Lord I love Indian spy films from the 1960s, but make no mistake about it: this is a bad movie. Since I expected that going in, I was not disappointed, and in fact was delighted to find a decent level of (possibly inadvertent) hilarity. I will share those gems here so that you can give the painfully awkward and sparkless Biswajeet/Saira Banu pairing, the boring songs, and the disaster that is the plot(s), a miss.
Ashok (Biswajeet) is the ne’er-do-well prankster heir to a fortune who lives with his Chachaji (Shivraj) and cousin-brother. We know he’s a prankster because April 1 is his favorite day and he does things like tell his brother that it’s his birthday so that he’ll give him money. One day his exasperated uncle tells him to grow up and the next thing we know Ashok is on a plane to India where he plans make himself into a man while pretending to be poor.
At the airport in India, he meets Mr. Lal (Jayant) who switches his briefcase for Ashok’s identical one when he realizes nefarious people are after him. Ashok gives chase and ends up saving Mr. Lal’s life, although the bad guys get away with Ashok’s meager belongings (seriously, he brings no luggage, just that very slim briefcase).
In any case, Mr. Lal gives Ashok a job at his somewhat mysterious office. Whatever he does, we understand that Lal is a very very patriotic man who hangs large maps of India on every wall he can find. His security measures seem lax to me, however, since he hires Ashok after asking him only one question: “Why did you come to India?”
Lal has two daughters, Madhu (Saira) and Tanu (Nazima). Madhu is the older responsible one, Tanu the irrepressible younger one. I am thrilled to see Nazima and she brightens every scene she is in.
Lal has arranged for a friend’s son (also named Ashok) to come and have a look at Madhu as a prospective bride, but that Ashok has never arrived. So when Lal sends his new employee Ashok to his house on an errand, a misunderstanding ensues. And also, love immediately blossoms as Tanu and her friends watch from behind the greatest room divider that has ever graced a home.
Any semblance of plot disappears for a solid 45 minutes of Biswajeet and Saira running around in various gardens, hugging trees (LITERALLY) and (Biswajeet) pretending to be Shammi Kapoor. The songs by Shankar-Jaikishan are very run-of-the mill, and I fast-forward through much of this.
Ashok realizes early on that Madhu believes him to be someone else, and goes to somewhat tortured lengths to maintain the charade. This makes up the intolerably stupid CSP, with I.S. Johar and Chand Usmani lending their support and a marvelously decorated mansion.
But naturally, Madhu discovers the truth eventually. She is mad for about ten minutes before forgiving Ashok, and Lal gives them his blessing as well.
Lal discovers that the enemy, a man named Monto (Sajjan), has infiltrated his organization (shocking, considering his security meas…oh wait). We know Monto is really horrible because we are forced to watch as his henchmen (including Shetty, Ratan Gaurang and Rajan Haksar) try to torture answers out of poor Bela Bose by slapping her unconvincingly and poking her with a metal tube, also unconvincingly.
Much agonizing over what to do about Monto’s cleverness ensues, and Lal spends a long stretch of time leafing through books while a mysterious voice on tape drones on and on at him about how dire the situation is. But at last he hits upon his answer in one of those books.
He will do as some unnamed patriot did during WWII, and sacrifice his daughter, who is busy planning her wedding to Ashok. This is clearly an agonizing decision because he smokes a cigar and frowns for a few minutes.
He sits Madhu down and she bravely if tearfully agrees to sacrifice her love in order to help. She breaks up with Ashok over the phone, sending him into a tailspin, and embarks on a plan to ensnare Monto. This involves throwing herself in his path as “Rita” which she accomplishes by jumping out of a BEST bus right in front of Monto’s car, pretending to be hit. We also find out what Mr. Lal’s official title is, and I fall over laughing.
Then Monto is introduced to Madhu via her birthday party (and OMG, is this not the best Patriotic Birthday Cake ever?! A Chinese soldier getting sliced through with a be-ribboned knife!). I love everything about this cake SO MUCH. It makes everything I’ve sat through thus far worth it.
Convinced that Rita and Madhu are two different people, Monto embarks on a plan to use Rita to get the Secret News from wily Topmost Officer Mr. Lal. This is complicated by Ashok’s ongoing stalking-wooing of Madhu, of course, which culminates in a spectacle I cannot really describe. I’ll just say it includes a gori synchronized swimming team, Saira in a gold swimsuit dog-paddling and backstroking, and my pal Ted Lyons with his bandmates.
Can Madhu/Rita spoil Monto’s terrible plot to steal the Secret News? Or will Ashok ruin everything and get Madhu in big trouble?
I think this covers all the best things about April Fool. If you choose to sit through it anyway don’t say I didn’t warn you.