It is a fact that when I started this blog I had grandiose plans to cover every single film Shammi ever starred in (well, that I could find, anyway). Little did I know how distracted I would become by so much other stuff, but here I go in a valiant attempt to move a teeny bit forward towards that lofty goal.
The Shakti Samanta-Shammi team made several memorable films and I think this is their first together. It has its entertaining moments, but after the first hour or so begins to drag for me. The songs are lovely (Shankar-Jaikishan); Shammi is lovely LOVELY (even in disguise); Padmini and Shashikala and Malaysian actress Maria Menado are lovely; but at the end of the day this isn’t one I want to watch over and over. Shammi’s exuberance seems to have nowhere to go and it fizzles; his chemistry with Padmini is tepid and although I am a fan of Agha, he is not the Shammi sidekick that Rajendranath was.
Khair. They can’t all be Teesri Manzil or Junglee, can they now?
Our story begins in Singapore, where a man named Ramesh (Gautam Mukherjee) manages a rubber plantation belonging to his childhood friend Shyam (Shammi Kapoor). Ramesh is in a relationship with Shobha (Shashikala), the daughter of wealthy New India Club owner Shivdas (KN Singh). She is delighted when Ramesh tells her that he has decided not to sell Shyam’s rubber estates and return to India as previously planned because he has discovered a clue to some “treasure” on the property. He has sent three letters about it to Shyam and received no reply; but other people are certainly paying attention!
Shivdas and two of his henchmen, Chang (Madan Puri in faux Chinese mode) and Kapoor (Rajan Kapoor), have planted a listening device on the lamp at Rajesh and Shobha’s table. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view) Ramesh is not confiding in Shobha any more than that.
After taking her home Ramesh returns to his office, where he telephones Shyam in India and finally reaches him. He tells Shyam that he’s found a map which shows that a treasure is located on Shyam’s property.
This is a stellar gadget scene: a reel-to-reel recorder automatically tapes the call, and Ramesh stashes the map inside a musical cigarette case masquerading as a bottle of VAT 69 when his conversation is interrupted by two men lurking outside. Shyam hears the tinkling of the musical case as Ramesh shuts it quickly into a desk drawer. I simply adore the explosion of cigarettes when the thing is opened, and the completely incongruous tinkling ballerina music which issues forth.
Ramesh is kidnapped when he goes out to investigate the intruders. A confused Shyam is left talking to nobody, and when Ramesh subsequently fails to show up for work, he decides to go to Singapore to investigate.
On the plane to Singapore, Shyam meets the mysterious Maria (Maria Menado) who flirts with him. He is greeted at the airport by office manager Cha Choo (Agha, and oh how these fake Chinese names both pain and amuse me!). Cha Choo is of course the CSP and he is in love with the receptionist (Lillian) who is herself predictably named and whose Hindi is almost as bad as mine.
And also, the office peon is named Lo Mein. Not kidding.
Some suspension of disbelief is required here, since everybody in Singapore appears conversant in Shyam’s mother tongue, even the police. The police are actually fairly competent in this movie, maybe because nobody wanted to offend Singaporeans. Shyam files a missing person report with them; on the way back to the office Cha Choo remembers that Ramesh had a girlfriend who danced at the New India Club belonging to her father.
That evening Shobha is not performing, but her older cousin Lata (Padmini) dances in her stead. I resolve to immediately begin pencilling winged eyebrows onto MY face. When Shyam introduces himself to her afterwards, thinking she is Shobha, she invites him to come home with her. There the confusion over identity is resolved and Shobha tells Shyam that she too is worried about Ramesh as it’s not like him to go off without telling her.
Shyam also sees a woman leaving the house who looks very like his secretary Miss Chin Chin Choo, but Shivdas now appears and distracts his attention. Lata introduces them and Shivdas tries to deflect concern over Ramesh’s disappearance. When Shyam takes his leave, Lata shyly asks him to come again and he promises he will.
Miss Chin Chin Choo denies having been at Shivdas’ the night before when Shyam questions her in the office; and he gets a call from another pretty lady—the woman he’d met on the plane.
She invites him home after a garden song-romp, and arranges for him to be shot at through a window. It seems she, too, has an interest in Shyam’s rubber plantation and wants to scare him into selling.
Shyam finally finds the map Ramesh had hidden in
my the VAT 69 Musical Cigarette Case after listening to the recording of their call. I should mention here that the editing in this—probably at the vcd/dvd manufacturing phase—is awful. Scenes begin abruptly with people who weren’t around a minute ago, and the cuts between scenes are choppy at best. Anyway, Shyam’s romancing of Lata proceeds apace, buoyed up by streets full of women of all nationalities wearing shirtwaist dresses and cheongsams, waving balloons and making faces and dancing the cha-cha-cha.
It’s so cute it makes my teeth ache.
Shyam sets a trap for the gang holding his friend Ramesh captive: he plants a story in the local newspaper about finding the map and creates a fake one, hiding the real one back in
my the V69MCC. It’s not long before his bait is taken. Shivdas invites him to picnic with Shobha and Lata, and steals the map from Shyam’s car as a hidden Shobha looks on in dismay.
She follows her father as he goes to meet his henchmen, and they capture her as Shivdas is shot. Hearing the shot, Shyam rushes to the scene and Shivdas gasps out a request for water. When Shyam returns with the water Shivdas is gone, only to show up later in Shyam’s bathroom—dead. Lata is stricken both by her father’s death and her cousin’s disappearance and she is quick to believe the police when they arrest Shyam for the murder.
Who is the mastermind behind all of this? Where is Shobha? Is Ramesh still alive? Can heartbroken Shyam win back Lata’s love and trust? Who will find the real map and the treasure first?
I think my main issue with this film is the pacing. The story gets bogged down in details and unnecessary dialogues and tangents, even with the indiscriminate chopping inflicted on it. It also lacks any real mystery or suspense: we know from the get-go who the bad guys (and gal) are and what they are after. I don’t not recommend it by any means, but I get bored at about an hour in.
Since this is set in Singapore-East Asia, there are rules to follow.
- Madan Puri must play a Chinaman
- Ratan Gaurang must be in it somewhere
- Helen must have some sort of “oriental”-flavored song and dance
Edwina has a short scene and dialogue with Shammi as well. (I am Not Jealous.)
But mostly, of course, the reason to watch this is Shammi. Shammi Shammi Shammi!!!!
You saw that coming, right?