Waqt (1965)


Beth and I rewatched this the other night in honor of her Shashi Week 2009 (everyone should have his or her own week, I think, at least once a year). To be honest, Beth rewatched it; I thought I had seen it before, but if so all memory of it had been crowded out by something else—Dara Singh trivia maybe, who knows? I can’t see how I wouldn’t remember it though. It’s a really really good movie.

To use Beth’s turn of phrase, it is completely proto-masala in that it has a family separated by circumstance and all the attendant near-misses, filmi irony, etc. along with fabulous sixties (and occasionally fifties) style. The screenplay choreographs the events as smoothly as the film’s title would imply; and what a cast! Balraj Sahni, Achala Sachdev, Raaj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Sadhana, Shashikala, Madan Puri. Wah! At least I retained memory of the songs, since they are composed by one of my favorite (underrated) music directors, Ravi, with lyrics by Sahir; they are just gorgeous.

I particularly love the title music. It illustrates the movie’s theme vividly: the tides of time and fate washing over us, carrying us along in their flow, and I think it’s just hypnotic. I’ve put it here so you can hear it too if you want to (it ends somewhat abruptly—it segued nicely into the opening scene of the film but I lack the skills to make it segue nicely into silence).

The story opens as Lala Kedarnath (Balraj Sahni) opens a carpet store that has been his dream.


He’s chosen his three sons’ birthday—all born on the same day—as the auspicious date for the opening, and in the evening the family including his wife Laxmi (Achala Sachdev) gather their friends and neighbors home for a celebration. We are treated to a lovely song: “Aye Meri Zora Jabeen” and the atmosphere is festive indeed!

Alas! destiny is about to turn cruel. That night a massive earthquake strikes the town, and Kedarnath’s home is destroyed and his family torn apart.



The special effects are both cheesy and effective! Laxmi manages to hang onto the baby, while Kedarnath is knocked unconscious and disappears under the rubble, and the two older brothers are separated in the chaos. The middle son is found and adopted by a wealthy but childless couple, and the oldest is sent to an orphanage run by the nastiest piece of work to be found outside of a Dickens novel, Jeevan.


Laxmi is told by witnesses that her husband was felled by an iron beam, and she now thinks he is dead. But Kedarnath is bandaged up at a hospital and goes in search of his family. He discovers that his eldest son was at the orphanage, but has run away due to the abuse he suffered at the hands of Jeevan. In a despair-fueled rage, he attacks Jeevan and kills him, and is sent to prison.

Meanwhile, the eldest boy Raja grows up to be Raaj Kumar, a suave and successful thief by night and successful businessman by day. One night the police chase him to his own house, and inform him that a thief has escaped with a diamond necklace stolen from a wealthy judge named Mittal (Manmohan Krishna).


Is Jagdish Raj always a police inspector? Raja feels bad on hearing that it was meant as a birthday gift for Mittal’s daughter Meena (Sadhana), and he shows up at her birthday party to return it to her with quite the inventive explanation for how it came into his possession.


They are grateful to him, and he is smitten by Meena’s beauty. Sadhana looks gorgeous in this film; she reminded me very much of Audrey Hepburn, in fact. Mittal gets a phone call from his good friend Mr. Khanna, whose son Ravi (Sunil Dutt) has just graduated from law school. He is coming to Bombay and will stay with the Mittals while he looks for a job.

Ravi of course is Kedarnath’s middle son, and the Khannas his post-earthquake adoptive parents. They have since had a daughter too, named Renu (Sharmila Tagore).


The baby of Kedarnath’s family, Vijay (Shashi Kapoor) lives with Laxmi, who cries every year on his birthday.


You can tell by his expression that he’s heard this woeful narrative before. Either that, or it was take number one hundred and something. In any case, Vijay is about to graduate from college—education provided by Ma’s hard work and sacrifice over the years.

Kedarnath, still in prison, celebrates the day his sons were all born by giving out laddoos in the prison yard.


I’ll tell you, this film gave me a whole new appreciation for Balraj Sahni—not that I wasn’t a fan already, but oh my! He was so unbelievably sweet in this film. Except for the strangling Jeevan thing, but Jeevan deserved it. His expressions spoke volumes that words just never would, and squish squish squish went my dil.

At the Mittals’ home, Meena is anticipating Ravi’s imminent arrival with great joy. She sings the lovely “Kaun Aaya” and is unbelievably lovely herself. So is their home decor!



Raja comes to see her: he clearly feels at home there now, and is just as clearly in love with Meena. Who can really blame him? Word of this has even reached Raja’s “mentor” Mr. Chinoy: I am thrilled to see Rehman as the wealthy kingpin. He is upset with Raja for giving the diamond necklace back.


Madan Puri has a small role as Chinoy’s henchman Balbir. How I love Madan Puri.


When Ravi arrives, it’s quickly apparent to Raja that there is something going on between him and Meena, although he finds himself getting along with Ravi too—they are brothers after all, even if they don’t know it. Yet. Meanwhile back in Delhi, Renu is pursuing her classmate Vijay. And who can blame her? He’s initially reluctant because of the vast differences in their backgrounds, but of course he gives in eventually. And who can blame him?


We are treated to another fantastic song in the form of a class outing: “Din Hai Bahaar Ke” complete with my beloved Indian version of the Twist. College in 1960’s India always looks like such fun!


But Laxmi is seriously ill, and Vijay needs to take her to Bombay for treatment. Renu tells him that she and her father are going there too, since her brother is now living there. Poor Vijay seems a bit damaged from growing up with the sorrowing Laxmi.


So now all three brothers, their beloveds, and Ma are converging upon Bombay, and some of them are already acquainted with each other. Kedarnath has finally been released from prison and is determined to track down his family. Will time and fate bring them all together again? Will they recognize each other? Will Renu and Vijay find happiness, or will their different backgrounds tear them apart? Will Raja be able to win Meena’s love away from Ravi? Can he ever escape the clutches of the criminal Chinoy?

Watch Waqt to find out, and for a ripping good story, wonderful performances, unbelievably good songs, and eye-candy everywhere you look. It’s a rare film that brings all the important elements together perfectly, and this is one of them—kudos to director Yash Chopra. This is one that I’ll watch again and again, especially if my memory of it is erased by B-movie trivia again and again!

And janam din mubarek ho, Shashiji.

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70 Comments to “Waqt (1965)”

  1. Thank you Memsaab, this review is the best thing for a Bollywood lover who is not a fan of Shashi :)

    And for the record, I don’t dislike the guy, I just fail to see what the big deal is…

  2. Eliza, he’s not a patch on Shammi (or Ranjeet, or Dara) in my book either, but he is very beautiful :) AND a very good actor when he puts his mind to it! This is such a lovely film, though, and it is not only Shashi’s show by any means. Raaj Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Sharmila, Sadhana, Rehman: all are great, and Balraj Sahni just superb although his role is not as big (being as that he spends a lot of the film’s time in jail). Every actor in this brought something to the table.

  3. Well Memsaab!! I gotta share your admiration for this movie. There’ve been a million lost and found flicks made in Hindi,but this one and Yaadon Ki Baaraat are my all time favorites. This movie i managed to procure quite recently and i have to admit,was worth every buck i paid for. This was Yash Chopra’s 1st blockbuster though his earlier movies were pretty good. Fantastic performances all around even though Balraj Sahni takes the cake :D…..btw, since you are a Shashi fan,i gotta ask,Have you reviewed this movie called Ijaazat????And also,big fan of your site,have been through most of the reviews,awesome job :D

  4. Thanks Vikram, you are nice :) The only earlier film I’ve seen of Yash Chopra’s is Dharmputra (which was superb), although Dhool Ka Phool is in my pile to be watched!

    This would most definitely make both a top ten favorite AND top ten best (not always mutually inclusive, at least for me) list! And Ijaazat is right up there in that same pile to be watched, so one of these days!

  5. Yay! I love this movie – we watched it one Saturday night and were up til 3 in the morning, but it was worth it. The song “Aye Meri Zora Jabeen” is so romantic. Sigh.

    This is actually the first movie I saw Raaj Kumar in…that hair of his is a post in itself :) I also loved the colors in the copy we watched. Everything seemed so opulent and rich.

    Unfortunately on our copy, the subtitles went out for 11 mintues – during the courtroom scene! It took us two years to find another copy with the subtitles intact.

  6. My subtitles went out during the courtroom scene, although not for 11 minutes, more like 3 or 4. It was very distressing, and not like the usual Yash Raj DVD quality. But I’ve been flogged by subtitles in a much worse way so I got over it :)

  7. You can always invite your Hindi-English translator as a backup for flaky subtitles next time you watch a film. ;)

  8. *smacks forehead with hand* Why didn’t I think of that???? :)

    When I get back from India it will def. be time for a Bollywood evening. Be prepared!

  9. Raaj Kumar had some really classic and memorable lines in this film which made his unique delivery style quite famous. The most famous one is when he tells Chinoy Seth that those living in glass houses do not throw stones.

  10. I love love “Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu”- timeless, and ever so haunting. And Sunil Dutt was utterly handsome- v manly-it was a hard choice between him and Shashi and Rehman- too much beauty floating around.

  11. this was the first oldie movie i bought when i came to vancouver! also the movie that made me emulate sadhana’s beautiful cholis and salwar-kameezs, they were soooooo elegant!!! i looooovvvve the shashi freakout at the end, gawsh he really does confess in the shashi lovable OTT way!

  12. Music was serene too, i love the “aage bhi jaane na tu” and “hum jab simat ke aap ke”, lol i bought them same kinda dress that the singer wore in the “aage bhi” song!

  13. Sadhana looked gorgeous, and so stylish. And yes, music is sublime. Beth captured Shashi’s “Gita” freakout at the end very nicely in her Shashi-emo post :)

  14. This is an absolute classic. It’s the film that made Yash Chopra. Thanks for reviewing it. Hey Memsaab, have you seen the Filmfare Awards yet??? http://www.nrifun.com/showpartname.html?shownameId=54&showName=Filmfare%20Awards%202009

  15. I was just talking about this with friends this evening. A very nice movie (and they recycled that first song briefly in DDLJ) and I felt a bit sorry for poor Vijay growing up with his permanently sorrowful mother, too.

  16. Also, Jeevan did deserve to be strangled. He always deserved to be strangled. In Dharmatma too. What an asshole.

  17. It really is such a sweet, interesting, pretty film! Rum, I’m with you, I want to steal all her outfits!

    Memsaab, HEEHEEE re: 100-and-something-th take! I think you nailed that one!

    • If only I would LOOK like her in those outfits!

      Ha ha, I just loved his expression as she went on and on. I remember looking like that at my mom when she retold some story for the nth time: ‘Yes mom, I know mom, yes mom…” I can only imagine that suffering through innumerable takes of one scene would elicit the same feeling.

  18. This movie IS my all time favourite, I love “aage bhi jaane na tu”, it is a great song – wonderfully sung by Asha. And the story also moves ahead very quickly through the song – unlike most songs in Hindi movies.

    Aside – The song was picturised on an America lady – Erica Lal (she was married to an Indian).

    • Hey thanks for the info re: Erica Lal…she was gorgeous, and I wondered who she was. She was so clearly NOT a hippie picked up at Cafe Leopold :-D

      It is now one of my favorite films too. Loved it.

  19. Yay for Balraj Sahni appreciation (yes, I know its Shashi-week but I am soooooo glad you like Balraj Sahni, too!).

    This one used to be my Mom’s favorite movie and she went on and on about how great it is – so when I finally watched it, it was a bit disappointing, inspite of all the eye-candy! I havent re-watched in years but perhaps Shashi-week is a good time to re-visit…

    • Balraj Sahni was just SO good in this, although he wasn’t in it very much. But he made a real impression in any case. I think I particularly liked his character—Kedarnath was so philosophical and accepting of what had happened, and NOT weepy (unlike poor Laxmi), but determined to find his loved ones. You just had to cheer for him.

      Do try it again! :)

  20. Thank you for reviewing Waqt – I’ve seen it at least half a dozen times and love it. Beth’s description of it as proto-masala is bang on, and I love it: Sadhana, Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila, Balraj Sahni – and the music, especially Aage bhi jaane na tu (my favourite dance party song!)

  21. Hello Memsaab,

    I was going to credit your source in the answers post (next Wed), because giving it with the questions would reveal the answers which are in your blog (as it will link back). I’m really sorry if it offended you. I’m deleting the post from the WL blog now.

    Please accept my apologies.


  22. I will credit your blog’s source and briefly explain to the Writers’ Lounge readers about why the post was deleted. Sorry again!

  23. LoL at “not a hippy picked up from Cafe Leopold”! Sadly that land mark place for tourists was one of the sites of recent attacks in Bombay. Hopefully they should have restored it by now.

    Balraj Sahani always did well no matter what the role was. I haven’t seen this movie yet – heard a lot and of course have been hearing the songs on radio!

  24. You should see it for sure :) And if I make it down to south Bombay, I’ll definitely stop in at Leopold’s myself! I love that place.

  25. welcome to Balraj Sahni fan Club!
    I saw Waqt on DD at my neigbour’s place at the age of 6 and at that time the falling props during the earthquake looked very real to me and the only other thing I remembered then for ages was the song “aage bhi jaane na tu”, sung by this gori lady, who looked like a teacher to me. Have to search for this song on Youtube, if she appears the same to me now as well.
    Thanks for the review!

  26. Yeah, she still gives me the feeling as if she were my teacher.
    Maybe because she also sings of what my 1st grade teacher always instructed me “not to waste time”.
    I know, what she sings is to be in the moment, but at that age it sounded all the same to me.
    So, what role does Shashikala have?

  27. Great review. This movie was the original multistarrer as well as rhe original lost and found movie in Bollywood. So Ramesh Sippy ( maker of thenext multistarrer vizSholay) and manmohan Desai ( maker of many lost and found movies) took their inpiratins from this movie.

  28. TThiWaqt was one of the first Bollywood movies I saw, from a list of the best (it was a good list, wherever I got it from). This great reminder of it helps me realize why Raj Kumar looked familiar to me by the time I intentionally rented a movie with him in it, same for Sharmila.

    I love the love song sung by the father to his mature wife. That was the main thing I remembered, enough to recognize it I thnk in DDLJ.

  29. sorsorry for mess in above post, my computer is not showing what I write until about 6 letters in.

  30. Good movie.Hope to see it one day.

  31. I just read your reply to my Jeevan comment and it reminded me of something. My dad went to Bombay back in the early 80’s and he said out of all the actors he met, the nicest guys were Ajit and Madan Puri. Like Jeevan, they were also known to play vile characters. So I bet you’re right about Jeevan being a nice guy. He was a great actor, but some of his roles just got you so mad. I guess that’s what good acting is all about though. Was he also the moneylender in Mother India?

  32. It’s been a while since I last saw Waqt, but it’s a film that I have a great deal of affection for…it’s qunitessentially Indian entertainment.

    Although I’m in no way related to the guy, I’m ridiculously pleased by any praise of Balraj Sahini.:-0 He’s a personal favorite and while highly respected as a performer never made it as a big star. Just as well…I don’t think a star would have been able to perform as effortlessly and with as much nuance as Balraj Sahini, the actor, did. If your movie list isn’t already too long:-), check out “Seema”, “Sone Ki Chidiya”, “Black Cat” and “Anuradha” for more Balraj Sahini magic.

    And oh, I think college in India in the 60s was just one great party, especially if you lived in a “hill station.” My parents certainly seem to have spent their college days in Srinagar at the sort of picnics/outings shown in Waqt! No, I’m not the least bit jealous.:-0

  33. I love this film and need to buy it so that I can watch it again. Thanks for the prompt, memsaab. I always rant on at people who call the awful “Waqt:Race Against Time” just plain “Waqt” because I hate the modern drek one with Amitabh and Akshay and love the Shashi starrer. Plus I often sing “Ae meri zohra jabeen” to my wife.

  34. It’s one of my favorites of all time now too :) The list is getting pretty long!

  35. Manna Dey sang quite a few of Balraj Sahni’s songs…one of the best is Ae Meri Zohra-Jabeen!!! Balraj Sahni is just amazing in this!

    BTW, for all the Balraj Sahni fans out there, my dad had met him sometime in late 60s-early 70s at his Juhu residence. Sahni was socially aware and took part in many movements. My dad wanted to invite him for one of the youth programmes. He politely declined citing severe family problems. Who knows may be these problems led to his cardiac arrest in 1973…

    • I’ve read his biography, and he was an outspoken communist for a long time (as many were around India’s independence and in some areas still are)…How nice that your dad could meet him :)

  36. Saw this movie on the weekend. Totally agree with you about “every actor bringing something to the table”. A very good effort by Yash Chopra in direction. I can’t find a single fault with the movie except perhaps the car chase scenes bet Raaj Kumar and Sunil Dutt going on and on forever but that is a minor quibble in an otherwise very enjoyable movie. Balraj Sahani is one of my fav hindi movie actors and i have been seeing him quite a lot recently in Pyar Ka Rishta, Aaye Din Bahar Ke and now Wagt. I intend to rewatch Seema some time soon which is my fav Balraj Sahani movie. I must get hold of Garam Hawa where Balraj is supposed to have done a fab role.

    • I haven’t been able to find Garam Hawa…let me know if you do, and I’ll renew my search! :) Glad you liked Waqt, it really is a wonderful film.

  37. Have just finished seeing this movie. Though I’ve seen it a few times before, the last time was at least ten years ago. So I felt like seeing it again today.

    Loved the movie. I think the courtroom scene in this movie is just wonderful. Till then I did find Sunil Dutt “hogging the scenery” a bit but in the courtroom scene he is just fabulous.

    Come to think of it, wasn’t he also in a famous courtroom scene in Mera Saya?

    One day, you should write a post about courtroom scenes – I find them quite a lot of fun.

    Think of “Order, order!”, “Objection sustained”, “Objection overruled”. And when the witness enters the witness-box, the swearing on the Gita or Koran or Bible (but usually Gita) “Gita pe haath rakh ke kahiye, main jo bhi kahunga sach kahunga, sach ke siwa kuchh nahin kahunga” (“Place your hand on the Gita and say that whatever you speak will be the truth and nothing but the truth”).

    I remember Ashok Kumar also in a few courtroom scenes (Kanoon?). And then there was Dev Anand in Paying Guest.

    Of course, one of the most famous ever is from a 90s movie, Damini.

    • Sounds like YOU should do a post about courtroom scenes! :)

      • Nah! I like to comment on others’ write-ups but writing a post is something beyond my abilities. Not to mention that I haven’t seen as many movies (and certainly cannot remember movies as well) as you. :-)

        Some people write up posts on fillums, others subtitle fillums. Each contributing in her or his own way to spreading the good (or should that be bad?) wor(l)d that is Bollywood. :-)

        I am sure others have told you this before, memsaab, but one of the most pleasurable experiences of watching a Bollywood movie is to actually come to your site right after and read your review of it. :-)

        It is fresh in one’s mind – and then, to see how you’ve interpreted it (like Shashi’s facial expression thanks to his weepy mom in this case :-)), what screencaps you’ve used, where you’ve left the story hanging, what comments your readers have left – oh, that just makes the whole movie-watching experience so complete!!! Loved not just this movie but also the write-up here and the comments.’

  38. The soundtrack is just heavenly isn’t it! Ravi in top form.

    I love the sets in this — it’s all so chic like in a Hitchcock film.

    Oh, and the “Chehre Pi Khushi” song sequence is the ultimate gathering — Moolchand, Ravikant, Nazir Kashmiri, Edwina (?), Gora guy, !!! — :)

  39. Is Jagdish Raj always a police inspector?

    Jagdish is a henchman in Jewel Thief and a black market ticket scalper in Kala Bazaar. Dev at least gave him some different roles. :)

  40. memsaab your print looks exceptionaly good and also has subtitles for the songs. could you please tell me which isse it is?
    BTW I totally agree the opening credits and music are one of the best in hindi cinema. ever.

    • I have the Yash Raj Forever collection dvd…I do usually do a little bit of color correction in my screencaps, but they are accurate as far as sharpness goes (and subtitles).

      It is such a wonderful film, with such lovely music :)

  41. It is very surprising that all comments are on lesser actors doing well, Shashi was never a great hero (a B Grade hero & a side kick to Big B), Sunil Dutt was good but was no comparison to Raaj Kumar in any movie they acted together (36 ghante) & Balraj Sahni a versatile actor, but he had a small role. Waqt catapulted Raaj Kumar’s career & made his superb dialogues a mark in the industry. His language in all the movies were so fluent & add his superb voice was a treat to everybody. Waqt was a Raaj Kumar movie, he outclassed everybody in it. in Saudagar he outclassed Dilip Kumar, Tiranga Nana Patekar despite his best couldnt wag his tail with Raaj Kumar, in Maryada,Rajesh Khanna was also out classed but he did bounce back to some extent well in Kudrat against the legendary actor. Raaj Kumar was one actor even Big B didnt want to risk loosing. I would rate Ashok Kumar better than Balraj Sahni anyday

    Sadly, even the poorest actor of 70s was better than the best actor of today. Big B is the only man who is worth watching in this new millennium. He is lonely holding the torch, he is the best ever actor to have graced cinema.

    • I think you like Raaj kumar very much. There is nothing wrong in liking an actor and praising their abilities but I’m sure you can do it without lowering somebody else. If you don’t like Shashi Kapoor , keep it to yourself. You cannot call jack of all trades like him a sidekick or B-grade actor. The same goes for other actors too. Do respect their fans. By lowering others, you are not going to show the world how great Raaj Kumar is. I like Raaj Kumar too in this movie.

  42. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/noted-music-director-bombay-ravi-is-dead/237328-60-116.html

    Just wanted to bring to your notice the demise of Ravi , the music director of this film.
    He should have been celebrated more considering the quality of music to be found in his films .

  43. yeah this is totally a raaj kumar movie. shashi has nothing to do in it. songs r lovely. when think of raaj kumar on screen in any movie no one stands before him. great screen presence n attitude he had!

  44. When BR Chopra decided to make Waqt (1966) a theme-based film, he wanted a song that could sum up the whole point he wanted to make. Ravi conceived the title song Waqt se din aur raat written by the cerebral Sahir Ludhianvi to be recorded in Rafi’s voice. Here, he ran into a wall as Rafi wasn’t singing for the Chopra camp. “Hesitatingly, I told him (Chopra) that I wouldn’t want anyone else (read Mahendra Kapoor) except Rafi to take on the towering strains of the song. Fortunately, he understood. He wrote a blank cheque and told me Wo jitney paise maange de do aur gaana unhi se gawao. (Give him whatever he asks and get him to sing) He had understood why I wanted Rafi alone to sing that”, Ravi reminisced.
    Of course, the climax was that Rafi nursed no rancour and agreed to sing for just a token of one rupee.

  45. Its been ages since I have been here.

    BR Chopra possibly thought of casting the Kapoor brothers, but don’t know how Raj Kapoor would have fitted the role. Somehow only the youngest one made his way to the cast.

    Before finalising Raaj Kumar, I gather BR approached Dharmendra to play the role. Dharmendra refused to play Sunil Dutt’s role as he was younger to him.

  46. Re-reading your post, Greta, brought back lovely memories of this great movie. Isn’t it tragic that the lovely, legendary actress , Sadhana, passed away on Christmas day. Her fans will remember her forever.

  47. Trailer of Waqt and interview with Yash Chopra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAZi7AGDfA4

  48. One Trivia that not many know is that the earthquake was actually partition (metaphor). The early scene settings look like Punjab (similar to Lahore). Yash Chopra’s film on partition Dharamputra (1960) did not succeed at the box office so they did not want to risk it again.

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