This little gem of a film has been sitting on a shelf for several years now and I have no idea why I never watched it. I think I bought it because I was obsessed with Helen and she is supposedly in it: not only does the DVD cover credit her, but so do the actual credits inside the film, plus it was directed by her…um…significant other, PN Arora. But—she is nowhere to be seen. Strange. And, for me, sad.
Nevertheless, I should have paid it more attention. A key ingredient in liking a film for me is liking most of the people in it. This one does a superb job of drawing the viewer into the families and relationships of the main romantic pair. This is largely due to the well-written story and a great cast: a young and handsome Rajendra Kumar, the beauteous Shyama and Chitra, and the able support of Balraj Sahni, Manorama, Anwar Hussain and HelenSN Banerjee. Also the music by Madan Mohan (and the way the songs are shot) is just gorgeous! It’s a very engaging film with a reasonably exciting and suspenseful resolution.
Law about-to-be-graduate Harish (Rajendra Kumar) meets wealthy Usha (Shyama) when their canoes crash into each other on a school outing. He is instantly smitten, but she smacks him down and flounces off in true heroine style. Usha lives with her nasty stepmother Ichchapuran Devi (Manorama) and her sweet but hen-pecked father (SN Banerjee). He has committed that worn-out folly of marrying a much younger woman (and not for her looks, either). She clearly married him for the house and its decor! but is doing a good job of making them both miserable.
Harish lives much more happily with his sister Geeta (Chitra) and his father Radhe Mohan (Balraj Sahni). Radhe Mohan is the titular “khazanchi” (treasurer) at the Northern India Bank. He is renowned for his upright and honest character, and one fine day the bank honors him for it.
So sweet! He promises Harish that when he passes his law exams the watch will be his, a reminder of his father.
They have found a suitable groom for Geeta, although she misunderstands at first and thinks it’s Harish who is getting married.
Once the misunderstanding is cleared up though, she is very happy with their choice. I loved Chitra in this—she was lively and gorgeous (if not very politically correct), and I want to see more of her.
Meanwhile we are introduced to Ichchapuran’s nephew Loku (Anwar Hussain). He is a good-for-nothing guy who spends his time with a local tawaif (HelenMinoo Mumtaz) and finances his vices in various reprehensible ways. He would like nothing more than to get himself married off to Usha and her inheritance—but she keeps giving him the smackdown too.
Through various coincidences, Harish and Usha keep meeting each other and finally—after he saves her father from what would have been a fatal accident—she falls in love with him over tea and her father’s pointed hints. He heartily approves of her choice and despite constant haranguing from his wife refuses to get her engaged to Loku.
But of course this cozy happiness cannot—WILL not—last. Radhe Mohan is asked to take a 95000 Rs bank cheque to Bombay where he will cash it and pay a “party” with it. Usha mentions this in passing to her father and is overheard by Loku.
On the Frontier Mail train, a woman named Roma (HelenShammi) befriends Radhe Mohan.
She recommends a hotel in Bombay to him; she is staying there herself. She is also in cahoots with the hotel’s owner (Rajan Haksar) and they trick Radhe Mohan out of the 95000 Rs. Here the DVD seems to be missing a scene (maybe the mysteriously absent Helen was in it) or two, but the next morning headlines are blaring about Roma’s murder and Radhe Mohan’s suicide. He is not dead, however, but running around with a crazy nahiiiin! face.
He decides to let his children think he is dead rather than bring disgrace on their heads. Of course as best intentions often do, his go awry. Geeta’s would-be in-laws reject her (causing her to fall ill) and Usha’s father finally agrees to get her engaged to Loku instead of Harish, breaking her heart (and his).
How I love Indian fatalism! It also reminds me of this, from deep thinker Jack Handey:
If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”
What will happen next? Will Radhe Mohan wander as a nameless beggar forever? Who is behind his misfortune? Will Geeta and Harish ever discover that their father isn’t dead? Can any of this turn out happily? And where on earth is Helen?
Watch Khazanchi to find out the answers to (most of) these questions. It’s a good solid drama with great songs, sweet romance and people you can really root for. Although it does go a bit off the rails into melodrama towards the end, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. And wouldn’t this be an excellent way to stop crime forever?