Samadhi (1972)

I have no idea why it took me so long to see this; you all know how much I love a daku-drama! Dacoits are so romantic when you’re not the one they are raping and pillaging, especially when they are Dharmendra. And I loved this one too: it combines a Message with a family saga so spectacularly effed up that it’s worthy of Jerry Springer. At one point I was reduced to scribbling helplessly on my notepad: “Things could not possibly Go More Wrong than this.”

And then they did!

Lakhan Singh (Dharmendra) and his gang (including but not limited to Madan Puri as Jaggu and Bhushan Tiwari as Kundan) are greatly feared in their locality. One evening they raid a village that is celebrating a child’s birth. The boy’s cousin-aunt is the feisty Champa (Asha Parekh) and her fantastic song “Bangle Ke Peechhe” (the choreography and Asha’s dancing are superb) is interrupted by the arrival of Lakhan and his men. Lakhan takes one look at Champa and is smitten. Who can blame him, really?

As his men gather up the other ladies’ jewelry etc., Lakhan throws her onto his horse and rides away with her. Back in their cave, Jaggu and Kundan are displeased when Lakhan refuses to “share” his ill-gotten girl with them, and he fares even worse with an angry Champa.

When she shoots Lakhan in the arm with his own rifle, his respect for her overtakes his lust and he decides to escort her home safe and sound. But when they reach her house, they overhear her aunt and uncle talking about how glad they are to be rid of Champa—now all her property will belong to them and their newborn son.

This saddens Champa immeasurably and she decides to cast her lot in with Lakhan, who is now completely in love with her. They get married in a temple and Lakhan gives up his gang to settle with her in a nearby town as “Laxman.” They find a place to live (their landlady is Leela Mishra, bless her) and Laxman buys a handcart with the proceeds of Champa’s jewelry, which she forces him to accept. His dacoits meanwhile speculate that he has been arrested or killed and continue under Jaggu’s leadership as Laxman and Champa build a happy life and sing some pretty songs together.

But we all know, this being a Hindi film and all, that Laxman/Lakhan’s former bad deeds cannot go unpunished no matter how hard he tries to reform. When his and Champa’s little son Jaswant is about three years old, Champa becomes ill with cancer. Doctors tell Laxman that her treatment will be expensive, very expensive for him. Laxman approaches a local moneylender named Lalaji (Randhir), who is painfully callous.

Not worth Rs. 5000?! I am as indignant as Laxman at this. How can anyone dismiss a woman who gives such excellent Nahin Face and carries off a bulky button-down men’s shirt under an equally voluminous Gujju saree drape? How??

On his way home from Lalaji’s, a desperate Laxman sees a little boy (Master Raju, I want to pinch his cheeks!) in the courtyard of a big mansion astride a rocking horse singing “Chal Mere Ghoda Tik Tik Tik.” He scribbles a note and gives it to the ayah to take inside to her employer, telling her that he’ll watch the boy, whose name is Ajay.

Inside, Ajay’s father Manoharlal (Abhi Bhattacharya) is horrified to read a ransom note from Dacoit Lakhan Singh instructing him to bring 5000 rupees to the Bhairavnath temple that evening in exchange for his son.

He does so, but tragedy (to put it mildly) strikes when Lakhan—in a hurry to return to Champa with the money—rushes down the rocky slope beneath the temple to meet him with little Ajay in his arms. He loses his footing and drops the boy, who rolls down the hill and falls from an overhanging rock to his death.

Meanwhile, Manoharlal has reached the temple at the top from the other side, and is calling desperately for Lakhan to return his son. Feeling terrible (as he should) Lakhan cradles the dead little toddler and hides until Manoharlal gives up and goes, and then buries him under the rocks.

Oh. The. Humanity.

This is where I write “Things could not possibly Go More Wrong than this” (underlined) on my notepad, but of course I am wrong. When Lakhan returns home he finds his own Jaswant in tears and Champa dead.

I don’t think the kid is “acting” either. If he is, he deserved the Filmfare Award that year.

Lakhan, having now kind of burned all his bridges in this town (the police soon come looking for him), takes Jaswant and goes back to his life as a dacoit. He is greeted warmly by his former gang and they quickly become fond of Jaswant as well although Lakhan frowns on them teaching him things like how to fire a rifle. Eight years of looting pass until the police finally catch up with them. Lakhan escapes with Jaswant and lands up at the Bhairavnath temple where he had buried little Ajay all those years ago, something which has haunted him since. He watches as a frail and sad-looking man comes down and gets into his big car, and asks the pandit about him.

It was Manoharlal of course, and Lakhan discovers that Mrs. Manoharlal had died from the shock of the kidnapping; he still comes to the temple every day in hopes of locating his lost son. Struck anew with guilt, and with his men scattered, arrested or killed, Lakhan makes a decision that will profoundly affect the rest of his and Jaswant’s lives.

Yup. He gives his son Jaswant to Manoharlal, convincing him that the boy is actually Ajay and that on the day the ransom was to be paid he had been forced to flee with Ajay from the police before he could hand him over. He says that he has brought Ajay up for the past eight years as his own son. Jaswant is naturally traumatized, having never heard about any of this before (since it isn’t true), though his feelings are glossed over.

Lakhan Singh surrenders to the police when they arrive after being called by Manoharlal’s brother Makhanlal (Sunder, who is married to Tun Tun and forms the blessedly unobtrusive CSP with her). He is sent to prison for 17 years (and reunited with Jaggu and Kundan there) while Jaswant grows up as Ajay to look exactly like his father Lakhan, although nobody ever seems to notice this.

Oh, the magic beards and mustaches of Hindi cinema. They can disguise anyone or anything!

Well, maybe not.

What will happen when Lakhan gets out of prison? Will Ajay/Jaswant accept his return with open arms (no)? Will society forgive him his past now that he has served his sentence (again, NO)? Will Manoharlal ever learn that his real son is dead and Jaswant the son of the dacoit who killed him (not telling!)?

I really did love this film, although it’s chock full of that “you cannot redeem yourself except through death and suffering” philosophy that depresses me. But none of the characters were caricatures; they were all real, and I cared about them. The performances are wonderful, and although I was v.v. sad to see Asha P. go, she is replaced with Jaya B. as Ajay/Jaswant’s love interest, and that is not a bad trade-off.

Plus, Tun Tun! Good Lord above, I love the faces she makes.

RD Burman’s songs are really lovely and nicely integrated into the story. The poignant lyrics to “Yeh Khel Hai Taqdeer Ke” by Majrooh Sultanpuri tell the film’s message and are luckily very nicely subtitled (thanks, Samrat!). Apart from the “Bangle Ke Peechhe” song, my favorite is the lovely “Jab Tak Rahe.”

And for dessert:

Gratuitous scene with Dharam in his chaddies!!! *Snoopy Dance*

PS: Do tell me how you like the new picture format—is it too much? or do you like having two for the price of one?

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61 Comments to “Samadhi (1972)”

  1. I didn’t read in too much detail as I’m planning to watch this one in the next couple of days, but I am really glad you liked it. Your fave Asha is finally growing on me – I recently watched her opposite Dharam in ‘Aaye Din Bahar Ke’ and ‘Aya Sawan Jhoom Ke’, and I thought she was terrific in both. And she’s so gorgeous. I like the new picture format a lot – I don’t think it’s too much. I also love your tag cloud, by the way.

    • Love a daku film myself. Mujhe Jeene Do is a great favourite. The older Dhermender/Asha Parekh/child seem te reflect shades from this.
      Oh, and not forgetting Gunga Jamuna.

      >Jaswant grows up as Ajay to look exactly like his father Lakhan, although nobody ever seems to notice this.

      LOL!!

      As for the new picture format, it seems sharper so is better I think (and we get more), though the single ones show more face, but that may be due to my eyes.

  2. Oh, and yayyy… Master Raju!! Love him.

  3. Awww… but why’d they have to do that to him? :-( So sad. (Ok, I’ll stop commenting as I read now).

    • I felt actual pain in my uterus when poor Raju went off the cliff :(

      • I felt awful looking at him in your screen cap, poor kid… his face all bloodied. Terrible. Why couldn’t they have chosen some child actor who wasn’t so cute and so well-known? :-(

        I am in a dilemma about this film – I love nearly all the actors and actresses you’ve listed, I like daaku movies, and I love Bangle ke peechhe. But I can’t bear that stuff about only death being penance enough…

        • Yeah, it’s a downer. But it is really well made. Actually there isn’t a lot of time spent on the dacoit stuff, so don’t watch it for that although Dharam looks so good in his black dacoit outfit on a beautiful white horse :D

  4. Loving this new format. It is expansive, you can pack in more screenshots, the comments section is much easier to read, what’s not to like? :-)

    Coming to the movie, I really love “Samadhi”. I’d seen it as a young boy (I seem to say that for every film, don’t I? ;-) ), but surprisingly this is one story I actually DO remember. I was shocked at a couple of scenes – the boy falling to his death (never happens, does it? Or wasn’t there something like this in Loafer too?) and then Asha Parekh dying.

    I remember the movie comfortably progressing from “gaon” to “modern”, with the second generation. The songs are lovely – “bangle ke peechhe” is now probably better known as “kaanta laga”, thanks to some remixes a few years ago (RD must be turning in his grave!). “Jab tak rahe” is also lovely. I remember that car song “Jaan-e-jaana” being very typically RD Burman of that time, very “Jawani Diwani” like.

    All in all, I found it a thoroughly enjoyable movie though it has its moments of typical Hindi movie melodrama, especially with the father Dharmendra.

    As usual, I love your review. “How can anyone dismiss a woman who gives such excellent Nahin Face and carries off a bulky button-down men’s shirt under an equally voluminous Gujju saree drape?” Hilarious! Wow – you even know how a Gujju saree drape is! You’re as good as desi in my books, memsaab! :-)

  5. Great review as always. “Samadhi” is one movie that was being shown for free in my colony in an open ground at night in early 1970s, but as happeds with things that are free, I passed over the opportunity to watch it then. It is much later that I realised that this movie is full of superb songs, a few of them now re-utilised as remixes.

    This new picture format is nice. It appears like the 70 mm movie format :) that was the rage in 1970s in Hindi movies.

  6. Why did my comment get posted way up, I just wrote it :-/

  7. ah i love a good dacoit drama/masala, i’ve been curious about this, I’m watching a dacoit-ish masala ‘Mela’ with Feroz, sanjay and Mumtaz, so far so good, I think you’d like that

  8. 1972 belonged to Dharmendra and Jaya Bhaduri. While he had hits like ‘Do Chor’, ‘Seeta Aur Geeta’ and ‘Raja Jani’ apart from this one, she had so many movies – ‘Koshish’, ‘Parichay’, ‘Jawani Diwani’ and a few more with Amitabh.

    This was the year when Rajesh Khanna’s downfall started and Dharmendra was the ‘stop gap superstar’ till Amitabh arrived with ‘Zanjeer’ (1973).

    Dharmendra was also the ‘stop gap superstar’ in 1987 with superhits like ‘Aag Hi Aag’, ‘Loha’, ‘Hukumat’ and several others. This was when Amitabh was having a break till his return in ‘Shahenshah’ (1988).

    Must say Dharmendra’s staying power is enviable considering he had to face rough weather not from one but from four superstars – Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan.

    Coming to ‘Samadhi’, it became a silver jubilee hit on its release. This was Director Prakash Mehra’s third movie after ‘Haseena Maan Jaayegi’ (1968) and ‘Mela’ (1971). Prakash did want Dharmendra for ‘Zanjeer’ as well, but due to date problems, it didn’t work out. Not surprising at all, since Dharmendra did have so many movies in 1973 as well. I don’t know why they never worked again. Possibly Prakash was smitten by the Amitabh persona :-)

  9. Memsaab, have you heard that the song “BANGLE KE PEECHE” has been remixed into a disco number and has become more popular as a raunchy item song, nearly the other name of SEDUCTION? It has become a craze for all Gen Y’s and younger Gen X’s. No wonder Lataji was fuming over the conversion.
    Asha does look pretty even in that ‘Nagin’ look. Dharam is irresistible, as usual.
    This film is loosely based on one short story of Tagore, titled “MY LORD, THE BABY”, in which a devoted servant by negligence leaves his master’s child by the river, who gets drowned, and the shocked and guilt-ridden servant escapes to his village. There he finds that his wife had died in labour, giving birth to a son. When the child gets older, the servant superstitiously feels his master’s son had been born again in his house and the sense of DUTY compels him to return the child to its “real” father.
    Alas, GREAT TRAGEDY! The master accepts the lie of his son being alive, but throws out the servant on the charge that he had never suspected him for anything and had strongly defended him for a ‘crime’ that he had proven himself guilty now; so he deserves no sympathy. Worse, his own son also accepts the lie, and seeing that ‘his father’ is a wealthy man, asks him to pay the servant a pittance for taking care of him for all this years. The servant was never found again.
    I am sure this film is good one, but I choose not to watch it(too pensive), so thanks for forewarning me, Memsaab. As for the pictures, I feel no difference except the picture being a little sharper; you can continue with it.
    LOL, and waiting for your next review. Astalavista.

    • I gathered that about the song although I have no wish to see it :D

      And I have to say that the title of that Tagore story (or at least your translation of it) made me fall off my chair laughing. It could very well have been the title of this movie too! MY LORD, THE BABY. Oh Bhagwan! (as my Gujju Damu Auntie would say) :)

  10. The name of the story in its original Bengali form was “The return of Khokababu” Khoka being the bengali nickname for a boy, and babu denoting the respect due to him being the master. Is “My Lord….” the name for the English translation? How needlessly dramatic ! I always felt depressed with the story, not one of my favourites. This story too sounds depressing, I don’t want to watch the kid falling down the cliff….

    • The kid falling down the cliff is depressing for sure, as is much of the rest of it…but it’s still a good film if you are in the right mood for that. “The Return of Khokababu” is not nearly as fun as MY LORD, THE BABY though it is more sane :D

  11. Love the new picture format. I love all things new, so I love thisone as well! The blog as a whole has a sort of new clean look to it. Nothing cluttered here!
    It just struck me that the story is like a male Aradhana!
    And just to add one more ‘love’. JUst loooooove the songs! ;-)
    Great write up!

  12. Asha Parekh is the actress with the most percentage of box office hit – 1959 to 1975 she has hits (till Zakhmee as the lead heroine) )in Hindi Film Industry followed by Mumtaz, Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman and Sharmila Tagore in that order.
    In Tamil Films Saroja Devi had the most number of Box Office Hits.

    In Samadhi, I like all the songs …obviously its RD Burman so all songs are bound to be melodious …my favourite is Maine Dekha Ek Sapna…sung by Lata Kishore Kumar.

    I like the movie very much…
    Memsaab , thanks again for reviewing films of 1965-1985 era…..i repeat the best movies were made in this period with legendary actors…..who not only gave hits but also gave strong performances in thier films.
    1969-1986 period saw each year film industry having atleast 40 super-hit films of 200 released films.
    Post 1990 saw just maximum of 20 hits each year(that too many of them would be crap films becoming hit by mistake) and today as on 2011….just 10-15 hit films and 4 good films off the 250 films made and released in a year in Hindi.

  13. I like the double photos format. And I liked the movie, and Dharmendra, and the songs, and Asha dancing and Jaya B not dancing. And I really like Memsaab’s reviews.

    :-)

  14. Earlier review format was much better. Bigger pictures followed by relevant comment/narrative set your reviews apart. New format looks bit cluttered and smaller pictures do not make it better. I am old school ‘why fix something that is not broken’ type. But that is just me and my opinion. So go with what you like.

    • I think you are outnumbered kp! Sorry. Hopefully you can get used to it :) I probably will still do some single bigger screen shots, since the SS take up a lot of time and twice the number will probably take twice the time!

  15. How curious that you as well as many of your commentators like daku-movies!! I think my daku-gene is missing, I can never watch a daku film without literally cringing! I am a wuss :( But your review made an entertaining read, I enjoyed it :)

    • Well, they usually end in tears so I can understand why…but I think I mostly love them for the horses. My Gemma loved them for that reason too and would bark like crazy at them :)

  16. Delighted to learn that it was my turn to provide you a wee bit of entertainment, Memsaab. Atria’s title is actually the correct one; I had borrowed mine from a book of translated stories of Tagore, and they were in condensed form there. But I have the original collection too, and have also read it. But I did not give the correct title, as I then had to go through the trouble of explaining it.
    (ASIDE: Is Atria a Bengali girl living in Kolkata? Like to know.)

  17. LOL@ the riff on “docu-drama”… and this must surely be the “Let’s Fall in Love with Intro Paras” week.

    “Yeh Khel Hai Taqdeer Ke” struck a chord, and “Jab Tak Rahe” reminded me of my favorite “Jab tak rahe GA samose mein aaloo” song from Mr&Mrs Khiladi (quite timely too, coz I just re-watched a favorite Tamil film, Oram Po, where the hero heroine each samosas at the beach and she (12th pass) gushes about how complementary their Chemistry is — coz he loves the soft inner aaloo parts while she indulges in the crispy exterior — and he (practically illiterate) goes, uh, “chemistry”? what’s that? LOL!)

    And a famous someone’s chaddies for dessert? Couldn’t ever fault you, could we?? :)

    PS – I must admit it’s a bittersweet feeling whenever I stop by and read about all the movies I missed watching, growing up, and probably will never find the time (or the inclination or the DVD) to watch again.

  18. Yay for once I have seen a movie before memsaab did. Fab review! I was in splits when i read “for dessert”.

    Bangley ke peeche has been re-mixed to death by the current lot in the music industry. The original song is so melodious and very well picturised as you observed.

    As you already know, I liked the movie. I didn’t want to “spoil it” for you, hence kept mum about the short length of Asha’s role.

    Jaya was young and refreshing

  19. [quote]Not worth Rs. 5000?! I am as indignant as Laxman at this. How can anyone dismiss a woman who gives such excellent Nahin Face and carries off a bulky button-down men’s shirt under an equally voluminous Gujju saree drape? How??[/quote]

    She’s priceless really. :)

    Halfway through the post I’m struck by a weird similarity of this story to the later Korean film ‘Sympathy for My Vengeance’. In that a guy kidnaps a kid to get money for his sick sister (who kills herself anyway) and then accidentally kills the kid by taking her with him to a deserted area. Esxcept for the suicide part — the resemble is uncanny. I think these Koreans have been watching ‘Samdhi’! :0

  20. Nice review, thanks. Oh, and the two-picture format is better. :)

  21. Love the songs which is how I know about the movie (only seen parts). Totally agree, my favorites are also jab tak rahe and Maine dekha ek sapna. Jaya is adorable and not the shrew I have always thought she was/is. As for things going wrong, believe me real life throws up more fantastic, unimaginable stories than anything bolly can come up with.
    Dharm loves to show off–every movie has one or more of those gratuitous scenes. There are more chaddi scenes in Lalkar. Not that anyone is complaining.

  22. I didn’t like the movie one bit when I saw it all those years ago. First of all the name – Samadhi – gives me creeps. The boy’s death spoiled things so much for me, that I just could not enjoy the movie at all, despite the presence of big stars and some good songs.

  23. I don’t mind the two photo format – and the main reason for that is that I love your writing and the way you tell films (and other things). Thank you!

  24. OOOOOH. So much suffering but lots of tradeoff!

    This post reminds me of two collections our happy blog community ought to work on: 1) moments at which we went “things could not POSSIBLY get worse” and then they do and 2) Dharmendra chaddies. Keith and Todd have assured me there is a limitless supply of the latter.

  25. ITs very entertianing Film Dharmendra Acted Brilliantly in it.

    But,Arzoo of Rajendra kumar was far far better than this film.

  26. Memsaab…..you left out Shetty and the great fight with Dharmendra

  27. I just started reading your blog, and find it quite refreshing, maybe because no one else reviews Hindi films. Anyways check out Pratigya as well, another one of Dharmendra’s dacoits’ movies, if you can find it. One of my favorites really, would like to see your reviews on it.

    • Lots of people review Hindi films, but not so many people are willing to wade through the obscure stuff I sometimes do :D I have reviewed Pratiggya here already (see the indexes above for complete lists alphabetically and chronologically).

  28. my bad. I randomly search for the movies and mis-spelled the name for Pratiggya, and I couldn’t find it under Dharmendra, so I just assumed. And I am borrowing this from Ms. Eliza Bennet, the fun part is the way you tell films, the details about the backgrounds of a particular scene, the side artists (you watch the whole movie and you don’t even know the names of these character actors, and the great thing is that they were all wonderful performers back in the day, unlike what we have today)
    every other review I have read is just talking about the main characters, and how and why the movie was good or bad, so I will just say keep up the good work

  29. Can anyone tell me more about actress Dulari?

  30. Prakash Mehra’s film pre Zanjeer, a superhit
    The film has the hit song Bangle ke peeche

  31. Nice stuff – Memsaab. have been reading your reviews for quite some time but somehow did not leave a message. Now entering the domain and would like to comment for a long time. Keep up the good work. A true filmi guy I am and really appreciate your reviews. Brings up nostalgia of those growing up years when movies were not supposed to be seen much (elders would chide us) and also there were very few options apart from seeing in the theatres as compared to nowadays with so many channels, internet etc. Just one request – please review movies more from the 60’s and 70’s as it was the golden years of cinema with melodious music, pretty heroines and great actors.

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