(I am not out of my mind, I am a) Rajput (1982)

So proclaims Bhanu Singh (Vinod Khanna) in English at about two hours into this epic, leading me to reflect that if I’ve learned nothing else from Hindi movies, I do know that an unhinged mind and a Rajput heritage are not as mutually exclusive as he thinks. Still, this is possibly my favorite line ever spoken in the history of movies, with the bonus of an unnecessary but hilarious subtitle: “I am not insane, I am a Rajput!”

Actually, the subtitles are one of my favorite things about this movie, and there are a lot of favorite things.

rajput_subs

(Side note: halfway through screen capping for this post, my original dvd with the crazy subtitles died, and I had to replace it with the more sedate Shameroo version. All good things must end.)

Unsurprisingly, everyone in this film is named Singh and they are all very angry and vengeful people. There is a lot of posturing and threatening, with popping neck veins and bristling luxurious (fake) moustaches on order, and of course coming from me this is not a criticism.

rajput_angry

It actually makes sense, given the violence inherent in even the most benign and happy of circumstances (for the general non-Rajput population anyway)—here, childhood friendship and a wedding day.

rajput_memories

What makes this film stand apart for me is how much love and care there is between people despite their many problems. It isn’t all testosterone-fuelled fighting like other movies of its ilk; it is really a film about relationships. Brothers, fathers, sons, daughters, lovers, neighbors: all are linked together in a myriad of ways and in general (with one exception) people try to do the right thing by each other.

Even the requisite feuding fathers (Om Shivpuri and Rehman, respectively) of brothers Bhanu and Manu (Dharmendra) and Janaki (Hema Malini) operate with a basic level of respect for one another, although sadly it does lovers Manu and Janaki no good at all.

But:

rajput_ranjit

The mayhem perpetrated by the villainous Maharajah Jaipaul Singh (Ranjit), who refuses to acknowledge that his kingdom now belongs to Mother India, pretty much ruins everybody’s lives. He commands a gang of dacoits led by Kallu Singh (Mohan Sherry) who rape, pillage, murder and ravage the countryside. Bhanu loses the girl he loves (the very beautiful Ranjeeta Kaur) to the Maharajah after he rapes her and sets her up as his concubine (she bears Jaipaul a son whom she names Bhanu, sweetly enough).

Manu loves Janaki, but as I said, their fathers hate each other, and her father’s best friend (Iftekhar) has an eligible son by the name of Dhirendra (Rajesh Khanna) who also falls for her. She is duly married off to Dhirendra, but only after she and Manu have spent a night together with the result that she too becomes pregnant.

rajput_motherhoods

Jaipaul Singh sees Janaki in passing one day, and sends a proposal of marriage to her father who angrily—and quite rightly—rejects it as unsuitable, the king being too old and she already promised to Dhirendra. Furious, the rejected Maharajah orders his nephew (Tej Sapru) to kidnap her from the wedding procession taking her to her new house. He grabs her, but Manu (following the procession himself hoping to get Janaki back) manages to kill the nephew after Janaki falls from his horse. Dhirendra arrives on the scene thinking that she has been raped by the nephew, who has fallen on top of Janaki’s injured body.

This drama takes place accompanied by a mournfully beautiful song that I love (“Doli Ho Doli Jab”), and it is spectactularly shot—as is the whole film, really. The cinematography throughout is gorgeous.

rajput_doli

Manu for some unfathomable reason is sent off to life in prison for murder (I suppose because it’s the king’s nephew, although the killing seems perfectly justified to me and Dhirendra—who is a policeman—knows he saved Janaki’s life).

Khair, it’s a piddly detail and gets Manu out of the way. Dhirendra leaves Janaki at his parents’ house to recover from her trauma. When she goes to his house a few weeks later and confesses to Dhirendra that she is already pregnant, he assumes that it’s a result of the wedding day “rape” by her assailant (she does not enlighten him). He tells her that it doesn’t change his wanting her for a wife, and that he will accept the child—which he does, when it is born.

rajput_childlove

In revenge for his nephew’s death, the king sends his dacoits to burn down Manu’s home: his father is killed, but Bhanu manages to escape. Fed up and with nothing left to lose, he takes a group of village volunteers to form his own gang under the guise of Bhavani (for the goddess Bhavani); they will devote their efforts to fighting the king and his dacoits.

Years pass. Janaki grows to love the kind compassionate man she married (and Manu selflessly helps her recognize what great qualities his rival has), and they dote upon “their” son Virendra. Dhirendra moves up the ranks of the police to become Superintendent, and gradually realizes that the dacoits who continue to terrorize the area are connected to the king. Bhavani and his gang make life for the king as miserable as they can, looting his wealth and redistributing it to his victims, and the king’s daughter Jaya (Tina Munim) returns home after years in a boarding school abroad.

rajput_years

One day Dhirendra recognizes a prisoner on a chain gang he passes as Manu, the man who saved his wife on that long-ago wedding day, and he pulls strings to get him released from prison. Manu discovers that his home is gone and his brother has disappeared, and he is told that Kallu Singh was responsible for killing his father. Pretty soon Manu is yet another thorn in Jaipaul Singh’s side as he begins killing the king’s dacoits (and reaping the rewards for them from the police); and Dhirendra invites Manu to stay in a room adjacent to his own home with Janaki and (unbeknownst still to Dhirendra) Manu’s son.

rajput_manu

Janaki wants Manu to know his son, but she is disconcerted when Manu begins showering gifts and attention on the boy. And the king, now being hunted by Bhavani, Manu AND Dhirendra and the police decides to rid himself of his enemies, which you know can only end in bloodshed and tears.

Will Dhirendra discover that Manu is Janaki’s long-lost love and the father of her baby, the child he loves as his own? Will Bhavani find love at last? Will Jaipaul Singh finally get what’s coming to him? Will his daughter discover his perfidy?

In case you can’t tell, I love this movie. Vijay Anand never disappoints me! The music, the cast and performances, it’s all good. The story moves along at a cracking pace, and most of all the characters are people you really care about. They want to be happy, the men and the women, and so they manage with the hands they are dealt. No weeping and wailing here! The women have power over their own lives to a degree not often seen in these films. They deal with tragedy and move on, and find contentment where they can. These Rajputs are people who stand by their principles (principles that for the most part I can agree with) and who stand up for each other—actually, now that I think about it, none of them are unhinged at all! You were right, Bhanu Singh. Despite the sad things that happen it’s a life-affirming kind of film.

Plus, there are lots of those sweet beautiful Marwari horses I love so much. LOTS. And…

rajput_sigh

You’re welcome.

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43 Comments to “(I am not out of my mind, I am a) Rajput (1982)”

  1. This one had a very nice Kishore song:

  2. Are you having issues with your blog, Greta? For some reason, I can only see it on one part of the screen, and my blog is also acting weird with the sidebar reinstating itself at the bottom of the page. :(

    As for this film, since it is a Vijay Anand film – not one of his best, certainly – you can certainly except that the women have agency. :) I really did like the film despite the violence and mayhem.

  3. Memsaab, it is a lovely film, and all those actors. I miss the multi-starrers. I am not insane, I am a Rajput – the beauty of madness.

  4. Ooh is it Christmas already?! 2 posts in a week Memsaab :-)

    My biggest problem with ‘Rajput’ is I don’t know WHO DID WHAT apart from the lead actors! None of the versions I have has the credits beyond the Mushir-Riaz productions and Vijay Anand bit in the beginning! Does your DVD have the end credits? Who wrote it, who did the cinematography, edit? I haven’t come across the press book either.

    I LOVE Goldie unreservedly even his 70s forays with his middle bhaiyya that no one else does! And I’ve always loved this film. It has all the Navketan hallmarks of strong women, an essential sense of justice, good music (a couple of nice songs in this film) and 3 dashing heroes instead of just the one and only (Dev saab)! The writing is careful and it’s a shame about the subtitles really despite all the joy they gave you. As I’d mentioned in Beth’s review of this some years before, the allusions to the old Indian epics (both the Ramayana and Mahabharata) are of some import e.g., Hema’s name and Dharam’s reference to it at the end of the film, Rajesh’s vow to Hema, etc.

    The clunky bits can be attributed to the extremely long time the film took to make. I believe it broke Goldie’s heart and he vowed not to direct any more given how difficult it had become to work under the multiple lead star system – one driving in to the sets while the other was driving out. And of course it flopped :-‘( I also cringed at how UTTERLY INCOMPETENT the police were but am not sure that that’s so way off the mark!

    So wonderful to see you back writing Memsaab! With all your signature touches too (the title!!). How we have missed you. Thanks so much.

    • No credits on the Shameroo version either, but much better subtitles…I’ll have to watch the whole thing again. I also as you know love Goldie’s 70s forays with his brother :D

      Would really love to know who wrote the script, because even with bad subs it is a great story and all the threads come together nicely. I’m sure making it was a nightmare given all the stars involved…but I’m so glad he did it. And thank you for welcoming me back :) I’ll try to keep going!

  5. I like “Rajput” a lot too. Visual panache is of course a given with Vijay Anand, but I thought the film also had a lot of heart. Even thought there were a number of characters/stars, it cared about the fate of all and therefore so did I. And I know I’m supposed to want for the Dharam-Hema characters to get together, but I was totally rooting for Rajesh to get the girl and the happy ending. :-)

    • Yes, me too, and I loved that convention was flouted there. I remember reading somewhere that Dharam was not happy about it, but that Goldie convinced him although I can’t remember where it was and have no way of knowing how accurate it might be :D

      But yes, lots of heart and nicely drawn characters.

  6. And here how bad wikipedia has done of this movie.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajput_(film)

  7. FYI,
    nice write up on Edwina. gives you credit too.
    A book on Edwina.
    Regards
    http://www.amazon.in/Edwina-Unsung-Bollywood-Dancer-Golden/dp/1507591217

  8. You made my day, thank you! I’ll check the site more often from now on! A

  9. Lovely review Memsaab! I had only seen the song “mere sang sang” but i guess this movie deserves a watch. Where did you find it’s DVD?

  10. This is one film I missed, considering I was a huge fan of Rajesh Khanna when I was a kid, and one of VK when this film was released! So, now I must dig it up from the archives and hear the I am not insane dialogue for myself! I believe Vijay Anand almost stopped making movies after going through a rough patch with Rajput – managing the egos of the stars involved. In fact, I don’t think he made a film after that, did he?
    Incidentally, I’ve started a blog on my experiences in the Hindi film industry (in my capacity as a journalist) in the 80s. Please take a look and leave your comments if interested.

    https://shivathekkepat.wordpress.com/
    Cheers,
    Shiva

  11. Hey Greta, great to see you blogging again with a “mast” review of Rajput. I too bought a DVD on one of my visits to India. Like all other desis I grew up on watching the Mere sang sang aaya song which for some reason was a favourite of the Bombay Doordarshan guys who aired the weekly wednesday chitrahaar (songs) program. Rajesh Khanna leading a horse with the lovely song stuck in my mind. I am with Shalini about feeling that Hema felt right with Rajesh Khanna rather than Dharam! Q- Did your husband also sit through this masala?

    • No, he did not :) He has watched a couple of films with me, but sadly finds them a bit long for his taste. I can only keep trying! although I don’t mind watching them by myself either!

  12. Hello,

    Whats the common factor between these 3 songs? :D
    1) Kare Badra Tu Na Ja Na Ja – Shikast (1953)
    2) Tera Mera Pyar Amar – Asli-Naqli (1962)
    3) Sona Rupa Laaya Re – Joshila (1973) with the perfect dans of Hema

    btw 3 movies without a review here :o

  13. A girl named Shalini. :-)

    – Met her at first time when she commented on the song from Shikast on my old YT channel.
    – She has this lovely profile picture of Sadhana from Asli-Naqli in her YT channel
    – She shares the same name as Hema in the movie Joshila.

    Happy (belated) Birthday! 29-09

    Thanks Memsaab for me going off topic for a moment. :)
    When you make a review on Joshila some day, can you post the “Sona Rupa Laaya Re”
    song in that review…afterall Joshila’s Shalini is also Karan’s auntie in white. :D

    [media]https://youtu.be/ORhb9FOnb88[/media]

    And good to see you back with your filmi blog.

  14. A very sensible film in which rajesh & dharam acted very well. Hema was pregnant at that time & it showed. Vinod khanna, I thought was wasted.

    Lovely songs, specially the one pictured on kaka. It was an average success, maybe bcos it failed to live upto the expectations.

    You can see it simply for the magnificent production values & stellar cast.

    Amit was initially approached to play dharam’s role, but that fell thro’.

  15. I stumbled upon your excellent blog with it’s unique take on these movies, many of whom I saw as either a kid or in my teens. You write very well, with the right amount of cynicism for clichéd scenes that most of these movies were wont to have. This one in particular was unique because I saw it in my early 20s when one gets a better understanding of movie BS and tries to view more objectively. Those contrivances that movie makers used to use (still do) are very vividly detailed by you. This movie was during the era of Bollywood’s sudden love for “multi-starrers” where the movie had to have Dharmendra and Rajesh Khanna and Vinod. It was very confusing. Weirdly, that Ranjeeta-Ranjit roll/rape in the hay is still etched in my presumably debauched mind!

  16. where or how d u collect those images sir/mam? i noticed that all of these images are very high definition. evn sum old movies stills are also.! amazing….

    • Thanks for noticing :D I spend a lot of time cleaning up the screen caps in photoshop when I write posts. It takes time but I think it’s worth it! Wish DVD companies cared as much about how the films they sell look…

      • though, how come those blurry dvd screen caps are so much detailed? i tried in VLC player…it was very blurry….but ur ones r very very high quality. salute u.

  17. Hello.

    This is my first time commenting here. I enjoy your perspective on old-time Hindi cinema very much.

    For a long time I was under the impression that Rajput was a J.P. Dutta film. The association came naturally to me – it has all the trademarks of his films like the Rajputs and a multi-star cast. It can make a good triple feature with Ghulami and Batwara.

  18. Actually ‘singh’ is not intrinsic with rajputs,rajputana consists of punjab,sindh,rajasthan,parts of madhya pradesh.Rajputs are chandravanshi and majority of them have distinct surnames,not al all ‘singh’.The kshatriyas of up bihar mp do have singh as surname,but they are suryavanshi and not rajputs.

  19. And my favorite line in the whole history of bollywood movies is,from ‘chinatown’,when Mike(shammi kapoor) tells madan puri,”mujhe har cheej rangeen pasand hai”.

  20. Dharmenda at his best

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