April Fool (1964)

aprilfool_title

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).

aprilfool_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?”

aprilfool_patriotism

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.

aprilfool_sisters

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.

aprilfool_alleyes

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.

aprilfool_love

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.

aprilfool_decor

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.

BUT.

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.

aprilfool_belaterror

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.

aprilfool_whattodo

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.

aprilfool_dead

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.

aprilfool_rita

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.

aprilfool_birthdaycake

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.

aprilfool_lalpari

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.

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37 Comments to “April Fool (1964)”

  1. Yes, I found this one to be quite bad as well!

  2. The only thing I remember about this movie is the title song sung by Rafi. Remarkably, I remember having seen it although I was only about 3 years old at the time.

  3. I liked this movie

  4. Oooooh, you’re back and in great form! I loved the part about ‘Topmost official of Secret News’. :) Thank you for taking one for the team. I don’t much like Biswajeet or Saira, and with not even good songs to make life worthwhile, I’ll give this a pass, and read your review once again.

  5. It’s soooo bad that it’s good! How can you not like the synchronized swimmimg sequence or the Mera Naam Rita Christina song with Saira Banu doing the ‘bad’ girl bit?!

    • I DID like the synchronized swimming. Forgot about the Rita Christina song, it was pretty good. But it was just too disjointed and random for me to really like, plus the leads…ugh.

  6. I saw this years ago on Doordarshan, and have never wanted to watch it again (I think you can guess why). But, to be honest, this one, when it comes to spy thrillers, pales into comparison with another Biswajeet-starrer, Kahin Din Kahin Raat. Have you seen that one yet, Greta?

  7. Oh, I must watch it. It looks hilarious. I don’t really like Biswajeet though.

  8. I really love the song “Meri Mohabbat Pak Mohabbat” from this movie.

    • All the songs sounded pretty much the same to me, and all of them involved Biswajeet trying to imitate Shammi and failing, and both of them wrapping themselves around plants. Or running up (and rolling down) hills. DISASTER for me :)

  9. Awwww… I LIKED the songs, even listen to them from time to time on youtube. But you are spot on about the movie. It was SO horrid. I watched it on big screen as a kid and remember enjoying it. My memory retained only the prelude to April Fool Banaya song – with Biswajeet pretending to get an electric shock and passing out. Maybe children have filters in their head to keep out the boring stuff and pick up the fun ones. My good memories of the movie have been duly washed away. The CSP was so tiresome and everything else so choppy and boring that I never want to see the movie again, despite it belonging to my favorite decade.

    • Yes, CHOPPY and BORING describe it perfectly. I did rewatch the synchronized swimming scene a few times, just for the sheer WTF-ery. And the subtitles were pretty funny at times. But it’s gone in the coaster pile :)

  10. I suffered through this a child in the 80s and STILL remember the synchronized swimming and Saira/Lata screeching “mera naam Rita Christina yai yai ya.” Guess Mom and Dad didn’t love me as much as I thought. :-D I’ll take B-grade crack like “Kahin Aar Kahin Paar” any day over this A-list pablum.

  11. Obviously I have to watch this now.

  12. April fool had all those things that makes a good entertainment movie those days like songs and action.

  13. Great your back after a very long time😇😇 I’m a big fan of your blog you are my inspiration for blogging I hope you continue 👍

  14. Saira. Banu has. Worn some truly gorgeous scares in this film. Rich crepes with sequins or Kashmiri work. I saw the movie recently to screenshot some of them. My Mother also remembers her sprees being a rage when the movie was released.

    • Yes, and her outfits as “Rita” were pretty spectacular too. Her mother Naseem Banu is credited with her wardrobe design at the beginning. She isn’t a favorite actress of mine, but she always looks very stylish!

  15. What a pleasant surprise to notice that you are back. This well deserved long break has done you a world of good, I am sure.

    I judge a movie by its songs, and by that judgement, I think that the movie is alright. The title song-“april fool banaaya” got a new lease of life in 1980s thanks to its inclusion in a scene in “Andha Kaanoon”(1983) involving Hema Malini and Rajnikant (playing siblings, where the brother outwits his police inspector sister).

  16. Great to see your review after a long time. I have been reading your blog regularly for several years and enjoy reading your past posts again and again. I am surprised you did not like the song ‘aa gale lag jaa’. This is one of my top favorite Rafi solos and one of the best compositions by Shankar-Jaikishan. However, its filming was extremely poor. I had expected to see the hero singing it in Kashmir or Switzerland. Saira Banu looks gorgeous in the film. I mostly watch the ’60s films for their songs, and I was not disappointed by this film.

  17. Yes Asif I completely agree with you, its hard to believe someone disliking “A Gale Lag Ja” and claim to be music enthusiast, it’s one of Rafi’s finest sung song, and this is one of those which no other singer can imagine to imitate.

  18. @Rana. Just because someone does not share your views about certain songs does not make him/her lesser music enthusiast. One can diasgree with others without seeking to run them down.

  19. Memsaab, I could not respond to your Facebook reply on my comment as I had to disable my account due to business requirement and for the fact that I got a ban of 30 days from Facebook.

    Rest assured, I love your views and indepth and humorous views on Hindi Cinema. Please do keep it coming :)

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