Blackmail (1973)

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!

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57 Comments to “Blackmail (1973)”

  1. I loooovvee this movie! It really is “the most romantic Hindi film ever” and I know exactly what you mean by melting into a puddle – that happens so often in this movie! :-)

    Those two songs – Pal pal dil ke paas and Mile mile do badan – I have yet to find anything that could be more melt-into-a-puddle-worthy!!!! :-)

  2. I’ve watched this so many times…if I had to make a top 5 list—which would be v.v. difficult—this one is a no-brainer for it.

    Oh, to have been Rakhee in this…Sigh.

  3. I have recently discover young Rakhee, and this sound very, very good. I will go and investigate whether my rental place has it.

  4. I’ve only seen Rakhee in older roles (2, to be exact) so far so this looks like fun.

  5. Oh my god, I have to see this movie! It appears to have everything I love: bogus science, Madan Puri in a bad wig, Dharmendra looking lovelorn….

    Plus, those faux-pearl starburst earrings of Rakhee’s look fab! I need a pair.

  6. Greta! You must be able to read my mind!! I’ve been thinking about this movie for so many days now.. mainly, how can i see it? and what’s the storyline?? All thanks to the fantabulous song “pal pal dil ke paas” ofcourse!!

    Seriously, I love the song, love Kishore’s voice.. and then when I finally saw the song (on youtube, where else? :-D) about 2 weeks ago.. I fell in love with the picturisation as well. So many times beautiful songs are ruined by the picturisation..but this one only enhanced it!

    But I had no idea what the story was like, and nowhere I could find a synopsis. So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.. can i say it enough?? All that’s left now is… watching the movie!!!!!!!

  7. Gebruss and ajnabi: she is sooooo beautiful in this film. I honestly think she has one of the most beautiful faces ever.

    Filmi Girl: yes, must see now. Hema Malini wore a pair like Rakhee’s earrings in Chhupa Rustam: they make the wearer look like Spock to me :-P

    And Ranya: sigh, melt, melt, puddddddleeeee. Apparently Rafi was supposed to sing “Pal Pal…” but was ill and Kishore recorded it. When Rafi heard it, he said “No need to redo it!” and left. It is just perfect. And the film is so worthy of it :-)

  8. I’m already in love with this, and I’m only four minutes into the clip…

  9. lols- we seem to b seeing movies simulataneously! just saw this too- and loved Shatru’s and Rakhi’s fashions :D
    while i normally am not a rakhi fan, she is definitely v beautiful here- those earrings were apparantly really fashionable at that time.

  10. I had to cover my eyes whenever Shatru came onscreen, his clothing was so…LOUD.

    But Rakhee was just gorgeous.

    And Anarchivist: the song is even better in context with the film :-)

  11. This sounds so gorgeous…. I never really liked Rakhee until I saw her in ‘Sharmilee’, she does have a lovely face.

  12. Ah, another of my favourite movies – I just love this one! And there’s no beating Pal pal dil ke paas for sheer awesomeness.
    Incidentally, everytime I’ve seen this movie, I’ve wondered how long it took to make. Dharmendra looks definitely younger (and his clothes more 60’s) in some scenes – like the one where he’s showing Rakhi around the factory. Others (including Pal pal dil ke paas and the climax) are very obviously 70’s. Not complaining, of course, but hey – curious!

  13. Rakhee was beautiful, but also a good actress, although they tended to overdo the tears and melodrama in many of her films.
    Shotgun Sinha I could never stand, so I am biased.

    Dharmender was so good-looking, and a such a good actor -am thinking of Bandini, Haqeeqat, etc. Really, if you were Rakhee and had to choose bewteen him and SSinha, I mean you couldn’t really go wrong, could you.

    I cannot resist the temptation to post this link to a clip from Koffee with Karan with Jaya & Hema Malini: what do you think of Jaya’s answer?

  14. DG, you will LOVE this; Dharmendra is sooooooo dreamy in it.

    Madhu: you are right! He does look younger in some scenes than others, although his clothes always seem pretty restrained and un-70s like compared to Shatrughan Sinha’s (thank god)…

    Bawa: I know, I would have liked to see Rakhee get some more cheerful roles—she is actually so pretty when she’s laughing. I’ve never been a huge fan of SS either, but he was good in this. It must have been hard to tread the fine line between villain and hero’s best friend, but he did it convincingly. And I love Jaya’s comment about Dharmendra; she’s so right of course!

  15. I love the movie 2 and again Rakhi is looking very cute here and i also love the song “pal pal dil ke pas tum reheti ho”

  16. Oh what can I say! You are right, Pal pal dil ke saath, is one of the most romantic songs ever, and zillions of viewers must have gone into puddles with it. Dharmendra and Raakhee are superlatively gorgeous in the song, and the film. You’ve tempted me to go see it again. And I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know it was a Vijay Anand film. I saw it when I was a kid, when a film was identified by its actors, and not the poor director.

  17. I’m ashamed to say that I often don’t even pay attention to who the director is/was, unless I happen to see a few films by the same one in a row and notice the similarities. But Vijay Anand’s sensibilities are v. hard to ignore (and should not be ignored, anyway). Go see it again Banno, and take handsome Teja with you ;-)

  18. To have your fill of Vijay Anand, watch Kora Kagaz, where plays the lead opposite Jaya. Directed by Anil Ganguly though.

    Only in India there would be a National Award category called “Best Popular Film providing Wholesome Entertainment”!, which it duly won.

  19. oops, the full name of the category is
    “Best Film With Mass Appeal WholeSome Entertainment And Aesthetic Values”.

    Now who would you give that to in Hollywood???

  20. I love Kora Kagaz, Vijay is great in it. Also like Chor Chor, which he’s also in and which is more like one he would have directed. I did not know that KK won that National Award though (my friend Raju Hirani’s film Lage Raho Munna Bhai just won it this year!!).

    Hmmm…who would get the BFWMAWEAAV award in Hollywood?….probably a Dreamworks or Pixar animated film like Toy Story or Ratatouille. Definitely it would have to be a film made for kids.

  21. Bawa: I just watched “Kora Kagaz” this weekend and I loved Vijay Anand in it! I’m glad it won the Best Film with Mass Appeal Wholesome Entertainment and Aesthetic Values award. It deserved it! I was impressed with the delicate handling of a topic that is still not often discussed – Divorce.

    It was a surprise to see that Vijay Anand’s acting was so understated as his direction is very over the top…. :D

  22. Sometimes his directing was understated (Guide, or Tere Ghar Ke Samne).

    :-) I like it better when it isn’t, though, I must admit.

  23. Pal pal dil ke paas is one of the best picturizations ever–it makes me cry :)

    Vijay Anand is awesome, if a bit of a goofy-loofy!

  24. Memsaab

    Vijay Anand also acted in a small role in “Mein Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki” – It had Nutan and Asha Parekh plus Vinod Khanna and Kajo’s uncle – one of the mukerjhee’s.

    “Jeevan Mrithyu” is another good movie of Dharmendra and Rakhee (first hindi movie – a young and beautiful Rakhee_

  25. yes, it was a pity that Vijay Anand was overlooked as an actor cos of he was not “good-looking” enough. I think he was a far better actor than his brother, although Dev was good in films Guide, other times, esp in his later works, the mannerisms just get too much.

  26. I’ve seen “Main Tulsi…” and liked it against all odds (the story not being one I generally would appreciate). I’ve always liked Vijay Anand as an actor—I think he’s a better one than Dev too. And although not handsome, he had great charisma and charm.

    I have been looking for Jeevan Mrithyu, haven’t found it yet :-) but will keep looking!

  27. I have exactly one word for this movie: SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

    Rakhee and Dharmendra are so freakin adorable together, blushing and shyly smiling at each other. Awww! And I’m with you on the erotic-quotient of that song in the, ahem, climax.


    अभी आपके बारे में पढ़ा इस ब्लॉग में ..बहुत अच्छा लगा पढ़ कर ..:)

  29. Amrita: Squeeeeeee, indeed :-)

    Ranjana: thanks for the link! wish I could read Hindi, hope you can read English!

  30. It was indeed pleasure to read your blog on indian films.This show music,arts,poetry and films are the great mediums to knot the world
    in harmony.compliments Memsaab.

  31. Thank you very much Sanjay, please do come back! Indeed I agree with you that the arts are a great uniter of people everywhere :-)

  32. Your blog is a pleasure to read. You are better informed than most Indians on Bollywood. Hope you keep watching good Indian movies and may you never lose the josh!

  33. Thanks, Sreekumar! I hope I never lose my enthusiasm either, Hindi films give me a lot of pleasure :-)

  34. Hi Memsaab, I wanted to share a funny little story with you. When you reviewed some Dharmendra movies a while back, I couldn’t resist ordering a couple of them. It’s a long process – I order stuff, get them sent to my sister (who lives in the US), and then have to find a way to get them here – usually through someone who’s making the trip.

    So finally, weeks later, the DVDs (‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’, ‘Jeevan Mrityu’ and ‘Blackmail’) have made it as far as another sister’s house (she lives in another part of Nigeria) for onward transmission to me. My sister is sort of a semi-Bollywood-fan and swipes my Hindi movie DVDs sometimes. She usually prefers the more contemporary stuff – she’s quite fond of Abhishek. Anyway, yesterday, she gave me a call to ask: ‘of all the DVDs you could have bought, why do they all have to be films that Dharmendra made when he was about 12 years old? Now I can’t steal any of them!’ I couldn’t stop laughing.

    In other news, ‘Mamma Mia!’ the movie will make it to our cinemas here soon – maybe this weekend. So I won’t have to take you up on the offer you made – thanks again for that, by the way. I’m really looking forward to seeing the movie. Have you had a chance to see it yet? I recently read an interview in which Amanda Seyfried (who plays Sophie in the film) said something like ‘Before this movie, I didn’t know anything about ABBA or their music, because the whole phenomenon happpened way before I was even born’. I couldn’t help but wonder what she’d think of a certain Memsaab who is well-acquainted with films that were made over half a century ago, and in a different language at that…

    This is long enough now :-)!! Thanks for reading, if you’ve made it this far.

  35. Ha ha DG—you’d better hope your sister doesn’t watch any of those three films or you’ll never get them! She doesn’t know what she’s missing :-)

    You have to go through a lot for your Hindi movie fixes!

    I haven’t seen Mamma Mia yet, I need to hurry up and do so. Glad it’s coming to you :-) ABBA was big when I was in my teens…I loved them, although it wasn’t considered “cool” in my crowd. But I’ve pretty much always been shamelessly uncool :-)

    Can’t wait to hear what you think about those Dharmendra films. Hope you love them!

  36. Thanks for having recommended this movie…I really loved it…A great romance with some good masala stuff, wonderful songs…I am always impressed by Vijay Anand’s creativity when it comes to song picturization (Mile do Badan is wow!!..Can’t find the words)

  37. I’m really glad you liked it Juanito. It’s one of my favorites of all time, and I agree completely re: Vijay Anand and songs (and Mile Do Badan!) *fans self*

  38. It’s my most favorite movie. I love this movie. The caracetrization and their gradual exploration is tremendous. One must watch. The human emotions are at peak of honesty in this.

  39. I can watch it over and over again too. It would definitely make a top ten list of my favorite Hindi films.

  40. It’s my most favorite movie. I love this movie. The caracetrization and their gradual exploration is tremendous. One must watch. The human emotions are at peak of honesty in this.”Mile do badan” is the song, no other romantic song can compete with it.

  41. Memsaab, I love your taste. Incidentally, I have a bunch of Vijay Anand films on my site,, which is more or less dedicated to old Bollywood movies, legally obtained ( i.e. in partnership with the content owners) and encoded in near DVD quality. All of them are $3 and under, and purchasing gives you rights to view for 21 days.

    Do take a dekko, and I’d love to hear back from you (

  42. Did I watch a different “cut” of this movie? The way I remembered it, Shatru woos Rakhee with “Sharbati terri Ankhen”, suddenly walks out (with no real explaination, comes back into her life (putting her into a dilemma, and Vijay Anand did a big job of making someone the mysterious mastermind = before revealing it is Shatru – very effective casting atleast with hindsight since I was genuinely surprised to see Shatru who acts mostly as 2nd hero in the film and went on to become a genuine hero, be revealed as the unambigous villain. :-)

    And maybe it is me, but I think the Asha O Asha song doesn’t get the love it deserves. :)
    Also reminded of reading some interview of Rakhee in Filmfare were she proudly talked of working with Vijay Anand and idiot, idiot, idiot interviewer gleefully said, “but Blackmail flopped” to which she very properly said, “so what”? :)

    • Shatru as the villain was never hidden in the film I’ve watched :-) He was wooing Raakhee genuinely at first, but when the professor discovers his “formoola” he suggests to Raakhee’s father (whose business will suffer because of it) that they marry off Raakhee to Dharmendra in order to get their hands on the formula. Then he conspires with the international cartel to “betray” India as well, but you know from the beginning that he’s trying to get his hands on it.

  43. I enjoyed Jewel Thief and have enjoyed the half of Kala Bazaar that I’ve seen, and teesri manzil was OK. I won’t hold Guide against Vijay since it was clearly an ego trip for his bhai, so that means his directorial score is high enough to encourage me to find this movie and give it a go.

  44. I can’t believe everyone thinks the same – that scene was one of the most erotic scenes in blackmail and it comes in out of the blue when you least expect it. Gharam Dharam fans start feeling that tingliness :0

    I am trying to find the Asha Oh Asha song which is really nice too

    anybody have a link?

  45. Just wondering where was the location for the song : Pal Pal dil ke paas… from Blackmail. The white house ?

  46. This movie is just great. Dharmender and Rakhee look, well, there is one word that comes to mined just divine. You watch them and wonder how “god” can give so much beauty to some. Love the songs, love shot gun Sinha and the weird combination of a spy thriller and romance. Only in Bollywood!

  47. BLACK MAIL was(OCT 1973) release,directed by master craftmen our own GOLDIE uncle(VIJAY ANAND),slickly crafted movie,suspence cum triangle woven Love story,in which all three major players DHARAM uncle,RAKHEE aunty,and SHARTU uncle gave mindblow performances,but here again SHATRU uncle stole the movie,and as usual DHARAM uncle underplayed his role,at par excellence,SHATRU uncle was just setteling/foothold in Industry,hereby I do remember once around 1983,he mentioned in magzine,that in my begening of my career I was Lucky enough to get tremendous Love /affection/bond of GOLDIE SAAB/DEV SAAB,SANJEEV BHAI,and DHARAM BHAI who in each and every stage helped me to get strong foothold in INDUSTRY,and I can never repay them ever in my Life,this year by itself was busy for all three(GOLDIE uncle,DHARAM uncle and SHATRU uncle,)GOLDIE Uncle(CHUPPA RUSTAM MAY 1973) HINDUSTAN KI KASSAM JULY. 1973,DOUBLE CROSS(OCT1973)and this one also OCT 1973,DHARAM uncle,(LOAFER,JUGNU,JHEEL KE US PAAR,JAWAR BHATTA,KAHANI KISMAT KI and this one,SHATRU uncle(KASHMAKASH,GAI AUR GORI,SHAREEF BUDMASH,BLACK MAIL,CHAALIA,5DUSHMAN,infact Hereby I do remember that SHATRU had guest appearence in SHAREEF BUDMASH with DEV SAAB,but whole movie revolved around SHATRU uncles name in the movie as(ROCKY),an through eventfull year for all three,IN this movie right at fag end of movie though there was no song situtation,but GOLDIE uncle created one in background,mindyou there is thin line between valugarty and Love and GOLDIE Uncle came with flying colours,all emotions weredisplayed with LOVE between DHARAM uncle and RAKHEE aunty,no wonder GOLDIE uncle once wrote(to us brothers DHARAM and PREM CHOPRA)are our extended part of Family.ONLY GOD CAN answer where those filmmakers have gone,now days no one remembers which movie came and went,leave alone the bird called music,WE were fortunate to grew in seventees/eightees when last phase of Indian cinema ended,watch this movie.RAVINDER MINHAS,JALANDHAR CITY,PANJAB,

  48. I agree the song Pal Pal is one of the most romantic songs created ever including those lyrics! simply beautiful!

  49. A film ahead of its time superb

  50. I saw the movie myself, way back in 1973. One of the best Hindi romantic movies ever. But your satirical narration is even more entertaining. Kudos!

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