Tumse Achha Kaun Hai (1969)

tumseachha

At a run time of almost three hours, this film is about two hours too long. This can be blamed on two things: Mehmood, and the fact that it’s crammed with every melodramatic cliche in Hindi film history. In point of fact, Mehmood should be credited as the main star of the film, with Shammi as his co-star and sidekick. Not only is entirely too much time spent on the irritating—and predictable—CSP (Shubha Khote as Mehmood’s love interest, with of course Dhumal as her father and the rather startling spectacle of Leela Mishra in a brown wig as her mother), but he figures in the main plot far more than Shammi does too. His character reminds me of the animals in Manmohan Desai films; he is smarter than all the humans combined, and loyal and true to a fault—and he is everywhere. Additionally, we are treated to all these various plot points: communal harmony, the bhai-bahen rishtaa, the rape-suicide trope, blindness, bad western-influenced girls turned into good sari-clad ones, bromantic pyare-dost, the saving of an atheist’s soul, and much, much more!

Why would anyone sit through this even once, you ask—let alone several times? Shammi, my friends, Shammi. Plus the initial sparkle of a rifle-wielding and stylish Babita, the joy of Lalita Pawar as identical twins, and Shankar-Jaikishan’s songs, which are lots of fun.

It starts out promisingly enough, too, with grandmother Sarojini Devi (Lalita Pawar) offering up compliments to penniless Ashok (Shammi Kapoor).

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Sarojini wants his help in reforming her three wayward granddaughters: Anju and Manju, who have gotten involved with unsuitable (and unsavory) men, and Asha (Babita), who hates men as a result of her mother’s disastrous marriage. Sarojini wants all three girls to marry men of her choice, so Ashok’s task is to break up Anju’s and Manju’s relationships and convince Asha that marriage is a good thing.

Initially Ashok refuses her offer of employment, but he has a blind sister Rupa (Jayanthi) at home whom he loves dearly. He blames himself for her blindness (not sure why—a childhood prank gone awry?). He receives news that she has a chance at getting her sight restored by a foreign-returned eye surgeon, but the cost of the operation is prohibitive.

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Remembering that Sarojini had offered him any amount of money he wants, Ashok goes off to tell her he’s changed his mind. On his way, he meets Mahesh (Mehmood), who is wooing Sheela (Shubha Khote). Her parents are divorced as a result of their different backgrounds, and each wants Sheela to marry a boy only of his (Maharashtrian) and her (Sindhi) community. Poor Mahesh is neither, and this is a source of great sorrow (and would-be comedy). The only good thing I can say about this tired tired tired CSP is that Leela Mishra has a very different role than her usual granny type.

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That is kind of fun, but not enough fun to make up for the fact that it goes on and on and on and on. Mahesh bonds with Ashok when Ashok tries to help him out (by singing a song about communal harmony, “Gangaa Meri Maa Ka Naam”). It turns out in the first of many, many, many coincidences in this story that Mahesh is also Sarojini Devi’s chauffeur.

He explains what Ashok is up against. Anju’s boyfriend is an erstwhile “Prince”:

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Heh. Asha, the eldest, is a real live wire. We meet her at the local police station, where she has marched a lineup of bloodied and battered “roadside Romeos” to be punished by the local inspector (Jagdish Raj).

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She claims that they all crashed into a buffalo as they ran away from her, and that’s why they are injured. Clearly frightened, they chorus their agreement. It’s very cute. Plus, I am totally enthralled by her outfit: she’s wearing what I wouldn’t even call hip-huggers—more crotch-huggers, with a wide white belt and orange sweater. Madly stylish! Ashok, peering in the station window, appears to think so too.

Sarojini Devi is glad to see him, and explains why she is opposed to love marriages. Her identical twin sister Sarita eloped years before with a very unsuitable and debauched man, and she doesn’t want to see her granddaughters in the same boat.

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Ashok gets to work quickly, aided by the loyal Mahesh—who pops up everywhere. I begin to use the FF button judiciously. Manju’s boyfriend (Manmohan) plans to blackmail her into marriage (why, when she is already in love with him, is never clear), and Anju’s faux Prince is coaxing her into helping him out financially since his assets are all tied up in an alleged court case.

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Older sister Asha doesn’t care for her siblings’ tastes much either, and is doing her best to subvert their relationships too.

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I love her “Hee Haw” braids! Her efforts in this direction put her squarely in Ashok’s path, and they become acquainted when she shoots at one of her sisters’ beaus and Ashok pretends to be hit instead. An elaborate hoax to woo her follows, and more antics and interruptions from Mehmood. My favorite part of this is the beautiful “Janam Janam Ka Saath Hai” which would probably be on the list (if I ever made one) of my favorite Shammi songs.

It’s closely followed by a night club song (“Kisko Pyar Karoon”), where Shammi gives us his trademark best, flinging himself with abandon around the room. He starts the song off by saying into a phone: “Hello my love, my dove, my pigeon, my cactus plant!” I am reminded that he said that same phrase on the day I visited him back in March as well, and it was hilarious. He didn’t say it to me, but as punctuation for a story he was telling; still, I almost fainted with delight.

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In the course of making Asha fall for him, he falls for her too, and after he rescues her sisters from their respective suitors they approve of him too. All three girls become obedient and sweet to their grandmother, and wear only Indian clothes. I think we are supposed to approve of this transformation, but it only makes me sad. I miss the crotch-huggers and go-go boots! There is another lovely song for Asha and Ashok, though—“Rangat Teri Surat”—a very sweet and romantic duet which makes me melt into a puddle (it doesn’t hurt that it’s a rain song, too).

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The CSP is still endlessly interrupting the proceedings, which does give Shammi the chance to disguise himself (as a Sindhi) and Mehmood to dress as a woman.

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The fun and games are about to come to an end, though. Sarojini has a trusted estate manager whose nephew Pran (Pran) is returning from abroad, and whom she wants Asha to marry. “Returning from abroad” in this case means being released from a long spell in prison.

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Nephew and uncle are plotting to get their hands on Sarojini’s estate—not the decent work jailer Murad is hoping for!

At the same time, Ashok and Asha are caught romancing by Sarojini (in a nod to Shammi’s Yahoo! persona, which Babita seems to enjoy hugely):

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and she is not happy at all. Ashok is too poor to marry her granddaughter! She tells Asha that she had hired him, and asks him how much money he wants in order to go away. He chooses this point in time to remember poor blind Rupa, takes the 15000 rupees from Sarojini, and departs, breaking Asha’s heart into little chhoti pieces.

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At home, Rupa makes the mistake of trusting none other than just-freed Pran to give her a ride home in a rainstorm. He tricks her into the locking the door with him still inside, and rapes her. It’s quite dreadful and very sad. Afterwards, she clearly has no option but to kill herself.

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Ashok arrives home to find her gone—and puts two and two together from the evidence he finds at the scene (discarded bottle of liquor, broken bangles, mussed-up bed). Someone tells him that Rupa was seen going towards the river, and Ashok finds the torn end of her sari caught in a branch on the shore.

Now the film descends into that over-the-top melodrama that drives me insane. Rupa has been rescued from the river and taken to a hospital. The doctor (Rehman) says that he can restore Rupa’s vision, and that the woman who rescued her wants to pay for it. The angel of mercy is…Sarojini Devi?!

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Ashok sees Sarojini elsewhere the next day, and flings the 15000 rupees back in her face. Of course, it isn’t Sarojini—the woman who has rescued Rupa, and whom Ashok has mistaken for Sarojini, is in fact her twin sister Sarita.

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She pays for Rupa’s sight to be restored, but she is no angel! When Rupa has recovered, Sarita forces her to come with her to the brothel that she and her husband (Madan Puri) operate; they plan to recoup their investment and more by forcing Rupa into a life of prostitution.

Meanwhile, Sarojini Devi has annouced Asha’s engagement to her manager’s newly “returned” nephew, Pran. Asha, crushed by Ashok’s betrayal, doesn’t put up much of a fight and agrees to marry him.

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What will happen next? There’s still an hour of melodrama and coincidences and twists and turns to come! Will Ashok discover that Rupa isn’t dead? Will she be able to escape the brothel? Will Asha marry the evil rapist Pran? Will the Comic Side Plot ever end? Why is there so much Mehmood? (My theory is that Shammi disappeared—possibly to get remarried?—in the middle of making this film.)

There are a few more goodies, chief among them Aruna Irani’s excellent cabaret number (“Aankhon Mein Aankhen”) in a nightclub resplendent with dangerously low-hanging chandeliers.

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But really there’s only one reason to watch this film at all: Shammi.

Shammi, Shammi, Shammi!

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How I adore him. Just in case you didn’t know.

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46 Comments to “Tumse Achha Kaun Hai (1969)”

  1. I love this film as my entry to craziness over Shammi!

    I love your review of this film. I could not have done better on that. I also love that you chose the exact same screen shots that made me love this film as well. Hmmm cool theory about him being away to remarry.

    Also, neat that he said those “my cactus plant…” line to you as well. I wish that he had actually said it TO you, but then we need you here in one functioning piece and not a puddle of memsaab….ha ha ha

    I would love to hear more of what story he was telling you in which this oh so lovely line would appear!

    Here is a great article on the great Shammi at a recent party apparently for all you lovers to look at:

    http://www.dnaindia.com/entertainment/slideshow_old-times-sake_1273431

    • Teesri Manzil was the film where I said: “He’s the man I love!” :-) Will have to write about it one of these days…

      And that line made me nearly keel over, it took my breath away. If only he HAD been saying it TO me (but you are right, I probably would have died from the joy). To be honest I don’t remember the context in which he said it. I was too busy trying not to faint.

      Thanks for the link with his photo. I’m always so happy to see him out and about!

  2. Saw this movie a few months ago. The story is still fresh in my mind. I had the same feeling as you – there is just too much of Mehmood, most of it unnecessary, in the movie. I think it was at the time when Mehmood was at his peak and every producer wanted to get maximum value out of casting him.

    I did not like this movie very much, except for Shammi and the songs. They are the only redeeming features of this movie.

    • I realize that my review doesn’t really illustrate the preponderance of Mehmood, because I left most of his story stuff out. But he was entirely too much (and I like Mehmood!).

      I see we are in complete agreement on the film though :-)

  3. I agree that Shammi is the real reason to watch this movie. My husband likes the rain song, but I dislike Babita, so it doesn’t get much play in the house.

    And *please* do Teesri soon! It was the first Indian movie I ever saw, the beginning of my love for Shammi, and the reason we have 800 Bollywood movies in the living room :)

    Shammi, Shammi, Shammi!

    • OMG—I have 800 Bollywood movies in the living room! Luckily I have no husband to complain, although Gemma sometimes does.

      I love the rain song too—so so so very romantic. And Babita isn’t all bad: she really had great clothes and spare hair in most of her films!

      And yes: Shammi, Shammi, Shammi. All Shammi, all the time.

  4. How funny, “Teesri Manzil” was one of the first movies I saw…at the tender age of 5…in an actual theater in India(must remember to tell the parental units how much I love them)! It’s single-handedly responsible for my love affair(the unkind would say obsession) with Hindi films and music.

    Didn’t much care for this film, but the songs are fun and Shammi, always a dream.

    • I have been called obsessed myself :-) Teesri Manzil is a much better film than this, but I felt the need to revisit this one for some reason. And Shammi is so very awesomely Shammi in it :)

  5. I saw this too long ago to remember much except that Shammi Kapoor’s character was entrusted the task of revamping the three girls… and the songs, of course, which are great fun. And Shammi Kapoor (that last screenshot is particularly good!)

    Leela Misra in that weird brown wig looks rather like Manorama, perhaps because of the hairdo.

    • I thought at first that Leela was Indira Bansal, who looks a lot like Manorama generally and is in this film somewhere, but realized halfway through that it was Leela Mishra—I think she must have had lots of fun with this, was a far cry from her usual cranky Granny (I still need to see her in a cuddly Granny role) :-)

  6. in the last frame, shammi looks good even to me!
    great review!
    lalita pawar as twins is a hit!
    watched the movie as a kid, though have forgotten many things!
    missed a screen shot of shubha khote! just love her in comedy roles!

    • I love Shubha too, and generally like her opposite Mehmood too, but there was just WAY TOO much of the CSP in this…I’ll post some photos of her from my Filmindia magazines—she is gorgeous in them :-)

  7. Wow, looking forward to Shubha fotos from Filmindia!
    Thanks a ton!

  8. I have this in my collection waiting to be watched, it was part of a six part shammi special by moserbaer

    http://www.moserbaerhomevideo.com/title-view.php?titleid=6085

    I had the very same problem that you note about an overextended Mehmood and Shuba Khote story line in Ziddi (1964) even though it could have been a decent movie the overextended comedy subplot ruined it. I love Mehmood though but too much nonsense and overlong comedy sub plots bores me

  9. Yes, this is the other thing: the Mehmood-Shubha Khote CSP is the same from film to film. So even if it weren’t way overextended, it’s still tiresome after you’ve seen it in three or four films. Dhumal is always her father, too!

  10. Lovely review as always. I knew that this movie was not as big a hit as the earlier Shammi Kapoor movies, and now I know the reason too. Mehmood is indeed good in small dose, and an overdose of Mehmood could well have contributed to this movie being a lesser success.

    This movie has good songs, and the story appears as stereotypical as any earlier Shammi Kapoor movie.

    The fact that Babita later went on to become the “bahu” of Shammi Kapoor and his brothers makes it difficult for me to accept Babita in romantic roles opposite Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor.

    • I find it hard to accept Babita as a heroine period :-) although she is always impeccably turned out! Just somehow….I don’t get it. Why her, and not Laxmi Chhaya? Or Kumari Naaz? Or Padma Khanna? I know, I know: connections :-P

  11. Lol i remember reviewing this, and you left the comment as simply SHAMMI!! which is great, because this movie is awful in the second half with all that muddle and confusion! though i actually didnt mind the mehmood side plot but then i realized it was the same plot as Love in Tokyo and other movies.

  12. LOL! Loved this review. Your bashing of the CSP reminded me that my Dad used to re-edit some films in his VHS collection removing the CSP. This was one of them and another I remember was Khilona (Mumtaz, Sanjeev Kumar). It made the movie a lot shorter and so much more watchable!

    • What a clever man!!!! What an excellent idea! Perhaps some of these DVD manufacturers could learn something from him—instead of editing out songs or climactic scenes as they like to do now, they could do away with the CSP instead!

  13. Shammi! He looks so very handsome in those caps. Still, I don’t know if I can make myself sit through the rest of the film just to admire the Shamminess.

  14. Your narration makes it sound very interesting, but I realise that is because you have edited out Mehmood (whose comedy I never could stand)! I love the songs of this film and the plot looks suitably complicated and NAHIIIIN-oriented to be a so-bad-its-good kind of film for me. If I can find a version with Mehmood edited out, I’ll definitely give it a try.

    Babita’s fashion choices may be good but her constant use of wigs (I dont think I’ve EVER seen her natural hairline) always makes me wonder if she was bald or undergoing chemotherapy!

    • I used the FF button a LOT :) That’s what it’s for!

      It’s very Nahiiiiiiin-oriented at the end, and all the watery melodramatics got on my last good nerve. But still, Shammi!

      And I have never thought about Babita’s prodigious use of wigs—most heroines at this point in time wore a lot of Spare Hair, but mostly as add-ons to their regular hair, not as substitutes for it. So you might be right!

  15. Think I will watch this for Shammi and the songs — your Shammi screen caps look fun. But from your description of the rest of the movie, don’t think I could watch the entire film (at least w/out a lot of FF-ing).

    Also, recently came across a YouTube video clip from a Shammi movie where he is singing a Beatles song in a club — and of course, he is sporting a shaggy Beatles haircut (or wig rather). What movie is this from??

    • As Atul says below, it’s from Janwar (which I reviewed here, complete with a couple of screen caps from that song ;-)…

      FF is very necessary for this, but makes it worthwhile too!

  16. This song where a beatles song “I want to hold your hand” is being copied is from “Jaanwar”.

  17. This review reminds me why *I* don’t wallow in Shammi movies – there are too many good memories associated for me to risk going back
    and painfully realizing that except for the songs they are mostly crap. :-p

  18. The big glops of masala plotting and the Mehmood overload are exhaustingly chaotic. But, as you said, the wonderful songs (I never get tired of Kis Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon) the beehive hairdo/glittery chiffon sari parade AND Pran’s wonderful sportshirts made out of silk sari fabric make it visually worthwhile. Not every film can be Teesri Manzil.

    • Pran has about three shirts made exactly like each other in different colors, all made from sarees :-) So glad you saw them too. This is so worth watching if you can FF through Mehmood and the melodrama at the end.

  19. Was indulging in a bit of You Tube browsing when I found this.

    Lalita Pawar and Leela Mishra as cuddly, romping grandmas! 8-0
    Rather cute song that made me nostalgic…the two girls are urging Lalita Pawar to hurry and find them bridegrooms.:-)

    • Awwwww, so cute! Don’t know if I could make it through the film though…and someone told me a long time ago that the Pandit sisters sang ABBA songs to great effect, which makes me wonder why we would ever need any other ABBA besides the original :-)

  20. “The Indian culture id deeply engrained in our family.” screen cap is great, and I particularly like the 4 guys hidden behind large stacks of gifts. Must see this. Great post! :)

  21. Quite a fun review as usual MS, :)
    I had watched this one quite a long time back, when it was aired on TV in India.. but i remember thinking Shammi had already started to look quite old in this one.. sadly :(

    And really.. what is it with Babita’s hairdo? :)

  22. He’s definitely older here, but still sooooooooo handsome. Yum!

    I should have asked Kareena about her mom’s hair when I met her, ha ha. Although from photos that I see of Babita now, she does have hair! Perhaps it wasn’t luxurious enough to attach all those big hairpieces to, so they just went with full-on wigs.

  23. “how i adore him. just in case you didn’t know” :) same here! thanks for the review.
    anja

  24. Hi Memsaab. This is my debut comment on one of your film reviews separately. I was able to collect and view this movie very recently. I completely agree with you that this movie is high melodrama, specially the “saving of the atheist’s soul” bit. I also agree that it is more Mehmood than Shammi in the film, acting as the lover,devoted servant,Marathi woman and then a mystery solver. All the same, his comic capers drove me crazy, specially the scene before the “JANAM JANAM KA PYAAR” song. The songs were also superb.
    In the film, Babeeta has been described as the most pretty of the three chicks in the house, but I completely disagree; in her Western costume, she looked like a rag doll who had been given a crash course to pout and stare, and call it “acting.” She looked much better in a saree. Also I think the hottest of the trio is the youngest one, Anju, who I think also acted in the film “BHOOT BUNGLA” as Tanuja’s friend. I would like to know her name.
    Shammi’s sister in this movie lost her eyesight when he had pushed her down the steps(reminds me of a similar mishap in BUDTAMEEZ) in their childhood. I think Manmohan’s plan was to extact money from the grandmother(Lalita) for the obscene photos of Manju.

    • I don’t know who played Anju and Manju…would have to look at it again to see them properly, I might recognize them now. I did love Babita’s western outfits in this, but I’m always in favor of a saree :)

  25. Memsaab, i have just started reading ur reviews, entertaining. I saw this movies few years back. One of babita”s sister played by snehalata, remember she was rajesh khanna”s girl friend in khamoshi singing all time hit song ‘humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehakti khushboo’. Now where is she? If anyone tell me.

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