This film is exactly what I would picture a big long LSD trip to be like (because of course I have no actual knowledge of one). Although if it were an acid trip, I’d probably be dead now. It is that crazy: I have a pretty high tolerance—some less charitable might even say need—for eye-popping candy-colored visuals, but by the abrupt (and non-existent) end of this my head was exploding. Truly it is a dizzying kaleidoscopic bombardment of Cracktastic that never lets up. Low on budget it might be, but the heights of jugad are certainly scaled.
I also really love the cinematography (Shyam Shiposkar): the camera angles are fantastic. Much of the candy color is probably a result of film deterioration, but here that sad state only adds to the charm.
Having said all that, I cannot really tell you what the plot is. It’s a tale of bad guys ruining India through drugs, gambling and sex and the CID agent sent to nab them, and it’s one of those films where everybody lurks and spies and knows stuff but we never understand exactly how they all know where to lurk and spy and stuff. There are no subtitles which doesn’t help (or probably hurt either) and I suspect a number of scenes besides the actual ending are missing. But a film of this caliber doesn’t have to make sense or be complete. The mere fact of its existence is more than enough.
We open with a smoke-filled den of iniquity, blaring with loud go-go music and packed with young women and men smoking, drinking, dancing and describing it as “heaven”—until the police get there, that is, and round up everyone.
Goondas and smugglers are out of control it seems, and the CID steps in. The head honcho (Raj Mehra) calls in Agent Joy (Joy Mukherjee), arms him with a microphone detector disguised as a keychain and a bullet (there is no gun to put it in, and both gadgets seem sort of useless to me), and sends him off to Sikkim to beard the lion in its den.
Or should I say LIONESS.
Yes, the woman in charge of our gang is Rosa (Nadira, yay!). She shoots a man then disposes of him through a trap door in her lair. Her partner in crime is Mr. Darko (Anwar Hussain), chief of Darko Enterprises, which is Just Awesome for some reason. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Their lair is hidden under a nightclub called Gay III (how fabulous is that?!). And thank Jesus Tom has uploaded the songs; composed by the criminally underrated Ganesh, they are wonderful without exception.
This is the first of many Helen dances and features my favorite background dancer eye-candy Oscar.
Helen is only one of the dancers working for Rosa, the other two being Pepita (Jayshree T) and Princess (Vimi). Princess is summoned by a man with no neck (in true Boss fashion Nadira employs many of them) only to see her father murdered (the sad victim above) by Rosa.
Agent Joy lands in Sikkim and is greeted at the airport by a “madman” (Sheikh Mukhtar) and his dog—and I can’t believe my eyes.
Different publicist, same dog?! I think so! How many Famous Wonder Dogs Not Named Moti can there be?
Agent Joy checks into his hotel room, which is crawling with bugs and very shabby. He is not pleased. He goes to meet Mr. Darko, who surreptiously (except for the obvious blinking red light in the ashtray on the desk) records their conversation. Rosa listens in, now wearing a wedding cake on her head and dark glasses I suppose to shield her eyes from all the flashing buttons.
Joy attempts to convince Mr. Darko that he is also a smuggler wanting to go into cahoots with him, but Rosa isn’t buying it and orders Joy killed. There seem to be some scenes missing, because suddenly Joy is in a ring with Shetty and they are karate-chopping each other. Eventually Joy rather unbelievably prevails, to the delight of a crazy guy we had already seen at the airport who is in the audience and very invested in the outcome.
Following his thrilling victory, Joy is escorted by Mr. Darko to another cabaret. Helen and Princess compete with each other for his attention, surrounded by men in Egyptian pharoah outfits. You just have to see it:
When he returns to the hotel, his room has been mysteriously upgraded—gone are the actual insects, but when he pulls out his handy keychain bug detector he hits paydirt (and exclaims “microphone!” thus, I would think, stupidly informing his eavesdroppers that he’s discovered them). I have now become convinced that this movie is a non-stop roller-coaster ride, a conviction furthered by the discovery that the CSP includes the lovely Pepita; Maruti (who also directed this masterpiece); and best of all one of my favorite loony staples of B-movie fun Shyam Kumar in full glory as Pepita’s intensely disapproving father.
It also includes more than I’ve ever really wanted to see of Moolchand and his Giant Belly.
Rosa now sends a reluctant Princess to find out more about Agent Joy by seducing him, which she rather easily does. This is quite a racy scene which makes it clear that Princess stays overnight with Joy in his hotel room, and is further proof that B-grade cinema was much less conservative than its more mainstream counterpart.
Vimi is not much of an actress, but she looks very pretty for the most part even when burdened by a ridiculous hat.
As she is leaving in the morning, Famous Dog Bhairavon arrives with a note from the airport “madman”—who isn’t so crazy, at it turns out (surprise!). He asks Joy to meet him that night (a fine opportunity for DNCI—Day-Night Continuity Issues) and they spy on smugglers loading crates until they are interrupted by Maruti.
I think Maruti tells them that his would-be father-in-law is a smuggler and takes them to meet him—their conversation with him is listened in on by Rosa and Mr. Darko, and Helen and Pepita provide more fabulous entertainment.
Back at the hotel, Joy confronts Princess after putting some loud cha-cha music on the radio in front of the hidden bug (which causes Rosa, listening in, to wrinkle her nose in disgust). He accuses her of being in cahoots with the smugglers; she tells him about her father and convinces him that she really does like him, then returns to Rosa to tell her that everything is going along as planned.
From here my already tenuous grasp of the story goes for a toss and I resign myself to just enjoying what’s onscreen, which is really more than enough. Joy fights his way out of a gambling den (a giant eyeball door! a Degas-decorated bar!):
rides in a helicopter and fights with goondas in a forest; pretends to be in love with Rosa (which causes Princess to sing a drunken cabaret song beside a fabulous giant sequined pitcher, and which also seriously annoys both Darko and Helen); and discovers the secrets of Rosa and Darko’s disappointingly ordinary factory—although it is reached through the mouth of a dragon.
During the factory tour, Rosa tells Joy exactly how to blow up the factory by showing him where all of its power sources are.
I’ll leave it up to you to guess whether he succeeds or not, and what other mayhem ensues before the screen goes dark with Joy and Princess left forever in Darko’s clutches. Just know that it involves a Vimi-Helen catfight (with Vimi in a Santa Claus outfit), a buzzsaw, more Shetty and Bhairavon, and this:
Even the ads have presence, from the intermittently scrolling “Rasoiki Raunak Patiras Tastee Papad” to a grainy and horrifying plug for a “Mithun and Jaya Live in Birmingham” video—a video apparently made by somebody with too many special effects tools at hand.
How many movies with a missing ending can you honestly say you are sated with anyway, and even relieved that it has stopped, although you’ve enjoyed every strange minute? Not many, I think, but this one certainly succeeds on that dubious level. What higher praise can I give than that?