Cast: Dev Anand
Bali, Kalpana Kartik
, KN Singh.
A prime example of Bollywood noir
is popularly hailed as Guru Dutt's
1st movie as director, and the 2nd
production for Dev Anand
and Navketan Films
. While viewing, we must recall that the now clichéd
story line was then among the first of its kind, addressing urban crime, and the "good guy gone bad" routine. What is worth a "dekho
" are Guru Dutt's
camera angles, some of which we will try to bring to your attention via screencaps
The movie opens with a car stopping in a small side street- a man alights and quickly enters a random building, out side of which a lookout of the gambler's den he is entering sits- the lookout turns around- and we catch Guru Dutt
in his Hitchcockian
fleeting appearance in the movie.
Inside the small-time gambler's den, the game is afoot, and we now catch sight of a young and sprightly Johnny Walker, who is one of the gamblers and will appear only in 2 scenes in this movie....
Pedro (the guy from the car) huddles close to the game being played on the floor- Madan
) carelessly smokes (you can play a drinking game to the number of time he and others light up in this movie- 2 shots for every time Dev is seen w/ a cigarette, 1 for any bad guy, 1 for any good guy :) )Madan
is a really good at his game, and Pedro invites him to Star Club, an upscale casino, where his job would be to literally cheat customers on behalf of the management. Madan isn
’t particularly enthusiastic, but Pedro drags him over regardless, to meet the "boss," but not before another cigarette...
At the Star, Lena (Geeta
Bali) is shaking things up as a dancer and singer- she gets the best songs of the movie, and she certainly looks rather adorable here..Madan
is thus tempted w/ drink and our seductress, and then is marched off to meet the boss, who operates from the shadows...(he is smoking too! 1 shot!)
Of course, even though we can’t see his face, we know from his voice, that this is none other than KN Singh, who always strikes fear in my heart :D Madan
refuses to join the racket and walks away from Star, and lands home to find his sister sick again.
He takes off to the community clinic, where he finds a new doctor has taken charge- it is Rajni
, a very young Kalpana Kartik
, who of course argues w/ Madan
at first sight, in the tradition of all good Bollywood
She manages to look really silly honestly, and I am not very impressed w/ either her looks or acting skills- Geeta
Bali was tons better.
Despite all of Madan's
- frankly idiocy, Rajni
visits his sister for free, and diagnoses tuberculosis (the killer disease of the time- equivalent to "blood cancer" in 80's Bollywood
Of course sparks then fly, and we see that Madan
are getting interested in each other as he borrows a car to drop her home.
However, between a rock and a hard place now, Madan
takes up the job at Star- and becomes a jerk! For no apparent reason explained in the plot, he begins to ridicule Rajani
at her clinic.
As he becomes a pro gambler at the Star, Lena develops a soft corner for him, and we continue to adore her, as she sways to "Tadbir se Bigdi
behaves like a jerk, Rajni
is courted (unsuccessfully) by a cop, Ramesh
, who played cop roles forever after this one)- we see some great camera work as Madan
continues to smoke,
and kidnaps Madan
(really!) for a quick song and dance-
They obviously make up, and go off to visit Madan's
sister in the sanatorium Rajni
has placed her at. They run into Rajni's
dad (KN Singh) there, whose voice Madan
recognizes as that of Star's shadowy boss, but keeps mum.
On their way back, KN Singh kicks out Madan
, whom he does not want to associate w/ Rajni
(why? a card-sharper son-in-law would help business along just fine).Ramesh
in the meantime, is suspicious of racketeering at Star, and calls Madan
over to share (what else?) a cigarette and some kindly advice to turn good....
In the meantime, KN decides to have Madan
killed off- Lena overhears his nefarious plans, and sings the lovely "Suno Gajar Kya Gaaye
," as the attraction that evening- damn I love this song!Madan
puffs away with Pedro while the plot grows thicker-
Lena follows Madan
to wherever he is at, and in true Bollywood
style, takes the bullet meant for him, dying pathetically in his arms.
Instead of getting killing himself, Madan
is implicated for Lena’s murder and thrown in jail.
He vigorously denies any involvement, until a very drunk Johnny Walker is thrown into his cell...turns out Johnny isn
’t really drunk, but has been sent by KN to Madan
with a letter.
The letter basically says that KN will bump off Madan's
sister if he doesn
’t accept the crime as his. So of course, when Rajni
comes by (the sympathetic cop (remember Ramesh
?) has called her in to meet Madan
), he asks her to leave, and confesses to Lena’s murder.Ramesh
is a good guy, and goes basically nuts by Madan's
confession- he knows Madan
is lying, and tells him so, aided by the fact that all evidence at the crime scene disagrees w/ Madan's
continues to behave like an ass and doesn
’t cooperate, to the extent that he is tried by the court and sentenced to hang.Madan
languishes in jail, Rajani
sings sad songs at home, and only Ramesh
is still out there, trying to make sense of it all (notice the window shot again- oh Mr. Dutt
- I like, I like)-
The day of the hanging is here (that was quick), and barely an hour is left to go- this is where the movie stops making sense. Ramesh
finds a notepad on which the letter to Madan
was written, threatening him. The impression from the pen on the letter is readable, and Ramesh
quickly reads through it.
Looks like KN handwrote
it, and implicated himself- wth
- you'd think a successful casino boss would have more sense- but whatever. Apparently the letter itself isn
’t proof enough, and so Ramesh
rushes to KN's
house- its late, and KN is asleep in his chair. Ramesh
wakes him in a few minutes, and tells him he has found out that KN falsely implicated Madan
for Lena’s murder. Ramesh
also congratulates him and convinces him that he is with KN in the whole deal, since Madan's
death could mean his finally getting Rajni
KN warms up to his prospective son-in-law, and confesses the entire deal, in complete detail....
And he is immediately surrounded by police, who have been eavesdropping on the whole conversation...KN goes to jail.Madan
is fine, since Ramesh
had set the clock in KN's
house an hour back when KN was asleep (where were the hired help? why did no one see him??). Madan
does serve a light sentence for racketeering at Star. Ironically, when he is released, before he hugs Rajni
, he accepts (what else?) a cigarette from Ramesh
The best songs go to Geeta
Bali rather than Kalpana
, the heroine! Which is fine by me, since Ms Bali has tons more charisma than the latter.Highlights:
1- Dev's hair has a life of its own! I llllovve it!
2- While the theme wasn't uncommon, Dutt's treatment was excellent- the movie kept me engrossed throughout. Plus the interesting shots- a lot of actors look through windows at various points of he movie with the camera capturing them from outsside; a lot of shots of people driving in a car - this was supposedly very new technique at the time, and inspired a lot of movies to do the same.
3- This was Kalpana Kartik's debut movie, and she only acted in Dev's movies from then on until they married in 1954. Makes sense.
4- This was Zohra Sehgal's 1st movie as a choreographer- she had acted in Afsar (1950) before this. Her real name was Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan- an aristocrat from a U.P. (Uttar Pradesh) Pathan family, and one of the few college educated women of the day.
5- This was Johnny Walker's debut as well (original name: Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi). A bus conductor with the Bombay local buses, he was "discovered" by Balraj Sahni, who was helping Guru Dutt write Baazi at the time.
6- This was Sahir Ludhiyanvi's 2nd movie as lyricist (there is a misconception that this was his debut vehicle too)- ironically, Sahir died in the 80s of a heart attack during a "baazi" (game of chance) of cards.