January 5, 2009


If I had spent serious time thinking about the perfect movie to watch on a drunken New Year's eve, I wouldn't have made a better choice. Puruskar is full of inane insanity, and disconnected campy madness, strung together into a clunky, terrible movie- which of course ensures I will love it forever!

Title: Puruskar
Year: 1970
Cast: Joy Mukherjee, Helen, Sapna, Faryal, IS Johar, Abhi Bhattacharya, Farida Jalal

The movie opens with Helen and Ram Kumar (stroking a jiggling Siamese cat as he runs!)

They see a woman take off into a car, crashing into flames off a cliff when she finds the brakes are gone- maybe wearing shoes that actually fit her would have helped- these look about 1-2 sizes too large.

Supposedly time passes, and we see the woman's grieving husband, played by Abhi Bhattacharya, mourning his wife, being consoled by his kohl-laden mom.

Joy Mukherjee, in a ill-fitting jumper, is Abhi's brother, and decides to jump in to vow to find his sis-in-law's murderers.

See, Joy is part of the CID, with IS Johar as his partner. Their boss briefs them about a potential enemy strike- Prof Das is constructing a WMD which can destroy buildings/vehicles from a distance via sound- the plans for the weapon are with the Prof., but ....

... the enemy knows of the plans already! The "enemy" is terribly pedestrian, and their den is lit by cheap Christmas lights with the unidentified "Boss" always behind a yellow screen- what they lack in high-tech, they make up for by using color.

What the Boss lacks in $ for decor, he has wisely invested in HR- see how intently his henchmen attend to what Faryal, one of the deputies-in-command says!

Meanwhile Prof Das (played by Bipin Gupta , I think), is at home with his decidedly ugly daughter Renu (Sapna, who never appeared in another movie).

Renu goes to bed, and the Prof is attacked by goons sent by the Boss. He makes a fight for it, but is kidnapped and taken away.

The Boss meanwhile, keeps issuing orders from behind different colored screens, while Faryal eats up his budget with fast improving fashions,..

... while Joy and IS listen in on their CID equipment. Surprisingly, their code is printed on a very sad blackboard, and their office looks like a corner of someone's living room. Plus, if they HAVE been listening in to the Boss' plans, why the heck didn't they prevent the Prof's kidnap?

Instead of prevention, they cure- they rescue the Prof and bring him home, while dressed as Frenchmen (??? I think???) Renu is looking worse to me by the second- ugh.

IS entrenches himself in the Prof's home in the guise of a holy man (there is a long and useless side story, which I will avoid) to spy on him- they suspect that the real Prof is still with the Boss and this is his evil twin (EVIL TWIN! whee!)

So IS mauls Renu and passes messages to Joy,

... while in another completely useless side story, Faryal's sister Farida (VERY cute), is in love with Raghu (Rajan Haskar, who apes THE Shashi's fashions and style badly and shamelessly). Raghu is part of the Boss' gang, but chooses not to reveal this to Farida- instead he tells her about Faryal being in the gang (so smart- ugh).

Farida gets Faryal's whereabouts from Raghu, and tries to reason with a weeping Faryal, who has now switched to sarees (!!!) for the majority of the remainder of the movie! I had never seen Faryal with so many clothes on before, so I was pleasantly surprised to find her looking really quite adorable.

More unnecessary side stories about, one of which involves IS cross-dressing as a very ugly woman :S

... While Joy romances fugly as heck Renu wearing a Shammi-hat, in a locale that I am certain is the same place that was featured in his own "Phir wohi dil laya hoon," to much better effect.

Some time later, everyone remembers they are in a spy movie, so Joy dresses up as an Arab Sheik in a club inundated with the Boss' gang, where Faryal loses the sarees and prances to a pretty forgettable song. Don't be fooled by the pic; she is wearing a nude-colored bodysuit :)

Despite the bodysuit, she borders on being supremely sleazy, and the kohl-laden male dancers are no help either- why didn't they just get Helen to do this? Faryal is v cute, but doesn't seen to carry off very skimpy clothing- too tall maybe? What do you think?

Our Faryal may be prancing, but she is smart. She drugs Joy during the dance, and holds him captive. She keeps scorpions in what looks like a plastic spice box (I am sure it is- my aunt had a similar one in the 80s I am sure) and tortures a Joy who is tied up extremely flimsily- that blue belt cant hold a baby the way its tied :D

Renu rescues Joy, and Faryal is soon after presumed killed in the skirmish. Of course Farida swears revenge...

... but Faryal is alive! and being controlled by Ram Kumar and his Siamese cat!

And we are finally granted a Helen dance, perfectly graceful and utterly gorgeous, despite the sets and song, which don't do her justice. Joy FINALLY looks utterly adorable, as he was meant to be :) They are so perfect together- she should just have been the main lead here.

EVERYONE is attending this dance- Abhi, Renu, Farida, Raghu, IS and the entire gang!

The dance done, Joy pretends to be smitten (who wouldn't be?) and earnestly begins to woo Helen, since she is presumably part of the gang. A fantabulous song ensues, less for its phonetic quality, and more for the beautifully dressed Helen-
#1- in a salwar kameez!
.. with huge fluorescent feather earrings!

#2- In full Kashmiri garb! I've never known her to look so pretty :) She and Sharmila (from Kashmir Ki Kali) could be cousins, so similar are they.

But by the end of the song, Helen realises Joy loves Renu despite the latter's fugliness, and spills her woes to Ram. They ponder- probably wondering what blind fool wouldn't be worshipping Helen this minute.

Raghu and Farida prance to their own song, which was completely not required- he keeps aping The Shash :S, but she IS brilliant.

We know that the song bodes evil, since soon after Raghu is blackmailed by the Boss to kill Faryal with a plastic machine gun.

Farida saves her sis, and this altercation seems to trigger off a series of fights which last through the end of the movie. The Prof finally begins destroying the enemy's bases with his WMDs in the enemy's own Christmas-lighted lab....

Joy goe bersek proving himself as a killing machine....

And all ends well, with Helen and Ram redeeming themselves in the end!

So who is the boss?
And what happens to Faryal?
What of Joy's Khol-laden mum?
To find out the answers to these, and other questions you really dont care about, watch it now!

1- Helen, Faryal and Farida got huge parts to play, in comparison to most movies where they get a smidgen of screen time. This was probably because the director was beginning to regret casting Sapna as the heroine of the piece.
2- The movie, messed up as it is, has every bit of masala situation possible. Everything, from lost kids at birth to "good sis bad sis," to evil twins to patriotism- you name it, they got it.
3- Joy. Looking tired, but always adorable. Its obvious that Joy was trying to employ this movie to salvage his career- Rajesh Khanna had "happened," and Joy's brand of romance was fading with the 60s- with a spy movie, I think he was trying to reinvent himself like Dharam did, but alas...
4- The camp-tastic sets and outfits.
5- Ram and his cat!

1- Sapna.
2- The messed up script, which can really cause a headache. There are endless side stories, few of which add anything to the content of the movie.
3- IS Johar was wasted (pun not intended)- he could have been used way better.

Conclusion: You have to watch the movie for Helen and Faryal- for the rest, keep a hand on the fast-forward button, and a drink at close hand!


ajnabi said...

LOL--you forgot to mention the earrings along with Helen and Faryal for reasons to watch. I'm utterly mesmerized even in a still photo!

NidaMarie said...

ROTFLOL--The comment about the shoes...and the kohl laden mom--still have me rolling!

If Helen has ample screen time, I'd like to see this. I've only seen her in a few cameos and item songs.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Ajnabi: Lol- there can be lots of good found in the movie, if we don't look too closely at the flaws :) I really think I can rewatch this movie many times- and like it better with every viewing :D

Nida: Helen gets quite some screen time- u may also want to check out Gumnaam, which she rocks.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Lola...really good way of presenting movie stuff...i really enjoyed reading this post..thanks

lapetitediva said...

Faryal is v cute, but doesn't seen to carry off very skimpy clothing- too tall maybe? What do you think?

I like the bodysuit, but perhaps she lacks the confidence to pull it off(no pun intended)? I haven't seen the movie, so I can't really judge.

Anonymous said...

Oh I want to see this, if I can find it with subs :)

Poor Sapna: you are a cruel woman, but fair.

But with that much Faryal and Helen, it can't be too bad!

Anonymous said...

ps What is the name of the Helen dance song (first one)?


The Comic Project said...

Awesome coverage. Almost felt like watching the movie, screenshots and all. Too cool.

Pros and cons are cool. Lots of posts to go through so will be back soon..and again.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Chefsecrets: Thanks!

Lapetitediva: rofl- she seems confident enough in what I've seen of her in various movies- but I guess no one quite equals Helen's grace. I do love Faryal to bits though.

Memsaab: Yeah I def didnt notice subtitles in my copy, so that may be an issue. Re: Sapna- 'tis the truth! :D That song is "yeh nashili nashili meri ankhein" (these drunken drunken eyes - heeeh)

ComicsProject: thanks! I've started reading from 2005 on ur blog- love the Phantom- esp ur 1st comic :D

Anonymous said...

Ill fitting jumpers or no - Joy Mukherjee is still gorgeous! Wonder what he looked like in 70s long hair and long sideburns - have you come across anything of his from mid-70s? Never thought about Faryal's skimpy-ability though I always think her face has such a pichka look - like she needs some cheek pads to push out her sunken cheeks!

Still, Joy and more bad science sounds like fun. And I bet the boss is Joy's brother who had his wife killed for some nefarious purpose of his own!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Bollyviewer: Joy had a mad rush of flop movies in '70, and then 3 more before he stopped making em. I havent found him in any sideburns, but you pose a wonderful quest- for Joy and Sideburns- which I will pursue! :D
And I applaud ur superior deductive abiliites :)

Nicki said...

This looks like so much fun. I love the caps and the style! Plus I've never seen a Farida Jalal film when she was younger.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Hi Nicki! Farida and the girls were adorable- its a great movie to see for just the supporting cast.