Farishta Ya Qatil (1977)

Though this is only available (to my knowledge) without subtitles, I figured since my current blog header features images of Shashi and Bindu from the film I ought to watch it. And it’s pretty entertaining, maybe even more so if you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t need subtitles to know that there is a lot of patriotic fervor and anti-smuggling-corruption-greed preaching in the story, but there are lots of subplots woven together too and without subtitles I have no idea if the subsequent story fabric is a sturdy khadi or fraying and full of large holes; I don’t care, either. Shashi is beginning to show his age (well, so am I) but he is still worthy eye-candy (see above), and Rekha is at her delightfully plump and imperious best. A huge cast of character actors—many of whom I need help identifying—are decked out in dizzying full-on seventies fashions, bad wigs, and huge sideburns, all in aesthetic competition with the beautiful Rajasthan desert.

Here is a look at a train compartment so you can see what’s in store on the visual front:

We meet the assorted characters in our story as they board a train, chief among them MP Dharamdas (Yunus Parvez), his wife and secretary (Kedar Sehgal):

a spoiled, petulant Rajkumari (Rekha) who is seen off by her father (Trilok Kapoor) and greedy uncle (Om Shivpuri), who is plotting to have her killed on the journey:

two guys very interested in the MP (Mac Mohan and ?) (Moolchand is a railroad employee):

a pair of newlyweds (? and ?):

and glamor girl (Bindu), who attracts the attention of a nattily dressed photographer (Johnny Walker):

Additionally, there is an insouciant man in shackles named Nitin Babu (Shashi Kapoor) travelling with an officer named Abdul (Utpal Dutt). Nitin has spent the past twenty years in prison and he is happy to see the voluptuous Rajkumari.

As the train gets underway, Abdul and Nitin finally find a seat after being rejected by several groups of people. Chugging along, Nitin falls into a doze and memories of his past, first in a courtroom where he’s accused of something having to do with his sister, and then further back in time as a new graduate on the final day of school. He and his friends sing a cheerful ditty about the death of apna Hindustan (from corruption, etc. I gather). It’s gratingly preachy even to my uncomprehending ears.

Word arrives that his father (I think) has died, and he rushes home to his sister and a confrontation with Jwala Prasad who (I think) claims that their father owed him fifty thousand rupees. Jwala Prasad is driven off by a new arrival by the name of Gautam (Sujit Kumar) who offers Nitin a job. Nitin is grateful, but his sister warns him that Gautam is not a good guy, and is into smuggling (I think).

Back on the train, the man hired by the Rajkumari’s uncle slips into the compartment she is sharing with a companion in the guise of a waiter and attacks! They fight him off valiantly for a while, but when he gains the upper hand the Rajkumari’s friend throws herself between her and the attacker’s knife just as the train crashes.

Nitin is thrown clear, and one of his handcuffs comes undone. He quickly proves to be a better man than many of the other passengers around him, rescuing people from the fiery wreckage, finding a doctor to help a pregnant woman give birth before she dies, moderating some quarrel between Mac Mohan and the MP (they agree on some payment or something before pulling the MP out), and eventually carrying the unconscious Rajkumari out of the rubble too.

She proves to be most unpleasant when she comes to, ordering him to find her some food. An old lady gives him her small ration of roti, but when Nitin offers it to the Rajkumari she wrinkles her nose and throws it into the sand. Angry, Nitin asks sarcastically if she would prefer Chinese or Continental; she replies “Shut up!” He says: “You shut up!” and walks away. Very Scarlett and Rhett! As she grudgingly scoops the roti out of the sand and begins to eat it, her attacker from the train reappears.

She escapes him by running to Nitin, who doesn’t believe her story but softens when he sees that she was eating the roti after all. The night passes with the women (except the Rajkumari) behaving far better than the men (except Nitin and Abdul). When no aid has appeared the next morning, Abdul sets off to find some, leaving Nitin (who is still sporting his handcuffs from one wrist since the keys have been lost, see blog banner above) to manage the thirsty and hungry survivors, which include some pretty opportunistic men.

May I say that ever since my faux pas in confusing Amrish Puri with Goga Kapoor, I have become completely enthralled with Goga. He is a sane and suave Amrish, with the same compelling voice and unsavory character but without the scary eyeballs. He strikes up a partnership with the husband of the newlywed pair and they find water and try to sell it to the desperate passengers. This doesn’t work out well for them since they are outnumbered, and they are thrashed.

There is something else going on which puzzles me: one of the passengers is a weird figure wearing a big cross and an old-style western cowboy hat, who eavesdrops on conversations and when challenged mutters “God bless you.” He comes across Bindu sitting under a parasol with her bright red shawl next to her. He stares at her and the shawl disappears (one of those camera now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t tricks). Weird!!!

The Rajkumari’s assailant appears again without his mustache, which is enough to fool her into following him into the desert (I doubt that even with subtitles this would have made any sense). Luckily Nitin appears to save her, and gets the truth out of the villain about her uncle being the instigator. She doesn’t want to believe this, but when Nitin points out that greed makes men do many things she accepts it rather easily. Her attacker escapes but she is more interested in Nitin’s story by now, and we now discover that his trust in Gautam was indeed misplaced. Gautam had tried to rape his sister, and Nitin killed him to save her.

I would have killed him just for wearing this shirt, although I guess with that jacket Nitin didn’t have much room to criticize.

The Rajkumari greets this piece of news with a speech about Ravana and Krishna, and then clamps the dangling half of the handcuffs around her own wrist.

This is followed by a song against a beautiful Rajasthani backdrop which makes me drool: I want her outfit, and Shashi, and to be at that fort.

But when reality returns, they are of course now handcuffed together which to my mind anyway might make it a lot harder for them to escape her uncle’s hireling should he show up again. Luckily for them, Abdul returns having somehow found a key to unlock them (although Nitin retains the cuff around his wrist) and having also found some Rajasthani tribals to bring food and supplies.

But Goga has been busy. Learning his lesson from the water incident, he has joined forces with a bunch of thuggish guys led by a guy with a huge silver pendant around his neck (is this the actor named Tiger by any chance?)—until the mysterious Christian makes it vanish with a look as he had Bindu’s shawl.

When the tribals show up, the passengers are stopped from accessing their supplies by Goga and his new gang who demand payment first. The MP (who has never stopped making long speeches throughout) steps forward and offers to negotiate but he is easily co-opted (of course!) with a bribe from Goga. Angry, the passengers surge forward to meet Goga’s thugs.

Will blood be spilled? Is there no limit to man’s greed and opportunism? Can Nitin—a convicted criminal—save the day? Will he have to return to prison? What is the rest of his story? Will the Rajkumari be attacked again? Who is the weird guy who can make stuff disappear by staring at it?

As I said, I have a feeling that I enjoyed this way more without understanding all the “room talk” as my friend Raja calls it. I think it was likely quite pompous and preachy and might have irritated me beyond belief. But there is plenty to look at, a LOT of action and plot, and some intriguing side stories and relationships.

Bindu is absolutely hilarious, speaking Hindi with an angrezi accent and positively bursting out of her tight blouse and skirt. There are lots of little moments which I enjoyed too, being undistracted by dialogue, like when Johnny Walker and Mac Mohan come alongside each other and walk off hand-in-hand. It seems completely natural and unscripted, and so sweet.

There were quite a few actors in this whom I recognize but can’t put names to (and I don’t think nearly everyone is credited at the beginning). Can you help? Here are some of them, plus the ones above marked with “?”:

But this one I know very well, and he’s the main reason to watch.

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53 Comments to “Farishta Ya Qatil (1977)”

  1. Hurray, I got the opportunity to become the first person to comment on this post. Like you, even I have no clue what is going on in this movie. But it is interesting to note that much of the action in this movie taken place on a train. So I suppose that there are quite a few train songs in it ?

    Yes, “room talk” can come in the way of enjoying movies, as I can vouch for. I too have failed to understand many “English” movies for this very reason in the past.

  2. Hmm…
    When I saw the title of this film, it rang a bell. I had seen this movie in the late 70s but had completely forgotten about its existence. Even after reading the review here, the story does not ring a bell (and this has nothing to do with your story-telling skills. :-) ). The thing is that in those days, between Shashi and Jeetendra, they acted in many movies like this. Too many for anybody to remember. :-)

    Talking of identifying the mystery characters, the guy with the hat who makes things vanish looks like a Bengali actor who used to appear in quite a few 1970s movies. Could this be Tarun Ghosh ?

    Of the others, the secretary of Yunus Parvez is the same guy I wanted you to help identify last week. :-) I sent you an e-mail with 3 guys – he is the third guy in that e-mail. I have seen him in a zillion movies (often in a party song standing with a glass). In some movies, he does have a bit more of a role so hopefully we can track him down. We may just have got our next “Nazir Kashmiri” type challenge, but this time it is a face without a name.

    Sorry but I cannot help you with any of the others (not that I have helped you with any anyway). The female (5th pic) looks familiar, I am pretty sure she is somebody reasonably well-known. Am just not able to place her at this moment.

    • Raja, The girl in 5th pic has acted as a sister in some movie. I am pretty sure there was a rakhi song picturised on her. Was it Behna ne bhai ki kalai se?

      • Scary but THAT is EXACTLY what I was thinking too. :-)
        Checked out the song from Resham Ki Dori – am not sure it is the same person.
        Besides, imdb does not mention Alka for Resham Ki Dori, so either (a) this is not Alka, this is the RKD girl (b) this is Alka, not the RKD girl (c) this is neither Alka nor the RKD girl or (d) this is Alka but imdb credits are not complete (quite possible).
        Anyway, Shalini seems to be quite confident that this is Alka, so unless somebody comes up with a better match…
        Here is the “behna ne bhai” clip. Not very clear but check 3.30-3.40.

        • Raja, Shalini has correctly identified the lady as Alka. She figured in the songs of “Waapas”, (Aayi bahaaron ki shaam,) “Aansoo ban gaye phool” (Jaane kaisaa hai mera deewaanaa) and “Chalaak” (Man gaaye wo taraanaa). I have posted all these songs in my blog and I have mentioned that these songs are picturised on Alka.

  3. Just checked imdb and see that Jayshree T. is listed for this film.
    That lady (5th pic out of the 6) could Jayshree T, methinks.

    Also, imdb lists Prem Nath in the cast but you make no mention of him. What was his role in the movie ?

  4. Sorry for the multiple posts but can the 6th guy in the pic (the one with just the vest on) be Bhushan Tiwary ?

    • The guy with the hat must be Tarun Ghosh (his name is in the credits). And I couldn’t tell from your screencap that this was the guy (sorry!) we needed help with—hopefully someone will come along and know him! And the lady is not Jayshree T, I know her and she has a dance in this, but she is not this lady (although they have the same buggy eyes ;-)). And the vest guy/bad guy is not Tiwari, I know him too. I have a strong feeling that he may be Tiger…but I could be wrong. Thanks for the Tarun Ghosh id though!

      ps Premnath appears late in the film, you will have to watch it to find out ;-)

  5. I wish I could help but I feel pleased with myself just for recognizing the principles–so clearly I need more education! I really want to know about the magical Christian genie.

  6. SHASHEE!

    This movie looks… hot. Thanks for the review!

  7. Hmm. I’ve heard of this, but never seen it… and now, thanks to this synopsis, will probably give it a miss! Even despite those moments of sweetness.

  8. I believe Shashi Kapoor looking ‘beginning to show his age’ in a 1977 film should be due to poor quality of print or shabby photography. Shashi Kaoor had looked quite young in the films which have come after 1977: Immaan Dharam (1977), Trishul (1978), Satyam Shivam Sundaram: (1978), Suhaag (1979), Kaala Patthar (1979), Do Aur Do Paanch (1980) Shaan (1980), Silsila (1981) and so many.

    • The print is not very good quality, plus probably spending all that time in the hot sandy desert didn’t help any of them and their skin :)

    • Can you believe it Shashi Kapoor starred in 13 movies in 1978? Of the lot, only one was a hit – Trishul. All others were flops.

      So busy was he that his elder brother Raj Kapoor asked “Actor hai ya Taxi?” as he was just shuttling from one studio to another. This was on the sets of “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” (1978 again!)

      • Heeralal Pannalal ,Muqaddar ,.Phaansi ,Rahu Ketu ,Trishna ,Apna Khoon ,Satyam Shivam Sundaram,Trishul were superhits and ahuti avg grosser.
        absolute wrong info.
        8/13 were superhits n 1 avg grosser.
        its a record for shashi.

        • If movies like “Apna Khoon” “Raahu Ketu”,”Heeralal Pannalal” etc were super hits by your reckoning then I will have difficulty believing in the contents of your posts from now onwards. In 1978,

          I was at my movie watching peak in those days in 1978-79 (watching movies in four shows in a day, watching the same movie multiple times etc. I do not recall any one in his right minds calling these movies as super hits.Most of these movies did not last more than a week or so in movie halls in my parts of the country.

          • you should think 100 times before writing derogatory statments against anyone afterall here people are to discuss the love for movies and to know about the fate of box office and whether the films which became hits deserved to be ones, which are unfortunate flops etc..
            .
            “difficulty believing in the contents of your posts from now” – there was no need to go public …you could have kept it for yourself.
            my informations are always genuine.
            moreover if at all some day something wrong happens , it will only lead to all the film lovers to get the right answer.

            Heeralal Pannalal and Aap Beati were also hits.
            just check out box office india and also in google under the books section you can find Bollywood Guide Collections.
            Box office india does back my comments – Satyam Shivam Sundaram,Muqaddar with Trishul were hits

          • Shrikant I don’t think Atul meant to be derogatory, he is a very nice and knowledgeable guy himself.

            Quite honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass what were considered hits or not. It was a long time ago and frankly hit status has absolutely nothing to do with whether a film is worthy or not. As the saying goes, nobody has ever gone broke overestimating the public’s capacity for garbage.

  9. I have a feeling that I enjoyed this way more without understanding all the “room talk” as my friend Raja calls it.” – Very true! I watched it a while back and remember being rather bored with it. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen and it never did! In fact, I dont even remember as much of the film as your synopsis has captured. How did Shashi lose his beard in a place where there wasnt even water, let alone food and supplies?

    • There was water finally, and I guess he found a razor somewhere. There were plenty of inconsistent and sloppy things which I am more forgiving of when there aren’t subs in case I’ve missed something…

  10. ROTFL at reading the review!

    Sorry, I can’t identify any of the perosns on the wanted list.

    “I would have killed him just for wearing this shirt, although I guess with that jacket Nitin didn’t have much room to criticize.”
    lol!!! Aren’t such shirts in again? I have trousers with the pattern of the jacket!

    “The Rajkumari greets this piece of news with a speech about Ravana and Krishna, and then clamps the dangling half of the handcuffs around her own wrist”
    You sure? Not Rama and Krishna? Rama and Ravana? Kamsa and Krishna? Most probably Radha and Krishna? But rather than the question who, the appropriate one would be why?

    • I’m pretty sure she said Ravana and Krishna, which I didn’t really understand either (except that Rama is an incarnation of Krishna, right?)…she was most definitely telling him that she approved of him rescuing his sister even if he did commit murder in the process.

  11. I have never helped identify anyone here so let me try and “help”. The fifth mugshot indeed appears to be that of Alka.

    Does the cast mention Sadhu Meher ? The number 2 mugshot appears to be like Sadhu Meher, it is just that I cannot imagine him with a cigarrette in his lips. Most of the time Sadhu Meher was seen in “art” movies.

    • The cast credits leave out lots of people…I am pretty sure that the Rajkumari’s assailant is played by Kishen Mehta, for instance, but he is not credited; neither is Alka. But I think Raja knows who Sadhu Meher is and would recognize him? (Raja correct me if I am wrong on that point.)

      • Yes, I know who Sadhu Meher is. This is not Sadhu Meher.
        Sadhu Meher was one of the very few actors from Orissa (from my time) who made it to Hindi cinema.

  12. Must say the vested villain looks a bit like Kuljeet (maybe a Kuljeet who has put on a lot of weight). Not perhaps quite as creepy though. Difficult to recognise Kuljeet anyway without a flashy shirt on. :-)

    • No, Kuljeet appears in my nightmares, I know him very well by now :) I seriously think that he is Tiger…he has a wrestler’s build, very stocky and muscular, and I have seen him in lots of things—have seen Tiger’s name in credits a lot too (including this film).

      I’m thinking now that the MP’s assistant is Bhushan Tiwari. You had said that you thought the vest guy was him, but I was thinking of the OTHER Tiwari :D In any case, the MP assistant and the vest guy are different…

  13. This is one of the most sexiest films of Bindu, Bindu really looks very sexy here. Before few years ago i saw this film, but i don’t know why one of the song from this film was deleted in my DVD. When i checked other websites i saw that there was an song called ‘Kaali Kaali Kulfon Hain’, and it was sung by Anuradha and Usha Timothy. I think this song is pictured on Bindu. Bindu has another quartet in this film called ‘Ishq mein hum to’ where she danced with Johnny Walker, Rekha and Shashi Kapoor. So please inform me about the song ‘Kaali Kaali Kulfon Hain’ that is it pictured on Bindu or not.

    I have a huge Bindu songs collection, you can check my channel at Youtube. The link to my channel is- http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBindufan. I think you’ll love my channel. There’s a lots of sexy Bindu songs. Thanks.

    • She actually looked really PRETTY here, which I don’t usually associate her with. She was just great in it :) I didn’t pay much attention to the songs, they didn’t catch my fancy for some reason…I will go back and look to see if the one you mention appears.

      Update: Yes, the song is in the film, and it’s fab—the only one I really remembered (although I hadn’t noted the lyrics); a lovely snake song :) But it’s Jayshree T and another dancer not Bindu who dance to it. Hope that helps!

  14. OOOOH must see must see, just for The Shash and the Rajasthani fantasy song! Delightful.

    • The Shash looks very very FINE in this, and chews up the scenery very satisfactorily :D Without distractions of (bad) dialogue you can really just sit and absorb all the gorgeousness and listen to his growly voice cadences :)

  15. box office india dot com says very clearly that Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Trishul,Muqaddar were hits.

    the site is providing very less information about the years release.
    HLPL and Trishna were hits too.

  16. @ memsaab “difficulty believing in the contents of your posts from now” -mi was only responding to his sentence.

    what iam saying is iam aware of the films which have flopped undeservingly, some are forgotten classics, some are bad films which became hits…etc.. more importantly its about calling a good movie as good movie and bad one as a bad.
    so i have only provided the info that of the 13, 8 were hits( 4 avg grossers and 4 hits) that too in respose too other person who gave wrong info.
    i didnt know it was atul – squarecut!

  17. #3 with the white dot is Bhola.

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