Manchali (1973)

Leena’s (Leena Chandavarkar) marriage has been fixed. She is not happy. And when she is not happy, nobody is happy.

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Leena is a spoilt, bratty rich girl, whose aunt and uncle have brought her up. Her late father’s will stipulates that she has to marry in order to inherit all his wealth. Leena is determined to find her own husband. To that end, she and her best friend Pushpa (Nazima) have put an advertisement for a wealthy groom in the newspaper. One reply is distinctly sarcastic, and really gets Leena’s goat.

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She responds in kind, and after exchanging several (comic) letters she agrees to meet him—he says his name is Susheel Kumar—in Dehradun.

She tells her aunt and uncle that she’s going to marry a boy whom she knew in college and goes to Dehradun the next morning by train. Susheel has said he will meet the train wearing a red suit and carrying a bouquet of flowers. On arrival she is horrified to see an old man looking for her—not at all like the photos he had sent her—and tries to sneak away. A porter on the platform (Sanjeev Kumar) helps her get rid of the unwelcome suitor and find a hotel. She confides her problem to him. He suggests that she pay someone to marry her, and when she’s in possession of her property, she can divorce him.

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After some thought, Leena asks him to take the job. She takes the precaution of getting the divorce papers in order (and in her possession) before the wedding; pays him a small amount up front, promising the rest when they get divorced; and marries him.

What could possibly go wrong? Back they go to Shimla, to Chachaji’s house. She gets her first intimation that “Susheel” is not going to be easily controlled when he charms her long-suffering aunt and uncle and gains their approval. Her second comes when she tells him that he cannot attend a picnic which her friends have invited them to, and he shows up anyway and charms all of them—and her, a little bit. (The picnic, by the way, has a band and people doing the twist—I might have actually enjoyed picnics had they been like this one.)

Pushpa, for one, is delighted with her friend’s rental husband.

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Leena thinks he has an ulterior motive for sticking around: her wealth. (I wonder if maybe her bedroom wallpaper might not be responsible at least partly for her bad temper.)

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As infuriating as she finds her hired husband though, she is also occasionally beguiled by him. And who wouldn’t be! Sanjeev Kumar is at his peak in this film—handsome, urbane, playful. He torments her with his changing moods and refusal to bend to her bossy demands; and he enlists the help of her friends to make her mend her ways.

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The taming of the shrew continues as she devises a plan to send him off which goes awry and ends in him being injured. She feels very bad about it and begins to realize that she has feelings for him. Meanwhile, her aunt and uncle are planning a party to celebrate their marriage, and her uncle is ready to hand over her inheritance.

When her uncle tells them that he has put her property in both hers and Susheel’s names though, her suspicions are aroused again. When Susheel then disappears with all her papers (including the divorce) and jewelry and fails to turn up in time for the party, her anger and her family’s anxiety know no bounds.

Where has he gone? Has she been thoroughly deceived?

I liked this film very much. The songs are great (Laxmikant Pyarelal) and the dialogue extraordinarily witty at times. As I said earlier—Sanjeev Kumar was at the height of his career, and he really gets to show off his comedic skills. Leena Chandavarkar is very good as a spoiled, selfish brat whom you can’t help liking. I wish she had made more films (she married Kishore Kumar in 1980—his fourth and last wife; they had a son also).

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20 Comments to “Manchali (1973)”

  1. This is one of my favourite movies too – the breezy comedy, good acting by Sanjeev and Leena.

    I have decided to watch the movie again after reading your review!

  2. A good friend of mine says that Sanjeev Kumar was always her favorite; she was completely in love with him…I didn’t get it until I saw him in Trishul—during the song at the beginning of the film (“Aap Ki Mehki Hui…”) that he sings with Waheeda Rehman he just struck me as so handsome and romantic. If I’d seen this film first, it would have done the same thing! :-)

  3. he’s also incredibly charming in Sita aur Gita…one of my dreamboats, though the official titleholder remains Dharmendra from his heydays…

  4. Yes, lucky Hema—having to choose between the two of them in real life too!

  5. Its a nice artical on the movie. Sexy Leena and handsome Sanjeev a good pair. Its a fun to see this baby faced sexy fat lady dance with sanjeev, dileep and jetu in other movies too.

  6. watch this movie here full screen

  7. This movie had some wonderful songs too. In fact I remember this movie for its title song “O manchali kahan chali”. Picturisation of the song “tan man dhan sab hai tera” is hilarious .

  8. Good call, Memsaab – this DOES sound adorable and fun! I’ll add it to the gianormous queue….

  9. I can’t say I loved the movie. In fact, I hated it. BUT you’re right about Sanjeev, he was incredibly charming…and the music was good. If it weren’t for those two factors though, I wouldn’t have been able to finish it.

    I think I’d forgive Sanjeev Kumar for any film, though…

  10. I loved everything about this :) It’s so funny, Leena is so feisty, the songs are so good…and Sanjeev is very charming. Ah well…

  11. In the song “tan man dhan sab hai tera”, Sanjeev Kumar closes one of his eyes while keeping the other one completely open. During my childhood days, this fact gave me some kind of excitement.

    This from what I have seen has been duplicated only by Akshay Kumar so far.

    Leena fondly remembers the other song “Gam ka fasaana”. She met her future husband Kishore Kumar for the first time during the recording of this song. For the entire song she just had to say ‘Achcha Ji’. She says “Kishoreji looked at me from head to toe and must have thought to himself ‘Let her grow up a little more and I will marry her'”.

  12. I love this film – its so funny and Sanjeev Kumar is so handsome in it – its amazing how quickly he put on the weight after he was quite chunky in mausum (1975). I read an interview with leena looking back over her life and she was praising sanjeev kumar and discussing what a good man he was. shame he died so young of a cogenital heart problem (which wasnt helped by a drink problem fueled by hemas rejection). Btw i love your site meemsaab. I visit often. Please could you print some more of the old stardust articles. They are fascinating to read.

  13. Leena Chandavarkar is still every bit as cute now as she was then. She was a sweet and chubby doll in her youth, and is now a sweet and chubby aunty. I wish she’d made the odd appearance as a mummy every now and then.

  14. Excellent movie this. Wonder what happened to Raja Nawathe after this. Btw Memsaab do you know who the actor who playes chacha ji in the movie was?

  15. Love this film. Wonder what happened to Raja Nawathe after this. Btw memsaab do you know who the actor who plays chacha ji in the film is?

  16. MANCHALI was somewhere around first half of 1973,along with HONEYMOON,(RAJSHRI PRODUCTION)both fun/comic movies,and third one ANHONEE(suspence thriller)all three had magical/bombastic LEENA CHANDAVARKAR aunty,even today fourty years after the release,they still will behold you,not to forget that LEENA aunty even today eleudes the same charam,and attractiveness,which she had then,infact in first two she had NAZIMA aunty alongside her,and a strange coincidence which happened with both of them,rather a tragedy in 1975,NAZIMA aunty passed away,and during sametime LEENA aunty,who got married,her husband passed away under mysterious/unknown circumstances,LEENA aunty was about twenty five and NAZIMA aunty was about tweny seven,I Am sure as and when LEENA aunty must be watching these movies today,all those events and NAZIMA aunty in specfic would have come in front of her like mirrior,She and SANJEEV uncle did about fivevmovies together and they were magical pair,this movie(MANCHALI)fun movie from word go,and during entire movie there is not one single movement,where one yawns,PERSONALLY tome LEENA aunty was extremly charming Lady and even today she byholds same charm as then,somethings never change whether you are Seven years of age or Fourty seven,as in mycase,IWAS unmarried then and unmarried now,fortunately/unfortunately,even todays generation,born after 1980 will find find LEENA aunty extremely charming as andwhen they watch any movie of her.RAVINDER MINHAS,JALANDHAR CITY,PANJAB,minhas35@yahoo.com.

  17. TIN continution with my writeup on this movie,IS will further the same with the word TAG which ITSELF I Have stolen from memsaab,and the same adds to have writeup on one particular person,herein its DEAR. LEENA.CHANAVARKAR aunty,and when IT remineds of OCT 1972,me in second std of school,and had just begun to understand bits&pieces of cinema,not to forget the movie was DIL KAA RAAJA,from there on right upto FEB 1980 when ZAALIM was released.She was a favoutite then and she is favourite now,though from age of seven to fourty seven,my personal bonds/attachments remain consistent,they do not change with time,LEENA. aunty w,as is extremely attractive then and even now,I am not sure,if she herself is aware that when she began her career 1968 with DUTT uncles MAN KA MEET,with VINOOD KHANNA uncle,and when she ended her film innings,it was ZAALIM(FEB 1980),it was again VINOOD uncle,and inbetween they did so many movies together,and all of them were hits,and one look at her various age group she costarred with,DUTT uncle,SHAMMI uncle,RAAJ uncle,one age group,DHARAM uncle,SANJEEV uncle,BISWAJEET uncle,second age group,JEETU/RAJESH uncle third age group,VINOOD uncle,SHATRU uncle,NAVEEN uncle fourth age group,and not to forget the master of all DILIP(YUSHAF) uncle in BAIRAAG(AUG 1976)only few can have such distintive record to not only costar but Jelled with them with equal zest,and ind case first group the age difference was about twenty years,and all this in span of twelve years(1968/1980)a unique record by itself,THE present generation born after 1980,just watch her in DIL KAA RAAJA(1972),ANHOONE(1973)IMAAN(1974),APNE RANG HAAZAR(1975)EK MAHAL HO SAPNO KA(1975)and QAID(1975)and one will understand what women should be like,not the present ones who one feels that if clothes are put on hanger,Coincidently PARNEETI CHOPRA remineds me lot of her,IHope and Pray that she is in best of health/happiness.RAVINDER MINHAS,JALANDHAR CITY,PANJAB,minha35@yahoo.com.

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