I was pleasantly surprised by this no-holds-barred launch vehicle for producer-director Kishore Sahu’s daughter Naina, although possibly not for the reasons he intended. It is a colorful and melodramatic soap opera of the first order, and the actors are given full scope for expressing every emotion from despair to…well, utter despair. Rarely have I enjoyed other people’s anguish so much. It is also surprisingly progressive, especially for a star daughter’s debut: she gets pregnant while unmarried, and is eventually accepted by the townspeople as a single mother! There’s even a little plug in favor of sex education.
Plus the music is superb: in addition to some pretty love songs are two Helen numbers (and she has a sizable role) and a picnic with everyone doing the twist! Happy, happy.
Ravi Mehra (Biswajeet) is the son of wealthy contractor Amarchand Mehra (DK Sapru). He attends college in Bombay with some of his childhood friends: Bipin (Shiv Kumar), Jimmy (Rajendranath), Tripathi (Asrani) and Nattu (Raj Kishore). They return to their home town during a holiday break and Ravi is instantly smitten by his friend Bipin’s next door neighbor, Mohini (Naina Sahu) at the aforementioned picnic.
He is unaware that Bipin also loves Mohini, and when Bipin realizes that Mohini is clearly more interested in Ravi he steps aside quietly. Bipin’s parents treat Mohini as a daughter too, and Mohini herself is studying at the local college where her father Kishanlal Saxena (Nasir Hussain) is a professor.
As it happens, I like Bipin better than Ravi throughout and keep wishing that Mohini had the good sense to fall for him instead. I also might as well say now too that Naina Sahu is very pretty indeed (she looks just like her father, actually, who was also very striking) but she probably should have opted for a modelling career instead of acting.
Ravi and Mohini are soon meeting clandestinely every afternoon and singing pretty songs like “Panchhi Re O Panchhi.”
Famous last words!!!!!
Ravi’s father has a business partner by the name of Malhotra, whose daughter Pushpa (Helen) they both fondly imagine married to Ravi. Pushpa fondly imagines it too, although Ravi is obviously not interested in her as anything other than a friend. When he throws a fancy dress party he invites both Pushpa and Mohini, and reassures Mohini when she is jealous.
It’s an excellent excuse for a Helen dance too (“Le Ja Dil Hai Tera”).
When it’s time for Ravi to return to Bombay for his final exams, he promises Mohini that he will return in three months and bring her green glass bangles (hare kanch ki chooriyan) for their wedding. But we have now concluded the happy portion of the film; and when Mohini faints one evening in front of the family doctor (Brahm Bhardwaj), who is examining her heart-patient mother, he makes a diagnosis which takes us from concern:
to abject despair—in less than 60 seconds!
From her pupil response and pulse rate, the good doctor determines that Mohini is three months pregnant.
Saxena is beside himself (as only Nasir Hussain can be, bless him). It turns out that Amarchand Mehra is an old enemy of his, and when he takes Mohini to confront Ravi’s parents Amarchand refuses to give his consent for a Ravi-Mohini marriage. Instead he insults Mohini, implying that she “knows” lots of boys, and is only naming Ravi because he is rich. He is really despicable.
When Saxena and Mohini reach home, her mother dies of a heart attack on learning the news. Insult to injury!
As Mohini’s pregnancy becomes obvious, she is vilified. Even Bipin’s mother Maya (Lalita Pawar), who had embraced her as a daughter and hoped to fix her marriage with Bipin, rejects her, putting a lock on the gate between their houses. Mohini holds fast to the knowledge that Ravi will return soon and everything will be okay, and to my relief her father sticks by her although he is not so sure about Ravi.
Ravi himself has been finishing his exams and dreaming of Mohini, but as he is packing up to return home his father arrives. Amarchand spins a tale that he’s had a heart attack and the doctors want him to go to America for treatment. He basically forces Ravi to accompany him (Ravi was planning to go there soon to continue his studies anyway) on the spot.
At the airport, Bipin catches up with Ravi and tries to find out what’s going on; Mehra interrupts them and pushes Ravi inside the building after Ravi manages to slip a note to Bipin to give to Mohini.
At home, Mohini is devastated to discover that Ravi has left for America to further his studies instead of coming home with her green glass bangles. Bipin gives her Ravi’s note, but feeling betrayed and hopeless, she burns it without reading it. She does the same thing to every letter Ravi sends her from America, and over the rest of her pregnancy gets very little kindness from anyone except the kind local storekeeper (Jankidas):
and dear faithful Bipin, who even asks her to marry him (to his mother’s rage). She turns him down gently with that great example of male wishful thinking: an Indian woman can only love once, she tells him.
By this point the subtitles have disappeared and they remain absent for a half hour or so, while Mohini gives birth during a dramatic monsoon rain. Possibly the subtitler was too overcome with emotion to continue his work, as this occasion gives our veteran actors tremendous dramatic opportunities. Mohini screams in pain as her father stands at the locked gate, soaking wet and agonized, pleading with neighbor Maya for help. Maya adamantly refuses and is furious when Bipin (who is now a doctor) arrives home and immediately goes to Mohini’s aid. Inside, Bipin’s father (SN Banerjee) finally grows a pair and remonstrates passionately with her, resulting in an epiphany for Maya about the unfeeling error of her ways.
It’s all very satisfying, plus the subtitles finally return.
Maya’s change of heart and adoration of Mohini’s son ensures that the rest of the village accepts him (and Mohini) too, and as he grows he is spoiled rotten by everyone.
But the drama is not over yet, not by any means. Three years pass quickly and it is time for Ravi to return. He has continued to send letters to Mohini and, puzzled at her lack of response, he is eager to see her. The entire village turns out to greet him at the train station (except Mohini and son), including Bipin. He has something to tell Ravi, of course:
but Amarchand gets in there first.
He tells Ravi that Mohini’s child is around a year and a half in age and that Bipin is the father. Devastated, and thinking he now understands why Mohini never responded to his many letters, Ravi refuses to see Bipin the next day.
And Pushpa is still waiting in the wings, determined to marry Ravi herself and by now very envious of Mohini.
Will Ravi and Mohini discover the truth? Or will Ravi marry Pushpa as his father wants?
There is still plenty of Trauma-Drama-O-Rama (™Beth) to come!
If agony, despair and manipulation are your thing, you will love Hare Kanch Ki Chooriyan.