This film is truly a Shammi showcase. He spends half of it disguised as an elderly professor, and very convincingly too, I might add. It’s one of his best films from an acting standpoint, and he is quite restrained throughout—although still irrepressibly irresistible and charming. Good performances from everyone else in the cast, lovely hit songs by Shankar Jaikishan and locations in beautiful Darjeeling are the juicy cherries on top of this bit of romantic fluff.
Pritam (Shammi Kapoor) has an advanced degree but is unable to find work. His mother (Protima Devi) is suffering from tuberculosis and he’s increasingly desperate to find a job. He applies for a tutoring position in Darjeeling, but discovers to his dismay that he has to be at least fifty years old in order to get the job.
When the doctor tells Pritam that his mother must be cared for in a sanatorium or she’ll die, he decides to take the job; he’ll pretend to be old. With his mother tucked away in a good hospital, he heads to Darjeeling. Walking from the train station to the school, he admires the beauty around him—especially when he spots a group of pretty girls dancing (“Hamare Gaon Koi Aayega”).
Pritam reaches his new employer’s home, only to be greeted by the sounds of Shammi’s “Yahoo” song from Junglee, and two young boys sliding down the staircase bannisters. Then two of the girls he had seen dancing come rushing in. They’ve spotted their aunt’s car approaching and everyone disappears from sight.
When Sita Devi (Lalita Pawar) arrives, Pritam introduces himself as Professor Khanna. She is quite scary: no wonder everyone vanished when word spread that she was coming. She is also suspicious of the “elderly” Professor’s youthful skin; Pritam makes up a story about studying yoga from the original Sanskrit teachings.
She’s impressed, but her nieces—now back in the room dressed much more demurely—are not. Sita Devi informs him that he will be responsible for tutoring her two young nephews as well as teaching the girls Sanskrit.
But first, he needs to learn Sanskrit himself!
Nina (Kalpana) and Rita (Parveen Choudhary) make several attempts to get rid of the Professor and the hated Sanskrit lessons by playing pranks, but he survives Sita Devi’s wrath each time.
Pritam goes into town to order a new reversible jacket made—with one side for his old man act, and the other for his time off when he can wander around sans disguise. Nina is there, although she doesn’t recognize Pritam, but he takes her dupatta by mistake as he leaves. When he finds it, he waits for her outside and they strike sparks off each other.
Sita Devi rules the house with an iron hand. If anyone is more than a second late, she is furious. Her attitude towards clothing, food, studying, everything, is very strict. Nina and Rita hate her, but the Professor suggests to them that she’s strict because she loves them, and points out that maybe she never got married because she was too busy raising them. They’re not buying it, though Nina seizes on another idea for getting the Professor fired.
This backfires badly, though, as Sita Devi is secretly quite flattered. Nobody’s ever admired her looks before! She pretends to call him onto the carpet, and he apologizes; but after he leaves she looks wistfully up at an old photograph of herself hanging on the wall. Young Lalita Pawar was really beautiful!
Pritam now is fed up with Nina’s attempts to get him fired, though. To get back at her, he decides to romance her as himself, meeting her in town at the tailor’s again. They sing the lively “Main Chali Main Chali” which is my favorite song (although they’re all great). It’s shot just beautifully and is full of fun.
This is followed in short order by another lovely, very romantic song, “Aye Gulbadan” and despite herself Nina starts to melt. How could she not?
These new feelings make her very uneasy, though, and she begins to cry. Pritam is surprised to find that he doesn’t like seeing her cry; his plan seems to have backfired on him too! He assures her that he’s not her enemy, but doesn’t tell her the truth about his identity.
Meanwhile, the four siblings—including Nina—warm up to the Professor when he sticks up for them in the face of Sita Devi’s wrath.
Sita Devi is incensed and fires him, but changes her mind. His honesty wins her trust and she asks him to represent Nina’s interests in a court case in Bombay—Sita Devi’s brother left his substantial property to his eldest daughter, but there’s a dispute. Pritam stops to see his mother—who is recovering nicely—on the way. Relieved that he’ll be able to stop his charade soon, he continues to Bombay.
In Bombay, he meets Sita Devi and Nina as himself when they arrive, telling them that he is the Professor’s nephew.
A crazy juggling act ensues, with Pritam romancing Nina as himself and continuing his Professor act for Nina and Sita Devi, who is now quite smitten with the Professor.
What will happen when they find out the truth? Even if Nina can forgive him, can the fiercely proud Sita Devi? Will she allow them to be together?
If you haven’t seen Professor, you really should. Shankar and Jaikishan won the Filmfare Award for best music, and Shammi was also nominated for the Best Actor award. He’s truly at his best here, and this movie is sixties fun at its finest.
Other good stuff:
Tun Tun as Phool Rani the housekeeper. How I love her faces!
A cameo by Iftekhar! So handsome…
Rashid Khan is Sita Devi’s diminutive chauffeur Hanuman Singh:
This was Kalpana’s debut film, and she didn’t make that many others. Does anyone know what happened to her? She’s quite beautiful (and I LOVE her eyeliner)…
…But not as beautiful as Shammi! *Sigh*