From the DVD cover: “the saga of an Indian woman…who helps her parents before marriage, and gives her all to her husband after marriage.” I should have run screaming, right? Especially since said Indian woman is also blind (and played by Nutan)? But Mumtaz, Laxmi Chhaya and the young Sanjeev Kumar are also in the cast so I decided to take a chance. Alas! it is every bit as bad as the DVD cover promised. I had to turn the whole thing into a drinking game: Greedy manipulative father figure lies to his “sons”? Drink! Blind woman weeps helplessly at her fate? Drink! Son sacrifices his own happiness (and that of his beloved) for no good reason? Drink! Blind woman gets sight back and devotes self to fake husband who spurns her? Drink!
Drink! Drink!! Driiink!!!!
Wealthy Ram Prasad (Shivraj) lives in Banaras with his lovely but blind daughter Gauri (Nutan). He is desperate to get her married off.
To that end, he has engaged a marriage broker, but that pandit is having no luck. Nobody wants a blind woman of course, not even one as rich and beautiful as Gauri. That is, until the broker meets greedy Maniram (Om Prakash) in Agra, who is trying to get his own daughter Dhanwanti (Laxmi Chhaya) married. Maniram loves nothing as much as he loves money.
He has a nephew Sanjiv (Sanjeev Kumar) about to take his college exams. Sanjiv’s roommate and best friend is Sunil (Sunil Dutt). When Maniram refuses to pay Sanjiv’s exam fees, Sunil steps in to help out.
Sunil himself is in love with one of his classmates, the lovely Geeta (Mumtaz). Both Sunil’s mother (Leela Misra) and Geeta’s father live in Shimla, and unbeknownst to the happy couple are conspiring to arrange their marriage (they don’t know that Geeta and Sunil are already acquainted and singing songs all over the countryside).
When Sunil comes home after graduating, his mother (one bright spot in all this is that Leela Mishra isn’t a shrill harridan here!) tries to show him Geeta’s photo; but he refuses to look at it and tells her he’s already found his bride. She sends the photo with regrets back to Geeta’s father, who decides to take himself and his daughter off to Banaras, refusing to listen when Geeta pleads with him to at least meet the man that she loves.
When Sunil and his mother discover that they have been talking about the same girl, he hastens off to Banaras himself in pursuit.
But Sanjiv is not in Agra anymore. His greedy uncle Maniram has convinced him to marry Gauri by saying that the dowry he gets will enable him to get Dhanwanti married too—and he has also neglected to inform Sanjiv that she is blind.
He also tears up and throws away Sanjiv’s letter to Sunil inviting him for the wedding (I am never clear on why he doesn’t want Sunil there). They go to Banaras and Sanjiv and Gauri are married. At the end of the wedding ceremony Sanjiv discovers finally that his new wife is blind.
I fall off my chair laughing (and I’m not even drunk yet). The horror! The blue eyes! Sanjiv storms off after an argument with Maniram—Gauri’s fortune doesn’t matter to him as much as it does to his uncle. Sunil arrives the next morning in search of Geeta and bumps into Maniram at the train station. The selfish old man prevails on him for help.
At Gauri’s house, it’s a Very Sad Day. Her father is sad:
and Gauri is even sadder:
Soft-hearted Sunil is no match for these tragic pronouncements, and he agrees to go off in search of the bridegroom. He finds Sanjiv at the house of one of their college friends, and convinces him to do the right thing by Gauri. (Oh, lucky Gauri!)
Meanwhile, Gauri’s best friend Basanti (Urmila Bhatt) is outraged by Sanjiv’s behavior and says so. I am momentarily heartened by this, but then Gauri slaps her.
Aaargh! (Drink!) If I were Basanti, I might be tempted to slap Gauri back, to see if I could wake her up a little, but no.
Double aaargggghhhh! (Drink!)
I have never in my life been so happy to be interrupted by the Comic Side Plot, this time in the form of Maniram’s accountant Radheshyam (Rajendranath) and pretty Dhanwanti (although in a Criminal Waste of Laxmi, there is no song and dance for her).
Back at Gauri’s, an eye specialist has promised that he can restore Gauri’s sight; and after she receives a letter saying that Sanjiv will be coming back she agrees to have the surgery.
Geeta’s father (remember Geeta?—they are also still in Banaras) finally agrees that Geeta can get married to Sunil, and she writes him a letter.
Sanjiv and Sunil prepare to return to Banaras but decide go on a little hunting trip first. Oh no! Sanjiv falls into a waterfall gorge while being chased by an enraged elephant (yes, really).
This is so awesome that I penalize myself a few melodramatic scenes before I can have another drink. They aren’t long in coming. Sunil watches in horror as the rushing water takes his friend’s body away. When he returns to Banaras and tells Maniram and Ram Prasad what has happened, Ram Prasad dies of a heart attack. Gauri, still recovering from her surgery, is distraught on hearing the news of her father’s death.
Maniram uses this sage medical advice to persuade a very reluctant Sunil to take Sanjiv’s place as Gauri’s husband (he still has his eyes on her fortune). He uses guilt and fear too:
Gauri’s surgery is a success! Her eyes are the proper brown:
and the first thing she sees (as per her wish) are “Sanjiv’s” feet! She goes home to a husband who wants nothing to do with her and is gobbling up all the scenery in sight. Will her purity and goodness prevail? What about poor Geeta, still looking for her Sunil? Is there enough alcohol in the world to get me through this?
Truthfully, even without the drinking game I might have made it. It is so over-the-top ridiculous in every cliched way imaginable that it becomes hilarious. Bad acting, hackneyed dialogues, melodrama piled upon tragedy piled upon melodrama.
Okay, actually I think the drinks did help.
Edited to add a warning label, courtesy of Beth. Thanks Beth!