Starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Biswajeet, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz

A thick blanket of mist, an abandoned mansion with creaking doors, car breaking down in a desolate spot, a weird figure, a haunting voice…well, we have seen so many of them in suspense thrillers. “Bees Saal Baad”, “Kohra”, “Woh Kaun Thi”, “Mahal”, to name a few, left the audience shivering. This movie deals with reincarnation that had been so stunningly narrated in “Madhumati”.

The black-and-white cinema had a tremendous appeal when creating suspense thrillers. The dark shades on the screen added to the creepy sensations in theatres. It was common for someone in the audience to let out a shriek to ease the fear. Sweaty figures at the interval would confirm the success of the movie. Horror factor was paramount in such movies with a sudden gesture on the screen leaving the timid and the brave trembling inside the sweltering theatre.

Directed by Brij, “Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi” (YRPNA) was a sleek and racy depiction of a very predictable story. Biswajeet and Sharmila Tagore are central characters with Prithiviraj Kapoor, Mumtaz and Sailesh Kumar completing the cast. Prithviraj is a noted and busy archaeologist. During an excavation, he stumbles upon a so-called 2000 years old figure. A bracelet adorns the wrist of the female dancer. The other bracelet is found on the wrist of a skeleton. A story is thus born of Kiran the dancer, who is eternally searching for her Suraj.

The unseen driving force of the story holds the aces. Rita (Mumtaz) is engaged to Suraj (Biswajeet), who is a painter. Now Suraj is drawn to a mysterious Kiran, who appears and disappears, heightening the suspense around her. Is she real or just an ethereal figure? Her forced diction does not quite appeal but director Brij manages a commendable response from his characters.

Biswajeet, of the felt hat and overcoat fame, sports his innocent look well. He had debuted with a near-familiar role in “Bees Saal Baad” when a haunting voice nearly leads him to doom. If it was Lata Mangeshkar with “Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil” in “Bees Saal Baad” it is Asha Bhosle trying to woo the protagonist with “Har Tukda Mere Dil Ka” here. The spirit that revisits Suraj in the form of Kiran is too predictable. Obviously you know the curtain has to come down and expose the surreal but the director manages to hold your attention until the stunning climax.

Just when the story begins to drag, O.P. Nayyar’s music, to lyrics by S.H. Bihari, comes to the rescue with Asha belting out some unforgettable numbers like “Huzur-e- Waala Jo Ho Ijazat” (with Minu), “Yahi Woh Jagah Hai Yahi Wo Fizaayen”, “Main Shaayad Tumhaare Liye Ajnabee Hoon Magar Chaand Taare Mujhe Jaante Hain” and “Mohabbat Cheez Hai Kya”. It was an era when music influenced the success of a movie and what better combination than Asha-OP Nayyar to take it to dizzy heights.

There is a serene Mahendra Kapoor solo “Mera Pyar Wo Hai Ki Mar Kar Bhi Tum Ko” but Mohammad Rafi and Asha leave you intoxicated with “Phir Miloge Kabhi Is Baat Ka Vaada Kar Lo” and then “Aap Se Maine Meri Jaan Mohabbat Ki Hai” really whets your appetite.

Characters weave in and out of the canvas at different points to enhance your anxiety. Prithviraj Kapoor gives a towering performance as the busy archaeologist.

His class sweeps away the likes of Biswajeet and Sharmila. Towards the end you are left spellbound. It is a superbly scripted thriller and the climax is indeed startling. “YRPNA” is worth watching for this aspect; and of course the enchanting music.