Its music became the anthem of the youth, that wonderful category of audiences who often decide the fate of a film at the box office. For this Yash Chopra production, music director Rajesh Roshan, in a departure from his image, came up with a score that was peppy, cheery and throbbed with life. Not replete with his trademark melodious compositions, this one was a teaser with Lata Mangeshkar letting herself go in songs like “Nazron se keh do pyar mein milne ka mausam aa gaya” and “Chal kahin door nikal jayen”. When a super hit song like “Ankhon mein…kaajal hai” is relegated to the third slot and “Aao manaye jashn-e-mohabbat” not even talked about, it says all that needs to be said about Roshan’s music. As indeed it does about Majrooh Sultanpuri, a passionate Progressive poet and a reluctant lyricist who adapted ably to action-packed 70s with unforgettable lyrics in films like “Yaadon ki Baarat”, “Hum Kisise Kum Nahin” and, of course, “Doosra Aadmi”.

Lilting music, cheery lyrics, peppy songs…shouldn’t “Doosra Aadmi” have been a roaring hit at the box office? More so in an age when a successful music score meant half the battle won. Well, “Doosra Aadmi” won only half the battle. Its subject of a widow looking for love and gratification in another man was, well, beyond the easy acceptance of the generation which happily accepted ‘doosra janam’ phenomenon of “Karz” and the clearly stretched tales of ‘naag-nagin’ in sundry forgettable sagas. The film suffered. And director Ramesh Talwar, who had been assisting Yash Chopra for many years before this film, was left to explain the sorry performance despite super hit music, big stars and ambitious banner.

Talking of stars, the film’s romantic couple, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, had everything going for them. They were the stuff of gossip magazines, Rishi’s career had taken off like a breeze post-Bobby, Neetu with her happy, lively girl next door image presented an alternative to the larger than life image of stars like Zeenat Aman, Rekha and Hema Malini. She was the stuff the female audiences could relate to and also the girl guys could think of take home to meet their mother. And Raakhee, in an author-backed role of the widow who falls in love with a man who reminds her of her husband (Shashi Kapoor in a cameo) had by then begun to be taken as a serious actress, an image that also meant that younger girl roles were beyond her in the cliché-ridden industry.

Here as Nisha, a woman who gets attracted to a younger man who already has a lady love by his side (Rishi and Neetu as Karan and Timsi) Raakhee brings up the anchor. The younger lovers get to tap their feet to lively tracks, she gets all the emotional scenes where she proves her mettle. It is quiet dignity she retains all through, even in the songs where Rishi is all over and she merely half-walks, half-jaunts behind him. Of course, it suited Raakhee well too considering she was never suspected of having anything other than two left feet when it came to dancing.

So far so good. Where the director fluffed was when rather than going ahead with the romance of an older woman with an only-too-willing younger man, he opted for the heroine taking a more timid way of opting out after a session with a friend – Parikshat Sahni’s projection of an agony uncle as “achcha dost”. For the discerning though, there is a hint in Majrooh’s words in the song, “Chal kahin door nikal jayen”. The song ends with Raakhee’s character singing, “Achcha hai sambhal jayen”. More is the pity. If only Talwar had gone for the jugular, “Doosra Aadmi” would have been remembered for his brave work rather than merely for his half stabs at serious provocation. The way the film plays out, “Doosra Aadmi” remains to this day a film with a storyline well ahead of its times, a music score that defies the limitations of age and time. And a leading star cast that survived all the men and women who masqueraded as their competitors.

Genre: Romance/ Family Drama

Director: Ramesh Talwar

Cast: Raakhee, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Deven Verma, Parikshat Sahni, Gita Siddharth, Shashi Kapoor, Javed Khan, Jagdish Raj, Kiran Vairale

Story: Raju Saigal

Written by: Sagar Sarhadi

Music director: Rajesh Roshan

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Trivia: Raakhee was nominated for the Filmfare Award 1978 for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film. Nutan was the only other actor nominated for both the categories for the films “Saudagar” (1974) and “Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki” (1979).