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!