How do I love Vijay Anand, the director? Let me count the ways: Bullet, Tere Mere Sapne, Johnny Mera Naam, Chhupa Rustam, Nau Do Gyarah, Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Kala Bazaar, Guide, Teesri Manzil, Jewel Thief and above all, this one. They are of different genres, with varying levels of seriousness, but all are fabulous.
Blackmail is one of the first Vijay Anand films I ever watched, and I simply adore it. It may be the most romantic Hindi film ever! and that’s saying something! It also features international villains, a “formoola” that will change the world, blinding fashions, a gorgeous hero and heroine pair, and lovely songs by Kalyanji Anandji. Oh happy, happy!
Kailash Gupta (Dharmendra) runs a power station which fails (like most of them) to deliver electricity on a regular basis. His eccentric scientist uncle, Dr. Khurana (Madan Puri in a Very Bad Wig and Goggles) is on the verge of discovering a way to generate electricity from the sun’s rays (remember, people, it’s the early 70s).
A local businessman who makes batteries, Mr. Mehta (Iftekhar) is worried that it will ruin his business. Mr. Mehta’s business manager Jeevan (Shatrughan Sinha) knows about Khurana’s research because he is one of Kailash’s best friends (although they argue a lot).
Jeevan and Mehta’s daughter Asha (an extremely gorgeous and stylish Rakhee) are in love and planning to get married (with Mehta’s full approval).
Kailash, unaware of this, confesses to Jeevan that he’s in love with Asha, and has been for years, but is too shy to approach her; he gets tongue-tied when he sees her. This gives Jeevan an idea; he doesn’t tell Kailash about his own relationship with Asha, and in fact gives Kailash some courting advice.
Dr. Khurana’s victory comes soon enough.
He is elated, naturally, as is Kailash. The whole world sits up and takes notice, and offers to buy the formula begin pouring in. A spurious Italian criminal by the name of Antonio arrives with nefarious plans and a gang of international hoodlums. He is traveling undercover:
His partner in crime in the host country? Jeevan. Sartorially, they make quite a pair.
Jeevan’s plan is this: throw Kailash and Asha together, get them married (he will step aside somehow), and then use Asha to get his hands on the formula and sell it! How can that possibly go wrong?
To that end, he arranges to meet Asha in a rose garden, and then sends Kailash in his place. After some initial awkwardness, Kailash confides his dream of the future to Asha.
She is impressed by his sincerity and goodness. He has written dozens of letters to her over the years, expressing the feelings for her which he’s too shy to tell her; on an impulse, he takes them and gives them to her to read—and then flees. I melt into a puddle.
Now one of the most romantic songs EVER, and I mean EVER! anywhere! plays over scenes of Asha reading the letters. It’s beautifully pictured: at first she is slightly amused and flattered, but as she reads them she begins to daydream about Kailash, and you almost literally watch her fall in love with him. The song is “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas” and although I never link to YouTube because videos are taken down left and right, you can watch it (for now) here.
If possible, I melt into an even bigger puddle. Feeling guilty, she goes to see Jeevan and asks him if he really loves her. He jokes with her, but when he sees that she’s serious, he turns serious too.
This is a great scene too, because you see that his deception is costing him something too, although it’s hard (okay, impossible) to feel sorry for him. And he starts fooling around a minute later, grabbing Asha and kissing her. She pushes him away and leaves.
On the pretext of visiting the solar power generator, she goes to the plant to meet Kailash. He is thrilled and hopeful when he sees her, and takes her to meet Dr. Khurana. But when he finally asks:
she tells him tearfully that he’s a wonderful man and writes beautiful letters, but she can’t be with him. “I’m unfortunate,” she says. He’s heartbroken.
Back at her father’s house, Mr. Mehta tells Jeevan that his company’s fortunes are bad. Jeevan reveals his plan to get Kailash married to Asha (although he makes no mention of his crony Antonio or the fact that HE wants the formula) and tells Mehta that he’ll sacrifice his happiness for Mehta and Asha’s well-being.
Jeevan leaves Asha a note explaining that he’s moving to America to make a better life for himself, and she should move on with hers. Nice! Another song (“Asha O Asha”) shows a sad Asha alternating with a happy Asha as she digests this unexpected development. Happy Asha prevails, and voila! she and Kailash get married. Jeevan shows up for the wedding too.
Poor Kailash’s marital happiness is short-lived. He overhears Jeevan telling Asha how much he loves her, and that he sacrificed his love for Kailash’s sake. Jeevan is telling half the truth; the other half being that he needs to stay on Asha’s good side in order to get his hands on the formula.
But of course Kailash doesn’t know that, and he tells Asha that he won’t be able to accept her. Nooooooo! Poor Asha. Poor Kailash.
Of course, this is just the beginning of their troubles. Jeevan pretends to attempt suicide, and when Asha goes to see him his nurse shows her photos of Jeevan and Asha “kissing”—taken the afternoon that Asha went to ask him if he loved her. The nurse tells Asha that if she doesn’t hand over the solar-power formula to her, the photos will be sent to Kailash.
To make matters worse, Kailash now begins to believe that she’s having an affair with Jeevan, who—when he recovers “consciousness”—promises to help Asha get the photos back.
What can she do? Will she discover Jeevan’s duplicity? Will she steal the precious formula? Will Kailash ever realize that she loves him, and not Jeevan? Will he ever find out that Jeevan is not the true friend he pretends to be?
To find out the answers, and for plenty more twists and turns, and for what possibly could be the most erotic scene in Hindi cinema’s history, watch Blackmail. It’s spectactular!