Panch Ratan (1965)


I couldn’t resist this film when I saw it: Randhawa! I figured Dara Singh’s brother (and Mumtaz’s brother-in-law) would not star in a film that didn’t have men in tights wrestling with each other. I did not expect (and did not get) world-class acting, but I did hope for a fairly entertaining swashbuckler and enough large half-naked men grappling with each other to keep me happy. And in that, the film does deliver in spades. Randhawa is even more wooden than his brother (and somehow less charismatic), but he is equally excellent eye candy. The story is as cartoonish and silly as anyone could hope for, and the songs (by Anu Malik’s underrated father Sardar Malik) are oodles of fun. Madhumati and our beloved Laxmi Chhaya provide dancing entertainment—that in itself is worth the price of admission.

The film opens very promisingly, with an injured soldier riding hell-for-leather through the gates of a fortress.


He has a message for the King’s senapati (army chief):


But alas! The senapati is in cahoots with Sangram. The King is overthrown, although he manages to escape after a thrilling chase.

Sangram takes the throne and gets to work immediately oppressing his people.


Poor Tingu (sorry, but I don’t have a clue who most of these actors are) loses his sister to some lecherous soldiers, and his brave friend Raja (Randhawa) promises to help him get vengeance. More peasants are killed and threatened when they cannot pay their new taxes. The soldiers even take away their water pots!


We are constantly reminded that the soldiers are cruel, possibly because the filmmakers realized that they look more like buffoons than anything. In any case, the villagers quickly run to large, kind-hearted Raja for help. As the days pass, he interferes everywhere the soldiers go, thereby gaining Sangram’s attention—and wrath.


Sangram has a sister named Chandralekha (Parveen Choudhary). Parveen is one of those perennially second-fiddle actresses who always catch my attention; I think she’s very pretty in an unusual way.


Sangram ups the ante by increasing the size of his army. Lots more footage of paunchy men with cardboard helmets and swords making off with water pots ensues. The humanity! I wonder if water pots are all these poor villagers have? It would seem so. Some people try to hang on to theirs, resulting in brutal beatings.


Meanwhile, the traitorous senapati is trying to romance Chandralekha, without much success.


When he thrashes a small boy for stealing an apple, Raja and Tingu appear on the scene and stop him. Chandralekha isn’t nice to Raja either, but that doesn’t stop him from lecturing her.


Pretty soon Raja and Tingu are joined by other guys who want to keep their water pots: Balwant (some wrestler), Birju (Shyam Kumar), and Kalu (some other guy).


And so our five brave gems set out to restore peace and harmony to the kingdom. They are eventually aided by the return of the actual rightful King, who hides his true identity beneath an awesome shawl! I would kill to see it in color.


There is plenty of edge-of-your-seats action:


Raja makes stern speeches at Chandralekha until she can’t help but fall in love with him.


Madhumati channels Helen as only she can:


And the lovely Laxmi is at her wide-eyed best. If I’d seen it, this song would have made it into my last post! Can anyone identify the other dancer? Jeevankala or Aruna were others credited; and she kept up nicely with Laxmi, whoever she is (see how it all starts?). Here’s the song:


I don’t know why so much goodness is called a “B” movie. I think it’s just differently enabled.

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32 Comments to “Panch Ratan (1965)”

  1. Looks like the costume designer from Dharam Veer must have gotten some of his inspirations from this movie, and perhaps Manmohan Desai too

  2. The Roman-soldiers-meet-Robin-Hood outfit thing does seem to be ubiquitous in Hindi films!

  3. lol.. i was just having a jibe at Dharam Veer, the first movie where i noticed all this was in aan

    • It would be interesting if we could figure out where it all began! Probably even before Aan though…with some Fearless Nadia film or something.

  4. I am so glad you enjoyed Panch Ratan! I watched it when it came out in VCD and thought it was pretty generic, but when I watched the DVD I liked it much, much more!Randhawa rocks!

    And I also have developed a liking for Parveen Choudhary, quite an intersing actress and I would love to know what ever became of her.

    • Oh, the subtitles were so awesome throughout…they kept me in stitches. Would not have been nearly as fun without the dialogues (or the subbed dialogues, specifically)…and Randhawa is very very handsome!! Parveen didn’t make many films, but I think I’ve seen almost all of them, at least the ones she’s credited with on imdb. I love her look—she’s got very unique and beautiful features.

      Parveen!!! If you’re out there, tell us what’s going on!

  5. Nice! I see and appreciate the loose inspiration from 3 musketeers and robin hood- and randhawa is def as cute as his brother here.

  6. Amazing, just a movie I would love to watch on a lazy afternoon. I had a cousin in my extended family who was a wrestler and worked in some films. I think he was in the Dara Singh troupe.

    • Ooh! How fun to have that filmi connection! It is a good lazy afternoon film…doesn’t require all your attention to follow the plot or anything :-)

  7. Goodness, I have to see this one. I’m not a cannot-survive-without-him fan of Dara Singh, and that rubs off for his brother too, but what muscles, man! Cute, too, now that I scroll up and look at those screen caps again.

    Plus I’m very fond of Praveen Choudhary – she’s lovely, again one of those Laxmi Chhaya-type puzzles: why didn’t she make it big in Hindi films with looks like hers? She was especially lovely in Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan, in all those very stylish dresses. Pretty silly in Professor, but still pretty.

    And Laxmi Chhaya? Yep. *off to try and find this*

  8. Hahaha. Great review. Indeed watching oppressive sainiks in cardboard helmets looting water pots from poor peasants must be funny to watch. And indeed Randhawa looks more impressive than even his illustrious brother. I can imagine you leering at him. ;)

  9. Laxmi Chayya is so young. I wouldn’t have identified her!
    Seems Dara Singh was ver ybusy in those days and left this film for his younger brother.
    He looks cute though!
    I don’t know about Praveen Choudhary though. I didn’t even know her name. She looks (for my eyes) soooo boring. But I always wonder what happens to such heroines, who star in one-two films and hten gone. Do they go and form a club or something? ;-)
    Sardar Mallick’S music is always great. Would like to hear the songs!
    Thanks for the review!

    • She actually was pretty busy in 1965 I think…Parveen has great screen presence, but who knows what happened to her? Maybe someone out there knows and will enlighten us.

      And the songs are great, wish I could find them all. Might have to just rip them from the DVD like I did Laxmi’s…

  10. I think the dancing woman along with Laxmi Chayya is Jeevankala. She starred in lots of Hindi movies as a dancer and was as far as I know also a marathi stage actress.
    And I would like to have the shawl as well!
    Will have to look out for that in August, when I visit Bombay! But it must be a big trouble to wash!

    • Thanks for that! Will file her face and Jeevankala name together :) I seriously coveted that shawl. Bet it was just beautiful…and probably lying in tatters now in some warehouse :(

  11. I don’t know why so much goodness is called a “B” movie. I think it’s just differently enabled.

    TGlad to find Todd (I discovered your blog from his) :) are not the only Dara Singh fans!

    Interview with Laximant Pyarelal

    In your early struggle period, you composed for B-grade Dara Singh- starrers.

    (The irritation reappears!) In those days, Dara Singh was not a B-grade actor! He was so famous that he commanded the same price as Ajit! Getting his film was considered a big thing. And if you listen to songs of Lutera, you will know that we did give our best there.

    • Yay Pyarelal! :-) Todd and I are not even close to being alone in our Dara Singh love. Thanks for sharing that, Sunil—what a lovely interview!

  12. Love that term ‘differently enabled’. Yay! That’s what I am going to call my movie. When it’s made. This is the kind of stuff I want to make.

    I shot once with Madhumati for a Channel-4 reality show, ‘Bollywood Star’. She runs an acting school now, where she teaches girls and boys to dance like her! She’s still gorgeous.

    • It’s the now politically correct term for the people who used to be called “handicapped.” Sometimes political correctness CAN be fun! And oh—when you make your film like this, please let me help!!! I will be the spot girl on set, anything!

      Thanks for the update on Madhumati—she really does so closely resemble Helen, it takes a while sometimes to figure out that it isn’t Helen…glad she is still dancing :-)

  13. So, you dug out one more gem Memsaab……. Great work…. Never heard of this movie……

  14. FIVE gems! Ha ha. I hope there are lots more like it out there for us to find.

  15. The other movies in the wrestling-genre are Sikander-e-Azam with Dara Singh, Mumtaz, Helen …. i dont know if the DVD is available. Another Dara Singh, Mumtaz and Minoo Mumtaz movie that I know has lovely songs is ‘Faulad’…… I do remember my brother telling me that anyone who wanted to wrestle Dara Singh would first have to fight Randhawa….

  16. I loved the article on the interview of Pyarelal whose link is provided by Sunil. What a superb article ! And it is a treasure of valuable information.

  17. seems to be lost, it redirects here

  18. Hahaha, Moolchand in screencap 6. He makes any film that much better. :)

    I want to watch some of these Dara Singh/Randhawa films.. Netflix has Boxer. :)

  19. Parveen Choudhary WAS really pretty.
    Particularly if you see her next to Kalpana in films like Professor.

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