STARRING Rajendra Kumar, Sadhana, Prem Chopra, Rajendranath, Raj Mehra, Meena T.

Altthough nicknamed ‘Jubilee Kumar’ as a result of at least six of his starrers celebrating Silver Jubilee runs at various theatres in Bombay, he could never get any closer to the status enjoyed by the trio of Raj, Dev and Dilip (whose poor clone he came to be known as) nor enjoy the popularity that ‘Yahoo’ Shammi Kapoor came to enjoy.

Yet Rajendra Kumar was the uncrowned king of the box office in the mid-1960s with films like Goonj Uthi Shehnai , Dhool ka Phool , Kanoon , Sasural , Dil Ek Mandir , Mere Mehboob , Arzoo and, Talash . The same could be said about the heroine with an intriguing Mona Lisa-like smile, Sadhana ( Love in Simla , Hum Dono , Mere Mehboob , Woh Kaun Thi , Waqt , Arzoo ). Sadly, this Mohan Kumar-written, produced and directed hit turned out to be their last outing, individually, as well as together. The film itself was nothing but a patchwork of romantic formula narratives that drew audiences to the theatres and were the staple diet of theatre-goers for more than two decades. However, what probably sustained audience interest in this bungling tale were the melodious tunes to which the duo of Laxmikant-Pyarelal set Anand Bakshi’s lyrics: Poochhe jo koi mujhse bahar kaisi hoti hai , Aap aye bahaar aye (Mohammad Rafi); Mujhe teri mohabbat ka sahara mil gaya hota , Koyel kyon gaaye (Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi); Tare kitne neel gagan pe tare (Hemlata, Mohammad Rafi); Tumko bhi to aisa kuchh hota (Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar), shot in the pristine beauty of Kashmir — the once alluring meadows, the shadow of huge devnars and the flowing waters of the Dal lake that played host to a million love songs.

The patchy, unconvincing yarn suggests a bond between three friends: Rohit (Rajendra Kumar), a contractor, Whisky (Rajendranath), his sidekick, and Kumar (Prem Chopra), a lecherous smuggler-businessman. On a trip to his estate with Whisky, Rohit runs into Neena (Sadhana), the beautiful daughter of the forest officer Bakshi (Raj Mehra) and flips for her.

Soon after succumbing to his charms, Neena not only tears off Kumar’s photograph but also rejects outright his marriage proposal. Kumar is offended and vows vengeance, without being aware of the growing bond between her and Rohit, who invites him for his engagement.

Although shocked at what he sees, he rapes Neena, but loses an eye in a fight with Rohit while escaping from the scene. Finding herself pregnant, Neena refuses to marry Rohit, who not only stops her from committing suicide but also commits her to wedlock in a nearby temple.

Rajendranath and Meena T. hardly have roles to add to their oeuvre, while Prem Chopra runs through his role with complete distrust.

Ved Rahi’s dialogue fails to rise beyond the ordinary, though Sudendhu Roy’s art direction, Satyanarayan’s cheoreography, Pratap Dave’s editing and G. Singh’s cinematography turned the film into one of the biggest hits of the year.

It also sealed together the winning combination of the hero-director, who first came together in Aas ka Panchi (1961), and went on to make other films like Aayee Milan ki Bela (1964), Aman (1967) and Anjana (1969).

suresh kohli

What sustained audience interest were the melodious tunes of Laxmikant-Pyarelal