This is the movie that propelled me into helpless and undying Shammi infatuation. I did go willingly! It’s a lovely romantic story set largely in the beauty of Kashmir, with songs to match by Shankar Jaikishan (including the completely fabulous Helen number “Suku Suku”). Shammi is so engaging as a stern, unhappy man who is transformed by love. He is very ably supported by Lalita Pawar, Shashikala, Anoop Kumar and others—and Saira Banu in her debut film.
Warning: this is a long post with many screen shots, because I can’t talk enough about this film (and I can’t seem to stop taking Shammi screen caps)!
Shekhar (Shammi Kapoor) and his sister Mala (Shashikala) have been brought up in an atmosphere of rigid discipline where the sound of laughter and love are unknown. Their mother (Lalita Pawar) has raised them in the shadow of her late husband, a wealthy businessman known for his rules and stern principles.
Shekhar has just returned from three years abroad, where he successfully expanded the company (and their wealth). Shammi spends much of the first hour with his mouth set in a pout and his chin thrust out aggressively. It’s very OTT as only Shammi can be!
He is unsmiling, demanding and unkind. Mala, on the other hand, is cheerful and sweet, although she has to suppress these traits at home. She has fallen in love with Jeevan (Anoop Kumar) and sneaks out to meet him; she knows her brother and mother won’t approve because he works as a mere clerk in their office, and is the son of their longtime manager (Shivraj).
Shekhar’s mother has fixed his marriage to a Princess, which will take place in a few months when he returns from a business trip to Kashmir. Unbeknownst to them, the “Princess” is a fraud, and her father and brother have amassed a great deal of debt. They are planning to marry her off to Shekhar for his money.
In the meantime, Mala and Jeevan have secretly gotten married themselves, but don’t know how to tell their respective families, neither of whom will approve.
Manager Sahab has his suspicions about what his son is getting up to with Mala. He goes to Shekhar and his mother and tells them that he fears Mala may be going astray. They decide that Mala will accompany Shekhar to Kashmir, forthwith! Poor Mala. Poor Jeevan!
I love the way this family communicates, by the way. Mala is summoned to her mother’s room by means of this gadget in her room:
And their mother’s door has this flashing buzzer above it to notify all that she’s busy in there:
I get all kinds of interior design ideas watching Hindi films, I swear.
Anyway, off Mala and Shekhar go to beautiful Kashmir. On his first morning there, humorless Shekhar is accidentally hit with a snowball thrown by the local doctor’s daughter Rajkumari (Saira Banu). He yells at her, of course. She’s a carefree and happy girl on the verge of womanhood (as evidenced by the beautiful song “Ja Ja Ja Mere Bachpan”).
She doesn’t care much for Shekhar on first acquaintance, or on the second, or for that matter on the third. Mala has not been feeling well, and goes to see the doctor. He has astonishing news for her.
Mala is six months’ pregnant (oh those figure-forgiving sarees, that’s why I love them). She tries to commit suicide but is stopped by Rajkumari. Mala tells Raj her predicament, and Raj assures her that she’ll help soften up Mala’s scary brother. She goes to meet him and is not too surprised to see Shekhar. Raj decides on a strategy to deal with him.
She’s learned a thing or two from Gandhi! She even makes him buy flowers for poor Mala when she takes him to visit. She and her father keep Mala’s condition a secret from him; the doctor merely says that she needs rest. The next day Raj begins her campaign, with the lovely song “Kashmir Ki Kali Hoon Main.”
Poor Shekhar! He doesn’t know what’s hit him. She teases him mercilessly, and flirts shamelessly with him.
As Mala’s due date draws near, Raj tricks him into going on a “pilgrimage” to Sheshnag to get him out of the way. When she finds out that the area has been hit with a severe snow storm she goes after him, but he decides to go ahead to Sheshnag anyway, and makes her go with him as punishment for her mischief.
They get caught in the storm and find shelter in a cabin. As the days pass and the storm rages on, Shekhar realizes that he’s fallen in love with her. It’s fabulously romantic (I know I’ve said that a lot lately, but it’s still true).
For one thing of course, she’s beautiful, and for another, her teasing is the first warmth any woman (besides Mala) has ever shown him. For her part, she realizes that he’s not quite the stone she thought he was either. They both begin to realize that they might die there, too, if the storm doesn’t let up.
Then finally one morning they wake up to clear skies and no wind; relieved and excited, he shouts “Yahoo!”
This is followed by the classic “Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe” and much romping in the snow:
and some sweet romancing.
*Sigh* They return home, where Mala has given birth to a baby boy.
This is an excellent example of why I adore Shammi:
Shekhar asks whose baby they are talking about, and Raj says it’s another woman at the hospital. Mala is astounded by the change in her brother. I love the look on her face!
Raj’s father is not too happy about their prolonged absence together, but Shekhar explains that they want to get married. A telegram arrives from his mother summoning him and Mala back to Bombay (she leaves the baby in Raj and the doctor’s care).
There, trouble awaits in the form of a telegram from Shekhar’s future father-in-law, the “King.” Shekhar is too afraid to tell his mother about Raj. Mala is pining for her baby, but Jeevan, too, is afraid to face her.
His mother sends Shekhar off to see his prospective in-laws. They put on a good party (getting further into debt) in order to impress him. Miss Suku (Helen) performs.
Shekhar puts HIS plan into action. The plan? Convince the princess and her family that he is crazy. He joins Miss Suku on stage, flirting with her and humiliating the princess.
The princess (Azra) is not pleased, and they all agree that he is clearly crazy; but her father and brother don’t much care since they are only interested in his fortune. Shekhar, though, returns home satisfied that he’s gotten out of his engagement. Not for long!
(Note: the film needs restoration or some sort of help badly…a large section of the middle has color issues that could blind you; veering from hot pink to chartreuse and everything in between.)
(It’s Asit Sen!) In any case, Shekhar soon discovers that he’s not escaping the Princess and her family so easily. They come to Bombay at the same time as Raj and her father arrive—all to finalize weddings with Shekhar!
What will happen now? Will Shekhar find the courage to stand up to his mother? Will the faux Princess et al ruin his romance with Raj? What about Mala and Jeevan and their baby?
Watch Junglee to find out! One of my favorite Shammi songs is still to come: “Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par.”
It is To Die For Romantic.