has shown Amar’s photo to Radha as a prospective groom—she is very pleased (she’s met him already once when he rescued her from some roadside romeos). Off she goes into a song fantasy (“Do Mastane Do Deewane“) which is quite simply F*A*B*U*L*O*U*S*… 

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Cupids! Cleopatra! Supernovas! Mermaids! A scary swan! Butterfly cherubs! It really doesn’t get any better than this (until we get to “Naach Meri Jaan”).

Sunder confides in Amar that he’s in love with a very pretty girl and is afraid he is too ugly for her.

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It’s not long before Amar discovers that Sunder’s lady-love is none other than his own fiancee Radha. He decides to help Sunder by introducing him to some of his producer friends in the hopes that a film career will give Sundar a better life and he’ll forget about Radha. Of course first he does his best to be self-sacrificing.

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What a moron! Thankfully Radha has the good sense to put the kibosh on that idea, although Amar does manage to convince her to keep quiet about their relationship so as not to undermine Sunder’s self-confidence.

Sunder’s audition with the film producers is pretty funny. He imitates Raj Kapoor, then Shammi, then Rafi, Pradeep and KC Dey in quick order. He is signed up and given a makeover at the dentist’s. In no time at all, he’s a big star. The fun of watching his progress is in the guest stars roped in to play filmi people. Rajendranath “directs” Sunder’s first film opposite Aruna Irani.

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There’s a funny scene where Sunder does stunts on “horseback”:

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and a rain-soaked scene with Waheeda Rehman (Nasir Hussain “directs” this one):

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And then, the film’s raison d’etre: “Naach Meri Jaan” featuring Jaikishan directing the orchestra, Kishore singing, and Jayshree T dancing up a storm with Mehmood. Just go and see it, now!

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Despite his roaring success, though, Sunder does not forget his love for Radha—he remains determined to become worthy of her. But she and Amar are still carrying on their romance and are engaged to each other. What will happen when Sunder finally proposes to her?

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Leena Chandavarkar is her usual feisty and pretty self, Biswajeet is his usual limp dishrag self (and he still looks like Peewee Herman, although this time with a pinch of Deven Verma), and Mehmood—who dominates the film—is often funny and occasionally irritating. There are several preachy messages thrown out randomly like second thoughts: study hard, be kind to orphans, don’t have more than two kids (a family-planning pamphlet is given some good air time). If you want to know why I called the story pointless and don’t mind finding out how it ends, read on.

Warning: Spoilers here! For most of the first hour the point driven home is that Sunder should feel worthwhile no matter what he looks like. But then he ends up getting dental surgery and a makeover in order to succeed. So…do looks matter or not? Sunder also stays true to himself and to his loved ones despite his success, which is clearly the right thing to do—but he ends up alone (no Radha, and Ma dies too, in a senseless accident). I was left with nothing except a sense of WTF?! Pointless! End spoilers.

The film is certainly worth watching for the song picturizations alone (they will be stuck in your head, though, so beware). I liked all of them, and the self-referential look behind the scenes of the film world is oodles of fun too.

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Just don’t worry about the story, and if you can find a DVD made by someone other than T Series, get that one. The picture quality on my T Series DVD is awful.

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29 Comments to “Main Sunder Hoon (1971)”

  1. MEHMOOOOOODDDD! He’s doing impressions of ppl which means i gotta find this movie, he was spot on as Raj Kapoor in Love In Tokyo, so i can’t wait to see his take on Shammi! This looks so cute and inoffensive, and gawsh i just love the title, it makes me have a dil-squish and want to get it tatooed on my arm!

  2. Well, it’s a very short imitation sequence…but honestly, the songs are enough to make the price of the DVD worth it.

  3. Hi Memsaab

    This once again is a hindi re-make of a hit old tamil movie “Server Sundaram” where the famous tamil comedian Nagesh (who unfortunately passed away recently). The tamil movie apparently had a lot of punchy funny dialogues (based on hear say from friends coz i haven’t seen the original).

    This hindi version is indeed famous for its songs.

    LOL at “limp dishrag self” – what an apt description. I could never get how Biswajeet was so popular then.

    Also, the screen cap “Good looks are really not necessary for the male” speaks oodles of the pressure on us Indian women in the social stakes ie the bride to be always has to be pretty (substitute fair) while the guy can be ugly and get away. And get away they do! Hope this does not trigger a warfare on ur blog!

  4. I think the “good looks…for the male” thing is universal across cultures!!! :) I will maybe look for the tamil version, although as I said the plot is not what I liked about this—the songs are.

  5. I saw this years ago when I was a kid, and Naach meri jaan is one of the few things that I still remember – it was just so absolutely delightful! And yes, that song with Biswajeet, Leena Chandavarkar and the fake swan… I’ll reserve my comments on that.

    Somehow I haven’t managed to summon up an enthusiasm for any of the films that had Mehmood in a lead role: Ginny aur Johnny, Kunwara Baap, Sadhu aur Shaitan… his earlier films, like Qaidi No. 911 (or better still, Bhoot Bangla) are more fun, I think.

  6. I love, love, love that song! You are right, no one can hear it, and then not have it tormenting your brain for the rest of the day. Don’t care much for Mehmood in lead roles though. I think he’s a fantastic actor, but as a director/ lead, he does tend to get preachy and irritating, as you say.

  7. Thanks for the reference, Memsaab. I had a feeling the movie couldn’t be as good as the song. :)

    Re. the comment from Anonymous, interesting that this is a remake of a film with Nagesh. Yes, I also heard about Nagesh’s unfortunate death, only about ten days ago. (I had seen him in a few films, with MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini…)

  8. A male make-over in the 70s. Mehmood was clearly way ahead of his times! lol As a kid, I thought Mehmood looked vastly improved after his make-over but looking at the videos now, it seems like he just removed a couple of chiclets stuck to his front teeth! Interestingly enough, I remember most things from the movie (especially Mitthu miyaan aaj main and Mujhko thand lag rahi) and all the story but had totally forgotten about Naach meri jaan until Richard’s post reminded me of it.

    I’m not a big fan of Mehmood in lead either, but there is one of his B/W movies that I rather liked as a kid – Shabnam – which was an Arabian Nights-ish swashbuckler and had some awesome songs.

  9. thanks for reminding me of this movie.

    Just like many other movies, I saw this one on Doordarshan as I was 14 or so and was totally confused as to the message of it.
    Most probaly the DD censors deleted the song: nacch meri jaan, cos’ I can’t remember it, though I loved it, everytime they played it on the radio. Thus never associated it with the film.
    Maybe the reason behind the deletion was Jayshree T’s Hawaii costume.
    Luv KK’S Hawaii shirt, he could carry it!

    A request: Please, please, please, please a Waheeda Rehman screen cap!

    The only song I remember well is “mujhe thand lag rahi hai” and needed years to know what it meant.

  10. dustedoff: I have avoided Mehmood-starrers thus far, because I find that a little of him goes a long way. He was okay in this, but needed someone a bit stronger to balance him out than Biswajeet :)

    Banno: Gemma is fleeing now when she sees me coming because she knows I’m going to shout “Fataafat!” at her, ha ha.

    Richard S.: Thank YOU for cluing me in on the fabulousness of the songs! I know nothing of Nagesh—my knowledge of South Indian cinema is thus far very very limited.

    bollyviewer: LOL@chiclets! That is probably exactly what they did. I just got Shabnam a few days ago and am looking forward to it :)

    harvey: Waheeda is in the screen cap with the “who asked you…” subtitle, but I’ll see if I can get a better one from before she got soaked.

  11. Oh my goodness, FABULOUS is definitely the word for that picturization. Sooo beautiful. I wonder if I can find the songs on youtube and spare my fast-forward button the usage.

  12. Well, I have put links to youtube for two of the songs…probably the others are there too :)

  13. Is Shabnam the one with a song featuring snakes and clowns and a marching band?

    Othwerwise this looks like great fun to watch. I think I will need a bigger piece of paper for all the movies I want to see.

  14. I believe there is a marching band, if its dvd cover is to be believed (which is not always true) :-)

  15. I was thinking of this one, but I may be completly wrong (wouldn’t be the first time)

  16. Ah, no, the one we (or at least I) are talking about is from the 60s and stars Mehmood, Helen, Jeevan and Sheikh Mukhtar. My expectations are somewhat lower for it than they might be for a 40s Dilip Kumar film :)

  17. Oh, I see. Sorry, my brain is not fully functional at the moment. The 40s one is definetly on my list, too. And I think I saw Jeevan in there as well, but I may be starting to see Jeevan everywhere.

  18. Would be nice if u get one screen cap of Waheeda. if not it is okay as well. Could hardly recognise her here. She looks so young.
    *and a rain-soaked scene with Waheeda Rehman (Nasir Hussain “directs” this one):*
    Which Nasir Husain? the actor or the director?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could detect Jaikishan only listening to the sound. The person, who is conducting the orcchestra seems to be somebody else. At times he looks like hankar (when the person in the film looks bald).
    I’m not so a good observer. Please check.

    BTW, do you think Biswajeet is wearing a wig?

  19. Nasir Hussain the actor plays the director :) Confusing! And I read someplace that it was Jaikishan directing the orchestra but I wouldn’t recognize him if I fell in his lap.

    Biswajeet appeared to have his own hair, but he had sprayed it in the front up into a 1950s pompadour for some reason.

  20. The ‘Do Mastane Do Deewane’ video looks a bit like one of the videos from the Tamil film Anbe Vaa (1966).

  21. hi memsaab!

    Under:

    http://www.punelifestyle.com/shanker_jaikishan_rhapsody_in_rhythm.htm

    you’ll find a pic of Shankar-Jaikishan.
    The right one is Jaikishan.

    Biswajeet kinda looked cute in the early 60’s till he tried to do a Shammi Kapoor.

  22. We also bought this movie on the strength of Naach meri jaan…but we haven’t watched it yet. Seems like we’ll have to watch it soon!

    (I actually liked Biswajeet in Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi – blush…)

  23. Nothing to blush about! I didn’t really like Yeh Raat…but different strokes for different folks as they say :) It makes life so much more interesting! (plus, I kind of love Biswajeet because I can make fun of him)…

  24. Poor, poor Biswajeet. EVERYONE makes fun of him. It was the same years back when we watched his movies on DD. His white leather shoes, his ‘puffed’ hair , his softy looks and complexion. Yet we all watched his movies.

    Was it only for his songs….. I am not sure….. I think we just kind of felt sorry for him!

    And “THAT’made him such a huge star ??

    In the meantime please watch him in this catchy number (Kamar Patli Nazar Bijli) http:\\ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI6zILqF8pk
    You may want to kill him but Helen more than makes up for everything.

  25. Yes, perhaps his was a “pity stardom” more than anything ;-)

    Great song! I’ve been looking for Kahin Din Kahin Raat for a long time now and can’t find it :( *sad*

  26. “Mujhko thand lag rahi hai” was the song that was very popular. In fact, most songs of this movies were aof the “naughty” variety, including “aaj main jawaan ho gayi hoon” etc.

  27. Maybe that’s why I like them so much, ha ha :-)

  28. “Mujhko thand lag rahi hai”
    Naach Meri Jaan
    Do mastane do diwane
    all kishore asha duets from this film were very popular
    Mehmood was in a great form such that in late 60’s as both dilip and raj kapoor had reached a stage where people eactly werent in awe of their films as a hero.
    mehmood was a bankable actor.
    beginning with bhoot bangla,pyar kiye jaa,do phool,main sunder hoon,waaris,lakon me ek,padosan,bomaby top goa,humjoli,kuwara baap —-till ginny aur jhonny he was in great form ie 1964-1976

  29. Filmindia is correct . The filmmakers AVM would have used the same horse carriage set for this song scene.

    Biswajit & Leena Chandawarkar look so cute, so much made for each other & appealing -Shanker Jaikishen’s music is so fantastic and evergreen.

    But the biggest drawback is Mehmood himself. He couldn’t hold a candle to the original Nagesh of the Tamil version. By comparison he looks as he is forced to look comical whereas to Nagesh comedy flows naturally in any scene.

    By the way all Hindi remakes of Tamil/Telugu movies look jaded,faded, out dated, out of place & artificial – as if they were just produced to get more money from the all India market by the South producers. The original Tamil versions are evolved around local plots and culture, local sentiments & values and local charisma, etc (Eq, Sivaji, M.G.R., Nagesh,Rajnikant, etc)

    If it is Hindi I prefer to watch something from a North producer.

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