Anita (1967)

Anita might be a good film. The only thing is: the SUBTITLES! SUCKED!! They came on five-ten seconds after the dialogue or scene had ended; sometimes flashed so briefly that there was no way to read them; and very often there were large gaps where single words would just show up occasionally. Because the story was fairly complex (a murder/suicide/reincarnation/multiple personality/ghost story) I had a headache in no time.

And I became distracted by mostly irrelevant details (as you will see). Luckily there were plenty of irrelevant details to entertain, but still. As I said—I think properly understood, this might be a good film. I wish I knew for sure. The music is certainly delightful!

Directed by Raj Khosla in his inimitable style (lots of mirrors and windows), it is the story of a girl named Anita (Sadhana) and Neeraj who loves her (Manoj Kumar). As the story opens, Anita is lying on a plush carpet surrounded by film magazines. Outside, Neeraj serenades her with a pretty song—“Gore Gore.”

Anita’s wealthy father (Sajjan) doesn’t approve of Neeraj, however, and has gotten her engaged to Anil Sharma (Kishan Mehta). Anita almost marries Neeraj in a registry office but her father stops her; and when Neeraj goes to her home afterwards she refuses to speak to him.

He leaves town in distress, but receives a letter from her a few days later saying that she and her “respect” are in danger. He returns to Bombay immediately, only to be told that she is dead (at least that’s what I surmise from what followed…the subtitles never did show up).

One of these days I’m going to do a post on the most common subtitle errors, like quite=quiet. See? Distracted.

Anyway, Anil and Anita’s father tell him that she committed suicide when she discovered that she was pregnant. Neeraj is aghast—this is not the Anita he knew and loved. Anil tells Neeraj that Anita was strange sometimes; once for a masquerade party, she dressed up as a tribal girl and was found dancing shamelessly with a group of gypsies (another nice song “Picchware Buddha Khansta”).

Confronted by her father and Anil, she fainted and was taken to a doctor. The diagnosis: split personality.

Personality switches are brought on by a change of clothing??! I must ask my shrink friends about this. Or my friend Ed, who actually does have multiple personality disorder.

Ah yes, the increasingly-hard-to-follow story. Anil sends Neeraj to see a painter friend of his, who also witnessed this kind of bizarre behavior in Anita and *gasp* had an actual affair with her as evidenced by this portrait:

The painter (IS Johar) confirms what Anil has said, and tells his story. He met Anita in a bar, where she was drunk and sang a song.

I am thrilled—thrilled!!!!—to recognize her backup band! I’ve seen them in three films now (this along with Janwar and Gumnaam): it’s Ted Lyons & His Cubs!

This third sighting is heretofore undocumented on the Internet, I think, at least I have been unable to discover much about them. I rewind over and over to watch the 30 seconds they are on screen with three white guys gyrating in front of them. Hilarious!

Bewildered by this information, and unwilling to let go of Anita yet, Neeraj decides to hire a private detective (Dhumal) to look into her suicide. You have to love the office notice board:

And if not that, then this:

Neeraj hires him. Then a few days later as he is walking through an old fort on the beach, he sees—Anita! Several long minutes of screeching violins and pounding snare drums accompany this, adding to the subtitle-induced headache.

Shocked, he follows her to a creepy old mansion, where she disappears. He starts “seeing” her everywhere now, but it always turns out to be someone else when he gets close enough to speak.

I am now pleasantly distracted by a comic side plot in which Dhumal is hired by Tun Tun to find her missing husband. When he asks her for her measurements she hilariously replies “51-62-77” and they all crack up.

So do I.

When Neeraj tells the detectives and the police that he has seen Anita, they put it down to grief and wishful thinking, and send him off for some R and R to Nainital where his brother lives. The scenery is beautiful, including a paisley-shaped lake (and a delayed subtitle from another scene).

One day Neeraj is picnicking with his brother and his bhabhi, and goes off to get some water. You guessed it!—he sees Anita, now dressed as a devotee (subtitles say “mendicant”). She is singing and doesn’t seem happy.

When he approaches her, she tells him that her name is “Maya Mendicant.” Really! She doesn’t know him, but agrees to meet him the next day in the same place. She does so, but is so distressed by his obvious pain that she doesn’t come back again. This prompts him to sing the lovely “Tum Bin Jeevan.”

He parks himself under a banyan tree, where his brother and bhabhi find him (he’s been missing for two days). He tells them about Maya and they ask to meet her. Up at the temple, a priest says that there’s no devotee there, but when Neeraj says her name, he takes them to a burned-out house with a plaque on it (not subtitled, but if someone wants to translate it for me I’d be grateful).

I eventually figure out that Maya died twenty years earlier. Or maybe thirty, depending on who you ask.

Neeraj decides to go home. But who does he see on the train? A woman wearing a burkha and Anita’s gold anklets! He rips off her head covering.

She says she will tell him everything but as he sits down, the train goes into a tunnel. When it comes back out into the light, she has disappeared again (we see her hiding in the toilet). Back at home, Detective Dhumal is exasperated by Neeraj’s tale.

He and his assistant show Neeraj the post-mortem report. It clearly states that her body had been in the water for ten days before it was found, meaning she committed suicide on March 28th. But Neeraj remembers that he received a letter from her dated April 2nd. They go to the police, who verify the letter with a handwriting expert.

I love the board behind the superintendent. Theft, robbery, kidnapping and murder appear to be the only things they worry about…oh yes, the four points.

They all agree that it is now a murder case, and Anita is involved somehow. The superintendent sends two cops (named Peter and Jeff. Really!) to stake out Neeraj’s house, since they are convinced she will try to contact him again.

What is going on? Is Anita in trouble? Can Neeraj and Peter and Jeff save her? Have Ted Lyons & His Cubs been in any other films? Can whoever is responsible for subtitling this film be fired?

Here are some other minor points I enjoyed.

Imdb claims that Helen is in this film, but she isn’t. It’s Madhumati, who is often confused for Helen (with Bela Bose on the right).

I want to be a Hindi film set designer! Look at this front entrance!

Did I mention Ted Lyons and His Cubs? :-D

 

Enjoy.

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42 Comments to “Anita (1967)”

  1. I dont normally love sadhna or manoj, but i adore 60s’ bollywood mysteries- which is why i saw gumnaam (love it) and I am sure anita would be absolutely fabulous as well :) Im going to try tracking this down for sure- thanks!

  2. Seems so fun! But the subtitles, grrrrr!

  3. Yes…I don’t know if the plot holes were due to the subtitles or the script :-) But I think next time I’ll just turn the subs off (since now I basically know what happens) and just let it roll!

    It did make me laugh out loud a couple of times. I am not a fan of Manoj, but he was okay in this. Sadhana too, she looks stunning.

  4. Hey, after Roti Kapada aur Makaan, I’m ready for more Manoj – as long as he’s not being a hater.

    LOVE the office board. It’s like a piece of art!

  5. Poor Manoj is just confused and heart-broken in this one.

    Oh…there were so many priceless details, I could not fit them all in. Although I tried.

  6. This looks like another winner. Random Tun Tun sightings will brighten up even the dullest picture. And this Ted Lyons and His Cubs thread has me intrigued.

    Bad subtitles are one of my biggest pet peeves. I know enough Hindi now to know when the subtitles are really off. They’ll simplify huge chunks of dialogue, leave out information, confuse names, or attempt to anglacize dialogue by putting in English/American references for Indian ones. Why would I be watching a Hindi film if I wanted American film references?

  7. Tun Tun was hilarious—the “measurements” scene had me on the floor. She and Dhumal and the other guy could not stop laughing either as she sputtered out “51-62-77″…and she gave her height as 6 feet half an inch. Her “missing” husband turned out to be less than 5 feet tall.

    And I feel like I’ve discovered another planet which nobody has seen before with the Ted Lyons thing. I so want to know who they were, what they did, what became of them…but I can find nothing.

    And yes this film had EVERY single subtitle fault you can possibly be flogged by. It did have some side-splitting ones too though.

  8. This one sounds a lot like Woh Kaun Thi where the movie-makers convince you about spirits and ghosts and come up with a ludricrously formulaic explanation – talk about digging a mountain only to come up with a dead mouse!

    I know what you mean about subtitles. I dont need them, but have them on when watching with friends. The subtitles usually turn a tragedy into a comedy through their inappropriate translations/interpretations! Plus, very often I have to supplement the subtitles with my own translations because they miss significant dialogues. Its a shame that DVD manufacturers and movie-makers cant hire competent staff to write the subtitles. The only solution seems to be for you to watch the movie with Hindi-speaking friends!

  9. I haven’t seen “Woh Kaun Thi” yet (I know! a serious gap!) but it also reminded me of “Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi” which also dug a mountain only to come up with a dead mouse :-D

    Another solution would be to learn to speak Hindi myself…but I’m making less progress on that than I would like. You’d think it would be easy for DVD manufacturers to find good subtitlers—an awful lot of Indians speak really good English.

  10. Just a bit of trivia (that you perhaps already knew) –

    Woh Kaun Thi (1964) and Mera Saaya (1966), along with Anita are considered a Raj Khosla-Sadhna trilogy-of-sorts. All of them have the mystery/multiple persona/double role/ghost theme.

    In addition, all three movies share a lyricist – the wonderful Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, who passed away towards the end of the making of Anita, if I remember correctly. Also, two of the three movies have music by Madan Mohan, whose pairing with RMAK gave us a bunch of Lata classics.

    Oh and memsaab – is there a store in the city that has a good Hindi movie collection or do you rent/buy online?

  11. Excellent info, Megha, thanks! I have seen “Mera Saaya” (with Sunil Dutt) but it didn’t make much of an impression—I need to watch it again, I think. Writing this blog is really helping me retain more from the films I write about, gotta admit!

    There are a couple of Indian grocery stores nearby that have Hindi DVDs, but they always ask brand new prices for used DVDs :-) So I buy online (Nehaflix is great) and rent (Netflix)…

  12. Memsaab,

    sounds fun..Here’s the plaque translation you wanted:
    Transliterated, the plaque says:

    Jogan Maya
    ka
    Smriti Smarak
    Janam: 1 March 1920, Maha Nirvaan: 5 January 1941.

    Jogan Maya’s memorial. Birth: 1 March 1920, Death: 5 January 1941.

    – M

  13. M—you rule over everything. THANK YOU! :-)

  14. Didn’t Ted Lyons & His Cubs also appeared in Qurbani?

  15. Didi, not in the version I have :-) But if you can find evidence (screen shots are good!) of them anywhere I will be v.v. happy.

  16. Memsaab,

    I don’t see this movie mentioned in your blog, so I thought I’d recommend it. It’s called “Pushpak”, and it’s a silent movie starring Kamalhassan. It’s funny, touching, and enormously inventive (in how it manages to do away with dialogue without really seeming to).

    Oh, and I picked this one especially because it doesn’t have crazy subtitles for you to laugh at :)

    ~r

  17. Thanks Ramsu, I think I have heard of Pushpak and I’ll look for it.

    Re: subtitles: I hope I don’t offend when I make fun of subtitles. Believe me, I know I could not do better if I were transcribing from Hindi to English! Honestly, sometimes they are so much fun though—but I mean that only in a good way, and don’t mean to be condescending at all. And I only get frustrated because I need them and wish I didn’t, and when they are bad it can really ruin an otherwise nice movie-watching experience.

  18. Memsaab,

    I don’t think you offend anyone reading your blog when you comment on the subtitles. The ones who write those subtitles, maybe. I’ve always wondered what that job was like. Do those guys look back on their work and say, “The high point of my career was Are you man or egg?” :-)

    I agree with you on the extent to which subtitles affect our movie-watching experience. Sometimes, the translations are so literal, they get in the way of the meaning. It’s difficult to capture the spirit of a language sometimes.

    Given how much you genuinely enjoy movies that most others would be condescending about, I’d say you don’t have to worry about being condescending.

    ~r

  19. Memsaab, which release of ANITA did you watch? I am watching the SHEMAROO dvd and the subtitles are right on time…no nasty delay. I know that Music India also released this movie on DVD and I wonder if that is the one you watched. If so go and get the Shemaroo version…the subtitles are still crazy translations, but at least they show up when they are supposed to.

    PS: I love, love, love Tun Tun in this movie!

  20. I think mine is Shemaroo, maybe it’s a different master or something though…

    Tun Tun is great everywhere she goes :-)

  21. OH, and Anil Sharma is played by Keshan Meta (aka Krishen Mehta). He plays Asha Parekh’s murderous hubby in CARAVAN and shows up in a few other movies before he started working behind the camera. He was really quite good in this movie, and rather handsome, too.

    • I saw Anita last night. It was an okay timepass.

      Mine is also a Shemaroo DVD. I checked the subtitles in some places and they seemed alright although I don’t need them and usually have them turned off.

      I liked Mera Saaya and Do Raaste better ie Raj Khosla movies. I did notice that Khosla repeated the coloured window plates in Do Raaste (song by Kishore – mere naseeb mein aey dost tera pyaar nahi).

      I liked only one song in Anita (Mukesh’s number – tum bin jeevan).

      Yep Tun Tun, Dhumal and Mukri (who acts as her husband and is a short guy) were hilarious. The fig statistics was very good indeed.

      My next on the list is yeh raat phir na aayegi for the sheer joy of fab songs.

  22. “I have beard all the pain in my grief by crying”…………..? I say that to myself on the mornings when I have to shave. :-D

  23. LOT of stuff to cover! But bear with me!

    I watched this movie without subtitles, thinking that it would keep me in the dark, but I was surprised at how much I understood (considering how confusing it gets).

    Also, from reading here, doesn’t sound like the subs would’ve been much help.

    Aha! I was right about the doctor said about people changing personalities with the change of appearance (or something like that), but I kinda doubted it at first since it was so ridiculous. Should’ve known better than to underestimate these quack movie doctors!

    I wasn’t paying too much attention to the boards in the background. Thanks for pointing them out, Memsaab. They are amusing!

    I’m surprised no one has commented on Sadhana’s topless(?) painting. That must have been very brave of her considering how puritannical old BW movies can get. Very sexy!

    Love Tun Tun, her storyline was a distraction and I didn’t understand some of it, especially what she tells Dhumal and his partner while they are at the mysterious mansion.

    Subtitles- Didn’t the Bhabi say that Neeraj was gone all night rather than two days. Also his brother was the one that told his wife that Neeraj’s stay was bad for them so, I figured he told him offscreen to go home(?). Oh well…

    Anyway, QUESTIONS (Spoilers):

    Is the mysterious mansion the same one from Wohj Kaun Thi?

    What does Tun Tun shout to the 2 detectives (that makes them faint) while they’re all at the mysterious mansion?

    Who is the actor who plays Dhumal’s partner and the monkey-like guy who claims to the the third ghost?

    I get that Anil says that he set up his pregnant GF as Anita and blackmailed the father to go along with it, but does he say why he had to set up the GF as Anita? Did have specific reasons why he had to do that? Or was it just for the sake of the movie, as ridiculous as it is?

  24. So I must not be in grief or the pain in it will cause my beard to grow! Sheesh, I would be happy to subtitle Hindi movies – how many times have I screamed that as I’ve watched some abominable work in that department?
    In 21st century movies that I’ve watched, they’ve become savvier – they use Americanisms to `connect.’ I have such a bad memory and no screen captures or notes to give examples, but will remember to do so next time.
    Ek yaad aaya – `dhinchaak’ ws translated as `kitsch.’ Quite clever, I thought.

  25. Iam not really fond of manoj kumars acting but gumnaam and woh kaun thi were brilliant, but I felt that all the 3 mysteries could have been played by the one and only sunil dutt

  26. Who is that guy (actor’s name i want) sitting between Dhummal and Tun Tun in the above snapshots? Bela Bose is the girl on the (viewer of the blog’s) right side , right?Left one is Madhumati?

  27. Hello Memsaab.

    I just stumble upon your blog searching English subtitles for this movie because the ones I have are same horrid subs from your copy (Engrish, missing lines, out of sync). In spite of that I actually enjoyed the flick, the entire mystery around Anita’s death, the comedy bits and the pleasure of having Sadhana on screen. She’s so gorgeous, her face reminds me of Kim Kardashian.

    Excellent review, very funny. I didn’t notice the part with Ted Lyons & His Cubs and I burst into laughter remembering Tun Tun and her measurements.

    • I liked it too, enough to take a chance on another copy and that one had subs that were in synch even if all the other problems were still there :) So may try again (I think it is Shemaroo)…

  28. As for the change in personality, i recommend a German film, DAS EXPERIMENT, based on a real life experiment in SAN FRACISCO, in the year 1972. Not really a joke but quite substantial info !

  29. P.S : Omitted to mention in the above comment, “change in personality due to change in clothing.”

  30. The actor playing Anil Sharma (I presume it is the actor in the video at 0:45) is Ravindra Kapoor. He was also in Caravan and played the role of Asha Parekh’s husband in it.

  31. ANITA I suppose was should be around 1967,this one was the third part of triolgy,the other two were WOH KAUN THI 1964/63, and MERASAAYA 1966,all three by master craftmen respected RAJ KHOSLA,with Sadhana aunty,two with Manoj uncle,and one with Dutt uncle,all three had such mind blow script that till today they are remembered,such compact script that it beholds you throughout the entire movie,and in all three the suspence is right upto last five minutes.,three movies which had this/similar suspence were DHUAN 1981,KAUN KAISEY1983,and third one KHOJ 1989,back to this movie,the maker choose best of locations(NANTIAL)Ibelieve,and pace of movie was such that one never ever gets bored,with background music as per situations,Laxmi/parye.were quite new those days,but gave one of there best musical score,It should be more than acoincidence that respected extracted the best of music from both Laxmi/parye.and RD Burmanda.another feather of master genious.Just watch all three movies and see it yourself what craftsmen Respected Raj Khosla was ,even with lapse of time period of about fourty five years plus they remain so fresh,this does not happen nowdays.RAVINDER MINHAS,Jalandhar City,Panjab.minhas35@yahoo.com.

  32. Greta, the “burned-out house with a plaque on it” reads: Jogan Maya ka Smruti Smaarak. Janm:- 1st March, 1920. Maha Nirvaan:- 5th January, 1941.
    It translates to: Mendicant Maya’s Memorial Epitaph. Born:- 1st March, 1920. Great Liberation (i.e., death):- 5th January, 1941.

  33. kishen mehta was also in pyar ka mausam with asha parekh and shashi kapoor

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