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.
With subtitles, this film might have annoyed me, but without them it is a sublimely entertaining experience from Wadia Movietone. Undistracted by the dumb plot and self-pitying dialogues, I reveled in:
the hirsute insanity of Nasir Hussain (he is UNABOMBER insane in this film!)
the drink-fuelled angsty despair of artist Sajjan
Helen’s fashions and scheming eyebrows
Feroz Khan pretending he is Shammi! (and he is so FINE, he almost succeeds)
Chitalkar Ramchandra’s fantastic songs
the plump chipmunk cheeks and flowing Kashmiri outfits (and eyeliner) of Kalpana
and the lovely scenic gardens and mountains of Kashmir itself
Had Ravikant (Ravee Kant) Nagaich ever asked me for career advice, I probably would have told him to stick to cinematography—he really does excel in that department. But as a director, he has an uncanny ability to take ingredients like this:
and make them into films which lull you into an uncomfortably bored stupor: uncomfortable because you are really justifiably afraid that if you fall asleep you will miss something truly wondrous. When I see his name in the credits, I am happy and sad. I adore Mr. Nagaich, truly, but he SO disappoints me. It’s confusing, almost as bewildering as his ability to convince audiences that his actors are dancing.
First, let me give you a brief history of the Memsaab’s relationship with this movie: “Ooh! Piece of candy! Ooh! Piece of candy! Ooh! Piece of candy!” I own about five copies of it—it has always struck me as a movie I really HAVE to see, but somehow I always manage to forget that I already have it, and I’ve seen it too. I start watching my new copy, and I’m all like: “Oh, this film again.” And I shelve it right next to all my other Ankhen dvds. This is my typically verbose way of saying that it is neither a cracktastically great film nor a terrible film, but one that seems like it ought to be one or the other. Instead it is a competently made spy film with fantastic songs (Ravi) and some eye-popping fashions but little else apparently for my memory cells at least to latch onto.
So. For days now I’ve been prancing around singing “Prooooooo-feeeeeeeee-ssor PYARE-lal!” I can’t stop, and it’s seriously beginning to make me want to kill myself. Perhaps I can purge myself of it if I write the film up and share a shortened version of the title song here to move the voodoo along. Sorry—but it’s a last-ditch effort for some peace! Hoo Haa!
On this film’s plus side are that it is an homage to (some might say stolen from) Masalameister Manmohan Desai, and it contains my Beloved Shammi with the Always Utterly Fabulous Nadira by his side, villains Amjad Khan and Jeevan, flanked by an assortment of sideys like Sudhir, Yusuf Khan and Narendranath, Dharmendra (he may be older, but he is in FINE shape), Simi, whom I inexplicably love, and the catchy (sometimes too catchy, see above) tunes by Kalyanji Anandji.