Khazanchi (1958)


This little gem of a film has been sitting on a shelf for several years now and I have no idea why I never watched it. I think I bought it because I was obsessed with Helen and she is supposedly in it: not only does the DVD cover credit her, but so do the actual credits inside the film, plus it was directed by her…um…significant other, PN Arora. But—she is nowhere to be seen. Strange. And, for me, sad.

Nevertheless, I should have paid it more attention. A key ingredient in liking a film for me is liking most of the people in it. This one does a superb job of drawing the viewer into the families and relationships of the main romantic pair. This is largely due to the well-written story and a great cast: a young and handsome Rajendra Kumar, the beauteous Shyama and Chitra, and the able support of Balraj Sahni, Manorama, Anwar Hussain and HelenSN Banerjee. Also the music by Madan Mohan (and the way the songs are shot) is just gorgeous! It’s a very engaging film with a reasonably exciting and suspenseful resolution.

Law about-to-be-graduate Harish (Rajendra Kumar) meets wealthy Usha (Shyama) when their canoes crash into each other on a school outing. He is instantly smitten, but she smacks him down and flounces off in true heroine style. Usha lives with her nasty stepmother Ichchapuran Devi (Manorama) and her sweet but hen-pecked father (SN Banerjee). He has committed that worn-out folly of marrying a much younger woman (and not for her looks, either). She clearly married him for the house and its decor! but is doing a good job of making them both miserable.


Harish lives much more happily with his sister Geeta (Chitra) and his father Radhe Mohan (Balraj Sahni). Radhe Mohan is the titular “khazanchi” (treasurer) at the Northern India Bank. He is renowned for his upright and honest character, and one fine day the bank honors him for it.



So sweet! He promises Harish that when he passes his law exams the watch will be his, a reminder of his father.

They have found a suitable groom for Geeta, although she misunderstands at first and thinks it’s Harish who is getting married.


Once the misunderstanding is cleared up though, she is very happy with their choice. I loved Chitra in this—she was lively and gorgeous (if not very politically correct), and I want to see more of her.

Meanwhile we are introduced to Ichchapuran’s nephew Loku (Anwar Hussain). He is a good-for-nothing guy who spends his time with a local tawaif (HelenMinoo Mumtaz) and finances his vices in various reprehensible ways. He would like nothing more than to get himself married off to Usha and her inheritance—but she keeps giving him the smackdown too.


Through various coincidences, Harish and Usha keep meeting each other and finally—after he saves her father from what would have been a fatal accident—she falls in love with him over tea and her father’s pointed hints. He heartily approves of her choice and despite constant haranguing from his wife refuses to get her engaged to Loku.

But of course this cozy happiness cannot—WILL not—last. Radhe Mohan is asked to take a 95000 Rs bank cheque to Bombay where he will cash it and pay a “party” with it. Usha mentions this in passing to her father and is overheard by Loku.

On the Frontier Mail train, a woman named Roma (HelenShammi) befriends Radhe Mohan.


She recommends a hotel in Bombay to him; she is staying there herself. She is also in cahoots with the hotel’s owner (Rajan Haksar) and they trick Radhe Mohan out of the 95000 Rs. Here the DVD seems to be missing a scene (maybe the mysteriously absent Helen was in it) or two, but the next morning headlines are blaring about Roma’s murder and Radhe Mohan’s suicide. He is not dead, however, but running around with a crazy nahiiiin! face.


He decides to let his children think he is dead rather than bring disgrace on their heads. Of course as best intentions often do, his go awry. Geeta’s would-be in-laws reject her (causing her to fall ill) and Usha’s father finally agrees to get her engaged to Loku instead of Harish, breaking her heart (and his).


How I love Indian fatalism! It also reminds me of this, from deep thinker Jack Handey:

If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”

What will happen next? Will Radhe Mohan wander as a nameless beggar forever? Who is behind his misfortune? Will Geeta and Harish ever discover that their father isn’t dead? Can any of this turn out happily? And where on earth is Helen?

Watch Khazanchi to find out the answers to (most of) these questions. It’s a good solid drama with great songs, sweet romance and people you can really root for. Although it does go a bit off the rails into melodrama towards the end, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. And wouldn’t this be an excellent way to stop crime forever?


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30 Comments to “Khazanchi (1958)”

  1. Balraj Sahni in a title role!
    Young Rajendra Kumar does look good, muh better than his late 60s avatar. Shyama at last in a good heroine role!
    What a pity that Helen is missing!
    And what is this about P N Arora?

    So, by the looks of it, it ends with a big courtroom climax brother against brother!

    *If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”*

    This was an age-old tradition of bringing up children and forcing them to do things like marrying the wrong person!

    • I need to see more of Shyama. She’s everywhere in my Filmindia magazines!

    • P.N. Arora was Helen’s original lover-patron for years (although they had a huge age gap!). Initially from 1951-1953 she was basically a background dancer till he spotted her most likely in the Madhubala-Shammi Kapoor starrer Rail ka Dibba (1953), made under his own banner, All India Pictures. Arora produced and directed a series of B-grade films, including Hoor-e-Arab (1955) (probably her first solo performance), Neelofar (1957), Sindbad, Alibaba & Alladin (1965) and the Sadhana-Rajesh Khanna starrer Dil Daulat Duniya (1972), all of which starred Helen, none of which were hits. He also managed her work. He was the one who encouraged her to take up more of dancing over acting due to its lucrative nature (with audiences not taking to her heroine roles in Cha Cha Cha etc). He was also exploitative and over-possessive. It was many years before she could muster up the courage to leave him. At one time in the 70s he is supposed to have cornered almost all her money. They developed a very bitter relationship later fighting around 17 years in court over a house. She later sold the house after the court awarded it to her.

      • Thanks for explaining that Hildebrand, I completely forgot to. And of course she was rescued from PN-induced poverty by the kindness of Salim Khan, who kept giving her small roles and dances in films that he scripted :) (and he married her, too, in 1980).

        • You are most welcome memsaab. Yes, Salim Khan certainly helped her get a second innings in the 70s also leading to a filmfare! Pity, she stopped working after her marriage to him. They have an adopted daughter (Archita) too.

  2. Greta, I also have had this DVD for long, gathering dust.

    The missing Helen reminds me of some film I watched because Helen was credited as being in it…the only time I saw her was when a guy in a store was carrying around a large cardboard cut-out of her!!! I felt so cheated!

  3. Once again Memsaab digs out a gem not known to most of us! Loved reading your review and will think that i have seen the movie too coz it is impossible to get these oldies “Down Under”!

  4. I haven’t seen Khazanchi, but I do love one of its songs – Tum saamne aakar jis dum jalwa sa. Madan Mohan rocks!

    And it’s such a relief to see Shyama as the lead. She was too beautiful to be always getting relegated to playing the nasty bhabhi or whatever.

  5. Thank you for the review, memsaab. I’ve been looking for films with a young Rajender Kumar ever since I saw him in Mere Mehboob, and this looks like a good one of his.
    Balraj Sahni’s dead face! *shiver*

  6. LOL!! at the nahiiiin face.
    I always read the complete review, so knew that Balraj Sahni didn’t die. :-)

    I wanted to write ‘dead’ in quotes because that expression is quite chilling.
    A very chilling nahiiiin!

  7. If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is “God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is “Probably because of something you did.”

    I used to think that too!

  8. Memsaab – yes lots of Indians in Down Under but most desi shops have latest releases and only a few odd oldies stretching back to early 80s. None from 60s and before that.

    I do visit India almost every year but hardly find time for DVd shopping – sigh! Also i don’t know where i can find hindi film DVDs in my city! Sad but true – one becomes a foreigner after living overseas for yrs

  9. Yes memsaab, there are lots of Indians-percentage wise. But the problem is now in the 2000’s(is that what it’s called?!) getting oldies like Khazanchi might not be easy. Awara,yes,Shri 420,yes,Sangam,yes,Mughale azam,yes,Guide,yes-if you get what I mean and I know you do. Yes Anonymous we just have to try or place orders which I haven’t tried. And Greta, in India I have not had much success. And it’s absolutely frustrating to see all these dvds available in Nehaflix or Indiadvdweekly sites. As I said, I Have enjoyed these movies on VHS.

  10. Do try ordering from—it’s based in Calcutta, and shipping can be expensive but they charge Indian prices for each DVD/VCD so it evens out pretty well. They have a huge selection. And probably shipping won’t be as bad to Australia as it is to here, you are closer! :-)

  11. I think if you ever have to pass through Delhi and do not have much time to scout around, Pallika Bazaar under Connaught Place seems to be where a friend’s husband picks up scores of DVDs/CDs of old films.

  12. I just discovered a Khazanchi over at Induna from 1941.
    A popular name/storyline I guess involving honesty, necessary to be one.

  13. In Delhi, at least, I’ve found that stores like Music World and Planet M stock a large number of some really old and often pretty obscure Hindi films. You may not always find them on DVD, but VCDs are easily available. And, as far as I know, both Music World and Planet M are chain stores with outlets in other large cities (at least the metros) as well.

  14. I love Rajindra Kumar movies. plz add another Rajindra Kumar films story and poster.

  15. I am looking forward to watch this movie for a long time now but can’t find the DVD. Hope I find one soon.

  16. Hi memsaab again I come to your site via a search! Judging by your review this is an exact copy of the 1941 Khazanchi (now on youtube).

    I will be doing a post on its 1941 fashions later.

    PS: Ramola Devi is adorable, I wish she had been in more things. And if I am not mistaken Manorama plays the sweet sister:)

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