Junglee (1961)

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.

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62 Comments to “Junglee (1961)”

  1. Oh, my! I love that screencap of Shammi–“Love and beauty often cause a fire.” Too true! ;-)

  2. हलो ग्रेटा,
    आपका हिन्दी फ़िल्मों का ज्ञान देखकर खुशी हुई, शम्मी कपूर का तो मैं भी फ़ैन हूँ, जितनी तरह से और जितनी जगह से वे कमर मटकाते थे, उतना तो हम गर्दन भी नहीं मटका सकते :) मैं भी हिन्दी फ़िल्मों का दीवाना हूँ और बॉलीवुड का बॉस कार्यक्रम अवश्य देखता हूं… बेहतरीन पोस्ट लिखी है आपने… बधाई और शुभकामना

  3. My god, even for me this is a looonnnnnng way to scroll down! :-) Ajnabi, Shammi’s beauty is causing a fire here at my house. He is so handsome in this film.

    Suresh: I don’t read Hindi, I’m afraid, but welcome and I hope you can read English!

  4. Ah, lovely! One of my favourite Shammi Kapoor movies (yep, I’m a dieard fan too!) right up there with Professor. He is so absolutely drool-worthy in Junglee. And though I don’t much care for Saira Banu otherwise, she was very very pretty in this one. Mmm…I think I’m going to pull this out of my collection and see it all over again.

  5. Yay!! Junglee!!!!!!! Shammi is so wonderful here. I think part of it is that Saira Banu is able to match his acting. She’s as sharp as he is frantic – wonderful.

    And that cabin scene – *swoon*

    Too right about the restoration. I think we need to start a letter writing campaign to get some of these classics properly restored with maybe some nice extra feature and a commentary track. I volunteer to go record Shammi’s interview. (Purely in the interests of culture….)

  6. I think he’s at his best in this one. I don’t like Saira either, but she’s bearable throughout and even quite lovely in places. Of course I should have been in it instead, but unfortunately was still kicking around in my mother’s womb.

    And Filmi Girl, you’ll have to get in line behind me for the Shammi interview :-)

  7. I had forgotten how handsome he was here- esp your v first screecap with that camera. And Saira is gorgeous as well- I am placing her right up there with Asha in being able to match Shammi’s madness- I am surprised they didnt do v many movies together- at least not as many as Asha-Shammi.
    I really like Lalita PAwar here and also in Professor- she brings so much humanity even when playing caricature-style roles.

  8. Memsaab, I can’t believe you don’t like Saira! I find her quite enjoyable to watch, but then I quite like gawky ladies, being one myself.

    Lalita Pawar does do a wonderful job with these stereotype roles when given a chance. I love her variable age, too, as she can go from playing elderly mothers to youngish mother-in-laws to stern ladies of indeterminate age in films within a single year. (Often, she wasn’t too much older than the men she was supposed to have birthed.)

  9. “Warning: this is a long post with many screen shots…” Those kind of posts are my favourite! :-) Shammi is looking so handsome! And it was hilarious when he slapped Saira after screaming “Yahoo!”!

  10. Shweta, you make an excellent point about Lalita Pawar—I love her with Shammi; she always plays such stern and unyielding characters, but he manages to soften her edges. You can almost see HER melt a bit when she looks at him. I love the bit in this film when he hugs her and she almost breaks down.

    FG you are lucky to be gawky, I am more of the curvy Asha persuasion myself! I don’t know why I don’t like her, I find her shrill somehow. But she’s quite good with Shammi (she’s in Bluffmaster as well).

    Anon: Shammi is so fine!!! That Yahoo scene is just hilarious. It’s a great transition from sour Shammi to sweet lovable Shammi!

  11. oh this was one good entertainment from start to finish. Shammi was OTT but he was Sooo handsome and he did carry his wackiness with some flair.

    Ehsaan tera is a melt-on-the-spot song. Saira Banu did well, and she was doll perfect pretty. And lots of Kashmir as a bonus.

    P.S: I think you could a series of books on Interior Decor, Hindi film styles and eras.

  12. Ooh Bawa, someone should do that series! :-) What a great idea.

  13. To be honest… my eyes are filled with tears with the very thought that an american cares so much about golden yesteryears of indian cinema. Though Junglee is not my kind of movie but while browsing your blog I saw you mentioning the song “Mere sapno ki rani, ruhi ruhi ruhi…”. Even Indians don’t know about this song and when I play it people just run away.
    Thanks… Don’t know for what… will keep coming back here.

  14. Hello महेन (oh I need to learn Hindi, oh! oh!) thank you :-) I’m glad you stopped by and hope you do keep returning.

  15. Awww! This looks absolutely wonderful – maybe I’ll make THIS (finally) my Proper Introduction to Shammi movie! Or else the orphans one.

  16. Brahmachari is wonderful and has Mumtaz and Pran, but this one has Shammi at his very very best. So if it’s to be all about Shammi (and it should be), it should probably be this one :-)

  17. This was such a fun movie… Remember the scene where Saira compares him to a monkey and he angrily demands whether she thinks of him as a monkey – she naughtily comes back with, “How can I say it to your face. You’d think I am trying to flatter you [by comparing you to a monkey]”! And he really was close to a monkey in the first half – a very handsome and pouty one! :-)

    Was reading about him in Madhu Jain’s The Kapoors and apparently only Asha Parekh could stand up to him – which is why he has so many movies with her!

  18. Yes, I love that book. I can just imagine how naughty he was…but that’s actually one of the things I love about Asha—she didn’t put up with anything from him, at least not onscreen and it sounds like offscreen as well…

    and yes, the monkey scene is very funny :-)

  19. yaaaaayy, this is my favorite saira movie, and where i learnt how to emulate her eyeliner, but this is especially great because it made me love shammi’s wiggle jiggles and YAHOOO’s

  20. I hvn’t any desire 2 see this movie but after reading the review got interest.I can’t bear Shammi’s funny act.

  21. Hi Greta.Great post tere.I think Shammi kapoor wass the sexiest man in hindi films …ohand second sexiest in all the world(my husband comes first) I would swoon when he wooed his heroines with those intense light eyes.

  22. When I watch a Geeta Bali movie, she seems so well suited to him: equally full of mischief, and I can imagine her standing up to him allright!

  23. i am thrilled to read your post.just go thrugh this blog on hindi films.you will fnd some great articles and interviews.happ reading.

  24. I notice more comments that I can’t read because of the script, but I do think that script is very beautiful. It reminded me of my introduction to Tagore when I was in Calcutta. The things I read by him (in English) were incredible, and I also loved his drawings and remembered thinking how a written language has an influence on the asthetics. Living in Austria I have formed the impression that a spoken language influences the philosophy of whoever grows up speaking that language, and in India I got the feeling that the written language influences the aesthetic of whoever grows up looking at the language. I’m not explaining that well. Oh well. I also wanted to add that I love the Helen screen shot with the giant paintbrushes and heaps of colors, and I agree that you should consider the idea of a book on Hindi film and interior decorating.

  25. dear marta,
    you car read my blog in roman.or you can get it translated through google translation,but ah..that translation is very poor.if you understand hindi and cant read it in hindi(devnagri script),then there is a way out…just check this link

  26. Yes, a very nice blogger with a lot of readers apparently! wrote a post about me in his blog, which is all written in Hindi. Motivation to keep learning to read it! It really is a beautiful script.

    Thought of you Marta with that Helen dance on a palette :-)

    I have noticed that I have filled my place with things that are v. similar to decor in Hindi films. It kind of frightens me a little. But maybe that book will come forth one day, you never know.

  27. And Ajay—that’s a very nice feature, to have the Hindi transliterated (still Hindi, but roman letters); that is much easier for me than the script although I’m still woefully illiterate.

    I think Google Translate must have been written by the same people who subtitle Hindi films badly. It’s complete gibberish, although quite entertaining too!

  28. Great review! There’s so many reasons to love this film…

    Before we saw this movie, I kept trying to explain the power of Shammi’s bedroom eyes, but my dh just didn’t see it. After the cabin scene, when Shammi is reciting poetry, he turned to me and said, “Is that what you mean about his eyes?”

    I also love that Shammi is just about the only person who doesn’t fall for the “she had another man’s baby” story, and the only person who can go into the cabin in Kashmir without taking advantage of the woman he’s with. (That cabin turns up in a lot of movies!)

  29. Another scene – from another movie though – where Shammi’s looking absolutely gorgeous is from Dil Deke Dekho, in the song `Hum aur tum aur yeh sama’. His eyes are to swoon for!

  30. Oh oh oh…even just the mention of that song makes me melt into a Shammi puddle.

    Aimee, you are lucky to have a husband who can appreciate Shammi’s eyes. Not many women could say that they do. If I ever get married, it will be in my vows :-) “Thou shalt appreciate Shammi’s bedroom eyes.”

  31. Where do you get all these old movies from?

    I haven’t seen half the old movies you have reviewed here!

  32. I love this movie! It was my first Shammi film and at first I just thought he was weird and a little crazy – but he (and the movie) soon grew on me, and now it’s one of the films I just love to re-watch over and over. Great review.

  33. Anon: Various places! I buy them online at nehaflix.com (they have a good selection of old films) and rent from netflix too. They’re easy to find (and pretty cheap too) if you look for them.

    DG: Yes, it’s a film that I always have within reach :-)

  34. Oh man! movie was splendid itself but ur review has made it phenomenal..i loved the stern mouth set of Shammi kapoor in 1st hour (n did interiors of airplanes indeed look soo plush in dos days!?!)…and who can beat the evergreen yahoooo and suku suku songs…too good :) by the way, i came across this music networkin portal called Planet Radio City . It talks only about music…so whether its jazz or gazals or rock or sufi or bollywood, you get all news and lyrics and trivia and even videos at one place. i signed up there n its real fun. Have a look.

  35. long time no see, now i’m back in germany! (bad rhyme, i know…)
    memsaab, great fantastic screenshots!!! i love them all!!
    and btw: “yahoo” is my mobile ringtone at the moment!! :)

  36. Hey Anja, are you glad to be home? Did you bring back lots of Shammi? :-) Yahoo!

  37. no, actually i’m not glad to be home…i miss a lot of things and unfortunatly i havn’t bought all the shammi dvds i wanted to…. :(

  38. i havent seen this film yet, but its in my “films to watch ” pile. i find it hard to watch saira banu but i will watch this for shammi & for the songs. what on earth did dilip kumar see in her when you compare her to the gorgeous

  39. I just watched this movie, and have fallen in love with Shammi all over again. I’ve been on a Shashi viewing streak recently, and decided a break was in order – I am so glad I picked this movie! I’d seen a number of the songs, but in the context of the movie they all become so much better – and Shammi – oh my!
    Thanks for the great review – not many people seem to have seen this movie – but it’s now my No1 Shammi movie, just displacing Kashmiri Ki Kali :)

  40. I love the songs in this, and Shammi is so beautiful that it doesn’t matter who else is in it! Glad you liked it too.

  41. i love this film songs.because these songs live in my heart.

  42. Honestly, I don’t know where to write. After watching “Teesri Manzil” and “Junglee” I’ve watched today “Tumsa nahin dekha” and I’m totally flashed by Shammi. His acting was so delicious and he looks so good looking – espacially in Chupnewale samne and Dekho kasamse.

    I’m so happy that my friend showed my your site. I really love it and your filmreviews in particular the old ones :-)

    If you would have any more Shammi movie recommandation I would be very happy.

    • Three of my favorites are also on here: Dil Deke Dekho, Professor and Janwar (I have a whole category for Shammi in the sidebar of my blog, on the front page) :-) Am just writing up another one that I enjoyed which just came out on DVD, Char Dil Char Rahen…

      Welcome to the world of Shammi LOVE! :)

  43. Hi Memsaab
    thanks a lot! I think I couldn’t resist Shammi’s charm and fell for him :-) But as you surely know it’s quite difficult to get some old movies from him.
    Anyway I love your blog and we’ll read from each other :-)

  44. its amazing how they actually had colour films back in those day’s – must have cost them a fortune, or maybe not (hinting: chartreuse & magenta!)
    i totally understand that this was saira’s debut movie but, hell! she is so annoying, i would have slapped her at the beginning of my ‘yahoo’ song!
    i thoroughly enjoyed the ‘suku suku’ song, it wasn’t one of those over romantic love songs, although i loved the love song in this! i remember watching this aged 3-4!

  45. I am sure the color was much better when it was made than it is now :) It breaks my heart to see how these films are just deteriorating and no real effort is made to preserve them…

    I love this film, even Saira didn’t annoy me (although she usually does!).

  46. have you watched biwi-o-biwi, 1981? its hilarious, it has raj kapoor & shammi kapoor is a cola van driver, & he does the whole ‘yahoo!’ thing again! i watched it yesterday, it cracked me up BIG TIME!

  47. out of 10 what would you give this film? i haven’t watched it – is it worth it because everyones telling me to watch it.

    p.s – i might have to watch it with shammi in it!

  48. I watched this a good 15-20 years ago – ja ja ja mere bachpan has been etched in my head since those days! – what a wonderful movie – most certainly time for a rewatch.

  49. I watched it after a long time again. I usually find Saira Bano annoying. May be it is the effect of watching her later films. But here she so beautiful and fits the role so well. I forgot she was such a beauty.

    And Shammi is such fun. In the cabin scene, I loved the way he shows the love/passion/restraint/inevitability of facing death, without melodrama. And the poetry from him feels so natural…

    This could be becoming one of the most watched movies at our home.

  50. Memsaab – “I think Google Translate must have been written by the same people who subtitle Hindi films badly. It’s complete gibberish, although quite entertaining too!” – SO true!!! :-) LOL!!!

    Junglee is one of my all time favorites!! Shammi is his awesomest best here!!!

    Biwi-o-biwi – a fun movie – I love Sanjeev Kumar in this one. And Shashikala. She is just so adorable!! gets too stretched in the car chase in the end. But that is when Shammi does a cameo – maybe just under 2 mins – but he is so hillarious!!!

  51. Everytime I want to watch an old movie, I first check out your review and your opinion. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  52. Although I am a “right-wing conservative”,and perhaps not welcome here, I enjoy your blog and agree with so many of your reviews on the good, bad, and horrendous. The articles are hilarious and I enjoy checking in rather frequently. I end up seeing a few movies at the Westborough, MA Regal Cinema and am very grateful for the opportunity to experience Bollywood on the big screen (especially Jab Tak Hai Jaan!!!!!!)….and I also have a gentle, loving, slightly ridiculous blenheim cavalier King Charles spaniel (and a little black and white pom mix!)
    And Junglee is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES…!!!!!!!

    • You are most welcome if you aren’t going to tell me what a horrible feminist I am and that it’s perfectly okay for a woman to have to marry her rapist :D So you liked Jab Tak Hai Jaan?! Shall I make sure I see it? And snuggles to your pups, hope they are keeping warm. Mine are most reluctant to go out :)

  53. I am glad I can share with you all! I really enjoyed Jab Tak etc,, and felt very lucky to see such an ‘important’ film, but Katrina was poorly cast: nooooooooo chemistry with SRK. Man. How can that even be possible?????? Loved Anushka. Loved the music. Definitely surprised at some of the sexy scenes-i prefer IMPLIED sexuality (closet romantic) I actually have my amazon cart stuffed full of of Shammi and Raj Kapoor films, and Jab Tak in the ‘saved for later”!

    • SRK is def. a romantic hero, one of my favorites next to Shammi of course :) Katrina is gorgeous and a great dancer, but I’m still not convinced she has any chemistry with anyone onscreen.

  54. One of my most fav movies of Shammi. oh the caps, I was left staring at him and will watch this movie again, tonight. Those were good days for hindi cinema, some of the finest movies n songs came thru…
    ‘ehsaan tera’ is again one of my most fav songs!!

  55. I wonder if you have seen the earliest of Shammi’s films like Laila Majnu (1953)…When so thin, he looked a lot like his dad in his youth…unfortunately for the infamous Kapoor genes- every guy in that family has to bloat up…they loved to live life King size…but then, they had their share of personal tragedies..Shammi and his losing Geeta, Shashi and his losing Jennifer…Thank you, memsaab, for your posts…the sad part about Indian media is that they never talk of “unsung” or forgotten heroes, supporting cast, etc. There must be a dozen books on Sholay, on Amitabh, on Shahrukh, etc. Whenever I watch old Hindi movies, I wonder about the lives of the Sulochanas, Rashid Khans, Dhumals of those movies. There is so little written on all those people who made those movies what they are..

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