Chakravyuha (1978)

This is a pretty silly adaptation (by Basu Chatterjee, no less!) of Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps which nonetheless manages to be quite satisfying entertainment. Basu Sahab is a little out of his element, but that works for me since I find most of his films similar in nature to watching paint dry. Sticklers for things like continuity, context, and attention to detail might not enjoy it as much as I did; but with my dear friend Suhan translating as we went, it made for a very pleasant afternoon watch-along. There are some of the director’s finer touches here too: authentic settings, intimate and humorous interactions between people, plenty of local color.

Rajesh Khanna is lots of fun as a man drawn unwillingly into a nest of enemy spies and intrigue with the future of his country riding on his shoulders. His acting is understated and he is ably supported by Neetu Singh and a host of character actors. And if—like Suhan and myself—you find Rajesh’s chest hair good enough reason to see a movie (are we the only two? really?), be assured that he changes his clothes every other minute in order to throw off his pursuers. I have never seen so many outfits on one man in my life!

Chhaya (Neetu) and Amit Narayan (Rajesh) are in love and Chhaya wants to get married. Amit doesn’t see why they have to get married and wants to keep things as they are. Wedding dates are set and then moved, to her great frustration.

This is really their only point of discord (as big as it is, I guess) and Neetu and Rajesh show the same sweet chemistry that they did in Maha Chor. It is also an excuse for a cute song: “Shaadi Karne Se Pyaar Kam Ho Jaata Hai” which I understand from Suhan was a hit; it is one of only two songs, the other being the theme throughout as Amit is on the run.

Amit lives alone, and is also very fond of Chhaya’s family: father (Om Shivpuri), mother (Dina Pathak), little brother Raju (Master Raju Shrestha, my favorite kid ever) and sister Maya (Rozeena? if anyone can fill us in on cute little sister’s identity we will be grateful because she is very cute and we love her and she also gets some of the best outfits).

It is Diwali, and as children burst crackers and set off potentially limb-severing fireworks, Amit’s upstairs neighbor Raman (Vinod Mehra) has been watching a group of men in a tent just outside the building’s courtyard. They also appear to be keeping tabs on him, and have his manservant in their pay. Now Raman tosses furniture about the room and loads a pistol as I admire his silk lunghi-kurta—lusciously red and looking so comfortable. As my attention turns to that marvellous blue lamp he takes a body out of a trunk, lays it out on the floor, sprinkles it with whiskey and as another set of firecrackers explode outside, he shoots the poor dead guy’s face off.

Either red is used as a symbolic color here (and I don’t mean the obnoxious T Series logo which I try to ignore) or the costumer and set designer had a fondness for it. In any case, red is splashed about lavishly in pretty much every frame of the film. When Amit returns home, Raman is waiting for him and forces his way in. He explains to Amit that he is a spy for India and that he is being watched by enemy agents (he shows the tent and its inhabitants to Amit through the window). He has set up his own suicide (using a morgue body) (although I don’t know why he felt he needed to trash the room to stage a suicide, but never mind) to throw the enemies off his trail and needs to stay with Amit for a few days in hiding. The unnamed enemy is plotting to destroy India’s valuable relationship with an African country called Mazaland (are you laughing yet?) by assassinating its Chief Minister when he arrives November 19 at the Delhi International Airport.

Raman wants to wait until his enemies hear of his “suicide” and depart before he sets off for Delhi to stop the assassination himself. He shaves his beard and dons thick black glasses to disguise himself and Amit reluctantly agrees to let him stay for a few days.

The enemy agents are not put off by the sensational news of Raman’s suicide and stay put themselves. The next day Raman pries the back off his watch; hidden behind the watch face is a teeny-tiny red notebook. He opens it up and begins writing.

Amit is meanwhile visiting Chhaya and her family again to talk about wedding details. As I said earlier, one of the things I liked about this film is the realism of the settings. Chhaya’s home is big but in need of some TLC, not an unrealistically pristine house. And though I can’t understand most of the “room talk” her family is clearly a close one, warm and teasing with one another.

The contrast between this comfortable normalcy and what Amit finds when he returns home is shocking.

Raman has been murdered and Amit’s living room turned upside down, and the men in the tent outside have disappeared. As Amit wonders what to do next (he has an amusing—to me anyway—fantasy about being arrested for murder after calling in the cops, and given the general incompetence of filmi police I don’t blame him) he makes a cup of tea. In the sugar jar is the not-as-teeny-tiny-as-it-used-to-be red notebook, hidden by Raman.

I don’t think this one would fit behind a watch face! Details! I digress. Raman has written down some clues about the gang (known to him only as Z, P, R and M) and their plan to kill the Chief Minister of Mazaland. He begs Amit to stop them himself: to take the notebook with him to Delhi and hand it over to the police there.

Although it was pitch-dark outside moments ago, Amit looks out the window and the sun is shining brightly as the dudhwala approaches on his bicycle. Amit takes off his own clothes very skillfully underneath a towel, and gives the milkman money for his dhoti-kurta—which he somewhat unwillingly gives up.

And so Amit’s endless journey of swapping outfits and changing clothes begins. Although we sadly aren’t shown the event, the poor milkman presumably finds the grim scene in Amit’s living room and calls the police, all the while clad only in his chaddies (also unfortunately, he is no Garam Dharam).

The police naturally assume that Amit is the culprit and put out an all-points bulletin for his arrest. We also now come face to face with the enemy gang and it’s not pretty. Pinto (Pinchoo Kapoor) runs a garage as a front for their treasonous activities. Pinto is not at all pleased that Amit has escaped the man he had left to watch him—apparently he knows about the incredible enlarging notebook too although he didn’t think to look in the sugar jar for it. He tells his henchman Sikandar (an uncredited Yunus Parvez) to go to the train station and look for Amit there, knowing that he will be heading for Delhi.

The police too have thought of looking at the station, and Amit embarks on a game of cat and mouse with both Pinto’s men and the cops. Forced to leave the Delhi train, Amit now continues his trip across the Indian countryside, changing his clothes as he goes (sometimes with hilarious results) and traveling by any means he can find, and getting help from people he comes across—with Pinto and the police hot on his trail. Suhan translated as much of what happens as she could, but I know I missed a lot of humor in Amit’s interactions with the local people.

One example is a scene where Amit, now dressed like a Congress member, is mistaken for a politician whom local dignitaries have been expecting. They put a single garland around his neck, which he is then instructed to remove so each VIP can re-garland him with it in turn. It’s a very sweet way of illustrating rural budget constraints!

But Pinto is dogged in his pursuit, and Amit isn’t even sure where exactly he needs to go in order to stop the assassins from getting to the airport. It’s a long way from Bombay to Delhi and as the days left until November 19th dwindle, Amit has some close calls!

He also enlists the help of a lovely doctor named Nandita (Simple Kapadia, who manages to look beautiful despite her ginormous glasses, which is more than I can say I ever managed) and her kindly father (AK Hangal), and it’s soon obvious that Nandita is falling for Amit too.

Will he make it to Delhi in time? Will he find the enemy’s camp and manage to stop the assassination? Can India possibly survive the severing of ties with Mazaland if he doesn’t? Who is the real brains behind this plot, anyway? And will he ever set a wedding date with Chhaya (who has disappeared from the film)? Or will he fall in love with owl-eyed Nandita?

If you enjoy a rollicking suspense caper and don’t mind a few slipshod missteps along the way (I personally think they add to the fun), then you will probably enjoy this (it will help a lot if you speak Hindi or have a handy translator nearby). It helps to be a Rajesh fan too—it is very much his movie. He’s in just about every scene, and he’s believable without most of the mannerisms he is famous for. There are many smaller moments which add luster to the whole; and speaking of luster, look at Pradeep Kumar in a brocade dressing gown, living in a house we’ve seen before. I used to think this was a set, but now I’m wondering. It looks much the same here as it did in Namak Haraam five years earlier, and in Chorni four years later.

Maybe somebody will recognize the Stained Glass Cat House and tell me where it is some day!

An OCD mind is a terrible thing to waste.

76 Comments to “Chakravyuha (1978)”

  1. No comments yet!!!

    Gretta, another beautiful and funny review….incredible enlarging notebook …..cracked me up

    Raju Shreshtha (master raju) was my favorite child artiste too..I saw him once after he had grown up…poor guy, lots of talent, but not the same cuteness he had as a child…

    would love to know how it ends :)

  2. Brilliant…is it possible for a review to be better than the movie? :)

  3. Wow. Basu Chatterjee and Hitchcock? Can’t believe that!
    A combo like this is surely a must-see!

  4. I thought you will be doing Lootera today1

  5. I’ve seen bits and pieces of “Chakravyuh” and the only thing I remeber from them is bare-chested Rajesh Khanna. Since i’m not you or Suhan, that was disincentive enough to keep me from watching the whole movie.:-) But I love The 39 Steps, so I might see this after all – someday.

    • I’m echoing Shalini every step along the way! :-D A bare-chested Rajesh Khanna is disincentive enough for me, but since I love The 39 Steps (Robert Donat! Oooh!), I just might look out for this one.

      • What are you saying?! That Suhan and I are the only ones who appreciate Rajesh’s “welcome mat”? :D I think you might enjoy this one, it’s very entertaining and fast-paced, and Rajesh is very good in it, playing the role and not himself. It’s good fun.

  6. It’s so easy to take your writing for granted and, in that vein, I’ve been badgering you for quite some time now on your declining output from your previous prolificacy. I am only able to realize and appreciate what a painstaking job it is, handicapped by your not speaking the language (though you really are much better than you let on), and what an astonishingly good writer you are when I actually do these watch-alongs with you. You write a whole review with such elan – I, who watched it with you, wouldn’t be able to string two thoughts together beyond commenting with relief that Rajesh had finally got rid of that horrid, long hair, and that I was thrilled to see an Indian man being such a good host, quite at home in the kitchen making tea for his guest and such like. So, abject apologies for taking you for granted and wah, wah as always for a splendidly entertaining write-up.

    Basu C. was clearly swimming in uncharted waters and given what he’s said earlier about this film (in ‘Super’ from the March 1977 issue before the film’s release), I can’t but think that he would’ve been well served if he had allowed someone to interfere more egregiously with this film – someone with a turn for contextualizing a 1930s cloak and dagger political scenario to the 1970s! The Super March 1977 bit from Basu C. was included in the insider bar none Bhawana Somaaya’s “Salaam Bollywood: The Pain and the Passion” (1999) which was serially published by Screen. Here it is:

    “It is true that Rajesh tends to come late for shootings and leave early. But I do not hold it against him, because the amount of work I get out of the others (Vidya Sinha, Zarina Wahab, Amol Palekar) in eight hours, Kaka (Khanna) does in only two. In fact, for Chakravyuh he has been so co-operative that we will finish the film in eight months. Before I start work on the script, I have an image of the character. If the artiste lives up to that image, I’m satisfied. In Chakravyuh, Kaka has interpreted his role beautifully. I will say this much. If the film flops, the blame will be solely mine. And vice versa! I have heard that he tampers with scripts and interferes with the director’s work, but he has not tried it with me — nor would I allow it. I can’t comment on why his films have begun to flop suddenly. He is bound to come back again because talent can never die. I cannot comment on his earlier success because I have not seen most of his films. But I have seen Aavishkar which didn’t run, while Premnagar, a mediocre performance, was a super hit.”

    • Now see, you raise several points that I did not! Yes—it was refreshing to see an Indian man who clearly loved his “girl” but was self-sufficient and practical and not helpless without a wife :) And the context was awkward, taking the 30s political setting and transforming it to a very silly 70s premise which took much of the power out of the original.

      But still, great performance by Rajesh and thanks for the quote from Basu himself! Very interesting.

  7. I don’t remember why I missed this movie. I have seen almost anything released in the 70s. If I can lay my hands on it, I will surely watch it. Sounds like a fun movie. Besides who wants to miss watching a notebook expand after it is put in a jar of sugar. And a cool guy who makes a cup of tea as a dead body lies on his drawing room floor.

  8. Another RK movie of the late 70s that I had never heard of.

    Must give full credit to the first Bollywood Superstar for starring in so many movies despite so many flops. It shows he was talented though not being able to deliver for his fans.

    I remember RK mentioning in an interview that he was fed up during this time and had asked God, “Why only me?”. The next day he was approached by a director from the South – Balaji – who offered him “Amardeep” (1979).

    Another movie that I haven’t watched that brings together RK, Kishore Kumar and RD Burman is “Bhola Bhala” (1978 again). I was flabbergasted to listen to one of its songs for the first time about a couple of months back. Couldn’t even imagine that such a team could give such a resounding flop too…..

    • Bhola Bhala is not very good as I recall, I think I gave up on it and have meant to go back to it but haven’t quite made it yet. I respect the range of roles that Rajesh took on in the later 70s and 80s—he seemed to accept (albeit with great difficulty) that his “Superstar” status was gone, and focused more on being an actor than being an icon. Mixed results, certainly, but no movie is ever a hit or flop based on only one person.

  9. Memsaab, you make my day with your reviews. Master Raju has to be an all-time favourite with most people because he was such a natural. And so cute.

    I don’t much care for Rajesh Khanna’s chest hair, but I’d watch him in most of his films. If it’s suspense, then kya baat hain?

    And then of course, there’s Neetu Singh.

    I haven’t seen this film, I think, but I do remember that song, ‘Shaadi karne se pyaar ..’.

    Like Suhan says, please, please, start writing as much as you did before. :)

    • I’ll try Banno! But I seem to get longer and longer-winded as I go on…so it takes longer, and I seem to have less time (two dogs is about 85 times the work of one) :)

    • Here’s the ‘Shaadi karne se’ song. I loved its picturization. And it’s message (the one that the guy espouses about love and marriage) is right on the money! At least to an old cynic like me :-)

  10. I Love this Greta ji, you are matchless.

    I am always very much interested in these type of obscure, but interesting movies, which go unsung regarding their popularity.

    Thank god, You are GODsend to me.

    Basu chatterjee usually directs movies which moves with a rather slow pace compared to other mainsteam movies. I always think you may not be much interested in these type of
    “middle of the road cinma”(What do you call them ??”Bridge cinema”???,(which are not too much artistic nor too much masala)

    Anyways THANK you very much.

    I love Simple Kapadia,I miss her screen presence. Besides,she used to design costumes for Sridevi ,Dimple kapadia and other contemporary actresses.I think she won National Award for her costume designing for Kalpana Lajmi`s artistic movie “RUDAALI” .

    Whether it is “Avtaar Gill” with hair on his head in 28th screencap, please someone confirm his identity, because, It may be one of his first screen appearances,before going fully bald (the police officer without cap and standing near Indira Gandhiji`s portrait)

    • I quite love Simple myself, although she was much abused in the tabloids of the time :( She’s beautiful, too bad she always had to live in her sister’s shadow. She did do a lot of costume design (and didn’t she design clothes for regular people too eventually?). I don’t know if that’s Avtar Gill but I’m sure someone here will!

  11. Ha ha, absolutely LOVED the review, Greta! :-) You are SUCH a good writer, you really should write more. Like they say, you can never have too much of a good thing – and your blog ranks right up there on all that’s good on the interwebs. Your sense of humor, your eye for detail, the flow in your writing, ther personal touches…all make for absolutely delightful reading.

    Coming to the movie, I haven’t seen this (though I remember it being released) but your review makes me want to see it. Although I will not claim to have rajeshitis to the acute level that Suhan has ;-), I’ve always been a massive Rajesh fan myself. Grew up in the early 70s, right in the middle of the embarrassment of riches that were Rajesh hits, so I could not but get caught up with craze for the man who was arguably almost single-handedly responsible for the most wonderful era of romantic films and songs we’ve ever had in Hindi films.

    I must plead guilty to abandoning Rajesh in the mid/late 70s – I could just not bear to see his decline. His mannerisms had become more pronounced, the movies were also getting far louder than his earlier romantic films. I felt that unlike his earlier movies (where HE and his role made the movie what it became – e.g. Safar, Anand, even Haathi Mere Saathi), his later films were just made with his name but ANYBODY could have played the role he played. When I saw him in Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka (a massively hyped movie at the time and one of the most expensive movies ever made till then), I decided THAT was it!

    I then stayed away from Rajesh movies for years!!! About 25 years!!! So I did see the occasional movie but never went seeking a Rajesh movie. For me, Rajesh was the Rajesh I’d known with Mumtaz, with Asha Parekh, with Sharmila. Not the one with Tina Munim or Poonam Dhillon or even Rekha.

    Now I realise that I had probably let Rajesh down as a fan. The times had definitely changed – it was the era of the action hero, of the multistarrers, of disco dancers. Through this, Rajesh’s romanticism may have seemed a little anachronistic. So he had to adapt – and did. It is just that I was still stuck in MY mind about the Rajesh I wanted to see.For example, I hated seeing him in those dances with Jayaprada/Sridevi. It was SO NOT Rajesh.

    It is only in the last 7-8 years or so that I’ve begun watching Rajesh movies again. Ones that I missed out on. Like Kudrat, Rajput, Amardeep, Agar Tum Na Hote. And I must say that once again that love is resurfacing.

    I have a lot of catching up to do on Rajesh movies – but this time I’m going to watch them with an open mind. I think the fact that Rajesh is in a movie will be good enough reason for me to watch it.

    Sorry for this long story. I get carried away a bit whenever I think of Rajesh Khanna because my memories of him (and of Kishore Kumar for that matter) are indelibly linked to my primary and secondary schooldays.

    One question about Chakravyuha. I vaguely seem to remember a poster during the late 70s of a movie with a “concentric circles in the background” scene (somewhat Bond-opening scene like) – probably during the credits. I think it could be Chakravyuha? Is this correct?

    • Greta ji

      I want to thank Raja ji for his sensitive write up regarding rajesh khanna. Thanks raja ji, I enjoyed it very very very much.


    • You did yourself AND Rajesh a disservice, ha ha! But it’s not too late to appreciate him now. Yes, the credits were concentric circles (RED ones) at the beginning. Love this comment too, interesting perspective from someone who was there at the time :) Thanks.

    • Raja – ‘rajeshitis’ indeed! You ‘ain’t seen nothing yet’ if you haven’t visited the stupendous ‘Lovemarks’ that Kaka’s fans have left there for him. Quoting from my increasing unreliable memory they write “dithyrambically about Khanna as a rainy wind strewing white rose petals” and there’s some reference to him and a “water jug of time”, etc. etc. :-)

      • Links or it didn’t happen!

        • Ah well. Here’s the proof then. Please to note particularly a posting from April 29, 2008 where said water jug and much else besides is mentioned. I plead guilty about the rainy wind, must’ve seen that elsewhere :-D

          • The rainy wind may have been here :) Or maybe you were thinking of this: “Lightning flashes scibble his unmatched stature with white pencils on the backdrop of mountains.”

            If I’m not mistaken he is also described as a “white Chrysanthemum”. I would love to sit with Rajesh some day and watch him read through some of those!

          • Didn’t you put up a screen cap of a song in which the subs went “I died, died, died”? That’s what almost happened to me too – you and your ‘white chrysanthemum’! Me too (there with you that is) when RK goes through the paeans to his glory please? :-)

          • He’ll need both of us, on each side to support him, when he does ;)

          • That’s an awesome set of worship quotes there – many of them very suhanesque.

            (Suhanesque. adj. a construction comprising of exquisite English words, generally of rare usage, strewn together like a pearl necklace, considerably difficult to comprehend for those with less than an exceptional understanding of the English language, but which, for an inexplicable reason, leaves the reader, bemused or otherwise, with an exhilarating sense of enjoyment. Particularly observed in those afflicted with rajeshitis. :-))

          • @ Raja re. ‘Suhanesque’. Good heavens. Is that really how I write? Just as well that I don’t comment too much on your other posts Memsaab!

  12. Mazaland :D Oh the innocence of those days (I think though it is a nod to ‘Eye Witness’ which was a great hit here. And incredible enlarging notebook… perhaps RK couldn’t handle the tiny version ;-)

    Rajesh without mannerisms I like. Funny I don’t recall much this movie. Actually after ‘Namak Haram’ where he was outclassed by Amitabh, RK just disappeared from my radar.

    I’m an old fan of Hitch; I think this is worth a dekho. Whatever does happen to poor Neetu?

  13. Great review, as usual. I had forgotten all about Chakravyuha. I remember now watching it eons ago on some TV channel.

    I love The 39 Steps, the book! One of my all time favourite guilty pleasures. A mere 100 or so pages long, it is an uncomplicated and fast read. Other than the romantic interlude, Chakravyuha follows the original story very closely. For a Hindi movie that’s a big thing.

    • I’ve never read it although I saw Hitchcock’s movie some time ago and liked it a lot. Wish this film had subtitles, I think I would enjoy it even more (Suhan’s gallant effort notwithstanding!)…

  14. I found ‘Chakravyuha’ a very interesting title of a movie when the film got released in 78….The posters of the movie hung on lamp posts were attractive …For that matter the poster of Naukri was also attractive…but these films got very limited release….they vanished from the theaters even before the die hard fans could try and reach out to them….Sad…Things though changed for Rajesh Khanna a year later….

    Have seen the song “Shadi karne se..” quite a few times on chitrahaar and now on youtube…The song has the Basu Chaterjee’s stamp all over it…using Juhu beach, bus stands and the BEST buses as locations…he uses these locations in most of his movies….

    Also, nice to read about Mr.Raja’s slow metamorphosis of his taste towards Rajesh Khanna movies of late seventies and early eighties…

    Thanks for the review Memsaab….

    • There is a lot of authentic local color in this, city and village…at least it seems authentic to me, what do I know :D But this is a fun effort and for a Rajesh fan a must-see I would say.

  15. Thanks Memsaab for review on our Super Star Rajesh Khanna’s Chakravyuha.

    Chakravyuha is a great movie and it was inspiredfrom 39 steps a thriller to comedy. Our super star rajesh khanna was very great in the movie.

  16. Thanks Memsaab for review on our Super Star Rajesh Khanna’s Chakravyuha.

    Chakravyuha is a great movie and it was inspiredfrom 39 steps a thriller to comedy. Our super star rajesh khanna was very great in the movie.

  17. I must confess that the idea of seeing Rajesh Khanna’s chest hair is enough to turn me off this film; but then, the thought of the not-so-teeny-tiny red notebook is making me want to watch it. Sigh. Decisions, decisions! Great review, Greta. :)

  18. @Memsaab – Great review as ever. While I have not watched this film, I do remember seeing the posters like some of the others. Suhan is right – Basu C was clearly in uncharted waters here. As for RK, this was during his downhill phase so it might explain why he did not let his mannerisms take over the role. It must be said that though he did not get back to the heady heights of the early 70s, RK did make a successful comeback of sorts with a brief successful spell in the 80s. Like in many other RK movies, Vinod Mehra seems to play a supporting role here just as Shashi Kapoor did in several of Amitabh’s movies.
    I hope to watch this sometime soon. The storyline of 39 Steps seems to have a timeless feel about it.

    • I think probably Basu C let Rajesh “act” instead of be Rajesh, which not all directors wanted. And not many people have made it to his heady heights even once, let alone more than that :) But I hope he’s had a happy life doing what he loves!

  19. That first screenshot of Neetu triggered a pet peeve with Hindi films – the practice of leaving half of a woman’s blouse uncovered by the sari! So damn tacky. :-(

    PS. I agree with you Re: RK in Namak Haram. I know the conventional wisdom holds the Amitabh out-performed Rajesh, but I personally think he held his own and turned in a fine performance

    • She’s more covered than most of the girls now, even so! And of course you agree with me, don’t we almost always agree ;-)

      • How did I miss that reply! Wah! Bulls Eye with that observation on then vs. now.

        And the current crop can’t hold a candle to someone like Helen’s natural sense of the rhythm. Take away the hippy-hoppy choreographers and the current crop is DOOMed!

        Or maybe we are all dinosaurs who’ve convened here ;-)

  20. Read that interview of Asit Sen and Basu Chatterjee. I lost respect for both of them after reading that…they were speaking as if Rajesh Khanna’s talent as an actor saw some downfall after 1975. To put it straight..did really Rajesh Khanna have any downfall in 1975-78 period? PKCM,Tyaag,Bundalbaaz,Chakravyuha….all of them had nice & superb acting by him, Infact Samanta did not picturize Parbat Ke Peeche from Mehbooba properly and J Om Prakash was responsible for not having planned which scene was pending to be taken..this can be noticed in AHBK. If commercial success eluded him in that period does that mean he was really bad actor? From Amardeep followed by Aanchal,Bandish,Prem Bandhan, Fiffty Fiffty,Dhanwan, Ashanti, Dil E Nadaan etc.. so again he had hits in 80’s. Post her mairrage to Dharm in 1980, Hema Malini has had hits only opposite Rajesh Khanna in films Bandish, Dard, Rajput, Hum Dono, Babu.With Exception of Chaltapurza, Janta Hawaldar and AHBK, all of rest Khanna films were good films which flopped in 76-78. Khanna’s each films is distinct from other films and yes his role were effective too. Even in mid 80’s the films he did with Tina Munim and Padmini Kolhapuri were not some bad films. Naya Kadam, Souten ,Insaaf Main Karoonga, Masterji, Nazrana had good storyline. Infact Adhikaar is regarded as a classic. Asit Sen’s statement was as if Khanna was just a Rajendra Kumar who had to depend on a singer or that Khanna was simply a Biswajeet,Joy Mukherjee?How can anyone say his superstardom was a fluke? He has 105 solo hero films,though only 98 are released films and just 21 2hero films,That proves and speaks volumes. May be such irresponsible statements by directors made media go anti Khanna.So many central lead hero character he has done. Only Sivaji Ganeshan has more number of solo films than Rajesh Khanna.

    • I didn’t see anywhere that Basu Chatterjee said he was a bad actor, did I read a different article? He even said that he hadn’t found the rumors about the difficulties in working with him to be true and that he got more done in two hours than everybody else did in eight.

      • Basu Chatterjee spoke nicely than others but him saying ” I cannot comment on his earlier success because I have not seen most of his films. But I have seen Aavishkar which didn’t run, while Premnagar, a mediocre performance, was a super hit” did annoy me. But yes instead of Basu iam actually more angry at Hrishikesh Mukherji and Asit Sen. Its true that directors were responsible for failure of his films in 1976-78 period as J Om Prakash was expected to take care of continuity factor in the massively hyped (in pre release period) AHBK , Bhappie Sohnie could have made Chaltapurza much better and it could then become as big hit as a Don and Janata Hawaldar would have been another Anand too. With exception of these 3 films rest of the films from 1976-78 needed box office success as Superhit. Even Naukri had him giving a very nice performance ..isnt it? Asit Sen’s comment is more insulting as he says directors have a big share in his stardom and those which were huge superhits were not thanks to Khanna but directors and as if films which flopped were because of Khanna not performing well. In Khanna’s films he showed extreme interest in music and used to sit for music sessions and so music directors gave him the best songs which they could compose. They reserved their very best for him. Even Hrishikesh’s statement is immatured – ” I wish success had waited for Rajesh instead of chasing him. It is terribly humiliating to fall after a resounding rise. According to me, success should come steadily and failure gracefully.” Infact Naukri was a good film too which was not publicized well. If a person like Hrishida makes such statements people will easily believe him more.Khanna became superstar due to his excellent performances and daringness to accept diverse script. Though romantic hero tag was attached to him, if filmography ios observed he has done films of all genres right from 1967-1991 and has minimum of 3 releases per year from 1969-1975 and 1977-1991 as lead hero in films. Why do people don’t keep track of hits he has given in 80’s and also ignore critically acclaimed performances in 1976-1994 period? Khanna was successful even when he did hits like Aurat, BKS and plus his 15 consecutive record of blockbusters specifically excludes 2 hero films Andaz,Maryada, guest appearances and hits like Shehzada,Mere Jeevan Saathi and Choti Bahu. Rest of 7 off 9 films that flopped from 1976-78 were extremely good films which were unfortunate flops.

  21. > it is one of only two songs, the other being the theme throughout as Amit is on the run.
    @Greta, and why haven’t we been treated to the said “theme muzak” while we read yet another great review of yours ;-)
    Go on Greta, indulge us readers. Theme Muzak please.

  22. I think I found it, or have I?

    Is this the right one, Greta?

  23. From the picturisation of the song above, I can see that the director had indianised “Thirtynise steps” quite nicely. In fact, I recall reading the review of this movie in a Hindi weekly magazine. My opinions of Hindi movies those days were formed by the reviews appearing in this magazine. The reviewer had opined that Hrishikesh Mukherji has nicely transformed the story to Hindi movie situuations- “Hindiya Diya” was the phrase that the reviewer had coined to describe this movie.

    From the above picturisation of the song , I feel that this is a movie that I will enjoy watching.

    • You mean Basu Chatterjee? I’m not sure how successful the transition was story-wise, but certainly it’s a film worth watching—let me know what you think if you do see it!

  24. Mazaland…LOL…the land where everyone goes to have fun (maza)!!!!!!!!

    Simple Kapadia as Nandita looks really sweet here…in this movie she actually reminded me of the 1970’s Moroccan singer Aziza Jalal, whose fashion statement was her ginormous pair of eyeglasses…

    …by the way, Greta didi, you and Suhan bhai are not the only ones who are fascinated with Rajesh Khanna’s chest hair…I love it toooo!!!!!!!!

    Speaking of his decline in the film industry, I personally feel that Rajesh Khanna was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time; in the 70’s, he faced heavy competition from actors like Big B, Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar and even Dharmendra…plus, the 70’s was a golden age for art house films; Satyajit Ray, for example, made his only Hindi film Shatranj Ke Khiladi in 1977, and the 70’s also saw the debut and rise of filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Saeed Akhtar Mirza…so basically, with the advent of a new wave of cinema in addition to the fierce competition in commercial cinema, Rajesh Khanna was really put in a highly-challenging era…then, in the 80’s, Indian commercial cinema, on the whole, underwent what is popularly known as a “dark phase”, and the no-longer youthful Rajesh Khanna was dragged along downwards as well, save for an occasional outstanding performance like Mohan Kumar’s Avtaar (1983), but even then, art house cinema began to flourish while commercial cinema deteriorated…to this day, i still wonder whether Rajesh Khanna’s career would have turned out different if he tried his hand in parallel cinema, despite having equally fierce competition from Naseruddin Shah, Om Puri, Saeed Jaffrey, Anant Nag and Girish Karnad etc…

    …I’d really love to give this film a try…it is, after all, a Basu Chatterjee film…

    • Suhan bahen ;-) Yay—it’s good to know we are not alone! I think he did try his hand at “parallel” cinema, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But he was always going to be measured against his heady success of the early 70s and that would have been difficult to reach again…

  25. Yes, memsaab. I saw this film yesterday om T series VCD too and really rate it very high as a comedy cum- suspense – chase caper starring a very understated Rajesh Khanna and voluptuous Neetu Singh
    ( confined to first and last half hours though).

    I really liked the non-stop action without the usual silly comedy tracks or love songs once the chase begins in earnest.

    (You also missed to mention that very hilarious incident of a village housewife who wants RK for the night but RK wants the leftover food instead!)

    An earnest movie after a long time from Basu chatterjee stables that I saw..( Despite the glaring goof-up about the size of red diary!)

  26. Just came across this review while looking for some details on Chakravyuha. Well, I was part of the generation that grew up on RK and that was truly a magical phase when the entire nation was hooked on to him. Still maintain that there is nobody today or since the RK phase who can come remotely close to that kind of adulation! The man was something else. He sure pepped up our lives!!

  27. Echoing Ace, above. On the evidence of Chakravyuha and Kudrat, there was a phase when RK was also in far better shape physically than I remembered. I had always imagined that part of his flops issue was the lack of a good hair stylist and too much butter chicken. In fact, in both C and K, he remains incredibly attractive. Have also had a rethink on the general appeal of his performances post-70s. Like Ace, no question that the magical phase was just that. But RK is so good in C and K, among others, that I have started to wonder about the public that collectively spurned him. In RK’s case, can an obverse compliment be made, on top on his obvious accolades: that no other Bollywood star has had so many undeserved flops. Somewhat belatedly, it certainly seems that way to me these days, and I am by no means one of his Topix-heads. Why not put the onus on the public: it wouldn’t be the first time we were wrong.

    • I don’t love all his films, but I do love Mr. Khanna :) LOL at the “Topix-heads”—some of my best friends are Topix-heads, ha ha! I think some of his best performances probably were after he was freed from the “superstar” mannerisms he had to don (and before he donned them too).

      • Yeah, what a trap those mannerisms turned out to be. Remember the BBC doc Superstar, where on the set of Aap Ki Kassam, he showed off his patented smiley nod(TM) on camera? Yet, just as you’ve noted, he did liberate himself for many post-Superstar movies, and they are, no question, great performances. We, online now and liberated from the tyranny of the cinema box office of his day, can appreciate them. Hit or flop almost seems incidental. Except, for me, one mystery: in all these years, why hasn’t Bollywood given RK at least one breakout comeback role in a mainstream movie. Plenty of well-attended award ceremonies for RK and low-budget comeback attempts, no big roles. I would have thought Yash-Raj studios might have pulled this one off for him, just one more time. For old times sake, no matter what happened between them. A bit empty, Aaj ke log. Or was it ever thus? I wretch at Amitabh-Jaya reprises, but RK and Sharmila: I would even settle for a ‘My Dinner with Andre’-style filmed encounter between the two. Come on, someone, reunite them, before it’s too late. You could make one hell of a bittersweet love story that spanned the story of all of us from the Seventies, then and now.

  28. Well, it is kinda sad to see what happened to RK after the dream run till the mid-70s. I remember reading some film magazine saying that he sort of lost his confidence when the public turned its back to him. There was no question that the ease of his performances in the superstar period was just not there in the ‘down’ phase that followed. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that strong supports like Sharmila and Mumtaz were no longer around. He was still outstanding in Chakravyuha, Palkon ki Chaon Mein, Rajput and Akhir Kyon. It’s a pity that not too many people raved about his performances then but c’est la vie!

  29. The film’s plot is bizarre but RK’s underplaying is quite brilliant. The other occasion where he did it so effortlessly was in Namak Haram

  30. Rajesh’s “Welcome Mat”??????? lol
    I don’t care for chest hair myself-the only flaw I see in Rajesh and Shashi are the chest hair…But to each his own..:-)

  31. Thanks for the lovely review. I have to agree with @raja for everything he said about ‘Rajeshitis’, growing up in the same time period and then not really following RK as much. I have been catching up with Rajesh Khanna movies but missed this one for some reason. I sometimes wonder why RK never tried a pure comedy, he is hilarious in the episode with the milkman and with the carnival motorcycle scene! And yes, memsaab count me as one who loves a bare-chested RK! That man was sexy as hell, the eyes, beautiful hands (see Avishkar!).

  32. Rajesh khanna had many hits during the 80s but somehow never got the credit for it. Director F.CMehra said thathis film “Ashanthi” had a 27 week run in Mumbai but there were no celebrations. Since kaka had antagonised the press, even moderately succesful films were labelled flops.

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