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Duniya (1968)

SURESH KOHLI
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Dev Anand, Vyjayantimala, Balraj Sahni, Johnny Walker, Lalita Pawar, Prem Chopra, Sulochana, Madan Puri, Achala Sachdev, Suresh

Formidable pair“Duniya” was the last of the three films where Dev Anand and Vyjayantimala were cast opposite each other.
Formidable pair“Duniya” was the last of the three films where Dev Anand and Vyjayantimala were cast opposite each other.

Some trivia about this third and last film of the leading pair that had originally been cast together in Nasir Husain's directorial debut “Tumsa Nahin Dekha” but when Anand walked out of the film, the heroine was also replaced. The 149-minute romantic thriller was amongst the year's big hits, grossing Rs.18 crore and netting Rs. 90 lakhs in its first run. This was also Anand's last outing with his once bête noir, Balraj Sahni (they had earlier worked together in K.A. Abbas's “Rahi”). Written by K.A. Narayan with dialogue by Vijendra Gaur, it had lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri, S.H. Bihari and Neeraj tuned by Shanker-Jaikishen and rendered by Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Mukesh, Mohammed Rafi and Sharda. Directed by T. Prakash Rao for producer Sham Behl (though the credit titles mention Amarjeet as the producer) with editing by Shivaji Awdhut, it fetched Fardoon A. Irani the Filmfare trophy for best colour cinematography.

The good-evil interplay begins in a village where a young boy, Gopal, is caught for pick-pocketing. Admonished by the mother he finds a protector in Amar, a playmate of his sister, Mala, who is living with his mother and aspiring to be a lawyer.

The narrative soon shifts to the huge mansion of public prosecutor Ramnath (Balraj Sahni) in Bombay who learning that his wife, Shobha (Achala Sachdev) can't bear a child suggests they adopt her cousin's son, but ultimately settle for the daughter instead. Gopal also runs away from the village to escape the wrath of the neighbours. In keeping with his vow, Amar (Dev Anand) becomes a dashing junior counsel with advocate Mehta (Brij Bhardwaj). The scenario moves briskly with Mala (Vyjayantimala) and Amar rising in love after standard brief tiffs. They soon learn that they were childhood friends as well. He promises to find Gopal (Suresh), and seeks help from detective friend, James Bond 009 (Johnny Walker) whose investigations bring to light that he has a criminal record and is on the wanted list of several states.

There is also a parallel track of underworld activity in which Mohan (Prem Chopra) and Madan (Madan Puri) are involved. Mohan is fooling around with Girdharilal's (Nana Palsikar) daughter. The latter, who once worked for Ramnath and his mother, Mrs. Sharma (Lalita Pawar) happens to confide in Madan about Ramnath's son from his secret marriage to Janki (Sulochna). They decide to con Ramnath by presenting Mohan as his long lost son and the former loses no time in announcing Mala's engagement to Mohan. But Mohan is murdered and Gopal alias Ram Singh is accused. Mala pleads with Amar to take up the case.

What ensues is an engaging courtroom drama where the public prosecutor and the defence counsel try to outdo one another, and Anand proving to bête noir, who had once proclaimed that he ‘could never be an actor' that he could match his controlled performance with his flamboyant style. The final revelation as to the real murderer is a surprise element of the film.

All the six songs: “Dooriyan Nazdikiyan Ban Gayi” (Kishore-Asha), “Falsafa Pyar Ka Tum Kya Jano”, “Jaawan Tum Ho Jawan Hum Hain” (Rafi) by Hasrat Jaipuri; “Yeh Dharti Hindustan Ki” (Asha) by Neeraj, “Tuhi Meri Laxmi Tuhi Meri Chhaya” (Kishore) by Shailendra featuring Johnny Walker and Laxmi Chhaya and “Duniya Isi Ka Naam Hai” (Mukesh-Sharda) by S.H. Bihari are well-placed and hummable. Shanker-Jaikishen live up to their reputation.

Performance-wise, both Madan Puri and Prem Chopra had little to do and offer, the former is even a miscast. Balraj Sahni is brilliant, Johnny Walker provides relief in his inimitable style, Vyjayantimala is her usual competent self, excelling in the customary dance sequence in her starrers, and Dev Anand displays flashes of histrionics.

“Duniya” was one of the 22 hits of his distinguished career.

SURESH KOHLI

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