Mohabbat Zindagi Hai (1966)

mohabbatzindagihai

Garam Dharam in shorts! Mehmood in a loin cloth (and a skimpy one at that)! A feisty heroine who doesn’t want to get married! What’s not to love? (Okay, besides for Mehmood in a skimpy loin cloth. Nobody needs to see that.)

This is “Taming of the Shrew” with retro charm, pretty people, and lovely songs by OP Nayyar. I liked it especially for the heroine who sticks up for herself, although of course societal norms win at the end: all girls really want to get married, even if they don’t know it. What else is there for them? But she puts up a good fight, and the chemistry between Rajshree and Dharmendra is sweet if not crackling. Able support from a host of reliable character actors, and a gang of college students twisting away just add to the fun.

Neeta (Rajshree, and she’s gorgeous in this) is the daughter of the owner of a coal mine named RN Sharma (Badri Prasad). Sharma and Neeta have a combative relationship at best.

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His lawyer and close friend Sinha (Nazir Hussain) is the father that Sharma has never been to Neeta, since her mother died giving birth to her. I think that last point is supposed to be a surprise when it’s finally revealed, but anybody who has ever watched a movie can figure it out immediately, so I’m not counting it as a spoiler of any kind.

Neeta surrounds herself with friends and lavishes her Daddy’s money on picnics and parties with them. After she leaves one such picnic in a bit of a huff, she meets Amar (Dharmendra) in the forest. He is instantly smitten by her beauty and romances her with a cute song “Tumhari Mulaqat Se” (it’s especially cute when he carries her little handbag for her).

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And he has great legs! Sorry, I know this is just gratuitous but I’m not used to seeing such scantily clad men in films! Although Dharmendra obliges us more often than most, it’s true.

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Despite all this, she is patently unimpressed. We find out why when her father asks her if she’s considered a question he had put to her earlier.

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I guess growing up with a man who has never gotten over the death of his wife and has made your life miserable as a result would sour you on the whole institution. She is adamant, to her father’s disgust. Her friends have come with her to tour the mine, and she takes them down below ground. It turns out that Amar the handsome singing forest guy is a supervisor in her father’s mine, and he’s pleased to see her again (he rescues her when she wanders a bit too close to a blasting site—so very Mills & Boon!).

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Neeta tells Sinha that Amar saved her life (she overstates it just a wee bit) and Sinha calls him into his office to give him a reward—which Amar refuses.

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Sinha is impressed!

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Ha! Nothing is better than his looks, Mr. Sinha. Nothing.

The CSP gets truly underway at this point. There is still Entirely Too Much of Mehmood, in more ways than one:

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but Chand Usmani is paired with him, and a cute little child actor named “Sweety Dutt” is part of it too. It’s a little different from the usual run-of-the-mill CSP, and more bearable than most. Enough said!

Neeta’s birthday is coinciding with Diwali (mine does too sometimes!) and she throws a big party, to which she has invited Sinha but not her father. Sinha needles Sharma about this a bit. Sharma is not healthy—he clutches at his heart and calls for a whiskey and soda, and lights up a cigarette. His doctor (Anand Saroop Kumar, the co-producer, with his brother, of the film) arrives to give him one of those magical Hindi film injections, but actually admits that it’s not likely to do much good.

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Sharma decides that he will accompany Sinha to Neeta’s birthday party, which is in full swing at home. She is amazed to see him, and there is a sweet scene of reconciliation and forgiveness (she hand-feeds him cake) before the two men retire to a quieter room to talk.

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Alas! It is also the last. As Neeta’s party rages on in splendid shimmy-and-shake fashion (seriously, it rages) with streamers and balloons everywhere!:

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Sharma has a final and fatal heart attack and dies, clutching a photograph of Neeta’s mother.

Unfortunately, he continues to torment poor Neeta through his will (well, to be fair, probably only Neeta and I see it that way): he has stipulated that unless she marries within three months of his death, she will not inherit his wealth. Sinha tries to point out that her father has done her a favor, but I’m with her on this one!

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Sinha pretends to be sympathetic, and calms her by saying he will try to find a legal loophole although he has no intention of doing so. Although Sinha loves her like a daughter and wants to do right by her, he believes that she can only be happy if she’s married. Of course, in 1966 almost everyone in the world thought that way; it doesn’t upset me as a plot point, but it does make me reflect on how different my life might have been had I been born twenty years earlier!

Neeta, thinking he will help her, lets the weeks go by until there are only a few days to go before she either has to be married or lose her fortune. Sinha returns from his coincidental three-month “business trip” to tell her that she has no choice: she either has to marry, or get used to poverty. Frantic, she says that she will marry any “Prince, Romeo or Victor” and then get a divorce. Sinha’s son Vicky (Deven Verma)—who is like a brother to her—points out that not only is she very rich, but also very pretty.

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In the meantime, there has been a murder at the coal mine over a dispute about money. Poor Amar, in the wrong place at the wrong time (and in a country where police investigations are apparently lame at best), has been arrested and convicted for the killing and is sentenced to hang. Neeta arrives at the office of another mining company lawyer soon after he has met with some of of Amar’s co-workers about the case. When she begs him for his help with her father’s will, he has a brilliant idea: marry a death-row inmate!

Amar is predictably a bit scornful at first.

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But he agrees to marry her on the condition that they give a large sum of money to the murder victim’s now-destitute widow and tell her that he is innocent. Neeta and Amar get married (those same incompetent policemen let him—a death row prisoner—out of jail for the day so that he can go to the registrar’s office with her) and Neeta triumphantly delivers her marriage certificate to Sinha. He is pleased until Vicky informs him that she has married someone on death row; when Vicky shows him the newspaper photo of Amar, he is stunned.

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Remembering Amar’s refusal to take payment for saving Neeta in the mine, Sinha does in about two seconds what the police were unable or unwilling to do: he finds the real culprit.

When Sinha phones Neeta to tell her that the inheritance is all hers, she celebrates with another picnic and a great song, “Mehfil Mein Dilwalon”—I love it. There is even Twisting up in the trees (and the really skinny guy to the right of center looks suspiciously like my pal Pompadour Man)!

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When she gets home from this outdoor extravaganza, she is shocked—and not at all pleased—to find her new husband there waiting for her. Amar says that it was their love that set him free, and she points out that she doesn’t love him.

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This strikes me as a little hypocritical coming from Dharmendra, and she is no more impressed than I. She throws his love back in his face and him out of her house, but he meets Sinha on his way out. Sinha tells him through a flashback—and a doll—about Neeta’s lifelong neglect at the hands of her grieving father, who found refuge only in alcohol and ignored her completely. Thus was the little girl forced to suppress her natural need for love.

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This must have totally tugged at the heartstrings of an audience back then (well, even now too; I myself feel a little faklempt by the end of the sad tale). Sinha begs Amar not to give up on Neeta.

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Teach her, Amar! TEACH HER!!!

Can this simple son of the soil transform the life of a poor little rich girl? Will she discover that love is more powerful than wealth? Will others more interested in her fortune sabotage their marriage? Will Amar start wearing long pants now that he’s wealthy? Yes, yes, and yes (and no)!

Sometimes the dialogues towards the end, at least as subtitled, were a little regressive for my liking (even given the time period)—but that may have been the fault of the translation and not the actual lines. For some reason I got that feeling, although maybe it was just wishful thinking. Earlier it was a very “independent woman” friendly film, despite the romance novel plot. I also have to mention one more song which has long been a favorite: “Na Jaane Kyun.”

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*Sigh* If you are a sucker for romance like me (not marriage, but romance!) you might really enjoy Mohabbat Zindagi Hai. As I said, Dharmendra and Rajshree are gorgeous, and there is a lot more of Mehmood in a loincloth if that floats your particular boat (anyone?)!

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Ha! There seems to be a lot of that going around!

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64 Comments to “Mohabbat Zindagi Hai (1966)”

  1. LOL@ your screencap of Dharmendra’s legs! you’re so cute!! lolz

    ((okay, now let me go back & finish reading the review! XD)

    • haha, the heroine’s dad praising the hero’s looks?? mehmood’s loin clothes?? this movie is full of goodies!!! XD (still not done with reading the review :P)

    • aww@ Neeta’s “this is the first birthday party you’ve attended” to Dad.

      agree with you & Neeta about wealth vs “freedom” (marriage needn’t be a confinement, but at least give that girl a choice to make her OWN decision on it!!!)

      THAT’S DEVEN VARMA?? he looks so different!!

      lolz @ “..those same incompetent policemen let him—a death row prisoner—out of jail for the day so that he can go to the registrar’s office with her”

      & @ “Sinha does in about two seconds what the police were unable or unwilling to do: he finds the real culprit.”

      hummmmmmm… well, no “self-respecting” woman could supress her “natural need of love” without a *good* reason!! :S

      (& no, no more loincloths please!)

      And that’s the end of my realtime commentary!! :P Thanks for the review, Memsaab, I had fun!! ;-D

    • All you need to do now Ranya is watch the film! I think you will like it :-D

  2. Not sure if Mehmood’s loincloth would meet the Health & Safety regulations for coal miners …, or could it be the wardrobe budget ran out ?

    :-)

  3. Now this was a feminist post… we have plenty of manbeefcake visuals and a spirited female protagonist! Whats not to like! Made my diwali lights burn brighter!

  4. My goodness on those loincloths! Love the screen caps, and thanks for including the one of the streamers/chandelier/balloons as well as the one of the doll. Have to see this one.

    • The chandelier with balloons shot is specifically for you, sitaji! I was going to notify you that it was there, but you’ve beaten me to it :)

      • :)
        The next thing I need to track are large birthday cakes and the singing of “Happy buuhrday to you, Happy buuhrday to you,” since Bollywood seems to have many birthday parties and cakes in their films, I estimate 34% of all their films. Hindustan loves their functions, so of course the birthday function featured is no surprise.

  5. She really says she will marry any “Prince, Romeo or Victor”? LOL This sounds like good fun, and anything with Dharam in shorts is well worth a dekho in my book…

    • I think she actually said “Prem, Romeo or Victor” but for some odd reason the subtitler decided to change Prem to Prince. Yes, DG you need to see this. Dharmendra at his dreamiest :)

  6. I really miss movies of this sort. Sigh.

    • Well, there are lots of them if you just watch films from the 60s :) although a lot of them aren’t this good. But I know what you mean. Just a simple fun story, done well.

  7. Wonderful, and thanks as always. The plot sounds very similar to an early hollywood talkie, Dynamite (1929) directed by Cecil B Demille.Coal mine, marriage to a death row inmate to fufill the demands of a will etc.

  8. This is quite a coincidence – I’d seen this film just before I left on my book tour, and thought I’d review it once I got back…. but maybe I’ll move it lower down my list now! I liked the Rajshree-Dharmendra jodi but Mehmood really got my goat in this one.

    • Mehmood was irritatingly Mehmood-like (although strangely compelling in his loincloth, kind of like a car crash is compelling). But I liked that the CSP was a bit different, and it was nice to see Chand Usmani :)

  9. Haven’t read your review yet but I WISH I could get this movie. I’ve heard all the songs and love the lead pair.

  10. Wow, never heard of this film before!
    great visuals except Mehmood!
    I think Mehmood started the trend of shedding clothes before Salman did. And I think he must be holding the record for the maximum roles with crossdressing!
    I can remeber reading in a film magazine sometime in the 80s, where Biswajeet or somebody else was narrating how Mehmood was disturbing a love scene between the hero and the heroine by always mooning on them. Crazy, what?

  11. I love pretty Rajshree (from her dancing and prancing clips on youtube) and I love Dharam garam. So looks like I will have to see this one. I didn’t even know Dharam was around before Rajshree retired from filmdom.

    As for the much discussed loin cloth, it’s actually a diaper. Mehmood is a comedian after all.

  12. Sigh, Dharmendra in his movie star mode before the drink got to his face was such a scrumptious scrumpty! And this movie with its YOU MUST BE MARRIED YOUNG WOMAN FOR YOUR LIFE TO HAVE MEANING message is terribly fun to watch on a rainy day. I hang my head in shame.

    • Well I know. I felt a little sheepish myself, but it really is too much fun. Dharmendra is so very yummy :)

    • He used to drink?!!!!!!!!! Like bewda types?

      • What, you haven’t heard of his drunken brawls? They were legendary. One of them was with Feroz Khan who was equally talli and they got into it like nobody’s business.

        Salman Khan is a poseur when compared to Dharam and his drink.

        • Smoked like a chimney too. Almost every photo I have seen of our handsome Dharam, he has a ciggy. The drinking doesn’t surprise me at all. I think they all drank a lot–Sanjeev Kumar, Raakhee, Meena Kumari, Rajesh Khanna. I’d say that’s how they all got fat, old and in Sanjeev’s case dead.

          • That shouldn’t make me giggle, but it does :)

          • hahahha, yes! Rakhee once said something about how she only drank when she wasnt on location because then she felt as though she was far away from her problems but Dharam I get the feeling really liked it for itself.

            Rajesh Khanna is still getting drunk and stumbling around Mumbai – I read this hilarious story once about Mehr Jessia getting annoyed because he was randomly outside her home and up to no good… loudly.

      • According to Anupama Chopra’s book on the making of Sholay (a great read, probably the best of its kind) Dharam was pining after Hema to the point where he was drunk on the sets all the time. He came close to shooting Amitabh once or something too. He was quite the lad, our Dharam. I think most of those guys (at least the charming ones) were like that back in those days (60s-70s).

        • Hmpf! And they all say it was Hema who went after married men! Sounds like the married man was after her.

          • The woman always gets blamed :-[

            He totally ran after her. She almost married Sanjeev Kumar, and then Jeetendra! Apparently he’s the one who put a stop to the Jeetendra engagement too…although that’s all gossip, and I don’t believe everything I read (I pass it along though).

        • Wait, he almost shot AB? AHAHAHAH! I had not heard that before. They were the Salman SRK Aish of their time!

          I did hear that Jeetendra slunk off to Madras with his mom and tried to get married to Hema Malini on the sly but Dharam grabbed his gf (his present wife) and landed up to shout, “Yeh shaadi nahin ho sakti!” No wonder Ekta Kapoor makes such melodramatic serials.

          • Yes, I’ve read that too. Quite the draaaaama! Hema must really be something special :-D

            Ekta does come by her penchant for melodrama very honestly :)

  13. Awww… garam Dharam would turn ANY woman from her vows of eternal singleton-ness! One cant blame Rajshree for it. ;-) I am surprised she holds out so long, though.

  14. Yes, indeed! Dynamite– it’s gotta be: http://www.moviediva.com/MD_root/reviewpages/MDDynamite.htm
    Charles Bickford is even a coal miner who saves Kay Johnson from a blast (although in the Hollywood version, that is a climax, not an interlude).

  15. He really was delicious. You know who I’m talking about. And that doll, good lord, how creepy! BTW exactly how many Hindi movies are out there that have spoilt brats planning marriages of convenience and then falling for the guy?! So. Not. Novel.

  16. Gharam Dharam and I haven’t seen this one :-( I saw your song Na Jaane Kyun on YouTube to get me started..hmmmmm how could Rajashree refuse that guy…..

    Thanks for posting..now you got me daydreaming about the movie

  17. I am Rakesh Kumar from Toronto, Canada. I stumbled upon your website just by chance and have been hooked to it for the last few days. What compelled me to write in today was your review of this movie – Mohabbat Zindagi Hai. It’s special to me because this movie was co-produced by my Dad, Late Mr. Anand Saroop Kumar, along with my uncle, Mr. K.C. Gulati, the producer (who, by the way, is now in his 80’s and lives in Toronto, Canada).

    What made it even more wonderful was the screen shot you posted of the Doctor (probably the 9th screen shot) who gives Mr. Sharma not so rosy news about his health. The doctor was played by my Dad!!

    Thanks so much for reviewing this movie as well as all those movies from my favorite era – the 60’s and 70’s. After reading your reviews, I have made quite a few trips to the video store here to once again watch those delightful capers of Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Jeetendra, Neetu Singh, Zeenat Aman, Rishi Kapoor et al.

    Great job you are doing, Greta!! Sorry for this long post…

    • Aaaiiieee! I will add your dad’s name to the post. He was very funny as the doctor (had a few scenes)—and could be the first filmi doctor to ever admit that “the injection” was useless :)

      How fun. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog and left me this comment. I feel so blessed! Thank YOU! :)

    • Rakesh, what video store do you go to in Toronto?

  18. My memories of Mohabbat Zindagi Hai revolve around two songs – “yeh poornoor chehra” and “raaton ko chori chori.” I think I would have been better of NOT seeing the first song :-), but I was pleased to see that the film did justice to the earthy eroticism and poignancy of the Asha gem.

  19. Come on. A man in a loin cloth!

    That is never too much.

  20. Mehmood’s loincloth is disturbing

  21. I came across your blog just by chance yesterday morning and have been hooked to it since then. It really made my day. Thnx a ton for all the lovely posts.

    No doubt dharam ji was one of the most good looking heroes. Being an ardent bollywood fan I’m surprised I missed out on this one, but now after reading the review I’ll make sure I look out for this movie when I go shopping next.

    It was a great read. Had so much fun reading it, felt as though I was actually watching the movie :-)

    Was switching channels on tv at home in the evening. One of the channels was playing Dharam Veer, and I happened to see one of the songs.
    With all the discussion on manbeefcake visuals, Dharam ji’s sexy legs, delicious looks and so on, I just couldnt help posting yet another sight of Dharam ji’s legs: [though they dont look as good as they did in ur 4th screenshot ;-)]

    • Yummy yummy Dharmendrabeefcake! :) (I’ve written up Dharam Veer here too in case you haven’t found it yet)…Thank you for your kind words of appreciation, and hope you keep visiting :)

  22. I’ve seen Dharam Veer couple of times. Will read ur take on it and post my comments there.
    Thanks, I’m already hooked to ur blog :-)

  23. Dharmendra has mentioned in an interview that he does not like wearing socks as he finds it very uncomfortable to wear. Your screencap proves that.

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