It is almost an hour into the movie that Tina Munim makes an appearance, in a bridal dress, a coy village girl forced into marrying an elderly person in absentia, seemingly lost on the flight to London. It was a pleasing debut by one of the most beautiful faces that Dev Anand introduced as a filmmaker with amazing vision. Dev Anand always claimed that she was special.
Tina had approached Dev Anand as a 16-year-old, seeking an autograph, before she was picked to play the role of Gauri in “Des Pardes”. Having made an early impression on Dev Anand, ever ready to launch a young lady, Tina made an impact in her first movie, her transformation from a village girl to a pub waitress, frolicking in a barrel of beer, was natural. It not only spoke of her acting skills but also left Dev Anand in no doubt that she was headed for bigger feats in a most competitive industry.
“Des Pardes” dealt with the subject of illegal immigration. It was a burning issue during the 70s when youngsters, driven by an ambition to make money, took enormous risks at the behest of corrupt agents and explored a future in distant lands. United Kingdom attracted the youth from India, especially Punjab, and this movie concentrated on one such family among many where a member of the family leaves the shores of India with a promise to improve their lives. London is the home away from home for Samir Sahni (Pran) as he toils to eventually own a pub. But a scheming partner Gurnam (Ajit) and his wife Silvia (Bindu) plot Samir’s murder in their quest to snatch the pub’s ownership. Veer (Dev Anand) is Samir’s younger brother. He arrives in London to search for his missing brother and eventually unravels the truth with the help of Gauri.
It was on a flight that Dev Anand struck upon the idea of making this film as he read a story on illegal immigrants. Issue-based stories always caught his imagination and here was a subject that begged attention. He picked locations after some extensive research and came up with a delightful movie. Dev Anand did not compromise with the pace of the movie which moves from a village in Punjab to the fashionable streets of London with Kishore Kumar’s “Khushiyan yahin pe milengi hame re” focussing on some excellent shots of Indian immigrants in various spots of London.
The movie is spun around a pub. Since it was not possible to hire a pub for long shooting sessions, Dev Anand reportedly scouted around London before he identified The Prospect of Whitby, a traditional pub which boasted of customers like Charles Dickens and Paul Newman. A perfectionist to the core, Dev Anand managed to create a replica of the pub in a Bombay studio to do justice to the subject. The array of actors that Dev Anand lined up contributed to the success of the movie. From Pran, Shreeram Lagoo, A. K. Hangal, Ajit, Mehmood, Bindu and Sujit Kumar to Jankidas, Bharat Kapoor, Prem Chopra and Tom Alter, he had established stars from the industry coming together.
One striking aspect of the movie was Amjad Khan in a cameo as Buta Singh, an illegal immigrant on the lookout for quick money. His is a negative role, nowhere close to the dreadful Gabbar Singh of “Sholay”, but a precursor to some comic ones he was to enact later. Amjad is at such ease. Dev Anand, as director, shares screen space with the rest, giving Tina Munim ample freedom. She takes on the camera with the confidence of a veteran. She earned encouraging reviews from her debut and went on to figure as leading lady opposite some big names in the industry, notably Rajesh Khanna.
Tina Munim’s fresh presence, including the bikini-clad beer-barrel sequence, endeared her to the audience even as Dev Anand patted himself for giving his fans one more girl to dream about. “A sparkling glass of red wine, naughty, mischievous and frivolous, a cute girl that everyone was fond of. She was quite shy, but when she gave her shots, the camera loved her,” Dev Anand wrote of Tina Munim.
Rajesh Roshan’s music, the title song particularly, was an outstanding component of the film. “An inspired music track” was how Dev Anand described it. Songs like “Nazar lage na saathoyo” and “Tu pee aur jee” were peppy and became popular. “Nazrana bheja kisine pyaar ka”, “Jaisa des waisa bhes” and “Aap kahen aur hum na aaye” did not lag. It was Tina’s film as much as the rest. An autograph seeking act catapulted this gorgeous girl to become one of the leadings actors of her time. She could not have asked for a better debut than the one against the most romantic and dapper heroes of all time.
Director: Dev Anand
Cast: Dev Anand, Pran, Tina Munim, Indrani Mukherjee, Ajit, Tom Alter, Bindu, Prem Chopra, A.K. Hangal, Jankidas, Bharat Kapoor, Amjad Khan, Sujit Kumar, Shreeram Lagoo, Mehmood, Paintal, Gufi Paintal.
Story: Dev Anand, Suraj Sanim
Music director: Rajesh Roshan
Lyricist: Amit Khanna
Box office status: Super hit
Trivia: Debut film of Tina Munim