An Evening In Paris (1967)

For me, An Evening In Paris = Pran’s bright orange Joker hair + lovely songs. It’s not one of my favorite Shammi films, although there is lots of pretty—especially Sharmila. In fact, everyone should have two hours of footage like this of themselves looking impossibly glamorous, heart-meltingly beautiful, and haughtily chic. If I were Sharmila I would probably watch this every day. Shammi is quintessential Shammi: he looks a little the worse for wear around the edges, but retains his considerable charm and his willingness to make a complete idiot of himself (one of my favorite things about him).

I think my main quibble is with the plot, which is all over the place (literally!), too long, and brain-dead in places. There’s also a complete lack of real character development. It’s as if Shakti Samanta just needed a backdrop for the music and stars and didn’t care about the rest; unfortunately it gets tedious, stylish though it is—the fashions and hair and sets, oh my! Plus it’s lovely to see the locations (Paris, Switzerland, Beirut, the Niagara Falls) as they were during that era, even if we are required to believe sometimes that Paris is filled with signs in German and that the French countryside looks just like India.

Deepa (Sharmila Tagore) is a rich heiress who has decided that Indian men are no good, only after her wealth. She shifts her home to Paris, where her wealthy father’s business manager Damodar Dayal (David) has found her an apartment, a secretary named Honey (Sarita) and a driver named Makhan Singh (Rajendranath). She quickly confides her romantic woes to Honey who tells her to pretend that she’s poor—nobody in Paris will know the difference except herself, Damodar and Makhan.

But one other person does know: Damodar’s ne’er-do-well son Shekhar (Pran), who immediately wants to meet Deepa when he hears of her visit. He is in deep debt from his gambling and debauchery, and poor Damodar knows it.

Makhan Singh is sent off to find a nice poor tribal-girl outfit for Deepa’s masquerade, the need for which is never explained (and in fact Deepa just stops wearing it after her first outing). Not surprisingly, it isn’t long before she catches the eye of a Frenchman named Jacques, who just *happens* to speak Hindi thanks to an Indian friend. The Indian friend is Shyam “Sam” Kumar (Shammi), and he is piqued when Jacques tells him that beautiful Deepa doesn’t think much of Indian men.

He sabotages Jacques at his next meeting with Deepa and introduces himself to her instead, pretending to be a Frenchman who lived in India for a spell (to explain his fluent Hindi). His somewhat obnoxious behavior does not endear him to Deepa, but in true Shammi fashion he doesn’t give up and even pursues her to Switzerland where he finally wins her over.

Devious Shekhar has no chance whatsoever despite his best efforts, which also include following her to Switzerland.

When Shekhar gets Deepa drunk and takes her to his room, Sam and Makhan Singh rescue her by calling him from the hotel reception desk. Shekhar mistakes them for Jack (KN Singh) and his goon Juggu (Shetty), to whom he owes a lot of money. And as it turns out, Jack and Juggu are in Switzerland—and they are shocked when they get a look at Deepa.

Suzie is a cabaret dancer who performs in Jack’s casino and is also, it is implied, his lover. This is of course the perfect setup for a fabulous cabaret song-and-dance (“Leja Leja Leja Mera Dil”), and it gets the full 1960s treatment: gori dancers alongside Indian ones, numerous changes of clothes, crazy rotating sets and an enthusiastic cameo by Madan Puri as the master of ceremonies.

Shekhar—thwarted because Deepa loves Sam and oblivious to the fact that she would never love him anyway because he seriously needs a hair and personality intervention—seizes the opportunity to further his own ambitions towards Deepa’s money. When Jack finds out who Deepa is, he is predictably overcome by greed. But Shekhar convinces Suzie that it’s in her own best interests to help him and double-cross Jack.

His plan is to set Suzie up in Deepa’s place after Jack and Jaggu kidnap Deepa, and then to marry Suzie so they can split the money—thereby somehow putting themselves beyond Jack’s reach (it’s a little thin on logic). The perfect opportunity for Jaggu comes when Deepa discovers that Sam is not really French at all, but one of the Indian men she so distrusts (the humanity!); she runs back to her hotel in a fit of anger.

Will Sam realize that “Deepa” is not really Deepa? Who is Suzie, anyway, and how is it that she and Deepa look exactly alike? Will Jack and Jaggu discover that Shekhar is double-crossing them? What will happen to poor Deepa, now firmly in their clutches?

All the elements for a good movie are there, but somehow this one doesn’t quite make it for me. I’ve skipped over a lot of the romancing, much of which was very silly (although the songs are sublime), and the CSP (Rajendranath wooing Sarita, which was not as annoying as it might have been because Sarita is sassy and charming; and Rajendranath is my favorite comic foil for Shammi). Deepa’s character is never very well defined: her signature distrust of Indian men is only referred to when it’s convenient, otherwise her pretence at being poor is discarded almost immediately and she is just a somewhat spoiled rich girl indulging herself. Sam is someone we never really get to know—it’s hard to invest much in a character who remains a largely enigmatic stranger. All in all, the film could have been tightened up considerably, but with judicious use of the FF button it is a colorful and fun way to pass time, especially if you’re a Shammi and/or Sharmila fan.

And where will we ever get a heart like Shammi’s again, indeed.

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59 Comments to “An Evening In Paris (1967)”

  1. I personally think this was a well made movie, considering it was the 60’s. It hits the fact that you can take a person out of India but not the Indian in them , mainly the culture,the values that one is brought up in , it is always present no matter where. It touches a gamut of emotions. I like the way movie starts with Deepa being heartbroken three times by her own kind, and she out to seek love which could happen to any rich girl or anyone for that matter . I love the color coordinating clothes of Shammi and Sharmila mostly throughout the movie. I love the fact Shammi did not expose himself in the song , wonder what the so called aping heroes of today would do? -no guesses there .
    The wig does not bother me because if it is pretty common for brunettes to go blonde then why not Shekar who has probabaly lived his whole life in Paris ?The lyrics are good and have good meaning the Akele Akele, or Raat ke humsfar so romantic walk in the nightafter being engaged gives the oomph , mera dil hai tera. The intro song to Paris very well made.

    • There were much better made films in the 60s than this one, but I agree that for its time it was something new (exploring foreign locations and culture—although this didn’t delve very deeply into either).

      But it is very stylish indeed and the songs are lovely :)

  2. Watched this one last year. I think it has more songs than any film I’ve seen so far, which was a plus (I liked the title sequence too, Shammi seems a bit strident in it for some reason). the disc froze up in the Switzerland part, maing it even harder to follow all the plot twists. All in all I’d agree with your summation – lots of good aspects but doesn’t really all come together. Shetty’s great as usual. And oh that Shamila…

  3. Indeed a very colourful film to say the least!…Sharmila was excellent in the double roll! I loved the part where Shammi pay’s the little boy to kick him! …& Those are some splendid bouffants! I’ve recently started blogging so it would be great if you stopped by…not much at all yet but I’m sure it’ll grow slowly over time: http://cinemalobbycard.wordpress.com

  4. Wow a trip down the memory lane. We used to laugh at Aasaman se aaya Farishta because of Shammi Kapoor’s bathrobe while hangin from a chopper!! 60’s movies had a set formula, rich heorine, poor hero and good ol’ Pran in there to play the villian but still every movie seemed so similar and yet so different. Growing up, sunday movie was an occasion to look forward.Shammi Kapoor movies were quite prominent on Tv and we used to love them

    • The presence of Shammi and Sharmila elevates this one for sure, it would be far less enjoyable had the hero/heroine been some other actors :) His character didn’t seem to be poor in this (he was easily able to follow Sharmila around the world). I liked the plot of this one, it just got interrupted too often by tangents that weren’t necessary.

  5. Yup. Stylish, pretty, great songs – but that’s it. There was so much potential there (Shammi!! and Sharmila!)… I’d expected much more. I remember loving it when I first saw it as a kid, but when I was older (and wiser), I realised how low on my list of ‘great Shammi films’ this actually is.

    P.S. And I think they even shot some of the ‘French countryside’ in Lebanon or somewhere in the vicinity.

    • I just don’t reach for this one like I do some of his others. And I get bored pretty quickly, which considering my high threshold for nonsense isn’t a good sign :D Ah well.

  6. I think Shammi Kapoor is the worst actor in Bollywood because he overacts so badly in all of his movies. To me, he always looked like he is having a fit in all of his songs with Helen, Sharmila and other actresses.

  7. I looove An Evening In Paris, and I just watched it again the day before Shammi died. I think the whole point of the movie is just all the foreign settings and all the style – this third or fourth time was the first time I even got a minimal grip on the plot, as it never seemed like a worthwhile effort as, you are right, it is nothing or less.

    I heard Ranjani Mazumdar give a fabulous talk about what she called the PostCard movies – this one, Sangam, and one with Toky in the title – very new then, she says – much better than I do – to see Indians travel abroad, and be exposed to and kind of try out “foreign” ideas abut women and romance, for example the wonderful Eiffel Tower romance scenes.

    On another note, I always feel sorry for the poor Indian dancing troupe, who have quite a bit of poundage on the “French” girls and who seem to have been forced to cover their whole heads in several numbers.

  8. PS I love the availability of the tribal-lady’s costume in Paris in 1967 – I believe Sharmila is here specifically dressing as “a maid.”

    • Ha ha—yes you are right about the poor Indian dancer extras, they did get short shrift although the some of the gori dancers were too skinny for my taste. Postcard movies is a great description of this type of film!

  9. *nodding in agreement* – great songs, lovely people, no plot, and a waste of Pran.

  10. Ahhh yes. One of my favorite sountracks for a not so favorite movie. If I could go back in time I would re-make it with a totally different story.

    • I liked the story but there was too much garbage interrupting the flow and not enough time spent on the characters…but the soundtrack, amazing. Really amazing.

  11. You are right..Despite its fame as a shammi classic , its the least interesting one and frankly quite boring among his films…

  12. This happened to be the first Shammi movie I clearly remember seeing in my life. I must’ve been no more than 6 or 7 then. I even remembered the songs from that time (esp the title song and “aasman se aaya farishta” – which I liked a lot even then!). Of course at that age I had no clue about the storyline.

    I saw this movie a few years ago again, hoping to now enjoy not just the songs but also the whole movie, including the ploty. Must admit I was quite disappointed – “shallow” is indeed the right adjective to describe this. There’s lots of glamour and scenery but the content was disappointing. I was even confused at times in the second half as it seemed to go all over the place. But it could also be that by then I had lost interest and concentration.

    One thing I will always remember this movie for though. Jaggu!!! Shetty was known for many years as “Jaggu” in India and for a long time I thought his real name was Jaggu. :-) In fact, I think even today many call him Jaggu. This was the first movie I remember seeing him in. He did make quite an impression on me. His role was pretty large and quite significant too – do you know of another movie where his role could compare with this one? He had an OK role in Elaan too (he’s the boss in that one!) but this one’s still more significant.

    Thanks for reviewing this, Greta. You can tick this one off the Shammi list too, though this will not count probably as one of the best IMP. But it will do just nicely for Evening in Paris. Oddly, on Shammi’s death, Times of India published a list of his 5 biggest hits – and this movie was on that list. I was slightly surprised. But then, the songs were a big hit, Shammi and Sharmila were both stars by then, the foreign locales were still new for Indian audiences, so maybe all this worked for the film.

    • It did go all over the place, and tried to cram too much in. I am ticking it off the Shammi list though—I think this makes #30 in the list of his films! Only about 500 more to go :D

  13. I watched this film recently and completely agree with your review. The first third if the film is rely flat – a repetitive cycle of Shammi chasing Sharmila in various locations and set ups. I didn’t find it funny or charming enough – incredible really when you consider the talent!

    I loved the bit where Shammi is hanging from a helicopter in Gus dressing gown!

    • It does take a certain skill to take these ingredients and make something so flat :D Oh well. At least we’ll always have the songs, and Sharmila will always be able to take it out and watch it if she wants to remember how very very gorgeous she was (well, still is I think).

  14. But yes, as you say, an instant pick-up for Sharmila even now. She looked fantastic in this film. And the songs. Though you know, I had a quibble about how all the men treated poor Suzie.

    • Oh! I am SO GLAD you brought up the treatment of Suzie!!!! It is appalling. The first time I saw the film I was so furious (maybe I’m getting inured to such things now since I failed to even mention it—oh no!!). Her father’s rejection of her on such a spurious excuse; and the fact that she’s basically left lying on the ground dying (um, spoiler) at the end and we never really find out what happened to her! Did she survive? WE NEVER KNOW. (Of course, in my mind she does and finds love with Shashi or Rajesh Khanna and lives happily ever but still. Abysmal.)

  15. Saira Banu had mentioned somewhere that she was offerred this movie and also Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) before this. She turned down both since she was upset with Shammi Kapoor during the making of Junglee (1961).

    Coming to think of international locales, Shammi played the lead in Singapore (1960) and China Town (1962) both of which were predominantly shot abroad. Co-incidentally hs elder brother Raj Kapoor too appeared in Around the World (1967). I guess shooting outside India was not as new as we may have thought at the time of this movie’s release.

    • Saira may have rendered this unwatchable. I wouldn’t say Singapore and China Town were shot predominantly overseas either—there were a few outdoor shots but most of those films were shot on sets. And Around The World came out the same year as this, so I’d say it doesn’t count :)

  16. Ditto there Memsaab. I liked Suzie’s character better than Deeeppaaa’s(as the French guy was saying). I think Sharmila was the most utterly butterly actress of that generation, too innocent to be loved passionately. Suzie brings a gust of freshness. But of course she survived in the end(and kept smoking cigars).
    Like the previous post, I too have been waiting a long time for this one. Such picturesque locations, Sharmila’s weird tastes(she wants to go surfing, but not skiing), her lovely eyes and smile, and Shammi’s determined lover act to save his lady, Pran’s villainy–everything. I agree the plot was little lame, but Sharmila’s swimsuit did the trick. Her maid also was hot.
    Shammi’s HUKKU PASHA looked similar to Magician SAAMRI in DDD. Was it the same makeup, Memsaab?

    PS: I appeal to other bloggers in this column to be moderate in criticism and not use harsh terms about any actor/actress, specially about Shammi, god bless his soul, as one has done here. For he is and will always be one of the darling heart-throbs of us Indians and is Memsaab’s Prince Charming, in life or death. Otherwise they kindly avoid adding any comments, just read them.

    • Sarita is very pretty indeed, and she had a great swimsuit in the Beirut scenes :) Also, I don’t have any objection to people voicing their opinions about Shammi as an actor—if we didn’t have differences in our points of view the world would be very dull indeed.

  17. Hi Memsaab, yet another fab review (abyssmal film though). I like Shammi Kapoor’s scooter dance and the songs better than other aspects of the film. Sharmila’s saree in ‘Raat ke Humsafar’ was another interesting feature.
    I think the film is boring and turns downright nasty towards the end. It is a film beneath Shammi Kapoor at any rate. Maybe death was easier for Suzie than life with the knowledge that she has such a father.

    • It is very nasty for poor Suzie, and there’s no sense that her father is being judged poorly for his behavior either :( It’s just acceptable that he feels that way. UGH.

  18. No no no! This is a favorite movie of mine, and my brother’s. Raat ke hamsafar is one of most romantic songs ever. The songs are awesome, all of them. The entire movie is fun filled ride. Most of the movies I saw in the sixties were like this. Wooing, falling in love, villain appears to disrupt lovers, dhishum dhishum, hero wins, heroine smiles, troubles smoothed over, ava goes home happily.

  19. I read this in Super or some other magazine, Rajesh Khanna thought `Rinku’ looked classy whether in a swimsuit or a sari and I would think of this movie as illustrating this point. But of course, for me the main draw would be Shammi Kapoor – yet, I didn’t enjoy this movie very much, when Doordarshan aired it. But kya gaane hain!
    Aasmaan se aaya farishta, Raat ke humsafar, akele akele, Zubizubi and all the others.
    Shammi’s attire in Aasman se filled me with trepidation; but no wardrobe malfunction happened, thankfully, just like Dharmendra in Dharam-Veer, dignity was maintained.
    Sharmila, dancing, is always a little shock to my system though I’ve seen her in similar roles in Charitraheen, Daag and Besharam. I always imagine her in a hammock in some bungalow garden, sari/churidar-clad, reading a book and occasionally flashing that dimpled smile – wait, I saw that in Aranyer Din Raatri.

  20. Sharmila – ‘looking impossibly glamorous, heart-meltingly beautiful, and haughtily chic’- very well put and I absolutely agree with you. Right from my childhood I always loved Sharmila. I remember she created a storm of sorts when she donned a swimming costume for this film. Shocked people remarked, “how could an actress launched by none other than Satyajit Ray stoop to wear a swimming costume and also do a cabaret a la Helen?” Remember this was the 60s and heroines were meant to be all demure and nice. Sharmila was well -known for her ‘nakhras’ (may someone help me translate this word into English) both on and off the screen. Off the screen she was for instance known to irritate her co-stars by suddenly interrupting a shot by saying”Cut cut what is the focus? “or “what is the lens?” When a perplexed D.O.P ( director of photography) would ask her “Why do you want to know madam?” She replied” It affects my performance.” While her co-stars seethed and wondered why she did not just concentrate on her acting and leave the technicalities to the technicians.
    Despite hearing all these stories I admit I just enjoyed watching her though I did get irritated when she overdid the nakhras and her mannerisms but I noticed when given a good role she was superb in fact whenever I have watched her in a Hindi remake of a Bengali film I always found her performance far better than the original Bengali actress’s performance. I also felt when given few dialogues she was even better for she just knows how to emote with her eyes — case in point– Anupama, and some important scenes in Aradhana, Satyakam and Amar Prem.
    I am sorry if my comment looks like a mini thesis on Sharmila.

    • Wonderful stories Shilpi, thank you for giving us insight into her! I know what “nakhras” means :) I think I would translate it in English maybe as “airs”? She is a good actress for sure, although for some reason I still find that I don’t really connect with her the way I feel with Asha P and others.

  21. Personally I prefer Shammi’s evenings in Kashmir.
    Did anyone notice his shapely legs in the song ‘aasman se aaya farishta’?
    Here they are at .38 and again at .56. :-D

    Sharmila was rather plasticy.

  22. a typical 60’s movie only redeemed by itsvsongs and shammi,the wig is toooo ggoooood,I have seen someone wear a similar color in real life,maybe a fan,

  23. @Memsaab – Enjoyable review and I agree that the sum of the movie’s parts seems greater than the whole. However, this movie must have held a lot of promise in its time for the fimgoing public, like the title song says ‘Aisa mauka phir kahan milega… Aao tumko dikhlata hoon Paris ki ek rangin shaam’. The sights of Paris, great songs, Shammi’s non stop antics and Sharmila’s charm to be enjoyed for just a few paise. They couldn’t care less about the story.

    And while Sharmila might not be plasticy, she certainly appeared cold in parts of the movie. Which in this case provided the perfect foil to the ebullient Shammi Kapoor.

  24. Watch Sharmila in Safar, Amar Prem, Aradhna and Amanush. I saw “Anand Ashram” on this weekend.

    I must have mentioned earlier that Eve in Paris is the only movie I have seen thrice! First time when i was in college – they used to re-run old movies in select theatres in my city. Twice in the good old video days. As we all agree – songs were really fab. I found the movie breezy and enjoyable despite the obvious limitations. BTW, I can seldom sit through a movie twice. I can count the movies i have seen twice – most recent one being Jodha Akbar on the big screen.

    The only other movie that i have seen about 4 times recently on DVD is “Kudrat” – this is due to friends dropping in and insisting that i watch along. Again this movie is a fav of mine for songs and Himachal Pradesh apart from Hema & VK

  25. I think coming from Satyajit Ray’s films Sharmila was probably looking ‘down’ on these masala films – hence the nakhras :) Still her nakhras look nice here and she was nice eye candy here – her bikini pose from this film on the posters created a storm those days. But I think the film made more money out of the songs and locales than anything else. I have seen the film 3-4 times over the years but can barely recall the plot…. I saw the movie as a kid when it first came out and the title song and especially Aasman se aya farishta with the huge waves and water skiing simply blew me away.

  26. I have never watched this movie and it appears that I have not missed much – going by the reviews and comments. The song – Raat ke humsafar and its brilliant picturisation continue to haunt us till date. Shammi Kapoor’s performances were mixed – but no one can deny that he had that energy about him that is missing today. It is a pity that Raj Kapoor never made a movie that had all the 3 brothers acting together – wonder why ? Those who haven’t watched “Tumse Acha Kaun Hai’ should watch it. Those who have any doubts about Shammi’s acting talent, do watch Brahmachari and Andaz – his last movies as a hero.

  27. I like the songs – but not as much as some of the other songs from other SK movies…Sharmila does look very glamorous and beautiful, Shammi is funny in some of the parts… But this is definitely not on my list of favorite SK movies…

    I find Aasmaan se aaya farishta “wow” – just for the way Shammi does it with his usual abandance!

    Pran’s orange hair – yuck!! I like Pran – a lot – but his look in this movie is something I cant imagine anyone liking…

    Sharmila is someone that I never liked much till Mausam – in which I thought she was just AMAZING. But in romantic fun movies, I feel that she just does not add to the fun at all – she is too busy being just decorative.

  28. Agree with most of the comments = lovely and colourful visuals of foreign locations, an attractive lead pair and melodious music to boot in the voice of Rafi and Sharda diverts the audience away from the implausible plot of the movie. Hate to say this, but “Shyam” does look like a buffoon trying his French (but it also sounds like Italian or something guttural like Arabic) on a would- be local passerby, engaging her help to discredit “Jacques” in the eyes of Deepa for being “a married man with a brood of children!”

  29. I wish I would be in this world during that period,, I love old hindi movies… they are so much interesting n cool… todays movies aren’t that good enough to be watched in ur living room , having a bowl of pop corns…

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