Maha Chor (1976)

I never did figure out if this was an intentional parody of filmi cliches, or if it was just bad. Maybe it was a badly done parody. In any case—it was bad. The story was ridiculous with gaping plot holes, too many suspension-of-disbelief requirements, and loose ends left hanging all over the place. These things alone are not a dealbreaker; but together *shakes head*…I’m not even going to try and do a synopsis.

However, there were some good things about it. This is one reason why I love Hindi movies. You can almost always find something to appreciate!

Thing #1: Manorama, and she was a hot mess. Cleopatra eyeliner! Bright red lipstick! She played Prem Chopra’s “mummy.” He had issues, and no wonder.

Thing #2: The fashion. Prem Chopra’s black and white houndstooth-checked suit, for instance. My school uniform was bottle green and white houndstooth-checked, and hideous. But at least I didn’t have huge horn-rimmed glasses. Oh, wait…yes I did. But at least I didn’t have sideburns. I didn’t!

Sartorially speaking, there were no winners. There was a lot of Victorian tiger-claw jewelry, which I always find kind of…sad. Poor tigers need their claws.

And Neetu did rock these orange bellbottoms, to be completely fair.

Thing #3: The worst wig I have EVER seen. And of course I have seen a lot of bad ones.

I mean, there wasn’t even the tiniest effort to make it look real. But everyone was apparently fooled. This is what made me think: “Parody?”

Thing #4: A child lost at a fair, who was never mentioned again, probably because losing your kids at fairs is so commonplace (again, parody?).

Plus, Protima Devi!

Thing #5: The set decoration. Disco seventies! Mirrored walls! Mirrored ceilings!

If it wasn’t the seventies, it was Arabian Nights or Renaissance Italy.

Thing #6: Some of the dialogue/subtitling was very very silly.

Things #7 and #8: Rajesh and Neetu. The Rajesh Khanna love fest continues. Although their jodi was not *quite* as fab as his with Mumtaz and hers with…well, everybody, I will never be sad to have Neetu Singh in a film and Rajesh is my new best friend. They were fun together.

He donated blood with sunglasses and a fur hat on*:

and had a dual role as a thief and a mentally challenged thumb-sucking Prince.

Sigh. So much goodness squandered.

*An anonymous reader fills me in on this:

Rajesh Khanna donating blood with a fur cap and sun glasses on is actually a spoof on the late MGR – famous south indian actor in tamil movies and later on the Chief Minister of that state.

MGR used to sport a fur cap and dark glasses and was prone to all the usual social stunts of gathering votes from the poor like donating blood, arranging for feeding the poor etc etc

I’m beginning to think: badly done parody with good intentions.

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22 Comments to “Maha Chor (1976)”

  1. Memsaab—you’ve been too kind. There’s nothing to recommend in this film other than that wonderfully peppy song “Main tumse pyar karti hoon” (your first screen cap) which was a huge hit in India when the film released. One of the banes in RK’s life was doing favors for those whom he’d been associated with in his early days. This film’s director Narinder Bedi was the son of Rajinder Singh Bedi, an eminent screenplay and dialogue writer, who had co-written RK’s Baharon Ke Sapne that released in 1967. Rajinder Bedi was closely associated with Bimal Roy and Hrishikesh Mukherjee and worked in most of their films including gems like Madhumati, Devdas, Musafir, Anuradha, Anupama, Satyakam, Abhiman, etc. RK’s Baharon ke Sapne is a B/W film with Asha Parekh which is a must-see, but be warned, it ain’t masala but serious stuff. Incidentally, almost all of RK’s films before his superstar phase were kind of “arty”.

    It was Mahachor that has the dubious distinction of definitively putting in the last nail in the coffin for RK as the superstar and ushering in his dismal period which went on through about 1979.

    About the Rajesh-Neetu pairing, don’t you like them? She’s with him in another film by Basu Chatterjee called Chakravyuh, a Hindi version of Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. My friend at the RK forum Anaad notes that Chakravyuh is a “lazy and relaxing caper and Kaka [RK] looks really smart and delivers a really cool and unhurried performance.” It’s also got this song that was again very popular in its times “Shaadi karne se pyar kam ho jata hai”. The chemistry between Neetu and RK is very affectionate—she’s constantly pinching his cheeks!

  2. I’ll look for Chakruvyuh, because I like Neetu with everyone, basically. Perhaps in this one they both just put in as little effort as possible to get it over with quickly :-) There wasn’t really any chemistry between them except in the scene in the car where they pretend to be a sardar and his wife. Otherwise, I think they were just phoning it in! Can’t blame them either, it’s truly an awful film.

  3. Hi Memsaab,

    I’m writing after a while, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading your reviews. It’s just that bugbear of modern life – finding the time !

    Anyway, I’m a big fan of Rajesh Khanna & am extremely glad you’ve started covering his movies.

    This movie is from the mid-’70’s when the Amitabh tsunami was just starting to be felt, leaving poor Rajesh far behind. I don’t think the movie was meant to be a parody or not, maybe because of the poor screenplay & inconsistencies it just seems that way !

    Also the passage of time has not been kind to some 70’s movies with their loud fashion & colours etc. I actually grew up in that era & we didn’t think too much about the fashions etc., it was just accepted. But now with hindsight you sometimes stop in your tracks when you see old movies & say what were they thinking wearing those clothes …

    I’m glad you mentioned that song when Rajesh was dressed as a Sikh. The song was actually sung by Anand Bakshi the lyricist, one of the very few times (maybe the only time ?) he actually sang on film. I’m not sure if your DVD had subtitles for the song, but the lyrics are quite funny. At one point he threatens to slap poor Neetu if she doesn’t get back into the car !

    Anyway, that’s my two-cents for the time-being (for what they’re worth). When I get some more time I’ll try & write more about that icon of the early ’70’s, Rajesh Khanna.

    Take Care,


  4. Hi Pavitra, thanks for your comment :-) I was a teenager in the 70s myself. I remember in particular a lime green suit I had (pants and jacket) with enormous white plastic buttons (and bellbottoms). Hideous!!!! I think that’s why I love the decor and outfits so much in Hindi films from the 60s/70s…nostalgia. Yes, the songs were subtitled and that was a funny one. Neetu is so good at comedy too.

  5. It’s strange to see in retrospect, how the films almost everyone likes even after years and years, were hits when they were released. And vice-versa. I didn’t even see ‘Maha-Chor’, and that in a childhood which involved seeing at least one film every week, usually more.

    I say this, because usually the Hindi film audience, in its vast, abstract sense is taken to be unpredictable AND stupid by lazy film makers and insecure producers. And of course, it’s not.

    Neetu Singh is delectable in the worst of films. Immensely huggable.

  6. And Banno it seems to be true across cultures too, which is even more interesting. I confess that sometimes when I’m writing about a film I think “Am I crazy to have liked this?” because it goes against everything that stands for “good” film-making in the films I grew up with, or I’ll think “Did I miss something?” because (like this film) there are things I really enjoyed but it just didn’t come together properly.

    It’s nice to get validation in the comments, although of course I never mind if someone disagrees with my views either :-)

    And Neetu just gets more and more beautiful as she ages.

  7. this is was an attack on my eyes some of the time, and it was a cute silly movie sometimes! but ohhh the subtitles were wondrously funny, my copy had “i will ill-treat your mother,brother,father” NOT ILL TREATMENT!

  8. “…There was a lot of Victorian tiger-claw jewelry, which I always find kind of…sad. Poor tigers need their claws…”

    What are leopards without its spots? A dead one. Poor leopards need their skin too.


  9. memsaab

    Rajesh Khanna donating blood with a fur cap and sun glasses on is actually a spoof on the late MGR – famous south indian actor in tamil movies and later on the Chief Minister of that state.

    MGR used to sport a fur cap and dark glasses and was prone to all the usual social stunts of gathering votes from the poor like donating blood, arranging for feeding the poor etc etc

  10. Yeah, it is indeed an amazingly bad movie. I love how that wig has sideburns :-)

    I usually call these movies “Locomotive 38”, after a William Saroyan story I read back in school. Explanation here.


  11. FiLMiNDiA: I know I know…sigh.

    Anonymous: Thank you! That’s the kind of thing I love to find out!!! See, these kinds of things are what made me wonder if Maha Chor maybe had good intentions of being a parody, but just was too badly done to succeed at it. It did have its moments. Thanks for filling me in on this one! I have updated the post to reflect it.

    Rum and Ramsu: :-)

  12. Mahachor was released after Mehbooba and the gap was nearly one year. In the year 1977- with Amar Akbar Anthony, Kabhi Khabhie – Amitabh had taken a grip over the Hindi movies. This movie had such a poor story and presentation that it bombed in its first week and could run only a month and bombed. The tag for Kaka became mahaflop – his bad period started with this movie and he then did flops like – Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka, Chalta Purza, Janta Hawaldar, Naukri, Aaina, Tyaag,Tinku etc.. He had some success with Karm and Chailla babu. He came back as an actor in Palkon Ki Chaon mein and Chakravyuha with moderate success and returned with full force in October 1979 with Amardeep – with a new hairstyle and look.

  13. I love those orange bell-bottoms Neetu is wearing, and would love to wear trousers just like that now! anyone know where I can buy them from; please email me at:-

  14. Neetu just rocks those hugely flared Bell-bottoms, would love to see more video’s of the period, where ladies wear very flared bell-bottoms. Please email me if you know of any Bollywood or Lollywood titles of films where ladies of the 1970’s wear these lovely trousers. Guess I was just born too late. Thanks:- Flara

  15. Wonderful wonderful wonderful job of mining for gems! That bar in the orange bellbottom picture – I have seen that before and when I get home will scavenge my archives to find it! I hope it’s the same club with the Kalyug/Sawaal/Janbaaz orange neon squares.

  16. Maha Chor was a hit in 1976. it didnt flop thankfully.It was a film made out for laughing tats all. it was on lines of bunty aur babli type. common abhishek bachchan got a nomination for a faltu film like buntay aur babli…maha chor was not meant to be a full on comedy or some award winning film. it was a film which otherwise would hve starred romantic hero rishi kapoor.
    rajesh khanna was not jusr a rioshi kapoor. he had facets of sanjeev,shahshi,amitabh,jeetendra,nasser,om puri as he could do all the roles which these people did in different eras bu8t they couldnt cover up all the roles which rajesh khanna eventually did in p[eriod 1966-1990

    • Mahachor was flop and garnered reviews LIke Mahachor is mahabore at that time and so was bundlebaaz,another movie of rk…it was a time when multistarrer like roti kapda aur makan ,yadon ki baarat came in trend.but even than rk was said to be having 20 movies in his hand.

  17. Hi, memsaab,
    I have uploaded some most rare never before seen videos of Anand Bakshi singing, and his Documentaries. rarest of rare footage, Bakshiji singing for Friends and Relatives, and also with Talat Aziz, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, etc. (some of these videos will be uploaded within three to four days).

  18. Maha Chor was surely not a hit. when one looks at the film history of Rajesh KHanna, nowhere will you see this movie been counted as hitt. I find that there is lot of emotion in suppporters of actors and they tend to blindly beleive that since their favourtie actor has acted, so the movie is a hit. with due regards to the respective fan’s emotions, one needs to be objective and accept facts.

  19. Naha chor was not a hit but it was definitely better than the commercial junk that amit did. Neetu wanted to do a film with rajesh & directly told rajesh about it. There were reports that she did not get along well with kaka, but if that were true, she would not have done another film – Chakravyuh with kaka.

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