Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)

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In the almost 10 months I have been writing this blog, the most often read (and commented upon) post—by a huge margin—is the one about my love for Shammi Kapoor. It is also—again by a large margin—the top search that directs traffic here.

There’s a lot of love for this man out there! And that’s as it should be.

Quite a few people have asked lately for more Shammi movies to be posted here. So here’s another!

Kashmir Ki Kali is the first Shammi film I ever saw. Although I thought he was very handsome, I wasn’t sure about the funny faces and the weird hats. But I loved the songs and his way of singing and dancing through them. Then I watched Teesri Manzil, and realized: yes, he IS beautiful, and I love his funny faces and weird hats!

Rajiv Lal (Shammi Kapoor) has just taken over his late father’s mill on its twenty-fifth anniversary. His inaugural speech horrifies his mother and the mill manager, Shyamlal (Mohan Puri): he addresses the workers as his brothers and sisters, and promises them 5 lakh rupees as a bonus for all their hard work over the years. Back at home, his old nanny tells them that when he gets married he’ll settle down, and they shouldn’t worry about a few drops out of the buckets of money they have. His mother organizes a “bevy of girls” (as he puts it later) to parade in front of him. He thwarts her by pretending to be:

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Also deaf, and a bit of an idiot! His mother is furious and tells him that he will marry the woman she chooses. His friend Chandra (Anoop Kumar) suggests that he get away from her for a bit.

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Lucky Rajiv!

Off he goes in his yellow convertible, singing as he steers along erratically. The music by OP Nayyar is absolutely sublime, by the way, every song is a gem. This one is “Kisi Na Kisi Se” and it’s wonderfully picturized with the mountains of Kashmir as a backdrop. Before he reaches Srinagar, he is forced to stop for the night because a bridge has washed out. Staying at the same guest house is a truck driver named Mohan (Pran) and his truck-load of pretty girls, including Champa (Sharmila Tagore). They are flower sellers traveling to a fair. Rajeev and Champa have a little altercation when she pours water on his head by accident; feeling bad later, she sneaks down to take him a blanket and he is charmed.

Back on the road the next morning, he hears singing and follows the voice. It’s Champa and her friends, of course!

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He flirts with her and she says that judging from his hat (it is spectacular) he must be a rich man (clearly not a good thing in her book). He says that he’s a driver for a rich man who gave him the hat, and his clothes too! Mohan comes along and warns Rajiv not to mess with the “simple” local girls.

When Rajiv arrives at his house, he discovers that his servant Bholaram (Dhumal) has turned the house into the Hotel Lake View and rented it to a group of girls (named Maya, Chhaya and Rekha) led by their guardian Rama Devi (Tun Tun). Rajiv agrees to let the girls stay if Bholaram will keep his presence there a secret from his mother. They seem to share my view of his headgear:

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Although maybe they just mean “madcap” which Shammi certainly is. Bholaram has told them that Rajiv is not really the owner but a crazy man who thinks he’s the owner so that they don’t let slip his presence to his mother either.

We’re not quite done with hats yet:

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Okay, now we’re done.

The next day Rajiv embarks on his romantic quest. He buys all of Champa’s flowers for four times her asking price and makes her promise to come to the house again the next day. Champa lives with her blind father Dinu (Nazir Hussain), and bounces home to tell him of her windfall. He tells her to return the extra money and not to return to that house again; that money ruins people and she should only take what is fair.

Meanwhile, Rajiv invites his friend Chandra to come to Srinagar and tells Bholaram to tell everyone that Chandra is Rajiv Lal. The impending arrival of the “real” boss sets hearts in the fake hotel aflutter. Bholaram tells Rajiv on his return from the station that the flower girl returned 15 rupees to him and left. Rajiv sets off to find her and we are treated to another lovely song “Taarif Karoon Kya Uski” as Shammi flings himself about on a boat.

Between Rajiv romancing Champa and Chandra now juggling the three girls, they are pretty busy.

One of the most romantic songs in all of Hindi movie history is “Isharon Isharon”…sigh!

But naturally a spanner in the works is looming on the horizon. Mohan—who is very jealous by now—knows a secret that Champa’s father doesn’t want her to know. And he threatens to tell her if Dinu doesn’t rein her in.

So Dinu tells her not to see Rajiv again. He doesn’t understand how persistant Shammi…er…Rajiv can be. On the day of the fair, Mohan—driving Champa and her friends—is pulled over by Chandra posing as a Muslim with a very tall, pregnant, veiled wife. They get a ride, and we get a great song: “Subhan Allah” with Shammi in his burkha. Mohan enjoys his passenger’s “throaty” voice too.

At the fair, Rajiv dons yet another disguise and we get yet another great song, “Meri Jaan Balle Balle.”

Mohan is furious that Champa has eluded him, and goes to Dinu, threatening to abduct her if she doesn’t marry him. Dinu, frightened, goes to a friend who also knows that he is not Champa’s real father; not knowing that Mohan is eavesdropping, he tells him that if something happens to him Champa should know that she is the daughter of a rich man in Delhi, for whom his sister works. This is enough of a clue for Mohan to track down Dinu’s sister Karuna (Mridula Rani) at the house of Champa’s real parents: it’s Rajiv’s house, and Karuna is Rajiv’s childhood nanny! Dinu had kidnapped the girl as an infant and run off.

Meanwhile, Rajiv tells Champa that he wants to meet her father and get his permission to marry. When she gets home, though Dinu tells her that he wants her to marry Mohan. Champa says she’ll commit suicide first, and tells him about Rajiv. Her father caves and asks to meet Rajiv the next day. She runs to tell him the good news.

The three hotel guests arrive and Champa hides. They create a misunderstanding, and she thinks Rajiv is planning to marry one of them (Chandra has told them the truth about Rajiv’s identity). He finally gets rid of them, but she’s gone. As he starts off to look for her, Bholaram calls him to the phone. It’s his mother: his old nanny Karuna is dying.

On her deathbed Karuna tells Rajiv that he is not his mother’s real son (thank goodness—he isn’t Champa’s brother!). He is the son of her brother Dinu, who was a vagabond and an alcoholic, and abused him.

She tells how she rescued him from Dinu and brought her to live at the home of her employers since they had no children. Dinu would show up occasionally for money; then one day when he arrived Karuna told him that he could take Rajiv but he wouldn’t get any more money from them. Rajiv’s “mother” had just given birth to a girl. Dinu in a drunken rage kidnapped this girl so that she wouldn’t take Rajiv’s inheritance from him. When she’s finished telling him everything, Karuna dies.

Rajiv is understandably upset. He still has no idea that his father Dinu is Champa’s “father” and Champa the girl to whom all the property and wealth truly belongs. But he does know that because of his father, the woman he considers his mother lost her daughter, and that the family wealth doesn’t really belong to him.

What will he do? Has Champa settled for Mohan? Will the truth come out?

If you have never seen this film, you really must.


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39 Comments to “Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)”

  1. Niiiiiice. This is my favorite Shammi film – I like it better than *Teesri Manzil* (as much as I enjoy Vijay Anand’s mod style) for two reasons: first, the soundtrack is even better than *Teesri Manzil* (no mean feat!) and second, Sharmila Tagore is just good enough to eat. I think I already had a major full-fledged crushasaurus on Sharmila before I saw *Kashmir ki kali* but if I didn’t I would have. The baby-switching masala madness is a little over the top but it *so* doesn’t matter because I’m totally lost in the delight of this film long before I get there. Such a fab movie.

  2. The gender bending subhan allah song is my fav! While I agree with Carla that the music outshines Teesri Manzil, the latter still remains my fav Shammi movie because of Vijay Anand’s styling. WHile Shammi’s boundless energy is a bit alarming, it doesnt let my attention flag for a second. And I have a odd fondness for Dhumal- he was so childlike and adorable.

  3. My favorite is “Isharon Isharon”…my heart just melts as I watch it. But I LOVE all the songs, which is a rarity anywhere. Teesri Manzil is just a different movie, and I didn’t mean to compare them—it’s just that I needed to see him in two films before I realized how great Shammi is. I am a slow learner :-) I like both films equally, and Shammi above all.

    And Carla—the beautiful Sharmila is a great deal of the pleasure in this film for me.

  4. Not to forget beautiful Kashmir. How I miss seeing Kashmir in our films.

  5. sounds like a “must”…i’m off for shopping….;)
    anja

  6. Banno, you are so right!!!!! Kashmir is one of the great “characters” of 60’s cinema.

    Anja, this one should be pretty easy to find :-)

  7. With ref: to your love of Shammi, i wonder if u have watched this ‘govinda’ song of Shammi’s.

    http://nirvana73.blogspot.com/2007/11/movie-song-bluffmaster-govinda-aala-re.html

    Pls do. Its a real treat.

    Regards

    Nirvana

  8. It is a wonderful song…actually I was thinking of doing a post on Bluffmaster soon! Thanks for the link :-)

  9. I saw this last night, and absolutely loved it! Thanks for the recommendation. Hope to talk about it soon enough. I can see why Aamir Khan calls Shammi his guru. :)

  10. I have been hooked on Shammi Kapoor since I saw my first Indian movie – Teesri Manzil with Eglish subtitles in Trinidad when it was first released. I have 15 of his movies on DVD in my collection. Latt Saheb with Nutan is one that is must see as it has acouple of memorable songs.

  11. Shammi rules over everything, especially my heart ;-) I think I have all his films that are available on DVD, plus I have some (sadly unsubtitled) only on VCD coming soon.

    Latt Saheb is a good one. Am writing a post on Professor now! :-)

  12. Hi Memsaab,
    I came across your blog by searching for Minu Mumtaz in Google.I’d been watching CID again. That took me to Atul’s songs page.Then some Shammi songs led to you. Yes your love for Hindi films is something that is unique-gora memsaab and all as others have put it. I echo the thoughts of the others here. Back then it seems RK movies were popular in Russia. Did they have subtitles,I wonder. Usually for a film festival they do, as I recollect that’s how I saw some movies. And, yes,I’m a Shammi fan. In the list that was compiled I was wondering about Jabse Tumhe dekha hai and Pyar kiya to darna kya. Someone has mentioned the first one as I read later. You’d know about that. Kashmir ki Kali and Jaanwar are beautiful with Kashmir in the main-I’m sure it’s a beauteous place. Your comments had me split with laughter,where Leela Misra is the mother in one movie. Your humour is great and the subtitles-wah,wah. Yes they are astonishingly misinterpreted sometimes. My Hindi improved with the movies,the old ones with correct Hindi unless it was a movie set in a particular dialect. So much interesting reading,thanks!

  13. Thanks Sumitra for your lovely comment. I am glad to welcome another Shammi fan!!! Please do keep visiting :-)

  14. I saw the first hoarding of Kashmir Ki Kali on a building near the Bus Stop where I took a bus to go back home from Don Bosco High School, Matunga, some where in 1962/63. He is lying down on the Kashmiri Shikara waving his hand skywards. I decided there & then that I must see this movie the first day it releases. The poster was of the song Tarif Karoon which was one of all the beautifully composed, written and picturised songs of the entire film. I was always a Shammi Kapoor fan and wrote letters to him often to send me his autographed pictures and everytime he made sure he sent me one. After the release of Kashmir Ki Kali, I was surprised to recieve a letter from Shammiji asking me my views on the film. He also said that if I sent him the counterfoil of the ticket, he would send me a photograph of the film. Those days I used to collect the counterfoils of all the films I saw. I sent him the two counterfoils of Kashmis Ki Kali, and guess what ? He sent me two autographed photos of the same picture that I saw on the first hoarding on that wonderful day. I still possess the letter and the photo. Thank You Shammiji for the photographs and the fantastic film – Kashmir Ki Kali.

  15. What a great story :-) It’s so nice to know that even during his heyday Shammi was kind to his fans, as he is now too. Meeting him will always be one of the great memories of my life, and my photos with him my most cherished possessions!

  16. Ramesh, thanks for that great anecdote – you are very lucky! As for the phrase “Taarif Karoon which was one of all the beautifully composed, written and picturised songs of the entire film” I think that the the last four words can safely be omitted – I love that song and would say simply “Taarif Karoon which was one of all the beautifully composed, written and picturised songs” :)

  17. I have to add here that when I was still in school, my grandfather was a banker and he would lend money to various people. He would also give small loans to film producers. Because of his contacts he would be invited to a few of their parties and would come back and tell us all the film stars he had seen. In this way he was invited for the wedding reception of Ramesh Sippy, who later directed Sholay. It was held at the Sun & Sand Hotel Juhu. Since me & my twin brother had reached 18 years of age and looked like men and not kids anymore, our grandfather agreed to take us along with him for this Ramesh Sippy reception Party. A lot of stars had come but what took our breath away was when Mr. Shammi Kapoor made an enrty at about 11 PM. I rushed to him to ask for his autograph. A guess what did he do ?……………………………..He put aside the paper and told me ” Are Autograph lekar kya karoge, Lo Shammi Kapoor se hath milao – Tum bhi kya yaad karoge. ” And I truely still haven’t forgotten that night I shook hands with the Asli Hiro.

  18. Do you have the full song at the 4th photo-where he’s wearing the funny hat and she’s singing with the girls. Both in the VHS that I saw years ago and the dvds that I have, It starts with Asha singing “Aaaaaaa”-the tune,no words. Then it cuts to dialogue,him returning the blanket,etc. I have definitely heard the song on cassettes. Love watching this movie x number of times. Fav song is Diwana hua Badal,just fabulously cheerful & melodious!!

  19. The song that Sumitra is refering to is picturised before the above scene where Shammi returns the blanket. Sharmila sings the song ” Balma Khuli Hawa men, Mehki Hui Fiza Men, Jee Chahta hai mera, Behekna Idhar Udhar. ” This song was shown in the theatres in the first week of its release in 1964 and I was lucky to have seen it. It was a lilting melody superbly picturised with Sharmila serenading in the lush Kashmir with her duppatta flying over her head. Shocking why Shakti Samanta cut off this song altogather. Atleast they should add it in the DVD. It is a shame to loose out on a fine O.P. Nayyar composition.

  20. this song was removed after one week when Censors ordered the removal of this song. As self styled unholder of moral values of Indian public, censors came to the conclusion that the breasts of Sharmila Tagore were heaving a bit too much in this song and that would have led to moral degradation of the Indian public.

  21. Ramesh/Atul—thanks for that additional information! I would love to hear the song :(…maybe someday it will surface. This sort of thing is why we need true film lovers and historians to piece together dvds that are complete…sometimes I just want to cry thinking of all that is lost :(

    • hi, i’ve just discovered your blog and read it with interest – it’s rekindled my interest in hindi movies (and i’m indian!). very well written recap and your love and enthusiasm for hindi movies is catching. you can hear the song ‘balma khuli hawa mein’ on youtube here

      No video i’m afraid but it’s a beautiful song.

  22. The song is available on youtube;

  23. Actually I think I have heard it before…but how I would love to SEE it as filmed! I can’t imagine that it wasn’t saved somewhere….although it may be that it has deteriorated to nothing by now.

  24. Yes, I too would love to see it in the film. Thanks to Ramesh & Atul, we now know the reason and that it was not the dvd guys who did it!! (couldn’t help thinking it was them). I missed it as I went to see ‘Pyar kiya to darna kya’. It left the theatres soon after. I was in Fiji then for a few years. and they ran for only a week or so-less population. Like you all say, why couldn’t the dvd guys dig it up? But then THEY are famous for deleting scenes, aren’t they?

  25. I’ve written about Kashmir ki Kali too. If you have time, you can read it…here’s the link http://oldfilmsgoingthreadbare.blogspot.com/2010/04/paradise-lost.html
    Lovely post by the way!!

  26. A particular song from this movie would haunt me every day for the past month or so (usually during my morning commute to work), until I finally got around to looking it up last week on YouTube.

    This morning, I listened to it again and shared it with my sister who too put it on her “heavy rotation” list.

    Then she came across this news item and sent it to me:
    http://mumbaiboss.com/2010/07/14/saxophone-legends-death-missing-from-mainstream-press/

    Eerie coincidence, eh?

    The song is “Hai Duniya Ussi ki” sung brilliantly by Rafi and containing that unforgettable sax solo..

    Check it out here:

    I don’t know if the sax player in the movie is actually Mr. Singh.

    • Yes, someone left a comment on his passing on one of my recent posts :( What a career he had! All the songs from this film are brilliant, just love them.

  27. This movie is superb.Beautiful Kashmir,Shammi Kapoor and all superhit songs.Shammi Kapoor is very lucky Actor who spend his young days in Kashmir.I have watched this movie so many times and still thirsty.Song “hai duniya ussi ki”what a number and how beautiful that song ends.After watching this movie I always think to run to see Kashmir.
    I prey everything in Kashmir gets ok.

  28. Great review. This is my favorite of the Shammi films I’ve seen so far.

    I loved the “deaf, dumb” scene especially. LOL The Shammi disguise scenes were good too.

    You can include Padmadevi (as Rani Ma) and Mridula Rani (as Karuna) in your Cinema artist gallery.

    I think the three girls are Padma Chavan, Sujatha and Neeta.

    I saw Sunder’s name in the credits. Is he the owner of the rest house where Shammi and Sharmila’s troupe stay over? Who’s the actor who helps Pran?

  29. Nice way of re-telling the movie with subtitled screen caps replacing some otherwise sentences (even though i’d still think you should start with a spoiler warning).

    Yes, one nice aspect of this movie is many great outdoor shots instead of rich boys pitying themselves in papermade “luxury villas”. I am glad that i spent two months in Kashmir when it was still considered a safe place.

    My MoserBaer DVD of this movie had washed out colors, but very sharp contours and little grain except for dark scenes (around the blind man’s house for instance). All in all good video quality, but the sound came straight out of a tin box.

  30. They call them movies these days. We called them ‘pictures ‘ in the good old days. ‘Very few films continue to linger in the memory and Kashmir Ki Kali is one such rare gem. They don’t make pictures like these any more where even a junior artiste’s performance is brilliant. In the huge cast of this picture, even performances of Dhumal who was the bungalows manager and Anup Kumar, Shammi’s friend were brilliant. So were the blind father Nazir Hussain, Tun Tun, Madan Puri and Pran. These days the HERO insists and takes such a lot of prominence and publicity that all the other actors become second fiddle. And if the movie flops the whole bunch that made this movie is written off. Sharmila Tagore was introduced in this film and she was made sure that she stands out and so were all the other actors. This makes the story look believable. Those days pictures ran for 25 weeks or more with four shows a day and sometimes in more than two theatres in one city. Can we ever see this happening these days. Kasmir Ki Kali was a Silver Jubillee hit. Even today it is a little hard to get the Mosear Baer DVD. I have managed to lay my hands on three DVDs’ incase one gets damaged. A watch at least once a month is a must even if I have to see it in bits.

  31. there are 2 songs which i absolutely love- isharon isharon & taarif karun kya uski
    this was the 1st shammi movie i saw…. and i really love the movie
    i’m not really fond of the song “hai duniya usi ki” because its too slow…
    other songs i like very much :)

  32. Been meaning to read this review for the longest time, the only thing I knew about this film was the `spoiler’ – that in the end, it turns out that she is the long-lost rich girl – the girl next-door told me, many many years ago and I was happy to have it verified here. Sharmila was zimbly gorgeous.
    When `Balma Khuli Hawa Mein’ was included in my first-ever customized audio cassette song list, way back in 1982, (playing it safe, I requested Kashmir ki Kali on one side and Teesri Manzil on the other) and refused to believe it belonged to this movie. Now I know why.
    I especially love Hai Duniya Usi Ki, Isharon Isharon mein – the line `hamaari nigaahon ki bhi/kuchh toh magar daad do… always strikes me with its alliteration. Taarif karoon kya uski was a picnic bus favourite, hope it still is.
    Have never been to Kashmir – I knew I should’ve insisted my parents let me go on that school trip with Lala’s Tours after Grade V, my teacher had asked me if I was interested. Hubby managed to make a short conducted tour before the turmoil started. Beloved newspaper columnist friend from the nineties wanted to live on a shikara for the rest of her life, after marrying a shikarawala.

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