Kuchhe Dhaage (1973)

kd_dara

Feeling thwarted by my truncated Phaansi experience, I embarked on another dacoit saga. These films have the added bonus (for me) of engaging Gemma’s attention too (the horses); she goes absolutely nuts which is entertaining by itself. It also makes her very pleased with herself, and how can that be bad? She’s defending me against those big bad animals!

Plus, this movie is directed by Raj Khosla—one of my favorite directors—and it stars Vinod Khanna and Kabir Bedi as deadly adversaries who find redemption through their love for the same girl (the absolutely stunning Moushumi Chatterjee). One more thing about the horses: Vinod’s is a white one named Dara, and Kabir’s is a black one named Toofan. Heh.

Thakur Bahadur Singh (Dev Kumar) is convicted in court (by Judge Murad of course!) of murder and sentenced to death. His conviction has been secured by the testimony of Pandit Tulsiram (Kabir Bedi), and Bahadur Singh’s pregnant wife (Nirupa Roy) vows that her unborn son will avenge his father’s death at the hands of Tulsiram.

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Luckily for her, she does give birth to a son; she brings him up in an atmosphere of hatred (how can that possibly go wrong?) and teaches him to be a crack shot. When he is old enough, she calls her husband’s old gang of dacoits and hands him over to lead them. They welcome Lakhan (Vinod Khanna) with open arms.

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Of course his first order of business is to track down Pandit Tulsiram and kill him. It doesn’t take long—he and his men encounter Tulsiram walking alone and unarmed, and Lakhan shoots him in cold blood as old Tulsiram cries his own son’s name: “Roopa!”

Roopa (Kabir Bedi—now that is a son who really does look just like his father!) comes to warn Lakhan’s mother that he will be taking his own revenge.

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She is defiant, but she tells Lakhan later to be careful of Roopa: something about him scared her. He laughs it off. His next trip is to a local brothel, where two sisters dance and entertain. The younger one is still *only* a dancer, but Lakhan’s attention goes to her and despite her older sister’s protests and entreaties, he abducts her and rapes her.

Even his own men don’t approve of this, but Lakhan’s arrogance knows no bounds. A few days later he rapes the daughter of one of his mother’s friends. When news of all this reaches his mother, she is horrified.

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Meanwhile, Roopa has joined a group of dacoits led by Amritlal (Jagdish Raj), who forces him to shoot a police informant as proof of his loyalty. Roopa does so, knowing that this act makes him as much an outcast of society as the others, including Lakhan.

When Amritlal is killed during an encounter with Lakhan’s band, Roopa takes over as their new leader too. Another dacoit challenges him for leadership, but in contrast to Lakhan’s habits of shooting unarmed men and raping helpless girls, Roopa fights the other man without a weapon, although his opponent has a knife. He wins the respect of his men—also in sharp contrast to Lakhan.

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A fairly unobtrusive comic side plot is introduced in the form of an ammunition-wala named Rambharosa (Bhagwan), who sells arms to both Lakhan and Roopa’s gangs and is worried that his divided loyalties might get him in trouble—as he tells his wife Lajwanti (Tun Tun). I’m always so happy to see her!

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Roopa enlists the help of the two nautch girls to try and trap Lakhan, but misses his chance to kill him. Lakhan is suspicious of the younger girl and kills her. Lakhan’s mother reads about it, and is even more upset. When Lakhan goes to see her, she angrily repudiates him but he points out what the rest of us could see all along.

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It’s a very powerful scene and Vinod is awesome. You can see the pain behind his words, although he is angry: instead of teaching him to read and write, he says, she taught him to shoot. He leaves her standing speechless and rides off. On the way back to their hideout, one of his men spots Roopa and shoots him in the leg. Lakhan angrily knocks the man off his horse: Roopa is his target! He takes off after his wounded enemy.

Roopa manages to make his way to a large cornfield, and hides among the tall stalks. He’s spotted by a beautiful and carefree village girl named Sona (Moushumi Chatterjee), and he asks her for help.

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She takes him to a small hut where grain is stored and then intercepts Lakhan, who is hot on Roopa’s trail, and diverts him away from the hut. Lakhan is impressed by her beauty and innocent charm and he leaves, taking Roopa’s abandoned horse with him. Over the next few days, Sona brings food for Roopa. I see a new list of daku-drama characteristics being born, as he asks her to help him remove the bullet from his leg.

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His facial contortions are *almost* as good as Shashi’s! Meanwhile, Lakhan can’t stop thinking about Sona, and he dresses up as a holy man and ventures into her village to talk to her. She doesn’t appear to recognize him as the dacoit, and he returns to speak with her on a very risky daily basis.

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Roopa comes looking for Sona again after he’s recovered, too. He wants to give her a gold necklace as thanks for her help, but she refuses it thinking that he stole it. He tells her that it belongs to his mother, a respected and honorable woman. She asks if he comes from a good family and he says yes, and that he was in the army planning on a career as an officer. She asks why he left that to become a dacoit.

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He doesn’t tell her, but his eyes fill with tears and he says he wishes he had met her earlier. It’s so sad! Oh the waste! The humanity!

On a festival day, both Lakhan and Roopa come in disguise to the village. They each watch Sona sing, completely smitten. The songs in this film are very nice, by the way, courtesy of Laxmikant Pyarelal. That night Roopa sneaks up on Lakhan and his men as they sleep. He doesn’t manage to kill Lakhan although he does steal Lakhan’s horse (his own, stolen by Lakhan earlier, is chained up). Lakhan’s uncle chides him for losing concentration because of Sona—deadly for a dacoit.

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Both men are about to get their hearts broken, though: Sona is already in love, with a village boy named Bhola (Ritesh). They each see her frolicking (and singing) with him one afternoon. I don’t really understand it, he’s a total pudding-face and she could have Vinod! or Kabir! but it’s not my decision.

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But Lakhan’s uncle—tired of Lakhan mooning around—kidnaps Sona, bringing her to the dacoits’ hideout. Lakhan is furious and chastises his men, telling them not to even look at her. He takes Sona back unharmed to her village. When they arrive there, the police are present in droves, but Lakhan starts down the path to go in. Sona stops him; she doesn’t want the police to capture him.

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She convinces him that her parents love her and will have faith in her and he needn’t risk his life.

But do they?

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Her father is KN Singh! He is furious with her for lying to the police, and the police don’t believe her anyway. Her to-be husband Bhola has no faith in her either, and his father breaks their engagement.

Can Lakhan make things right without getting caught by the police? Or by Roopa? Can Sona get Bhola back? Why does she want to? It boggles my mind. I simply can’t suspend disbelief that much.

I really enjoyed this movie, though. Vinod Khanna and Kabir Bedi’s performances are really wonderful and the story is compelling. And where has Moushumi Chatterjee been all my life? I don’t think I’ve seen her before, at least not this young. She’s gorgeous. The film is beautifully shot, too, with all the Khosla trademark windows and frames and odd viewing angles.

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I’m on a daku-drama roll!

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37 Comments to “Kuchhe Dhaage (1973)”

  1. That movie sounds lovely. Time to head over the Nehaflix.com again!

  2. Ooh, this one sounds great. I was debating getting this one a while back since I read the synopsis and was intrigued, but doubted if the story would be given the right kind of treatment. I should have known better, I like most of Khosla’s work!

    And Moushumi… sigh. She was gorgeous early in her career, crooked teeth and all. I don’t think she aged particularly well but the early 70s were very good to her. :-)

  3. Memsaab

    Some of Moushmi Chatterji’s successful movies are ” Anuraag”, “Swarag Narak”, “Be-naam”(with AB)

    happy viewing

  4. Oops

    She even acted in the original bengali version of “Balika Badhu”

  5. OMG Vinod and Kabir Bedi! What a drool-fest!!! :-) How come I never knew about it? But wait, I think I did see the song – Mere bachpan tu ja – long back on TV. I need to see this movie! Sigh… just when I decided to put a stop to my DVD buying. :-(

    I hope Moushumi ends up with Kabir though – hot or no, a rapist doesnt get reformed enough to get the girl, in my book! And Moushumi was always so bubbly and cute, until the 80s when she suddenly put on a lot of weight.

  6. o ooo messed up my html tags! :-(

  7. I have to say, there is *no way* she would’ve chosen Ritesh over Vinod. NO. Way. The instant she saw him in that field she would’ve kicked Bhola to the curb. My gosh, that first outfit of hers is so lovely! Good thing she’s wearing her temple best to work. LOL

  8. Whoops, sorry, I meant Kabir. I’m a dork. ;-)

  9. Michael: I know….*sigh* it never ends :-)

    Sy: She’s absolutely stunning. I was bowled over—and I had Vinod and Kabir to look at. Plus the lovely horses!

    Anonymous: I think I have at least two of those, will need to watch them.

    bollyviewer: You really did! but appropriately so I think so I’m not going to fix them for you. And it is a drool-fest, both Vinod and Kabir are young and angry and SO hot.

    ajnabi: She saw both of them in that field so either works. But she chooses Bhola! It’s just irresponsible. And completely unbelievable; even more unbelievable than someone jumping backwards and up about 20 feet.

  10. She musta been blind ;-)… Vinod and Kabir are anyday miles ahead of Ritesh. But hey, I think I’m going to like this movie – I definitely want to see it! BTW, two of the more entertaining Moushumi Chatterjee starrers I’ve seen also star Sanjeev Kumar: Angoor and Swayamvar.

  11. I confess I loved Moushami even when she put on weight. She’s really funny in ‘Angoor’. She did a lot of these pampered wife roles, and she’s always charming in them. You can see why a husband would want to spoil her silly.

    • Yes, yes, yes, she deserved that necklace in `Angoor,’ she acted so well. So agree about husband wanting to spoil her silly.

  12. I think my 18 year old swoon-o-meter just rose to the hills! Kabir and Vinod in the same movie’!!!! I love daku movies, you’re on a great roll so far, though do checkout some Sunil Dutt daku movies, they are sooo rollicking and fun, Sunil and Vinod are always the king of daku movies for me! I would suggest the one he directed called “Daku aur Jawaan” also with Vinod, where there is constant falling off horses, men in earrings, a face off between the daku brother and city-bred brother, and Leena Chandarvarkar a great damsel for a daku!

  13. dustedoff: I’m sure it would have been difficult to get a bigger star to do such a smalll part as Bhola’s, esp. since guest appearances weren’t so trendy back then, but if young Amitabh, or Sanjeev Kumar or someone like that had been Bhola, it would at least have leveled the playing field a little bit! :-) I will def. move Angoor up on my list, since you and Banno both recommend it!

    Banno: I looked at her filmography on imdb, and I really don’t think I’ve seen her in anything, at least not since I came out of my newbie “Who are these people?” phase :-) I think I too would have made an excellent pampered wife, had I been able to find a pampering husband!

    Rum: Happy birthday! and yes, the swoon-o-meter actually broke during this film. Daku Aur Jawan sounds FAB, I will look for it. Love Leena, love Sunil (esp. as director—have you seen Reshma Aur Shera? One of my all-time favorites)…

  14. I can’t believe you watched a movie starring Vinod without me. You’re going to have to watch it again soon.

  15. Marta, I will gladly watch it with you any time, soon or not (how about tonight?) :-)

  16. Oh I was going to recommend Angoor as well – very funny in parts. (I used to find all of it hilarious, but age has made me cynical :( ) Moushumi ranks very high in the droolworthy list for my husband, so we own a few of her movies…and yes, she does do an excellent pampered housewife…that is one skill I need to learn from her!

    M

  17. Oooo! Vinod Khanna in angsty mode! I’m adding this on my too-be-watched list. I think I could watch him angrily confront his Maa again and again and again….

  18. M: How nice that your husband has such good taste (including you, I mean)!

    Filmi Girl: Vinod is positively teeming with angst. So is Kabir! They make a great combo :-)

  19. “daku-drama”- I love that term! brilliant!

    Kabir and Vinod in 1 movie together is hotness overload- I had heard the name of this movie but didnt know much about it at all- one day soon though, I absolutely need to watch this.

    Also digging the KN Singh cameo- he was v good w/ them

  20. shweta: heh :-) thank you. Yup, this is a good one!!!!

  21. I skimmed this entry because I prefer to find out about these complex 70’s filmi stories as they unfold. What I read however made me sure I need to see this one.

    Also, obligatory fangirl moment: Vinod!!!!

  22. I don’t blame you! I like looking at the pictures myself :-)

    Vinod!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Hey Memsaab

    I think Ritesh is Moushami’s real husband. Her husband is the son of the late music director and singer Hemant Kumar

  24. Seriously????????

    Wow. Although I love Hemant Kumar! Perhaps he has something that doesn’t come across onscreen. Thanks for the trivia!

  25. “Daku-drama” cracks me up everytime! And while I’m completely on page with the disbelief re: Ritesh over Vinod/Kabir (I know love is about the soul but let’s not be ridiculous!) in a way it makes sense – the other two might be hot but are clearly headed for a bad end. Plus, who wants to marry a rapist? Even if he does have a childhood sob story.

    The reason I love Moushimi Chatterjee is because she is the least mealymouthed actress of her generation. I remember reading interviews in which she was like “So my parents married me off when I was no more than a wee child in case I got my head turned by all this movie glitter and that was nice because I love my husband but hey! Let’s be real here – there was a lot of manmeat around and I’m not a saint. But I didn’t want to leave my husband and he didn’t want me to leave him and our marriage worked. it might not be your idea of marriage but it is mine and I had my husband and my kids and my career and my hunks and I’m great, thanks.” Love. Her.

  26. Amrita: of course, you are right—Kabir and Vinod were clearly headed for a bad end, but. Still. Okay and Vinod was a rapist. Okay. :-)

    I love your story about Moushumi! She sounds like a woman you could steal horses with. My kind of girl. And good for her husband too for getting it. I love her too now.

  27. “you are a long and strong man”
    hahahaha

    The translator has tried to make a literal tranlation of the Hindi sentence – “Tum to kaafi lambe tagde ho”

  28. Yes, made me think of the classic song “Long Tall Sally” :-)

  29. Vinod Khanna is a good actor

  30. I had a crush on Moushimi Chatergee when i was goowing up in New Zealand

  31. Just coming by from Banno’s post about the clothes in this. I MUST SEE IT!!!! The Vinod/Kabir combo is deadly with potential overheating but DEVIL MAY CARE.

    I love Moushumi in Roti Kapada aur Makaan AND Anari, where she wears a pink hat that I desperately want to go back in time and steal.

    • Moushumi apparently is/was quite a character in real life, judging from the gossip mags…but I think she is just gorgeous, and she is fun in this although it’s all about Vinod/Kabir (not a complaint)…one of my favorite dacoit films, and that’s saying something because I love dacoit films :)

  32. If teeth were spectacularly, charmingly crooked, like Moushumi’s (and Sharmila’s and Shashi Kapoor’s), so many orthodontists would lose their prosperous smiles. I’ve noted it’s a charming, particularly Bengali heroine trait (I’m thinking Madhabi Mukherjee and Mamata Shankar.)
    I suspected it was Ritesh, Moushumi’s husband playing Bhola and some of the comments here said the same. Maybe it was before the birth of her daughters, she looks so very young in this one. I’ve heard (probably she mentioned it in `Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan’ with Tabassum) that Hemant Kumar wanted her as his d-i-l after he saw her in the Bengali version of Balika Badhu. I’m sure it was a struggle for her to continue acting afterwards, though she did win that struggle. She excelled in those hellraiser housewife roles and who could resist that smile? My father, f-i-l, husband all seemed to be variously smitten by her. I think the reason is how lovely she looked in saris.
    As for the movie, that screen cap where Lakhan berates his mom about sums it up. I remember this dialogue from when we watched this movie a few years ago. Kabir Bedi went from no upper lip `vegetation’ to actual `landscaping’ (it took some accepting when I saw him in Seema minus beard.)
    Love `daku-drama.’

  33. Uff, forgot this – saw her some years ago, playing Rahul Khanna’s Mom in some NRI caper, can’t remember the name of the movie. Cheered up on seeing her name and then did some math but enjoyed her presence hugely for old times’ sake.

  34. This movie was followup from Mera gaon mera desh, Kuchhe Daage was relleased in 1973 my personal as I could understand things around me,,both vinood /kabir uncle were new to industry and I believe this was Moushmi auntys first movie. Towering personas like Vinood uncle/Kabir uncle they still are the roles were well defined,and both givinig equal justice could be extraced by Raj Khosla the master craftmen hereby I will not forget to mention what magical/bombastic women Mousami aunty was,all the three lead players gave milestone performences with nobody over shawding the other,I am surprised that god does not make anymore personas like Vinood uncle/kabir uncle or mousami aunty amust watch movie. RAVINDER MINHAS JALANDHAR CITY PANJAB minhas35@yahoo.com.

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