Mini-review: Ponga Pandit (1975)

There is really only one compelling reason to watch Ponga Pandit: the costume designer (credited as Manorama Ralhan, who—judging from her other film assignments—I would guess was married to OP Ralhan).

This is a movie where an Elvis poster competing for wall space with a picture of a skinny fuchsia guy and a pair of teepee chairs are not the most startling visuals in the room. Plus, Go-Go Barbie goes practically unnoticed!

For a much better and way more progressive version of the basic story (if, you know, that’s what’s important to you), watch Mem Sahib from 1956 instead.

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50 Comments to “Mini-review: Ponga Pandit (1975)”

  1. Your knowledge of Hindi does not cease to amaze me. I of course knew about Ponga Pandit but I did not know about Memsahib — a film with Meena Kumari-Shammi Kapoor_KIshore Kumar. Did not know all three of them acted together. Well thanks for this piece of info.

    • It is such a wonderful film too, I think you would really like it :) I think it’s fairly easy to find now too ;)

    • Hei Shilpi,

      I am sure you will recall that ever green number from Mem Sahib sung by Kishoreda and he is singing it on himself-

      dil dil se milakar dekho aapna bana ke dekho ?, beautiful number, yu can see it here-

      and if I may add one of the very few numbers where Shammi has Talat Sahebs playback along with Ashatai, a song called –

      kehta hai dil tum ho mere liye, a soulful number, catch it here-

      The movie also has Omji, Bhaijaan Mehmood, the versatile Radheshyam, smashing Kum Kum among other g8 veterans.

      The movie is out on Friends label, yu wud love it, and other folks also ofcors :)


  2. Who is the leading lady of this movie? Can’t make out….

  3. I am now sad I will never see the interior of Mrs. Ralhan’s home. :( Do my home, Mrs. R!

    • She designed the clothing…not sure who did the set designs and decoration, they were almost equal to the outfits—but not quite. Certainly it was a bombardment of the senses which almost rescued the movie from its preachy conservatism—but not quite :)

  4. This song “wo mere peechhe” is in THIS movie? I remember it was quite popular in its time but I had no clue which movie it was from.

    I remember this movie being released but I am not sure I’ve seen it. Clearly remember seeing a lot of Randhir movies in the mid-70s though, movies like Ram Bharose, Humrahi, Dil Diwana, Lafange, Dhongee and Haath Ki Safai.

    Even by 70s standards, these costumes are certainly eye-catching. :-)
    Nice screen-shots, Greta.

    Btw, who’s the guy in the second screen-shot, standing to Ranjeet’s right? The guy in brown. I’ve seen him in a zillion movies – always a henchman. I am sure others here must have seen him too. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to know his name.

  5. Sorry for spamming but I was just checking the songs of this movie on youtube. And I find that the song “Ganga ghat ka pani piya hai” is also from this movie. Now that was another song that was quite popular in its time.

  6. And the song “jeejaji jeejaji” too (not to be confused with “jeejaji jeejaji” from Sajan Bina Suhagan). Btw, have just read more about the story of this movie – looks like the type of movie which would typically have Raj Kapoor or Manoj Kumar as hero. Looks very stereotypical with a lot of preachiness.

  7. It was very preachy indeed, eye-rollingly so :)

  8. Yes folks Mrs Ralhan is indeed wife of O P Ralhan and she is the Costume Designer in his movies, as a Director in Hulchul, Paapi, and Talash

    Who can forget the evergreen Phool Aur Patthar with Dharan Paajee nd Meena Kumari, and 101 other veterans. OP was the Director and Producer and his performance as SADAKRAM was just fabulous, like all his other roles In Talash etc. A chip of da ol block.

    Oh talking about zany colors and outfits, Lafange is another one to watch.

    Finally Neeta Mehta she was main lead in Shaayad (1979), a very under rated movie with Nasseruddin Shah, Om Puri, Vijayendra Ghatge.

    Our Bollywood ways, she came in minor roles only in most of her career !
    Cheers :)

  9. The songs of “Ponga Pandit”, unlike the movie, were quite popular.

  10. Loved the last picture :-)

    • That was actually a most hilarious scene—Nirupa’s daughter (Neeta’s character) is refusing to acknowledge her childhood marriage to Randhir’s character and so Nirupa puts this huge noose around her neck and stands on a stepladder; she asks forgiveness of her husband (Madan Puri, who is in total support of his daughter on the issue) for not taking his permission to kill herself. Then Neeta’s character walks into the room and says “Ma. One of these days I won’t show up and you’ll have to actually go through with it.” I howled, it was so funny. A lovely parody of all the characters Nirupa has played…except then she continued to be that same annoying “Woman perpetrating misery onto Woman” character that the scene was making fun of. Or should have been making fun of…I had to wonder after a while if it really was though because the rest of it was awfully conservative and regressive.

  11. The film was from Narasimha Productions, Anil Kapoor’s home productions. Anil Kapoor himself played a vital part in the production unit, but however he was more interested in acting and hence showed little concern for the Production responsibilities handed over to him in Surinder Kapoor’s absence

  12. I love masala and all kinds of melodrama in movies, but some movies just make me sad. One could understand why in the suffocated, and insecure time of the 70s, movies like this would work. But unfortunately we still make movies with such a garbled message, and more unfortunately they still work. Namaste London, Dil Bole Hadippa, the Barjatya movies, most of our television. They are the embarrasing part of our cinema.

    • Yes, I agree with you—these messages are the worst part of Hindi cinema by far. And they are still perpetrated too! Ah well. We do have plenty of other lovely films to turn to though, thank goodness :)

      • Not sure if you’ll agree, but I find “Baghban” pretty backwards too.

        -Being “modern” means being materialistic, self-centered, totally disregarding family, and the overuse of saying “hell.”
        -Adopted child pretty much has to worhsip his parents as demi-gods for performing the miracle of adopting him. Thank goodness “Saajan” breaks this rule.
        -Amitabh had fun moments while Hema mostly pined for her husband and her misguided kids and granddaughter.

        -Not wanting your parents to live with you + partying = total lack of respect for parents.
        Would’ve been better if they made both sides sympathetic rather than so black and white.

  13. Memsaab

    “Trivia” for you, regarding the director of ‘Ponga pandit’, “Prayag raj”, you may aware of the following fact,(“PHIR BHI…”)

    In Shammi kapoor’s film JUNGLEE, there is this famous song is there,
    “Chahe koi mujhe Junglee kahe”, alongwith Mohammed rafi, it is “Prayag raaj” who sang the famous words”YAHOO”(I have read this somewhere in old hindi film magazine, please check this fact for me)

    Further, “Prayag raaj” is a close associate of famous director Manmohan desai(Late),Raj kapoor(late)&Shashi kapoor(acted alongwith shashi kapoor James ivory directed English movies
    like Shakespearewallha(1965)& The Householder(1963)Jab jab phool khile)

    Prayag raj directed famous “Masala” movies of Amithab bachchan like Coolie(1983), Giraftaar(1985) and others

    He is the screenplay writer of superhit masala potboilers like Amar akbar anthony, Aa gale lag jaa(1973),Parvarish(1977)

    He is the storywriter of famous amithab movies Naseeb(1981),Suhaag(1979),Ganga jamuna saraswathi(1988)

    I remember he also given playback to one of the famous songs of 1983 COOLIE(singing the words in a screeching fashion “ALLARAKHA”)


    excuse me for boring you, with bombardment of hindi film information


    • I did not know that Prayag Raj sang! I did know his other work as director, obviously, which is one reason I wanted to see this…but it did not quite live up to his reputation, sadly :(

  14. Ranjeet looks like such a floozy in the second screenshot of him.:-D Almost tempting enough to watch “Ponga Pandit” but I shall resist the impulse.

    • Yes indeed, he does look like a floozy (not as bad—I mean GOOD—as Tiwari in Chingari though). The movie *is* almost worth watching just for the style, and I had high hopes for a while that it would find the nice middle ground between modern ideas and traditional Indian values that Mem Sahib did…but no. It failed miserably on that front.

  15. Oh man I’ve watched this movie so many times on TV! It’s hilariously bad! The costumes and Randhir Kapoor’s dancing/acting are PRICELESS! I always have a good laugh and frankly a little ashamed for enjoying this god-awful mess of a movie.

    • I agree with you completely—it is hilarious, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, and certainly there is plenty to look at (Randhir’s disguise as a “rock star” being absolutely stupendously BAD). The first half is quite awesome in fact, but then it just sadly devolves into preachy and irritating. SIGH.

  16. This is the movie from where the idea of Shahrukh’s “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” was actually taken.

  17. Danny looks so young here!

      • That could be why. ;)

        I was going to say it’s odd to see him as a hero (coz he looks so stylish and non-chalant and the screencaps seem to feature him alot) but alas from the synopsis he’s a negative character. :(

        Why did ethnic actors always end up as villains in Bollywood? Jeevan (from Kashmir), Danny (from Skkim), etc. :(

      • Strange are the rules of the world :-) I don’t know the answer to your ‘why’, but can only seem to think of the ‘pichle janam ke karam’ :-D

  18. @Memsaab, I was surprised that this film only merited a mini-review from your side. With so much raw material, I’m sure you’d have had a blast giving this the full treatment.

    • I was just so disappointed when it took a turn for the regressive that I couldn’t be bothered after that. There is plenty to mine in it, but I get tired of talking about the same old issues :)

  19. Neeta Mehta’s last role was in Subash Ghai’s Hero (1983) and as Jaya Prada’s sister in Kaamchor (1983). After 1984, she vanished without a trace. No idea where she disappeared. Does anyone know ?

    Ponga Pandit was made in Tamil featuring Sivaji Ganesan and Jayalalitha.

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