I have to admit that I didn’t expect much from this movie, although I wanted to see it for Helen, Laxmi Chhaya and Madhumati dancing, and Mumtaz as the heroine opposite Dara Singh. Also: KN Singh! and lots of men in tights (as per usual for a Dara Singh starrer). However, it turned out to be an excellent fairy tale of a film, with a coherent plot, a truly detestable villain, and even a semi-bearable comic side plot thanks to Mohan Choti and Tun Tun. The dances did not disappoint either; the music by Hansraj Behl is lovely and Laxmi Chhaya’s number in particular is now one of my all-time favorites.
Oodles of fun!
Ranjit (Dara Singh) works on a timber estate and lives with his mother. He’s a very large, strong man with a big heart and a wafer thin moustache, who comes to the rescue of a flirtatious Madhumati when she draws unwelcome attention from other large bulky wrestlers.
He’s curious about his absent father, but his mother refuses to talk about him until she’s hit by a falling tree one day. As she lies dying, she tells him that his father threw her out when she was pregnant with Ranjit because someone influenced him to doubt her character. She tells him that they lived in the kingdom of Balrampur, in a house called Phool Haveli; she dies before she can tell Ranjit his father’s name, though.
He swears vengeance for his Ma, and sets off for Balrampur.
In Balrampur, the king’s army commander Bhimsen (Shyam Kumar) is congratulated on his swordsmanship by the king, who tells him that if he manages to defeat all of the king’s champions, he will make Bhimsen Rustom-E-Hind. Bhimsen’s father Pavan Singh (KN Singh) is proud of his son too, but he cautions the king and Bhimsen.
The comic side plot is introduced: it involves stammering Madhav (Maruti) and weedy Mohan (Mohan Choti) as rivals for one of the Rajkumari’s ladies-in-waiting. Tun Tun plays Madhav’s would-be fiancee, and as usual I’m delighted when she is onscreen.
I wonder if she ever got tired of fat jokes? There’s so much more to her than her size (no pun intended). But I digress.
Pavan Singh wants to believe that his son Bhimsen is a good man; although he’s heard stories to the contrary, he refuses to believe them. On his way home, he runs into a group of men who want to kill him in revenge for their friend who was murdered by Bhimsen. Luckily, Ranjit turns up and runs them off after a spectacular lathi fight.
Pavan Singh is suitably grateful, and takes Ranjit home where he introduces him to his wife Laxmi (Praveen Paul). Ranjit refuses to stay long, as he wants to get to Balrampur; after he leaves, Pavan Singh is thoughtful.
Hmmmm. Anyway, Ranjit doesn’t get far before he has to rescue someone else: the king’s daughter, Padma (Mumtaz). Her carriage has broken down, and he fixes it but refuses payment, which completely charms her.
He arrives in Balrampur and is just in time to rescue Mohan from a couple of large wrestlers (the story is liberally sprinkled with fights, as you’d expect). Once they’ve been defeated, he asks for directions to Phool Haveli, which garners strange looks from people. It turns out that Phool Haveli is now a brothel. And guess who works there?
Helen does her eyebrow trick and performs a lovely mujra (“Raja Ji Tore Raaj Main”).
Bhimsen has a penchant for the girls at the brothel, but one poor girl did not survive his attentions. The owner of the brothel is understandably reluctant to send her girls to him now, so Bhimsen sends a large henchman in tights to take one by force if necessary. Ranjit is there, luckily, and more than a match for the bad guy, although he’s arrested as a result of the fight and taken to the king. The diminutive king is impressed.
He hires Ranjit to be his daughter’s new coachman and it doesn’t take long before Padma is smitten with him. This incurs the wrath of Bhimsen, who fancies her for himself although she can’t stand him. There’s a little power struggle between Padma and Bhimsen which Bhimsen loses, and he’s not happy.
Padma expresses her feelings for Ranjit through a lively song, “Sajna O Sajna.”
The king likes Ranjit quite a bit too (as we’ve seen) and after his Chief Counsellor agrees with his assessment of Ranjit’s good qualities, he announces a tournament, with a wonderful prize for the winner (who, he says pointedly, could even be a coachman).
He makes it clear that he thinks Ranjit can defeat everyone, including Bhimsen. Bhimsen appears to agree on this point, since he sends his men to kill Ranjit. They overpower him and throw him off a cliff. Padma frets over his absence and sends people to look for him, but he’s nowhere to be found.
He has survived, though, and gone to Pavan Singh for help. Not knowing that Bhimsen is Pavan Singh’s son, Ranjit tells him that Bhimsen was responsible for the attack. Pavan Singh, finally faced with evidence he can’t disbelieve, realizes that his son really is guilty of the accusations made about him. Laxmi naturally leaps to her son’s defense like a good enabling mother, but Pavan Singh storms off to find Bhimsen and make him apologize to Ranjit (“I’m sorry I tried to kill you” wouldn’t actually make me feel better about it all but possibly Ranjit is a bigger man than I am).
Bhimsen is being entertained by Laxmi Chhaya, who performs a very mod sixties-style dance for him, “Nazar Meri Badi Idhar Se.” She shimmies and shakes with enthusiasm in a fringed lame outfit. It’s spectacular!
Pavan Singh arrives to find Bhimsen plying her with wine: it’s the final nail in Bhimsen’s coffin. They have a huge showdown, which ends in Pavan Singh disowning his son. It’s all very thrilling and manly, and Pavan’s mouche takes on a life of its own!
Pavan Singh returns home to find that Ranjit has left. Madhav—who until now has been Bhimsen’s loyal servant—has followed him home and tells Pavan Singh that he cannot serve a man who would cast out his own father. He knows where to find Ranjit: at Phool Haveli, trying to track down information about his father (disguised as an Arab, presumably to escape Bhimsen’s attention).
Ranjit tells Pavan Singh that on her deathbed, his mother told him that she lived with his father in this house twenty years before. Pavan Singh is clearly disturbed by this news (well, it’s clear to me, but Ranjit is not only bigger than me, he’s dumber). Ranjit informs him that he has sworn to kill his father in revenge for the ill-treatment of his mother. Pavan Singh tells Ranjit that he knows his father.
He offers to teach Ranjit swordsmanship as he had taught Bhimsen, so that Ranjit is well-equipped to win the tournament, and Padma’s hand. He promises Ranjit that after the tournament is over, he will introduce him to his father and he can take his revenge.
Is Pavan Singh his father? Will Ranjit be able to kill him, if so? Can Ranjit become Rustom-E-Hind? Or will evil Bhimsen and his horrid enabler mother thwart him?
If that isn’t enough incentive to watch, remember: men in tights wrestling! Laxmi Chhaya, Madhumati, and Helen! KN Singh! and Mumtaz! (Thanks for this one too, Mike.)