Tu Nahin Aur Sahi (1960)

One of things I find so fascinating about Hindi cinema is how many people there are who had the ability to carry a film no matter how dreary the story and their co-stars. That some of these people have been almost criminally ignored, by and large, is a subject for another day. I would not have made it through this one without the sparkly and mesmerizing presence of Minoo Mumtaz. She has some support in the presence of Anwar Hussain, a spectacular Helen dance and lovely songs from Ravi; but even Kum Kum can’t overcome her sanctimonious dialogues and Nishi has the dubious honor of playing one of the most hateful female characters ever. Pradeep Kumar is the nominal hero and I will leave that to speak for itself.

The film starts out promisingly enough. I simply adore the opening title music, so much so that I’m putting it here for ambiance while you read.

Ravi was one of the first music directors to really effectively blend western beats into Hindi film music. I could cha-cha-cha to his tunes all day! Anyway.

Ratan (Pradeep Kumar) is a well-educated but unemployed man in love with Bimla (Nishi), the daughter of a very wealthy man. She begs him to elope with her after her father (Amar) fixes her marriage with someone else. Reluctantly he agrees on the condition that she come with him with none of the trappings—no jewelry, nothing—of her formerly wealthy life so that nobody will misunderstand his intentions.

They take a train to Bombay together, leaving Ratan’s ailing sister Babli in the care of faithful family retainer Shambhu Kaka (Radheshyam).

In the city, they find squalid housing and we are treated to a long sequence to pound home the message that if it weren’t for bad luck, job seeker Ratan would have no luck at all.

It goes on for so long that I begin to wonder if the “fade out-fade in” technology was a new thing for director Brij (yes, that Brij). And Bimla finds eloping with a poor man not nearly as romantic as she had thought. She writes home to her father, and on the day when Ratan finally finds a good job and comes home to celebrate with her he is met with a stunning development.

Bimla refuses to acknowledge him, and he is arrested. In court we discover further perfidy on her part—how I love the way Hindi cinema takes what is already fairly OTT melodrama and turns it up a notch!

Bimla testifies against him and he is sentenced to two years in prison, to Babli and Shambhu’s great dismay. Never have so many faces twitched in so much agony in one short courtroom scene!

Ratan is put into a cell with thief Hira (Anwar Hussain), a charming rogue who takes a liking to his new roommate. He invites Ratan to join him outside when they get sprung from the big house, but Ratan refuses his offer. Then Shambhu arrives with the devastating news that Babli has died, and a fierce hatred for all of bewafa womankind takes root in his bosom, unencumbered by the fact that beloved Babli herself was a woman.

Two years on, Hira is waiting for him on his release and after Ratan experiences the societal disapproval due an ex-con for a few minutes, he joins hands with his friend (literally and figuratively). They sing a cute little ditty about the joys of being your own man (even if that man is a criminal) called “Seedhe Saade Insaanon” which is lots of fun not least because of the background footage of Bombay as it was fifty years ago.

I perk up too, naturally, because crime and great entertainment go together, and I am not disappointed when Helen appears in a gambling den to sing a really wonderful song called “Meri Mehfil Mein Aake”; I like it so much I am linking the Youtube video against my better judgement:

Even better is that Helen is paired in the song with Anwar Hussain, a man I am always happy to see no matter what kind of rogue he is playing!

Earlier that day, Ratan had rescued a fluffy little white dog belonging to a beautiful girl named Rita (Minoo Mumtaz).

On his way home from the gambling den he is knifed by a guy he’d accused of cheating and is left for dead on the street. Rita comes along, almost hits him, stops to help and recognizes him as Lucy’s savior. She and her friend Geeta (Kum Kum) take him to the hospital, and Rita is quickly (and to me inexplicably) smitten with him. Ratan sees an opportunity to avenge himself on all women and at the same time gain a handsome profit, because Rita is the daughter of the biggest jeweller in the city (Murad).

He begins to woo her, and is soon introduced to her family including a geeky brother by the name of Kundan—whose wife is none other than betrayer Bimla!

The horror!

Geeta is also like a member of the family; her father was Rita’s father’s accountant, and he adopted her when she was orphaned by her father’s death. Geeta quickly becomes suspicious of Ratan and his intentions; he is a bit too smooth-talking for her liking, and she further discovers that his friend Hira is a known criminal. Headstrong Rita—may I reiterate that Minoo is just an effervescent joy in this role—will hear no evil about her now-beloved Ratan, and Geeta decides to appeal to the conscience she is sure exists under Ratan’s suave exterior.

Ratan is attracted by her gentle demeanor and his conscience is pricked a bit by her remonstrances, but it all gets very quickly irritating for me. He stubbornly persists in his pursuit of poor Rita, who doesn’t deserve such lousy treatment, and begins to blackmail Bimla too as Geeta subjects him (and me) to preachy little homilies.

I am a fan of Kum Kum, but Geeta is so goody-goody that I wanted to slap her. All the main characters outside of Rita are poorly drawn; their behavior is often weirdly inconsistent, being driven as it is by the plot requirements. From the strong if overly melodramatic start the film disintegrates into directionless confusion. Bimla at one point warns Rita against Ratan, a scene which is enacted apparently without irony as if we should now forget what she did to him. Ratan’s persistent act as a ruthless crook is a bit unbelievable as well, especially since Hira—the “bad influence”—is himself a guy with integrity and compassion. By the time the end finally comes, motivations and characters have become so muddied that the message is lost too.

Still, it was a rare treat to see so much of the gorgeous Minoo and the songs (with subtitles!) were really nice. If you are a fan of either Minoo or Ravi, you might make it through; otherwise, it isn’t really worth it.

One last thing: Tun Tun makes a brief appearance as a friend of Hira’s who strolls by as he is arrested for robbery. When she asks where he’s going, he says “Bara ghar!” I never knew jail was called the big house in Hindi too! Heh. It made me clap my hands with glee.

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57 Comments to “Tu Nahin Aur Sahi (1960)”

  1. Yep “Bara Ghar” is a euphemism for Jail! I enjoyed your write up as I usually do. I didn’t know the existence of this movie. So thanks for educating me again about old hindi oldies.

  2. Another euphemism for jail is ‘sasural’ i.e. ‘the in laws’ place’ :D

  3. My reactions to this movie were the same as yours – with the exception of Rita, the characters and their actions were so inconsistent that movie became nonsensical after a point. I kept trying to figure out who we were *supposed* to root for because frankly I found all the main characters tiresome.

    I do like the sentiment and the attitude behind the title though – tu nahi aur sahi.:-)

    PS. A bit of Minoo Mumtaz candy for you:

    • Yes, I was totally on board with the title sentiments :D But the film itself…meh.

      Thanks for the link—lovely song, although poor Minoo is trapped with another milquetoast guy!

  4. ““Bara ghar!” I never knew jail was called the big house in Hindi ”

    There is also “chidiya ghar” (literally bird house) whch is the zoo. Now the zoo, as we all know, is a jail too.

  5. Oddly enough I had plucked this DVD off my already watched shelf just to see a little Kum Kum and Nishi. Ended up watching all of the dance numbers, but not the movie itself. Sounds like it did not deserve a re-watch anyhow! LOL!

    The thing that I like most about Pradeep Kumar is that he appeared in so many B movies. I like that in a performer.

    • I meant to say that I tuned into this DVD earlier in the week, not knowing that you were also watching and reviewing it. That was the “oddly enough” part.

    • Great minds :) I thought of you while I watched this knowing that you love Kum Kum too, and you are the one who put Nishi on my radar! Are you not a Minoo fan too?

      And you make an excellent point about PK being in lots of B movies, my fave of course being Sindbad Alibaba Aur Aladin…it is a sterling quality indeed. I wonder how he felt about it though?

      • Although I have seen Minoo in a number of films, I have yet to become a fan, mainly because I can not yet pick her out of a line-up. That might be a good reason for me to watch this film again, so that I can become more familiar with her.

        • *Eyes wide* Oh, Mike, you will LOVE her. She is gorgeous and sparkly. And a fabulous dancer to boot.

          Check out Tom’s Minoo Mumtaz compilation (link is there in the pdf file along with the Bela one).

  6. Poor Minoo and poor Kum Kum – what a waste of their gorgeousness. Did they get to dance at least?

    Re bada ghar (big house) – I discovered that its a euphemism for ‘jail’ just yesterday (in a film, of course!). Where I come from, its usually a euphemism for ‘toilet’!

  7. Unfort it has been ages since I saw this again, but one thing that still clicks is the song tracks, where we had the super trio of Lyric writers-

    Majrooh Sultanpuri
    Asad Bhopali
    Shakeel Nomani

    Must get a replacement of my ye long lost olde VHS some day and refresh me kiddie days of big screen bash.

    Cheers .)

  8. Nice review, Greta.
    One thing struck me though : you usually end your review with some teaser questions like “Is Ratan’s faith in womanhood restored ? Does Rita see through his devious intentions ? Does Ratan forgive Bimla ? ”

    I guess in this case, you could not care less. :-) That you managed to sit through this, with Pradeep’s wooden face and Kum Kum’s sanctimonious role – and then write a review, is already quite a big deal.

    Need to catch up on the songs of this one. I usually find Ravi’s songs easy listening.

    And oh, I just love Minoo Mumtaz. I got to discover her identity only after coming to your blog though I had known the name and seen the face years ago but never put the two together. I remember being impressed the very first time I saw her about 30 years ago in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, singing “Sakiya Aaj Mujhe Neend Nahin Aayegi”. Loved her in Gharana too. She has got a striking face.

    Realised only yesterday that Tom has done a DVD on Minoo Mumtaz also. That’s brilliant ! Am going to check it out.

    • Ha ha!! You are bilkul correct—I didn’t care by the end of the film or of my review. Almost did not write about it, except I haven’t said much here about Minoo Mumtaz and I really do love her. She is just beautiful, and is yet another actress whose relegation to secondary roles or just dances mystifies me.

  9. Hello,
    Great post. I’m not too fond of Pradeep Kumar but I love the spunky Minoo Mumtaz. I will definitely try to see this film some day, but as you say, just for Minoo and Ravi :)

  10. Did you know Pradeep Kumar played a negative role in a Black and White movie? This was when he was very much a leading man. Guess which one?

    • I don’t know! Which one? I haven’t seen a lot of his films, and mostly I’ve seen him in B movies as Mike pointed out above.

      • The movie is “The Gateway of India” (1957). Bharat Bhushan and Madhubala played the lead pair. Its a story of one night where Madhubala is a witness to some drug trafficking whose gang leader is Pradeep Kumar.

  11. Once again a film, which I didn’t even knew that it existed!
    I should look up in you tube for the songs, if they sound familiar.
    I love Ravi’s music and Minoo Mumtaz (the frst screen cap is beauuutiful).
    Your review was wonderful as usual!
    That Shambhu kaka guy looks like Radheshyam, but I may be mistaken. Anyway he has similarity to the guy, who plays Guru Dutt’s elder brother in Pyaasa, which by the way is coming up my blog soon!

  12. Love Helen! Another movie that I am not familiar with …. thanks for sharing. BTW, new music up at my site. Hope you like it.

  13. I think the description of Pradeep Kumar as “nominal hero” works for every film I’ve seen him in.

    That’s all I had to add!

    • Doesn’t it? I feel bad sometimes for not liking him…he is so harmless somehow. But.

      • I have always seen all phillums I cud lay my hands on, so for me Pradeepda was as good as other heroes, he may not have that glamorous looks but always apprec his performances, I do feel he gave his 100 per cent,, variety of roles enacted. Taj Mahal to Ustadon Ke Ustad to Passport to Saheli to Gateway Of India,Fashion, Police Detective, Meri Soorat Teri Aankhen… mind yu he had almost 130 movies plus to his credit
        above all the songs were always a hit.

        Cheers .)

        • Yay Ash for sticking up for him too!!! I wish I could. He did have such a long and diverse filmography. For me though it’s not that he didn’t have glamorous looks—plenty of compelling and charismatic performers didn’t—it’s that he is such a potato. I do respect the fact that he had the career that he had…I just don’t really understand it. But I guess I don’t have to :)

  14. I really like Nishi, and I can never understand why she is perpetually the -ve chracter! And wasnt her character an adult when she eloped?!!!
    I have seen the actor who plays shambhu before; you have piqued my curiosity, and now I must find out about him :)

    • Harvey thinks he is Radheshyam and my instinct is that he is right. I need to check Surjit Singh’s page, because I think he’s there and then I’ll move him to the gallery! :D

      • If yu get a chance do see Dara Singh and Nishi movies, they did quite a few together, it is nostalgia time and as Memsaab must hv noticed it is Revival Dara Singh on the other sites, hope to put Aaya Toofan one of these days.
        And we have Helen in it also.

        Cheers .)

  15. I’m intrigued. A heroine in a -ve role ditching the hero?
    I think Nishi is the heroine, because Minu Mumtaz couldn’t be…could she?
    I’m dying of curiosity to know all this – especially the ending. Did the brother die and because Pradeep loves her so much he accepts her back,,,or….’
    What is it? What is it? Do tell :-)

    • Nishi is not the heroine, Kum Kum is. Naturally!!!! She is so saintly and good, she HAS to be the heroine.

      Minoo and Anwar Hussain should have been the hero and heroine though :)

  16. @memsaab
    >Why do people continue to get married, why?! ;-)

    The reference to jail as ‘sasural’ is not to ‘marriage’ but to their in-laws (wife’s ) place. ;-)

    Obviously the man feels very restricted while visiting there.
    Its all said in fun of course.

    Each to his/her own comfort bar – metal/chocolate/the liquid selling kind :-D

  17. All said n done Pradeepda had quite simplicity which in my opinion was his USP, and there were quite a few others who can be in the same category.
    Gonna catch up with his another legendary release Adl e Jahangir (1955), his mastery of Urdu was superb.
    Btw this one was made by G P SIPPY, Music by
    Husanlal Bhagatram and some real treat for Talat Sahebs fans in this phillum.

    Cheers .)

  18. Memsaab, I just watched this film, and I have to disagree with you. I actually enjoyed it. But I do agree with you completely about Minoo Mumtaz.

    She is my favorite of all the performers here and I was delighted with her presence from the first moment she appeared. But I am a Kumkum fan too, and she was quite lovely in this, plus, we get to see a couple of Kumkum dances. And I don’t understand being so annoyed at her character. Maybe she was a bit goody-goody, but she seemed a bit more clever than most goody-goody characters, and most such characters don’t dance so well. (I liked the theater performance that she did to show Ratan that she knew about him and his tricks. It’s always fun when characters within a film stage a play to do that sort of thing. :) )

    And Pradeep Kumar wasn’t so bad in this either. I thought this was one of his better performances.

    The plot may not have been perfect, but we’ve all seen a lot worse, and it would have to have been worse to make me dislike it with this cast – and, of course, the music by Ravi (the second thing here that I can agree with you about while disagreeing with you).

  19. Just found a little something about Minu Mumtaz in her brother Anwar Ali’s blog http://www.bombaytogoa.in/2010/09/15/dialogue/
    She lives in Canada with her husband and kids.

  20. Hi Memsaab,
    One of Lata’s greatest songs Mein tuhe se poochti hoon mujhe tumse pyar kyun hai, is picturised on Minoo Mumtaz in the movie Black Cat. She was the heroine opposite Balraj Sahni, a B-grade 1959 suspense moive by NA Ansari. She looks really lovely in the song, lyrics written by Javed Akhtar’s father and music by N Datta.

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