So stylish! So much of eye candy! One of those rare films to make Excellent Use of Helen (and inspiring me to add a category here), The Train is oodles of filmi noir crime-fighting fun. It also has one of the best RD Burman background scores EVER, with RD himself adding vocals. Just listen to this!
It stars a young, very handsome Rajesh Khanna *sigh* and one of my favorite heroines, Nanda, along with an absolutely hilarious Rajendranath; Madan Puri and Shetty provide the villainy. Despite an extremely silly plot with gaping holes and mind-boggling suspension of disbelief requirements (especially at the end) it is well worth the time spent watching—and I have lots of screen caps to prove it!
A gang is robbing jewelers of their diamonds and money on the Calcutta Express train, murdering them in their sleep and then leaping off the train from a bridge. They also steal a diamond from a local jeweler named Hiralal (Sunder) by paying with a cheque written in disappearing ink. Fab!
They use a car with license plates matching those of CID Inspector Shyam (Rajesh Khanna). Shyam is in love with Neeta (Nanda), and romances her with the first of many great songs, “Gulabi Aankhen.” Rajesh is forced to imitate Shammi Kapoor’s style, which he does uncomfortably, but Nanda looks gorgeous in her purple churidar and I like their chemistry together.
Neeta clearly loves Shyam too, although she balks a little when he proposes that he talk to her mother about their marriage.At the police station, Number One (Madan Puri) calls in to threaten Shyam should he try to catch them (which of course, he will). Police Commissioner Iftekhar (!) is enraged.
Shyam listens to the recording of the threatening call and somehow decides that the gang is operating from the Hilltop Hotel. I’ve watched the scene several times and can’t figure out how he reaches that conclusion, but luckily for us the Hilltop Hotel has a cabaret dancer named Lily (Helen). There is much skulking and puffing of cigarette smoke on the parts of Shyam and Number One, while Shetty lurks menacingly and Helen shakes her booty with this guy.
Can anyone identify him for me? Is he Oscar or Vijay of the choreography team? Or are these guys?
He gets to “sing” in RD’s voice to “O Meri Jaan Maine Kaha.” It’s a cracktastic dance number and Helen is at her very best!
You really are!!!!
It transpires that Lily and Shyam are old friends from college, where Lily had an unrequited crush on Shyam. Number One meanwhile puts in a call to the Boss, letting him know that Shyam is onto them and that he has given Lily the task of distracting him. The Boss urges caution.
Shyam is not above using Lily to find out more about his quarry, either!
Meanwhile at home, Neeta sings (the lovely “Kis Liye Maine Pyar Kiya”) and waits for Shyam to come and see her mother (Mumtaz Begum). We discover why she has been hesitant about marriage.
Neeta’s father Ramdev is in prison for murdering his boss—Neeta and her mother are convinced that he is innocent. The evidence against him is the typically flimsy “he was standing next to the body, covered in blood with the dagger in his hands.” Shyam overhears their discussion as he approaches the house—and then, in an amazing display of bad kismat, Ramdev himself arrives at their door, having escaped from jail.
He dramatically threatens to kill himself so that we know how very very much he doesn’t want to go back there, and then Shyam enters the house.
Despite Neeta’s tearful pleas and Ramdev’s further threats to kill himself, Shyam arrests him and sends him back to jail—it is his duty, after all.
Neeta tells Shyam to get lost and boots him out of the house. Lily meanwhile has been following Shyam around, and she is hauled in to see the Boss by a suspicious Number One. The Boss is pleased with her nefarious scheme though. And I like his lair, especially the statue of an ancient Chinese man (and of course the many telephones—symbol of a busy, busy man).
Number One goes to visit hapless Neeta and her mother and pretends to be an old friend of Ramdev’s. She asks him to help Neeta get a job—her search thus far has been fruitless since she feels compelled to tell every prospective employer that her dad is a murderer. Number One gives her a job as receptionist at—yes, the Hilltop Hotel.
This, by the way, is one of my favorite Hinglish quirks: “explain her” rather than “explain to her.” Very different meanings in English!
But I digress. Now we discover how Number One and Shetty have managed to kill the jewelers aboard the Calcutta Express without being caught. Another arrives at the hotel and sells some diamonds to Hiralal, then books his return trip on the Express from the hotel. Sharing the jeweler’s train compartment is the gaudily dressed Pyarelal (Rajendranath) and…Neeta! She flirts with Pyarelal and convinces him easily to step down at Igatpuri station for some dinner.
Suhan, with whom I was doing a watchalong, informed me that the waiter in the scene above is Gurnam—Rajesh Khanna’s secretary at the time. I’ve seen him in lots of things and was very happy to put the face with a name at long last!
Neeta keeps Pyare distracted until the Calcutta Express pulls out of the station, causing him to miss it and the jeweler to be left alone in the compartment with his briefcase containing 1 lakh rupees. Shetty has hidden himself aboard and kills the jeweler.
Then he jumps off the train (with the briefcase) into the river, and is picked up by Number One. Meanwhile, a very unhappy Pyarelal has been left sitting at the Igatpuri station waiting for the next train to reunite him with his luggage at the next stop, Nasik. But at Nasik when the porter goes to retrieve Pyare’s luggage, he finds the murdered jeweler and the police are called in.
They track down the unfortunate Pyare at Igatpuri and Shyam questions him. Convinced that he had nothing to do with the crime, he needs Pyare to help him find the girl—named Geeta—whom he is sure was an accomplice.
Will Pyarelal recognize Neeta/Geeta as the girl who tricked him? Will Shyam believe her capable of aiding and abetting murder? IS she? Will he be able to stop the gang? Who is the Boss? Can Neeta ever forgive Shyam? Can he save her father from further jail time? And what will happen to Lily?
For the answers to all these burning questions, watch The Train. And more than that (because it is a very very silly plot, verging on stupid even), watch it for all the chhote chhote things that make it so much fun. Rajesh and Nanda have great chemistry, although their songs together are extremely awkwardly choreographed. Nanda looks cute as a button in her churidar outfits, chiffon saris, piles of Spare Hair and little go-go dresses (her Geeta avatar is very naughty!). Rajendranath is at his side-splitting best as well.
Plus: a nice dance courtesy of Aruna Irani:
Some fun with Tun Tun!
A guest turn by actress Shammi as a hostel manager trying to help track down the mysterious “Geeta”:
There is plenty more Excellent Use of Helen, including a final song in a peacock gown with fab earrings!
Not to forget the most excellent music by RD Burman.
The bad story and occasionally iffy acting just don’t matter somehow. It’s one of the great things about Hindi movies—there’s almost always plenty to entertain no matter what!