This gleefully patriotic and decidedly low-budget spy movie is the brainchild of the legendary (to some of us anyway) fedora-loving actor-director-producer Nisar Ahmad Ansari, and it is also Faryal’s debut film. It stars other Ansari favorites Bela Bose, Nilofar, Pradeep Kumar, Johnny Walker and a host of lurking henchpeople. I watched it without the benefit of subtitles and therefore missed any subtleties there may have been, but all anyone really needs to know is that India’s “top two Security Agents” are chasing bad guys who want to get their hands on a microphillum giving away military installations, bridge locations, and “all hamara important documents.” Plus, Ted Lyons & His Cubs back up gorgeous Bela, and it contains one of my very favorite Edwina songs: and all the music is fabulous really, from Chitalkar Ramchandra.
Like all Ansari movies and others of its ilk, this is like watching enthusiastic hormonally-charged teenaged boys playing cops and robbers, and I mean that only in a good way. Rife with silly and largely pointless disguises, beeping gadgets, guns, coded musical messages, and pretty dancing girls, it is oodles of loony fun.
Said Agents Ashok (Pradeep Kumar) and Mirza (Anwar Hussain) are assigned to stop the gang and retrieve the terribly information-laden microfilm. This gang has already killed Agent OS127; and their Chief (NA Ansari) owns a hotel with a nightclub (yay!) and a gazillion brightly flashing alarms to notify his numerous and familiar (Rajan Kapoor, Ratan Gaurang, eg) henchmen of his oncoming presence. He is ruthless with traitors (“Mister M khatm ho gaya!”) which sadly for me include dancer Lily (Bela Bose).
During her awesome dance with Ted Lyons & His Cubs (Ted on drums!) she sticks a large obvious note on Ashok’s wrist which seems guaranteed to be easily read by Chief (she even positions it so he doesn’t have to decipher it upside down), scanning the crowd with his binoculars—and is. He slips a poison gas capsule into a bouquet of flowers he gives her after the performance, and Ashok finds her dead in her car when it pulls up at their meeting place. There is no word on how her driver escapes the gas, to my knowledge, although I must admit I am distracted as Chief explains the gas capsule functionality by the thing I spot on his desk. I am pretty sure I need one too.
I would put my own face on it, and swing myself from the yardarm during those long excruciating conference calls at work. It would make me laugh and laugh.
I digress. Like all respectable evildoers, Chief has a cheerfully plump and loyal moll named Mona (Nilofar). His henchmen are masters of disguise, as the police discover after they find poor dead OS127′s body and raid his pockets for the photograph, along with a diary explaining how and where the microphillum will be passed on: in a place called Jahanabad, with a dance troupe and gypsy involved.
Outside of his lair milieu, Chief is also known as respectable businessman Mr. Roy, and he is a friend of Ashok and his family. Mirza and Ashok show up while Roy is visiting his Maa (Chandrima Bhaduri) and much is made of how like a brother-son Mirza is to Ashok’s sister Nirmala (Nasreen) and Maa. There may be some discussion of Nirmala getting married too; I find it all vaguely confusing and not that interesting.
In Jahanabad, Mona runs the Venus Dancing Troupe, which is a front for henchmen Swamiji (Uma Dutt) and his sitar and suave Mr. Kishore (MA Lateef). They send messages to Roy via the sitar (or sarod or whatever)—five minutes or so of plucking strings conveys the succinct message “All is well”; and Chief responds with a violin solo. It is sheer genius. Also, Kishore looks like a maniacal elf with those headphones on.
The gypsy in question is Johnny Walker and he seems to have an unreciprocated thing for Mona. I never do figure out what his story is; he is firmly on the side of Ashok and Mirza by the end, anyway, but let’s just say that it’s good to see him, and he gets a nice song with Nilofar and a little romantic moment with three donkeys. Bas.
Our heroine now appears in the form of Geeta (Faryal), a member of the Venus Dancing Troupe. She is scurrying along looking frightened, and takes a bicycle which Mirza mistakes as his own. Ashok gives chase, and although it turns out that it is in fact her bicycle, he is thoroughly smitten by her. They are interrupted by Mr. Kishore, who pulls up and escorts a rather unwilling Geeta into his car. There is some consternation on everyone’s part, but I have no idea why or what it is about. I’m just happy to see one of my favorite songs, with Faryal and Edwina and her friends.
Geeta and Ashok proceed to fall in love, and Geeta skulks around Venus Dancing Troupe HQ eavesdropping and spying on Ashok’s behalf. A suspicious Mr. Roy/Chief ingratiates himself with Ashok, thus getting the inside scoop on the investigation, enabling him to keep one step ahead of them.
The microfilm seller shows up and demands five times his original asking price, prompting Chief to shoot him dead. Thankfully the seller has the microfilm on him (he did not think that one through), and Geeta watches as Swamiji hides it in a harmonium. She is caught when she steals it by Swamiji but manages to escape after some harrowing moments, although not without losing the microfilm back to him. Ashok decides that they might as well take a little vacation and in a very sweet scene asks her to marry him and come to Delhi to meet his mother. She demurs—being a mere dancer while he is such an important man—and he laughs at her. “That old thinking?!” he says. I cheer for yet another progressive “B-movie” win.
Microfilm search put aside for now, Ashok and Geeta board a train for Delhi to meet Maa and Nirmala.
But Chief has not forgotten that Ashok is a police officer on his heels, and he instructs his henchmen to blow up the train as it crosses a high bridge over a mighty river. The humanity!
Will Ashok survive the crash? Purely hypothetically, if he does, will a broken arm apparently make it hard for him to walk? And will hypothetical memory loss make him also practically catatonic? Will Geeta survive the crash? Will the microphillum make its way into enemy hands? Will Ashok ever figure out that Mr. Roy is also his evil nemesis?
Will Hindustan survive the leaking of “all hamara important documents”?!
If those questions aren’t burning enough reason to watch this, then your soul might be dead. To recap:
Musical instrument via flashing-beeping radio communications, and Johnny Walker in a gypsy outfit complete with giant doorknocker earrings:
Fabulous songs and dancing:
At one point smuggled diamonds are introduced to the plot courtesy of this old crone and her bewigged son, but I never do figure out why. Still, it’s a great hiding place and the old crone herself is pretty kickass.
Someone ought to start collecting screencaps like this one and the one at left below (furniture clashes with wallpaper clashes with outfits). I am pretty sure based on exhibit B (right, below) that I am not qualified to point fingers at anyone, although I probably would have been very qualified to be a 1960s set designer.
And let’s not forget the best Villain Desk Accessory ever. I have a new quest!