Loafer (1973)

How much do I adore this film? Let me count the ways! 1) Dharmendra; 2) Mumtaz; 3) everybody else in it—wah! what a cast; 4) the gorgeous songs; 5) the fine ultra-masala plot; 6) Dharmendra’s chaddies; 7) the props and sets, including my new obsession the Egyptian Room; 8) the best use of Indian Movie Balloons and (possibly) Padma Khanna EVER; 9) Mumtaz’s outfits and Spare Hair; 10) no Comic Side Plot to speak of; 11) wooden gora extras; and 12) everything else I haven’t mentioned. Everything.

Loafer is also one of the very first (if not the first) pre-1990s movies I ever saw, and it propelled me gleefully into an obsession with its kind which eventually led me (and now you) here. Armed with more knowledge than I had back then, I can say with perfect assurance that while not as stupefyingly original as I first thought, it still holds up brilliantly under scrutiny and remains one of my go-to staples when people ask me for an introduction to classic masala. I never mind watching it again!

We are plunged into high drama from the get-go, as a fight between prankster student Ranjit and tattle-tale Mohan ends, well, badly. Really badly. Mohan couldn’t simply die from the third-floor fall, oh no.

At least there’s no blood. Ranjit flees the scene and hops on a train where he meets a man named Singh (KN Singh) who adopts him and teaches him how to steal. Little Ranjit takes to theft like I do to bacon, and grows up with “Uncle” to be Dharmendra.

He and Singh own and live in a hotel (home of the Balloon cabaret); in addition to grand larceny, they specialize in smuggling. This puts them squarely in rival arch-criminal Pratap’s (a very enthusiastic Premnath with huge pearl earrings) sights. Pratap has hired Rakesh (Roopesh Kumar) to spy on Singh and Ranjit from within their organization. This ends badly for Rakesh when Pratap, being Dharmendra, single-handedly defeats all of Pratap’s goondas when they try to interfere with a delivery of diamonds.

Rakesh momentarily escapes and runs to his sister Anju (Mumtaz), where he is caught and brought back along with her. Anju pleads for her brother’s life—naturally Pratap takes advantage.

She agrees to play up to Ranjit and spy for Pratap and instead of killing Rakesh, Pratap locks him up and promises that Anju will get him back once Ranjit has been taken care of.

Meanwhile, there is an apple vendor named Gopinath (Om Prakash) who sits in front of Singh’s hotel all day selling his apples and entertaining a parade of passers-by and fellow vendors. This is as close to a CSP as this film gets, but Gopinath also provides a parallel plotline which converges eventually with the main one. He has a daughter named Rupa (Farida Jalal) in a boarding school in Simla which he is just barely managing to pay for.

He has told Rupa that he is wealthy, and she thinks that he lives at Singh’s address and sends her letters there. Poor Rupa longs to see him again (he can’t afford to visit her, and won’t let her visit him) and Gopinath takes to alcohol in the evenings to comfort himself. Ranjit is fond of Gopinath and gets an apple for “good luck” every day from him.

Anju puts her plan to snare Ranjit into motion and my OCD kicks into overdrive at this familiar sight:

Now that The Room has been identified, I think we need to concentrate on Egyptian Room here and whether it is a set or actual location. I have seen it in a million movies, no lie. If anyone knows anything about this particular decorating triumph, please do let us know!

I digress.

Anju uses her considerable assets (which include pickpocketing and being Mumtaz) to attract a reluctant Ranjit’s attention; after a series of fabulous outfits, lots of spare hair and this jaunty little number, she succeeds.

Rupa has increased the pressure on her father to visit her, so Gopinath takes a loan and goes to Simla. Rupa’s best friend Meena’s father (Raj Mehra), who is wealthy, offers his home to Gopinath and throws a welcome party for him. This gives rise to one of my favorite Om Prakash moments as he struggles to appear respectable, but when prodded downs an entire bottle of whiskey at one go.

(Also, I would kill to get my hands on his shawl.) When he realizes what he’s done, he explains to the amazed guests that he always drinks the entire bottle when offered a cold drink, implying that he doesn’t even know what liquor is. Meena’s father and guests are impressed by his “simplicity” and he returns home in Rupa’s good graces.

Ranjit and Anju’s romance has flourished with more great music: one of my favorite Dharmendra songs, “Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai”. Anju is feeling very bad about her deception, having now (not unpredictably) fallen head over heels for Ranjit. Something new is revealed too, when Rupa graduates with honors. Celebrating, Gopinath gets very drunk and Ranjit takes him home. After he leaves, Gopi takes out a photograph.

It’s little Mohan, who was impaled upon a fence so gruesomely—thanks to Ranjit—all those years ago, and Gopinath is his father!

At the same time, an enormous exhibition of rare jewels is coming to town and both Singh and Pratap want them. When Anju tells Pratap she wants out, he says that she must do one more thing for him first: lure Ranjit to National Park, where Pratap’s henchmen will kill him.

Can Anju betray the man she loves for the sake of her brother? Can Ranjit forgive Anju for her betrayal if she does (and if he survives)? Who will get the treasure—Singh or Pratap? Will Rupa find out her father’s real circumstances? Will Ranjit and Gopinath realize the history they share?

I am not telling, because if you haven’t seen this film you really must. There are lots of twists and turns to come, and some real treats in the form of cameo appearances (Hiralal, Anwar Hussain, Mohan Sherry, Madan Puri and Tiwari as a gang of master criminals, for one) and cuteness (e.g. Farida Jalal and this little toy dog used in a heist).

Mumtaz’s wardrobe follows her character arc in predictable masala style like so (although Acceptable Girl Behavior sarees make her no less stylish):

And Dharam is, well, Dharam. In his prime, I might add.

Beyond all the eye-candy and fun, the script is tightly written and the direction (A Bhimsingh) nicely paced. The story may be a little on the tried and true side (good versus evil, rich versus poor, redemption, forgiveness), but it is so well done in every detail that there is nothing boring about it. Mumtaz and Dharmendra share some sparkling chemistry; Om Prakash gives one of his finest performances; and Premnath cracks me up at every turn, especially when visited by dancing girl companions (Faryal and Rani)—he is as enthusiastic about dancing, or at least writhing on the floor, as they are, although his lair is positively boring compared with his living quarters!

And every song is a gem, from the plaintive “Main Tere Ishq Mein” to the marvellous “Koi Shehri Babu” (another of my favorite Mumtaz songs, and that is saying something). Laxmikant Pyarelal wrote the music with lyrics by Anand Bakshi and it’s truly one of the best soundtracks there are. There is simply NO reason not to see Loafer, none. And I was so happy to know this man’s name when he came along!—identified over at the Facebook page this week by reader Mool Narain Sardana. Now I can add him to the 70’s Gallery as well!

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76 Comments to “Loafer (1973)”

  1. I remember writing somewhere on this blog that 1973 belonged to Dharmendra and this movie was one of the reasons.

  2. Somehow I have always missed seeing this film despite it containing one of my favourite songs (Moitiyon Ki Lari).- but Mumtaz outfits are real BAD here (recall her in Aadmi aur Insaan and you know what I mean). And her dance moves in this clip .. the lack of a professional choreographer is glaring. Her bod is great as ever. And Dharam is ‘Garam’ here :)

    • I love her jerky little movements…mostly because that’s probably how I would dance in those circumstances :D They are a great pair, Mumu and Dharam! Mumu and everybody, really. Okay, Dharam and everybody too!

  3. Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai is one of my favorite Rafi songs ever! And I am currently contemplating making it my cellphone ringtone :)

  4. Ooh! It’s been eons since I’ve watched “Loafer”…childhood days actually. Really should rewatch it – would ligthen the descent into Fall considerably. The trouble is that my obession with acquiring obscure Hindi movies means that I often don’t have the staples. I shall be very sad if I am indeed Loaferless. :-(

  5. My path to Loafer was just after I had seen Jugnu I think. They are similar and I liked Jugnu much better. But I agree–Dharam + Mumu is just so much fun.

  6. I started watching this movie a few months back with great anticipation, but then I saw that shocking scene where the kid falls down from the third storey, and then I couldn’t bring myself to continue watching. But you, madame, have whetted my appetite once again with your brilliantly witty synopsis

    • I know, that scene is truly awful! But it’s all uphill, steeply uphill, from there. Do let me know what you think of it! and thank you for calling me witty ;-)

      • I clearly remember a scene in Mr.India (1986) causing controversy then- I am sure people would remember that scene where a girl gets k*lled- this scene seems worse to me.
        So,censor board ignored this, they have such examples.

      • I finished watching it just yesterday. After successfully putting the gruesome death scene out of mind, it is as you said, an entertainer through and through! For my money, the best scenes featured the clownish Premnath, with his hilarious kicking and slapping and cursing ways – love the way “bastard” rolls off his tongue. His henchmen must have been paid heavily, to put up with all the physical and verbal abuse.

        • God bless villainous Premnath indeed, more fun than he was as a hero if less pleasant to look at :D I loved loved loved the scenes of him rolling around on his pretty carpet with Faryal and Rani too!

  7. i think all the readers who read this synopsis should be disabused of the expectation that this is even remotely a good film. it is a stupid brainless film. it has good songs no doubt. but all DVDs have an option to watch the songs. I suggest you should do the same rather than waste 3 hours on this abomination.

    • Why on earth someone who doesn’t like Loafer would read my blog mystifies me! Each to his own, but I love love love this movie. It is masala entertainment at its best!

  8. Music was the biggest winner here. Surprisingly, there was no Shetty in this film.Would have been an ideal film for him.I used to think Shetty and hollywood actor Bill Duke (http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1084928/nm0004886) were the same person!! (a doppelganger maybe) before I came across this blog.

  9. A Suggestion for future posts (if you don’t mind) : see this song — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni841X11GDE — film Baazi(1968).
    Helen has a sort of dance-off with Waheeda Rehman . There are other examples of similar Helen songs with heroines like Vyjayanthimala ,Parveen Babi, Hema Malini or other dancers like Laxmi Chhaya etc. These songs are obscure compared to Helen’s solo songs.Maybe such songs could be covered in a post.Hope I don’t sound silly here.Thanks

  10. Awesome write up. I have missed very few early seventies films, and alas, I missed seeing this one. I will surely get a dvd asap now. I love all the songs too, Koi sehri babu, me tere ishq me, and motiyon ki lari hoon mein.

  11. Oh, I want to see this film again, so badly. I simply love this film, and Mumtaz and Dharmendra together, blow up the screen. Plus, just the 70s. You are so right, there is no reason in the world not to see this film. Again and again.

  12. Good write up! I fell in love with Dharm as a pre-teen watching ‘Aaj Mausam’ on the telly but never saw the film until recently. Though I don’t take your pleasure in the masala’s of yore, I found the film quite enjoyable and fun. Why is it a Dharm who seemed impossibly attractive to a youngster still seems impossibly attractive to a middle-aged matron? He has, after all, remained the same age in the film… Oh well, sometimes when one loves, one loves forever..

  13. I haven’t seen this movie :( And that sounds like a criminal lack of foresight to me. I shall put it on my to-see list right now, and *looking furtively around* see if it has been uploaded somewhere on the web. I know *all* the songs but haven’t seen even one – and this despite Doordarshan having surely shown it some time?

  14. Oh, the balloons!! Oh, the innocence of those times!
    LOL at Dharmender’s chaddies (as a reason to watch the film), but of course we are only interested in his magical fingers. Hahahaha!

  15. I AM BACK!! Well Memsaab, I have been waiting long for this movie, even before you reviewed “Jheel Ke Us Paar.” I like this movie more than JKUP due to its more modern and stylish theme; as I have said earlier, I avoid daaku-dramas but a crook-story is very enjoyable. Of course, Hollywood is the leader in this genre.
    Mumu looks really a Barbie girl here, saree or maxi. Dharam, well what will I say, the closest description would be a Greek god, preferably Apollo. As for PN, I liked his bellicose shouting and questioning the parentage of everyone he faces. It seems odd, that it is the same Mumu and PN as in Rustum-Shohrab, here together. Mumu looks the same at least. In “Motiyon ki…” she is a real eye candy, a girl to be invited to a dance party.
    The comic CSP is more than enough if KM comes strolling on the screen with/without a bottle full/empty, in my opinion. The only movie I saw him sober is Padosan. What an actor! I say he matches up to Johnny in all respects.
    I think you skipped that stomach-show SCENE by the cops on the night of the great robbery. One actually placed his cup of it and dozed off, woke on its clinking, drank a little and dozed off. Lage Raho!
    Finally PK and her balloons. I liked that doped up goras blowing them up with cigarettes and the ostrich-like camouflage. But it was a little long in my opinion.
    PS: Your magical reviews are enough to haul up even critics to watching movies here which they have hated on-screen. A further reading and they will all turn converts. Carry on your great work, Memsaab!

    • I skipped a LOT of things. I would hate to give everything away!!!! Especially for this film, every single frame is full of goodness and only watching it can do it justice ;)

  16. Greta ji

    In fact whenever I am there in bus stand waiting for the bus to catch,in my town
    and the bus is not there on time,
    Unknowingly my mind everytime plays this Padma Khanna song “KAHAAN HAI,KAHAAN HAI”. Please don`t laugh at my crazyness.

    Again I want to convey that I just love this song unconditionally.
    Laxmikant Pyarelal used the same orcestraisation used in this song, in many of his cabret compositions for other movies sung by Asha Bhonsleji, But this song takes the cake.

    I simply love all these hindi movie actresses for their vivacity they brought on screen with their presence:
    Minoo mumtaz,Laxmi Chhaya,Bela Bose,Zeb rehman, Kumkum, Cuckoo,Faryal,Sujatha,Helenji,Bindu,Raani,Chaand,Sheila vaz,Jezbel, Leena dass,
    Silk Smita,Madhumati,Kim,Aruna iraniji,Nishi kohli etc etc.I think I have left many names.
    May god bless them.

    Love you for the review as ALWAYS

    regards

  17. I had not watched any movies between 1973 to 1978 in movie halls because good kids were not supposed to watch movies, and more importantly, no elders took me to watch movies. Just imagine my peers watching all the movies that 19670s had to offer (Seeta Aur Geeta, Loafer,Jugnu,Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony etc etc). So when I became “independent” (read went to college), I began on a mad spree of catching up with all these movies. I mostly watched movies so that I could tell others that I too had watched these movies. Unlike in my younger days when I remembered everything about a movie that I saw (or a book I read), I had lost that mental ability of remembering all that I saw, and also the ability to enjoy movies unconditionally.

    During this movie watching spree, I watched “Loafer” and the only thing I remembered was the fact that it has Dharmendra and Mumtaz and some great songs. I had no recollections of any other facts mentioned in the review. I had no recollection that this movie had Premnath,Keshto Mukherji,Om Prakash etc. During those days I did not even know who K N Singh was !

    Reading this review is like getting introduced to this movie almost anew. My (in)ability to recollect anything from this movie is in such contrast to your ability to nitice even minute details. For instance, looking and still looking at the magical fingers are far beyond my mental faculties. :)

    As always, reading this review was more fun for me than watching the movie in 1978 when I should have been attending my classes instead. And this time I was able to get far more details abot the movie than I managed to get 33 years ago. 33 years, did I say ? Was it really that far back ? It seemed almost like it was just a few years back .

    • When I saw this movie the first time I had no idea even who Dharmendra really was :D But I did love it enough to keep going, and remembered enough to know I wanted to watch it again. And again. Plus, I hear ya on the “it was 30 years ago? And I was a sentient being?” thing.

  18. I know, by my standards, I’m coming very late to this party ;-) but better late than never! (Or, the Hindi equivalent saying “der aaye, durusth aaye”).

    I’m probably getting very repetitive and boring with my comments on your blog, Greta, but I can’t help it if I love every single post you write! :-) There’s just so much involvement, so much detail – and so much wicked humour!

    I absolutely loved Loafer when I saw it in the 70s. I’ve always been a big Dharam fan – my brother is too. I think he loved Dharam because he knew he was one of the few heroes who looked credible while taking on and bashing Shetty. ;-) (both of us love Shetty too and used to clap when he would appear on screen).

    I’ve seen Loafer a few times since – and enjoyed it every single time. The movie is a classic 1973 movie – and the songs are just lovely. One of my all-time favourite Rafi songs (and you know how difficult it is for a song to get onto THAT list for me) is “aaj mausam”. I have heard it, and can hear it, a gazillion times without getting bored.

    And while you were concentrating on Dharam’s “magical fingers” in that wardrobe-opening scene, I was concentrating on Mumtaz’s beautiful hair in the background in the mirror. ;-)

  19. Thank you, to the power of n. I caught snatches of this movie (ending too), while giving my momma a hand with housework and found it touching – the way Hindi film kismat works to ensure justice is done – man loses child, gets affection and kindness from inadvertent perpetrator. I missed Motiyon ki ladi and Main tere ishq mein and Aaj mausam (watched on countless Chhaya Geets and Chitrahaars though, the latter), but watched Shehri babu in all its Mumtaz-Farida Jalal splendour. Om Prakash and is that Anil Dhawan who weds Rupa?
    Prime-time Dharmendra – ooooh (he can be funny even when singing something romantic like In Baharon mein akele). Why couldn’t even one of his sons resemble him a lot? I guess their cousin got that privilege. Mumtaz, always a favourite.
    Will certainly watch this one in its entirety and say, thanks, again.

  20. I just love the songs of this film, esp. “main tere ishq mein mar na jaaoon” and “Aaj mausam bada be-imaan hai”. Some times how come Mumtaz looked so great in seemingly gaudy coloured combinations. May be it is charisma or screen friendly presence. I may have seen the film on T. V. but i dont recall clearly, at least the songs were regulars on “Chhaya geet’. To watch movies at home for 3 hours is beyond me now a days, as the telephone, intercom, kids coming n going, not to mention the cell phone, keep interfering.

    Any way, it is a great blog, i want to come back and see the movie reviews. Where can i find a list of movies already reviewed ?

    Also i read the song review on ‘Atulsongaday”. Regarding Faryal, she looks similar to one of the starlets who tried to make waves in bolllywood in the 90’s, named ‘Farheen’. They could be related.

    • I’m glad you saw my review on Atul’s blog, I do love what he does over there :) You can see a list of films I’ve reviewed through the links at the top of the page, either alphabetically or chronologically, your choice!

  21. Dear Greta Memsaab Humjoli: “The Egyptian room” was actual night club “Blu Nile” that I have visited ;)

  22. Egyptian Room = Blue Nile Mumbai = Bombay

    Colaba’s Blue Nile may be shut down

    TNN Mar 10, 2003, 10.32pm IST

    MUMBAI: The Blue Nile, the last of the city’s cabaret-cum-striptease joints, has got a dressing down and then some more. A police raid on Sunday night could force the Colaba Causeway establishment to down its shutters forever.

    Eight women and seven other employees were arrested on charges of obscenity. Deputy police commissioner (enforcement) S.N. Pandey said the women had performed a striptease dance.

    They were charged under Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with vulgarity.

    The arrested persons were produced before a local metropolitan court on Monday and were released on bail.

    “The bar has been closed down and we will be taking legal action against it,” Mr Pandey said. The police have launched a search for Narendra Khurana, the owner of the outlet, who is absconding.

    -30-

    • So it was only shut down 7 or 8 years ago????? (Although probably the decor changed). THANK YOU Aavo, I have seen this everywhere. Do you know when it was opened?

      • Sixties. Must ask film director Mira Nair as she would be able to recall the scene in view of her docudrama film called India Cabaret (1985).

        Please also consider posting a collage of <> photos from the bollywood films on one of your facebook pages or as a separate blog entry that we can forward to our filmi friends in Mumbai.

        Many thanks for the pleasure of your filmi scholarship. Lets have Kona or cold or udipi filter kafi – coffee with desserts of your choice soon.

        PS. Sending xo to other two ladies :)

        • 0.0 Mira made a docudrama called India Cabaret???!!!!! Is there any version of it available? Oh. My. I would kill to see it. I will see if I can come up with a collage of places which seemed to be non-sets. I just found another one via the Guru Dutt documentary by Nasreen Munni Kabir, one of the swimming pools I see everywhere—it was apparently in Shivaji Park in Bombay.

          • Dressing down and some more – dash it, the cabaret club already had that – dressing gown and some more would’ve been a nice gesture on the part of the authorities.

  23. I am part of your crazy for “Loafer” club Greta. I enjoyed watching this movie last year – I managed to buy this DVD on my last visit to India. Great post on the awesomeness of Loafer. Om Praksah was very good in this movie – the very first scene we se him when where he saves Dharam remains in one’s memory. He was also good in Apna Desh. On my next visit to India, I want to find Budha Mil Gaya and the other Jaya Bahaduri/Anil Dhawan movie where Om Prakash had a prominent role (can’t remember the name, i think it begins with A)

  24. Also wanted to add for the benefit of your readers here that one can buy a collection of Dharam Special DVDs in India – 6 in a box which includes Loafer/Jeevan Mrityu/Jheel Ke Us Paar etc

  25. Just remembered that Om Praksah movie. I think it is “Annadata”. !

  26. “Loafer” is a pleasure from beginning to end. The Om Prakash subplot is lifted fairly directly from the Frank Capra movie “Lady for a Day” (1933) which he remade as “Pocketful of Miracles” (1961). But, borrowing is cool, I have no issues. Especially when this is the delightful result.

  27. Ha. Finally tracked down Loafer (Thank you YouTube!) – thanks for telling me about it! Poori paisa vasool as we used to say in college.

  28. oh how much I loved Farida Jalaal in this movie she was soo cute and looked lovely despite Mumtaaz’s presence

  29. Just got this one from India thanks in part to your review. My main complaint – the scenes with the dancing girls dancing with Pratap were way too short, especially the first one where they’re dancing to a pop hit! Somehow Mumtaz’s gogo outfit doesn’t work for me, but I like the black dress with chain belt and multicolored vest and my wife is the opposite. Go figure. maybe it’s the wigstyles that make the difference for me.

  30. I found your blog a couple of weeks ago,and now i read it everday, if i can. I absolutly love reading your comments on the films. I just finished watching loafer,and it was great, i adore mumtaz, she is a really good actress. my other favorite being,of course is madhubala and geeta bali (i loved her in baazi with dev anand.

  31. The story was copied from a 1940’s Glenn Ford gangster flick ,I forget the name but its something lucky apple … I forget. The Ford movie was based on a book the title of which I forget. But Loafer was solid. Very masala and super duper songs. Dharmender looked very dashing. Must watch!

  32. Sorry, somebody else got the name, A Pocket Full of Miracles.

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