Kashmakash (1973)

I got this film for three main reasons: Feroz Khan, Ranjeet and the title. Kashmakash. What a word! It just rolls off the tongue, na? I am informed by my friend Raja—who also subtitled it for me, more on that later—that it means troubles or problems. The people in this have plenty of them, not the least of which is putting up with IS Johar’s endless pompous and pointless pontificating (a problem for us too). Mitigating that, though, are the aforementioned Feroz and Ranjeet; cracktastic Seventies costuming and set decorations; a young plump Rekha (the best kind), a less insufferable than usual Shatrughan Sinha, and Memsaab favorite Rehman; very cool music by Kalyanji Anandji including a fab dance by Padma Khanna; plus an engaging murder mystery.

If only we had far less of IS Johar (whose early films I am fond of, but he tries hard here to eradicate that good will). He is so smug and long-winded that I want to smack him when he appears: the movie grinds to a halt until he shuts up and everyone can move on. He plays Private Detective IS Johar (it really doesn’t get any more self-serving than that, does it?), alias Kanhai, and I will give him that he has a fine little dog in Moti. Also, I do agree with him wholeheartedly on one point.

I am omitting him from as much of this review as I can, as I wish I could have done the same with the film, but be warned—the FF button is your friend whenever he shows up.

Satish Gupta (Feroz Khan) lives with his wife and his sister Ritu (Asha Sachdev, I am fairly certain, although her name doesn’t appear in the credits—was she known as Seema early on?) who shyly tells him that she has met the man of her dreams.

Satish’s kashmakash is that his wife Seeta (Rekha) has gone off to visit her elderly mother, leaving him to eat bad food and to do without her, um, companionship. His friend Manmohan (Ramesh Deo) points out the blessings that arise for the mouse when the cat is away.

He takes his pouting dost off to a nightclub where we are all treated to a cabaret dance from Sapna (Padma Khanna), who hilariously wears a skirt decorated with the numbers 36 24 36 (although they’d be better placed on a dress, I think).

Sapna, while not unhappy precisely, has trouble herself in the form of a jealous ex-boyfriend named Johnny Paul (Ranjeet) who has just been released from jail, to her dismay. She tells Kanhai (he really does show up everywhere uninvited) that she is afraid he will kill her, and sure enough he is waiting in her dressing room.

100% AWESOME, you mean!

I must say here that though my expectations for the film were low, my expectations of Ranjeet were very high indeed—and he met or exceeded them at every turn. Hundred percent! Anyway, her fear of him notwithstanding, Sapna tosses him out of her dressing room and tells him she never wants to see him again. Before he goes, he warns her that he will not be happy if he discovers she is seeing other men.

Meanwhile, Manmohan gives Sapna’s phone number (also 36-24-36) to Satish although he professes not to want it. He is pining for his biwi and becomes lost in memories of her, some of which lead me to think that maybe he’s not the most attentive husband in the world although I may be looking too deep into this particular plot.

His reverie leads into a song which makes me giggle: Feroz and Rekha grapple awkwardly in “romantic” poses, but I am distracted by Rekha’s watercolor floral saree and Feroz’s chest hair.

Sadly for all those young (or not) men out there Googling “Rekha hot shower scene” his daydream is interrupted by a telephone call from Sapna, who invites him to her place. He is fairly easily convinced, leading me to speculate again that Seeta’s absence may be his own fault, although he confesses to Sapna that it’s his “first experience” (I can only imagine the kinds of people this post is going to bring me!).

What follows makes me laugh so hard that I have to keep going back to make sure I haven’t missed any little detail. Satish has to work very hard to put himself into the mood for adulterous seduction (although he sticks to just the one drink); fortunately Sapna has things lying around to help titillate him, and at last he is ready!

So…sad, but oh my goodness so funny too. It’s like an adolescent boy decided that he’d make a porno, but then realized that he had no idea what pornography actually is. But as Satish and Sapna cozy up in the darkness of her bedroom we hear her scream. The credits roll (yes—the credits, finally) against the backdrop of a bloodstain, a man fleeing outside, and Feroz driving home.

When he gets there, Seeta has unexpectedly returned.

There is obviously a bunch of footage missing at this point (and Seeta apparently goes back to her mother’s; she disappears for the next hour), but the next day Satish is unnerved when he gets a visitor in the form of Police Inspector Sinha (Shatrughan Sinha). It turns out that Sinha is the man whom Ritu loves, and he is only there to acquaint himself with Satish.

Satish’s relief lasts only until he sees the morning paper.

Inspector Asit Sen (Asit Sen) is assigned to the Sapna murder case, although the Superintendent of Police (DK Sapru) asks Sinha to investigate as well. Sinha visits Johnny, who denies having been with Sapna the night she was done in, and Inspector Sen in the meantime settles on Sapna’s landlord as the perpetrator, a wealthy businessman-turning-politician named Rana Chowdhary (Rehman). Rana Sahab has just gotten engaged to the beautiful Lata (Zeb Rehman)—who, it turns out, is Johnny’s sister.

Satish himself was seen going into Sapna’s apartment before the murder by the ever-present blabbermouth Kanhai, who rats on him to Inspector Sinha. Seeta returns to discover that her husband is a changed man, riddled with guilt and anxiety.

Who killed Sapna? Was it Satish? Johnny? Rana Chowdhury? Or someone else? Can Inspectors Sen and Sinha solve the case? Will Sinha lose Ritu when she discovers that her brother is one of his suspects? Can Satish’s marriage to Seeta survive it all?

It’s not a good film, exactly, but if curiosity and prom-night seduction tactics aren’t enough to make you watch this, consider the following:

A Ranjeet fashion parade:

He pairs patterned swim trunks with a white scarf and a fishing rod (and more).

Grandma’s quilt makes a fine ruffled jumpsuit.

And how can anyone not love the ever-present accessories he is justly famous for?

The ladies have chiffon sarees and bright patterns of their own (and lots of Spare Hair):

…while Feroz loses no opportunity to simply take his clothes off.

My favorite item of home decor is this red quilted pleather folding wall/room divider (want!):

And here we have again The Room—murals and bas-relief peacocks! (please somebody tell me where this was! It is so loony, and used in everything filmed in the mid-Seventies!)

There is even a villain’s lair with gadgets operated by Habib and this mystery henchman.

What more can I really say? Just see it, it’s fun as long as you have recourse to the FF button on occasion. If you need subtitles (you will need to get the Priya VCD), I will happily email them to you if you leave me a comment (put your email address in the proper field and nobody will be able to see it but me). And bahut bahut shukriya to Raja for his efforts in putting them together for those of us who need them. Thank you, my friend—sometimes it isn’t just the “classics” which deserve translation!

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37 Comments to “Kashmakash (1973)”

  1. Wow, I get to comment first on this review. “Kashmaksh”, a heavy duty Urdu word,means “Dilemma” I think.

    • Ah, Urdu. It seems to me to be a wonderful language with such mellifluous words :) I am sure I will now collect a whole lot of different ideas on how to translate it :)

      • Kashmaksh means to grapple or struggle with something. But a no win or catch 20 20 situation is implied in the sub context of the word.

  2. “Main kashmakash mein hoon” means I am in a dilemma.

  3. Another lovely review, Greta. Thanks. :-)

    Come to think of it, a more appropriate and specific word for Kashmakash is probably “dilemma”. Anyway, you’ve learnt a new word now – though hopefully you don’t have to use it too often in your life. :-)

    One very minor correction (completely irrelevant to the story): Ritu (yes, it is Asha Sachdev) does not stay with Feroz as such. She studies in a hostel and has just come home to his place to meet Seeta to tell her about her boyfriend. I think my subtitles missed that bit. Completely irrelevant of course. :-)

    Even by his own standards, Ranjit was just amazing in this movie. Every single thing that you love Ranjit for – his dress sense, his bragging, his partying – they were all there. I was chuckling when I was subtitling the line “A glass of wine…”. :-)

    Feroz and Rehman are of course always great to see – and since this was pre-Amitabh Rekha, I found her ok.

    I remember some of Shatru’s dialogues also being quite long-winded – but then, much like Raj Kumar, Shatru without dialogues is like Dara Singh without a wrestling scene. :-)

    I liked Padma Khanna too – I think she may just be one notch less than Faryal in the vamp ratings. This could very well have been Faryal though (after all, she was with Feroz in Apradh?).

    IS Johar was indeed about as pompous as it gets. To make it worse, I think many of his dialogues are Hindi jokes/wit, with rhyming, which may sound ok in Hindi but totally get lost in translation. Be that as it may, in this movie there is no doubt he spoke way way more than was necessary. He just turned up everywhere and started opening his gob.

    Lastly, THAT henchman. I thought he had a pretty big role in this, by his standards. Not big enough to be in the credits unfortunately :(. We need some major help on this guy (and the “gora-looking” gentleman) – both very prolific.

    Thanks for another good review. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Shotgun was fortunate in that IS Johar was so much more annoying that he actually seemed okay, although I generally put him squarely in the “Will you please just SHUT UP” category. Padma was a perfect vamp in this—a working girl just trying to make ends meet and to live life on her own terms. I loved her. But of course she was killed off only half an hour in.

      I liked this because it made no pretence of being anything other than shallow entertainment, and on that score it succeeded, largely thanks to Ranjeet and Feroz :)

  4. Somehow I have a feeling that in this time, the leading men played grey shades even though the movie had happy endings. Feroz Khan in this movie, Shatrughan Sinha in Ek Naari Do Roop (1973 again), Hawas (1974), Kaam Shastra (1975) etc., all of them had the leading men straying down the wrong path and then coming back to the…well…..oh so goody goody heroine.

    1973 was also the era of the ‘angry young man’ in the form of Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan. In my opinion, this could well be the landmark year for Bollywood as so many trends were set and so many movies went on to be superhits.

    • Certainly it’s one of MY favorite years for films. I was thinking that this morning—that so many films I really like were made in 1973, and they are so different from one another (Blackmail, Gaddar, Raja Rani, Manchali, Namak Haram, Zanjeer). The momentum stayed true for a couple of years too, as you say. Even the ones that I dislike (Hawas!) at least were different from the usual run-of-the-mill films preceding them.

      • You could add Yaadon Ki Baaraat to the list too. 1966 too evokes the same kind of reaction in me. :-)

      • Ek Kunwari Ek Kunwara – my most fav movie of pran in 1973
        Yaadon Ki Baaraat
        Nafrat
        Manchali
        Khoon Khoon
        Keemat
        Kahani Kismat Ki
        Jaise Ko Taisa
        Banarasi Babu – devanand’s biggest hit of the year
        Aarop – very nice movie
        Aa Gale Lag Jaa – shahsi’s big hit movie
        Anhonee and Anamika — both sanjeev kumar superhits

        iam waiting for memsaab to review all of these movies
        Gehri Chaal
        Avishkaar – rajesh khanna got best actor award
        Garam Hawa

  5. i would like to have this movie.
    interesting review .
    iam sure its not really a bad movie.
    it does give u a thrill much similar to kab kyun aur kaha..

  6. First of all – a big sorry that this is my first comment on your blog although I have been a faithful reader for sooo long!! Your blog is just amazing, the way you enjoy and write about Hindi movies is just something else. I used to be a big fan of the 90s+ Hindi movies but never really appreciated the 70s era movies until I started viewing them through your eyes.. and now I am such a convert! :)
    Anyway, so a BIG THANK YOU for opening my eyes, and also would like to add that my parents actually own that decorative piece you have posted in the “things lying around to help titillate him” image – The half lady emerging from the tree trunk that’s at the bottom left.

    • LOL!!! That is just totally awesome :D Feroz just stares and stares at all these statues…which are just so NOT very sexy at all. Really I just about died laughing.

      Nice to meet you Shalaka, and thanks for your kind words :)

  7. I found this review by googling “Feroz Khan Moti shower scene”.

    This looks great. God, I want all of those porny tchotchkes!

  8. The Koala henchman could possibly be Mohammed Ali (stunt director). Ali is the fight director in Apradh where the actor again appears.

    The older gentleman = Ram Kamlani?

    • No, I think Ram Kamlani (credited in the film as “late” Ram Kamlani) played a minor character, maybe the manservant? (He also wrote the dialogues or something, I forget.) The older guy I am looking for was just an extra in the nightclub for Padma’s dance.

      The henchman could be Mohammed Ali…could be many people at this point.

  9. Oh my gosh, I want to watch this – but I wouldn’t write it up because all I could do is post exactly the same pictures you did! :) Ranjeet’s fashion parade is *110 percent* amazing. It’s like examples of the logical extensions of all the arguments created by other costumes of the era, e.g. if a neckerchief looks so awesome with a suit or tunic or psychedellic button-down shirt, then WHY NOT with belted swim trunks? And Rekha’s overalls? WOW.

    • Well, you could in fact write it up with many many more screenshots—I feel I only really scratched the surface despite the volume! Rekha’s overalls, so much more delectable home decor items…and lots more Ranjeet (drinking, womanizing, fighting) :D

      If you get it and want the subtitles, let me know!

  10. I love Rekha in her purple pants. And I have a watercolor floral saree too (my Mom’s), though it’s not quite as green. :)

    And Asha Sachdev is one of my favourites. With her lovely smile and her dimples. Though of course she was known for better things. :)

    This feels like a film I must see, with Ranjeet and all. Though Dhanno says ‘yuck’ to Feroz’s hairy chest. What to do? These kids have grown up with the clean shaven Khans.

    • I’ll bet you look gorgeous in that watercolor saree. I want one! I haven’t seen Asha Sachdev in much, but usually when I finally notice somebody they end up in everything I watch next so I am sure I will :)

      Feroz’s hairy chest is MANLY. Indeed these poor kids have a warped sense of what looks good any more. Botox, waxing, plastic surgery….SIGH.

  11. Kashmakash means conflict, usually implying an inner struggle

  12. Nice and admirable review indeed. I would like to watch this movie. If you can really send me this movie, I will be thankful.

    Jitendra Mathur

  13. 100% AWESOME is right! Thanks especially for the fashion show and the chest hair! :)

  14. Just read Guru Dutt’s original title for Pyaasa was Kashmakash!
    But Feroze looks better without his shirt than Guru Dutt would ever do! ;-)

    • Pyaasa was a good final choice but I can see why Kashmakash would have been in the running. Although Kashmakash has such a great “oomph” factor as a word, it would have been wrong for the sensibilities of Pyaasa, I think. Great trivia though!

  15. Hi Memsaab
    I have been following your blog for quite a while and like your love for the movies and the effort you have put into this blog.
    I think to my knowledge “kashmkash” means “a state of confusion and inner fight within your mind” or in one word “dillemma” or “a state of perplexity” and certainly not the meaning Raja offered you.
    And you are right, its a beautiful word, very poetic. Bye

  16. Terrific Shot!!!
    Can’t wait to watch this movie…Raima is a great actress

  17. Awesome movie and scene too, Great movie of golden bollywood time….

  18. If I am not mistaken, Kashmakash was totally based on Chase’s paperback ‘Tiger by the tail’

  19. It absolutely was, Jayant, except for the mystery viiain – it was not the detective in the book, though for the life of me I can’t remember who it was!

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