Gaddar (1973)

True confession: I really can’t sit still through an entire Hindi movie without getting up to fidget. I wake up Gemma and irritate pet her, check my email, pour another glass of wine. The films are just so long and my attention span so short. But during this one I didn’t want to MOVE—I was positively riveted to my chair. There is no romance, no hero-heroine (and only three songs, each one a gem): it is an ensemble film, and what an ensemble it is! The finest character-actor-villains of the time play cohorts in crime who are joined by thief Vinod Khanna when one of them betrays the others. It is stylish and suspenseful entertainment at its best.

We start off brilliantly enough with Ajit playing a Maharaja who has come to Bombay to sell off some land, for which he has gotten forty lakhs.

His estate manager (Jankidas) stashes the money in a giant safe which is protected by an electric grid and other elaborate safety measures—a pretty definite sign of thievery to come!

Sure enough, a man named BK (Pran) gets a phone call with information about the huge amount of money now sitting in the palace. The opening credits roll (and rock—I love the title music, very Ennio Morricone) as BK drives through the city collecting his gang with a signal.

I squeal with joy as each face is revealed and clap my hands in anticipation.

That evening they all gather at BK’s house: Sampat (Anwar Hussain), John (Ram Mohan), Babu (Ranjeet), Mohan (Manmohan), Professor (Iftekhar), Kanhaiya (Madan Puri). They have spent weeks working out an elaborate, precisely-timed plan for getting into the heavily guarded palace and away with the forty lakhs of rupees. All goes according to plan until the very end, when a guard manages to pull the alarm. BK leaves the palace with the bag of money, but is shot by the police as they arrive. He hands the money over to Kanhaiya and tells him to run with it.

They make a plan to meet at BK’s house at 10 am the next day, and Kanhaiya flees in a laundry van with the money. The rest of them pile into another car and drive away pursued by the police; after a thrilling chase they escape.

Professor patches up BK’s wound, and they all begin gathering the next morning. At last everyone is there—except Kanhaiya and the money. When the others want to hunt Kanhaiya down at home, BK stops them.

Plus, he points out, it’s not really safe for them to be out—the papers are full of the news of the robbery, and the police are searching everywhere. They settle in to wait with increasing anxiety (this decor not being particularly soothing, either).

As day turns into night, BK finally gives up on his friend and they go in search of their missing cohort. Kanhaiya’s home is empty, and he has clearly left in a hurry. But someone else is there: a man named Raja (Vinod Khanna) who introduces himself as another thief like them. He had assumed on reading about the robbery that Kanhaiya would know something about it, and now he offers them his help in finding Kanhaiya in return for Kanhaiya’s share of the loot.

BK and his men are not too pleased at this interference, but Raja escapes after distracting them (“Look, police!”).

The next day Sampat comes up with a clue which may help them track Kanhaiya down: a woman has been seen visiting him lately, and it’s all good news for me too.

This leads to one of the most spectacularly staged cabaret dances I have ever seen—and that is saying something! I am thrilled to see my favorite male dancer-choreographer Oscar front and center with Padma Khanna. Thank you to Tom for uploading it so I could share it here (and welcome back to Youtube, may you be reinstated forever):

Wah! Wah! I want the jewelled peacock carafe and goblet, the chandeliers, and to be one of the gori extras. Alas! I was born too late (and in the wrong place).

After the show, the gang go backstage and begin pressuring the dancer in her makeup room. She manages to escape down a staircase into the parking garage underneath, where she is caught by none other than Raja. He now blackmails BK and his men into accepting him as a partner in return for getting information out of her and they agree, reluctantly. Raja beats the news that Kanhaiya had gone to Madras under an assumed name out of her, and then he kills her as Babu and John look on.

The men—now including Raja—begin their search for Kanhaiya in Madras, and we get a mujra (“Humne Doodha Tujhe Kahan Kahan”) picturized on a variety of dancers in different parts of India as they travel far and wide.

Oh Ranjeet, how you rock that pink-purple ruffled shirt!

Raja finally finds a dancer who knows Kanhaiya; she directs him to a basement warehouse and a guy named Akhtar. There he is set upon by men whom Kanhaiya has paid to kill BK and the gang, but he beats them all up single-handedly and gets the information BK has been looking for.

Off they all go to snowy Himachal Pradesh, and Raja—who seems to have taken control over the whole expedition—loses his way in a storm while scouting around for the village. He ends up at a lonely hotel in the middle of nowhere and finds shelter there. He is made welcome by a girl named Reshma (Yogeeta Bali), whose father owns the hotel. The other occupants include Reshma’s little brother (Master Raju) and two travellers, Mr. Mathur (Satyendra Kapoor) and his wife (Varsha) (their taxi has broken down), plus their taxi driver and a servant named Ramu (Ratan Gaurang).

When the hotel owner comes in finally, having repaired the taxi, Raja is startled to discover that Reshma’s father is none other than Kanhaiya.

As soon as the snow stops falling he takes his leave, although everyone urges him to stay since the roads are all still closed. Reshma sees him out, and he asks her some questions about the layout of the land and buildings.

He makes his way back to a cave where BK and the others are waiting, holed up against the cold. They are elated to hear that Raja has found Kanhaiya. They now make their way (on mules, accompanied by more fabulous Ennio Morricone-style background music) to the isolated hotel and wait for nightfall to make their move. Wily Kanhaiya has set his servant Ramu to guard the outbuildings, and he manages to shoot Sampat in the leg, wounding him badly, before he is killed by return fire.

Interestingly, none of this wakes up anyone in the main hotel building. Leaving Sampat in the shed, the others make their way inside and split up to capture the sleeping residents. When everyone is gathered in the main living room (and Sampat brought in), BK and his angry companions threaten Kanhaiya’s little boy to make him talk.

Will Kanhaiya lead them to the money? Can the volatile gang members control the hostages, and each other? What about Sampat’s severe injury? What is Raja’s game, really? Will he share the money with the others or does he have his own agenda?

I highly recommend this film. It is very well-made and such a joy to watch as these often overlooked actors take full advantage of a great script and the chance to be center stage. Vinod’s Raja is the main character and he is great in this; but the others match him scene for scene in screen presence and talent, especially Pran. This would have been a fun set to be on. I love the music too—three songs, and wonderful background music, which I hope is available somewhere on vinyl or cd. I will leave you with this one, a fitting tribute to the awesomeness of my favorite baddies!

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79 Comments to “Gaddar (1973)”

  1. I distinctly remember this movie due to the background music of ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’ being used in this movie.

    I think this was one of the initial movies of Vinod Khanna in the lead.

    • Is it really the original music from ‘The Good The Bad and The Ugly’?! I couldn’t tell, although at least the source “inspiration” is evident…great film, I loved it.

    • The background score was used in the climax when the credits were rolling.

      True, its a very good movie. It was declared a hit, which was why Vinod could transition to lead roles more easily. The very next year he had ‘Paththar Aur Payal’ and ‘Haath Ki Safai’ which helped him go on to become one of the leading stars.

  2. Aww, I wish you had reviewed the movie a few days ago. I just put in an on-line order for movies and almost included “Gaddar” but removed it at the last moment.

    Now I’ll have to go back and place another order…

    :-)

  3. Never seen it, never heard of it. Have to see it, now I’ve heard of it.

  4. Vinod Khanna’s outfit in those last pics is STUNNING. Not even his beta Rahul could rock it as well as he is in that hand-on-hip picture with Yogeeta (though I have just suggested to him via twitter that he give it a go). Well. This movie sounds amazing and I hope to see it very soon. That’s about all I can muster beyond AIEEEEEAWESOME!

    • That was his outfit for the entire second half, and yes he rocked it :D He rocks everything, really. Please to note that I led with it too!

      Do see this one, I loved it.

  5. I never heard of this movie. To the best of my knowledge, it never got released in the city where I was growing up those days in 1970s.

    It is surprising how I could manage to be totally oblivious of the existence of this movie.

    From the story, the movie appears to be inspired by some western movie (s). Now I am tempted to watch this movie if I can obtain it from somewhere.

    • I had a sense of deja-vu throughout, but honestly don’t know what it reminded me of except Ocean’s Eleven a little bit, which of course is much later.

      I am going to turn you into a movie buff yet, Atul!

  6. Title song “tu gaddar” sung by Rafi Saab got good punjabi dhol beats.Padma Khanna’s item song is also nice.So many bad guys in one movie but Pran is above all.I like that part when pran burns some Rs to breath.I like Vinod Khanna’s locket too.Thanks for your review Memsaab.

  7. This sounds AMAZING! I will definitely look for this.

  8. i’m gonna bet that Vinod is CID/police/detective hired by the rajah to recover the $ and nab the thieves :D I adore his and Ranjeet’s fashion- so much lovely!

    • I’m keeping chup on this one, it’s too much fun to watch. Ranjeet’s clothing was truly spectacular—as always :) He is just HOT.

      • @Greta – If you like suspense thrillers, then I suggest you watch Dhund (1973) as well. I looked up your site, and see that you haven’t reviewed that one, but not sure if you have watched it.

        • I have Dhund but haven’t watched it yet, although I know it’s one I really need to get to soon! I don’t actually generally love suspense thrillers (I am easily frightened and I don’t like being frightened :) but Dhund does sound really good…

        • Dhund is good considering that its been adapted from a Agatha Christie novel. Anyways, don’t look up the wikipedia article on this movie since it does reveal the climax.

  9. Oh, I have to, have to see this! Sounds right up my street. :-) And Vinod Khanna in the 70’s? Absolutely.

  10. Hmmm_ _ _ have to see this film, I am eager to know how it ends. It is a lovely review and I particularly liked the following observation, ‘They settle in to wait with increasing anxiety (this decor not being particularly soothing, either).’

  11. Echoing everybody here – never knew about this one, but now I absolutely HAVE to watch it. Vinod is yum and a good thriller to boot, definitely must see! :D

  12. Memsaab, another winner. What a collection of baddies, and each one playing true to form. The Gaddar turn has been done excellently by XXX (no spoilers from me) and in those days, many a film had the plot twist of a villain turning out to be a cop. What is great in this film is there is no unnecessary romance track. It should be a cult film. Khote Sikkey next, Memsaab?

    • I am guessing from Raja’s comment below that Gaddar=double-cross? Yes, what attracted me to this in the first place was the awesome cast of baddies. I love those bad boys! And agree, it deserves to be much better known than it seems to be.

      I’ve watched Khote Sikkey and loved it, but it doesn’t play in my computer so I can’t get screenshots, and I am crippled without screenshots to illustrate with :)

  13. I remember seeing this movie as a young boy but don’t remember the storyline except that one guy double-crosses the others (well, that much should have been obvious from the title “Gaddar” itself).

    It must have felt good to see character-actor/villain-actors like these get a film entirely dedicated to their craft. :-) A welcome change from the usual hero-heroine script.

    Not to mention guys like Ranjeet and Vinod Khanna who in the 70s were often worth watching, regardless of film script. :-)

    Thanks for the review, Greta.

    • This is mostly Pran’s film…he is awesome in it and justly deserved a role like this. But he got oodles of great support from everyone involved. I really feel not a person put a step wrong, not even Yogeeta Bali, ha ha!

  14. Had heard about htis film from a cousin of mine who used to watch nearly all Hindi movies and boast about it (and other things). But as usual don’t remember much of it.
    Vindo Khanna and Pran are reasons enough to watch it.
    Was glad to hear that you also can’t sit through a film. There always seems to be so much work to be done suddenly!

    • Ha ha, it’s not that I have anything else to do but I just have to get up and move around for a bit before resuming the film. It annoys Gemma no end, because she could just snooze through the whole thing with no problem if I weren’t disturbing her. At least I don’t fall asleep watching movies like most of the rest of my family!

      • That is why I prefer watching films on telly or at the cinema, cause then I can’t run away or get up without missing greater parts of the plot.
        Worse is when I watch the films on computer, I get up even between you tube songs!

        At times I do wish I could fall asleep!

        Re.: Gaddar
        Am still a bit shocked that Vinod kills Padma just like that and we still are supposed to like him!
        Gives one a guilty conscience for lusting after VK!

        • Continuing on Shweta’s speculation:
          If Vinod indeed turns out to be CID/police/good guy, killng Padma would be just an act. Just to distract bad guys from pursuing that lead. (or atleast that is what we are supposed to infer even if the movie doesn’t explicitly show that claim).

          Personally, I am more than willing to make that assumption for VK (with moustache, no less!).

          I am keeping my eyes open for this movie at our local dvd store.

        • Poor Padma :( None of them were very nice guys throughout, but you still wanted to know what was going to happen to them! Well done on their part :)

  15. Who is that in the BK accomplices gallery with the bed sheet wound around like ‘nancy caught in bed’?

  16. You’ve got a great site here. I stumbled across while researching a particular film (Doshana) for a series I’m doing (called Remembering the Movies: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2010/10/remembering-movies-oct-8-14.html); Hindi film is pretty much unexplored terrain for me. Any thoughts on the movie Ankur (1974), I’ve been interested in it for years but unable to see it; but just discovered it was on You Tube while looking into Doshana…

  17. Never heard of this movie! Thanks memsaab, it now goes into my future list of movies to watch.

  18. the moie is available in youtube too.
    its a great movie.
    this film is tailoremade for pran.
    remember ek kuwara ek kuwari, zanjeer,tum haseen main jawan,victoria 203 etc… in the seventies after rajesh khanna , pran was the second highest paid actor.
    for don amitabh was paid 1 lac and pran 5 lacs.

    memsaab ajith is also there in the film.

  19. youmemsaab, you’ve the uncanny ability of *always* unearthing gems!! i love you for that!!
    never even had heard of this movie; and now MUST see it!!
    thanks so much!!!!!! (have been irregularly commenting for a while, but i always do read your reviews..just FYI!) 0:-)

  20. I have seen this film and impressed by the starcast and padma khanna’s song “humne doonda tujhe kahaan kahaan” and another item song(what`s the lyrics of that song, I can`t recollect it)

    Love you, for the “Great review”, I know you can`t go wrong with that, You must have a sixth sense about selecting such gems. My vocabulary doesn`t have any more words to appreciate you, errrrrrrr., it has gone bankrupt, sigh…….

    Further, the director of this film, Harmesh malhotra, directed another film called”Choron ki baaraat:(1980)(translation :”Procession of thiefs)”, yes this film also have a lot of villains, but I haven`t seen the film, my mummy liked it, becasuse it has neethu singh and shathrughna sinha and a host of villains.

    Harmesh malhotra also directed Lafange(1975)[randhir kapoor , mumtaz(her one of her last films)pran,and got good music],
    “Bhagula bagat”-(1979)(shathrughna sinha, shabana azmi and lot of character actors-I haven`t seen this film also).Afterwards, he lost his touch with sridevi starrer: nagina, nigaahein and a spate of govida starrers.

    I want to recommend “Achanak(1973)” starring vinod khanna(for his yumminess alongwith his acting power)But there are no songs & dances and lighter moments of entertainment in it. I will not reveal the story , if at all you planning to see(yes I do have a ray of hope)the movie. It is a very good film of an army officer, directed by Gulzar
    (other starcast:farida jalal,asrani, om shivpuri,lily chakravorthy)(yes,this is a bit “slow” & “GRIM” movie). Let`s see how it appeals to you.(If it all you are interested …hee.heeeee)

    Further I liked “Dhundh(1973)” which shalini recommended to you, for its story, its starcast and fabolous lilting music by “ravi”(one mujra and another club dance cum mujra:courtesy padma khanna & co.).

    I want to admit this again: please don`t laugh at my english writing, I am very bad with it, I have a inferiority complex about that.(I hope you will learn Hindi soon, and I write hindi in english langauage fluently.)I have taken nearly half an hour to write this much to you.

    regards,
    prakash

    • Hi Prakash, and thank you for the recommendations, I will look for them! This is the same guy who directed Nagina? Hai Ram! He certainly did lose his touch, although I kind of love Nagina for its completely bizarro-world everything. I like early Gulzar-directed films, will look for Achanak especially.

      Your English is much better than my Hindi for sure—MUCH better. Thank you for putting in the effort to communicate with me, I appreciate it :)

  21. True fabulous find. Vinod looks better here than Omar Sharif in Zhivago. And that jewelled peacock decanter…
    Yeah, these 70s movies are just so other worldly. I remember two separate scenes from my young childhood. Just a flash of weirdness–no idea what the movies were. In one there was a deep bubbling fire pit and a whip and naturally a gyrating bottom to go with the whip.

  22. Very interesting post and site.

    I saw the photo of Jankidas and wanted to mention some little known facts about him. While he was fairly well known in the world of Hindi movies – he is famous for a few other things.
    For one – he was responsible for the introduction of cycling as a sport in India. He was the lone Indian Cyclist participated in the British Empire Games (now called the commonwealth games) held at Sydney in 1938. He apparently held several world records at the time.
    Another interesting fact is that he apparently was the first person to fly the Indian flag outside of India (before Independence). Apparently he had gone to meet Mahatma Gandhi before flying to Zurich for the world Sports meet, and Gandhi asked him to fly the Indian flag. Jankidas then smuggled the flag out, and unfurled it at the last minute.

    A fascinating character indeed.

    Regards,
    Hari

  23. About Jankidas – it’s hard to find data on him online, but one site that refers to this is

    http://www.rrtd.gov.in/fbjune03.htm

    Hari

    • I did know that about him…have even seen photos of him somewhere from the Games. Also had read an interview where he talks about the flag incident. Thanks for the link, would love to know more about it all :)!

  24. i had seen this movie a long time ago on one of the movie channels – obviously the movie score was lifted from ennio morricone but it does fit in very well…the storyline could well be like something out of a james hadley chase potboiler

    pran is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) actors (main/character/anything) actors in hindi cinema. ifthekar is another fine actor who lends a lot of dignity to his onscreen persona

    this movie had an astounding assemblage of villains/character actors. Another movie that probably had the greatest assemblage of primary villains is Naseeb (1981) – Pran, Amrish Puri, Shakti Kapoor, Kader Khan, Prem Chopra, Amjad Khan – it had this rather bizarre casting of Prem Chopra as Kader Khan’s son in the movie though in real live (wiki references) Prem is senior to Kader by 2 years!

    • I agree, lots of Pran and Iftekhar love here :) I would hate to see a film even with Shammi if there were not the other myriad character actors surrounding him—they add so much to a story even if their roles are relatively small. I’m always happy to see Moolchand and his stomach, and Asit Sen and his sing-song voice…well, I could go on and on :)

  25. I must admit that you’re doing a great job by introducing people to these under-rated Bollywood gems. Even though I am an Indian and I watch Hindi films, I live in a non-Hindi-speaking region of India, and so don’t know much about the Hindi movies of the 80’s and before. And there isn’t much information available online either. Since the Hindi cinema industry already borrows its nickname from Hollywood, funny that it took an American woman to start a blog that provides information about and reviews of Bollywood movies. Keep the posts coming!

    • Ha ha, well I am sure plenty of Indians have contributed/are contributing to Hollywood at this point too! Art has no boundaries…

      There are some excellent blogs about older Hindi cinema listed in my sidebar too, some of them written by Indians :)

  26. where did you get this movie from?is it available on moserbaer or shemaroo?

  27. Anybody remember Late Harmesh Malhotra ,maker of blockbuster hits “Nagina’ &”Dulhe Raja”..This film”Gaddar” was directed by Harmesh Malhotra and i must appreciate that this film could be well placed with a hollywood thriller.Even now at present stage, no producer/Director can dare to select such type of plot to make a film.It was a hit movie in seventies,stepping stone for Vinod Khanna to act as a leading man.In later years,Harmesh Malhotra made a remake of this film(Choron ki Barat,starring Shatrughan Sinha)but this remake was a flop.

  28. I watched the film in 1974, when I was in the 10th standard. Living in Kerala, I couldn’t follow Hindi much yet I liked it because of the baddies as well as the locale.

  29. The music is not from The good, the bad and the ugly , its actually from the second film of that trilogy, For a few dollars more.

  30. When I was a kid I saw a poster of Gaddar hanging in the bazaars of Kabul. My parents would make me set in the back and wait while they went shopping,yes that was common thing to do! Anyway,this old poster is all remember and always wanted to see the movie. The poster had VK yielding a gun in the snow and all the supporting cast of who is who of the villains were in the background. Till this day I have not been to find the movie or know anyone who has seen it . Please let me know where I can find a dvd copy. Thanks

  31. Have you watched Dharma(1973). Its a must watch.An awesome movie.

  32. GADDAR was AUG 1973 release,This movie was unique in its own way,as one of finest character actors/added with finest villans of those times came under one umberla,and add to our Dear VINOOD uncle,who in those days experimented with so many different roles,and was successful too,be negative/positive/second lead or even as main lead,apart from him only SHATRU uncle was other one to achive this,no one apart these two uptill this day has able to achive this.THIS movie was base for two more movies,one CHAROON KI BAARAT (1980),and KAANTE(2001),though CHOORON KI BAARAAT was directed by same director(HARMESH MALHOTRA) had he repeated VINOOD uncle and YOGEETA aunty it would had been unique experiment,Though for record let me state that its only last half hour of the movie that YOGEETA aunty appeared and more or less there was no romantic angle between them,except for afringe of attachment(Here I will not to forget that between MERE APNE(1970)and LAAGAAM(1976)both of them worked together in about twelve movies,and they were mind blowing as pair)IN fact YOGEETA aunty was magic those days,though I could not Judge those days,since I was in early years of school,but when I Saw those movies once again in grown up years I releaised what charm she had,Hereby I Will also mention What DEV SAAB wrote about her,(DEV SAAB wrote when BANARSI BABU(1973)was about to begin,and I wastold that YOGEETA will play second lead I was reluctant at first since I worked with her aunt(Respeted GEETA BALI JI) in so many movies and not to forget I Have seen YOGEETA under age of five ,it would have been akward to me doing romantic scenes with her,but very next minute Like alight Athought stuck with me how distintive it would be for me that IN was Romantic Lead with both AUNT/niece,a record by itself,and away went my awarkedness,and she was as charming as her aunt.Those who wish to see different cinema,see this one and you Like,and too think exactly fourty years have gone by,and to me it seems it was only yesterday,strange are Laws of life.RAVINDER MINHAS,JALANDHAR CITY,PANJAB,minhas35@yahoo.com.

  33. What happened to Manmohan, who was a villain in many movies? I remember he was also in the movie “Amar Prem”. He happens to be the Sharmila Tagore’s husband, and turns up towards the end, before he dies. He was also in the movie “Pyar hi Pyar”, as the villain

    Can anyone tell me what happened to this guy? He was a great actor.

    • Late actor Manmohan passed away in 1978/79 as to best of my knowledge,his Last movies were Neeyat (oct 1980)and Kranti(Feb 1981)not many might aware he is father of producer NITIN MANMOHAN .A self admitted confession by VINOOD KHANNA,(In early stages of my Career,Manmohan helped me Lot,was quite opp. As person,to those roles enacted by him.RAVINDER MINHAS.minhas35@yahoo.com.

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