How much can music salvage a movie was demonstrated soundly in “Aap Ki Kasam” (AKK) where romance followed by a bitter break up made it a routine story. The story line was quite ordinary. A rich girl and a middle-class boy come together through circumstances created by predictable incidents and their separation is marked by one of the characters falling a victim to suspicion. Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz and Sanjeev Kumar form the trio around whom the movie is spun but lyricist Anand Bakshi and musician R. D. Burman step out of the background at frequent intervals to contribute to the pace of the movie with their splendid work.

Sunita (Mumtaz) is a fresher and Kamal (Rajesh Khanna) a senior. Both were in the twilight of their careers as leading artists and hardly fitted the role of students. That they managed to deliver spoke for their calibre. The romantic banter leads to Sunita and Kamal falling for each other as the story takes a leap out of college into matrimony at a rapid speed with songs like “Suno kaho kaha suna” and “Paas nahi aana” lighting up the wonderful emotions that Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz brought to their characters when together.

Kamal is a doting husband. Sunita is equally warm. Lilting numbers like “Karvaten badalte rahe saari raat hum” and “Jai jai shiv shankar”, an anthem song for revellers, show them at their best, the latter particularly. The marriage is on a blissful track when Mohan (Sanjeev Kumar) enters the scene. He is Kamal’s friend and helps him find a job and house. A couple of incidents, quite innocuous though, sow the seeds of suspicion in Kamal’s mind. He begins to doubt Sunita’s fidelity without making an effort to understand their relationship. The sight of a stranger slipping out of his house misleads Kamal further and the subsequent breakup gives the story a new twist.

In a remarkable scene, where Rajesh Khanna, his anger simmering, confronts Mumtaz, the director, J. Om Prakash, brings out the performer in both. Mumtaz brings compelling expressions to her countenance as her initial disbelief at being doubted by her husband is transformed from anguish to fury in a flash. This remains the standout moment of the movie apart from the song “Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jate hain jo maqaam”. In a sombre depiction, Kamal is shown to experience the various seasons of a life, transforming from a repentant young husband to an old man, wandering aimlessly before providentially stumbling upon an announcement in a newspaper that takes him back into time; back to his relationship with Sunita.

It transpires that Sunita, pregnant with Kamal’s child at the time of separation, requests Mohan to trace her former husband, needed to bless his daughter. Kamal meets Mohan to know of his daughter’s wedding but opts to stay in the background. At the venue, a fire breaks out and Kamal saves his daughter at the cost of his life.

The director could not have conjured a different end to the movie since Sunita had married again to raise her daughter.

Released in a year that also saw movies like “Benaam”, “Heera Panna”, “Kora Kagaz”, “Majboor”, “Roti Kapda aur Makan”, “Kasauti” and “Haath ki Safai”, riding on the strength of the Kaka-Mumu pair, AKK became a big hit essentially due to its stirring music. Mumtaz came up with one of her best romantic performances but looked out of sync when agreeing to a double-meaning anecdote as a women’s hostel inmate. Another cheap interaction between the leading pair was an insult to their image as quality actors.

The redeeming feature of AKK was Mumtaz, a stunning 27 during the making of this movie that confirmed she was at her best when paired with Rajesh Khanna. The movie had Rehman, Asrani, Ranjeet, A.K Hangal, Jr. Mehmood, Dina Pathak and Jaishree T in fleeting roles.

It was essentially Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna, not to forget Sanjeev Kumar coming up with an impactful performance despite a short part in the movie. But for Mumtaz and the songs, AKK may well have turned out to be a forgettable venture.

Aap ki Kasam

Genre: Romantic drama

Director: J. Om Prakash

Cast: Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz, Sanjeev Kumar, Rehman, Dina Pathak, Jayshree T, Ranjeet, A. K. Hangal, Murad, Jr. Mehmood, Asrani, Keshto Mukherjee

Story: Raju Saigal

Screenplay: Ram Kelkar

Dialogue: Ramesh Pant

Music director: R. D. Burman

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

Box office status: Successful

Trivia: The film is a remake of a Malayalam 1970 film “Vaazhve Mayam” directed by K. S. Sethumadhavan.