Kashmakash (1973)

Updated - November 11, 2017 11:59 am IST

Published - July 14, 2017 01:40 am IST

SHOWING ROMANTIC SIDE Feroz Khan and Rekha in the film

SHOWING ROMANTIC SIDE Feroz Khan and Rekha in the film

The film represents murder mystery genre that was rare in Bollywood for a long time. Even on the few occasions that films in this genre were made, they were often an exercise in futility, as they failed to sustain audience interest or conjure up suitable suspense. Considering this weak backdrop, “Kashmakash” (written by Ram Kamlani with screenplay/ dialogues by Satish Bhatnagar and Suhridkar) was a courageous attempt – set in what was then Bombay, as can be seen from the sparsely moving traffic on the iconic Marine Drive and other locales.

Director Feroz Chinoy – who has an oeuvre of only five films, three of which were made in the first half of the 70s – had an ace up his sleeve in the form of the feverishly dashing Feroz Khan in the lead role (as Satish Gupta), who would surely have set the pulse racing in some of his female fans with a bare chest display on more than one occasion. Khan, who had already demonstrated panache and verve in essaying similar roles in some fast paced thrillers made under his own banner, as well as for other directors, easily fits into the role of a married man who is overtaken by loads of ennui and bouts of fleeting lust, when his wife, Sita (Rekha in a friendly appearance) goes to visit her ailing mother for a few days. Spurred by his colleague and friend, Manmohan (Ramesh Deo he falls for a one night liaison with a cabaret dancer (Padma Khanna as Sunita)

Sunita is warned by a private detective (IS Johar) about the threat to her life from her estranged boyfriend, Johnny (Ranjeet plays his part well; all the more commendable considering that he is made to wear costumes that range from the ludicrous to the bizarre, including a beach shot in which he is fishing in swimming trunks). Sunita and Johnny have a bitter fallout during which Johnny threatens to kill her with his knife.

Trouble brews for Satish when Sunita is murdered even before he can lay a finger on her. As he enters the scene when he tries to blackmail Satish, IS Johar is a let down for legion of his fans who swear by his deadpan comedy. He even tries to browbeat inspector (veteran actor Asit Sen, with his trademark style of delivering dialogues, somehow seems out of place in what is meant to be a fast-paced thriller). There is also unnecessary insertion of socialist jargon which was typical for the period.

In the midst of all this, the mystery is sought to be solved by a young CID officer (Shatrughan Sinha). With his flamboyant style and trademark mannerisms, Sinha is a treat to watch, although he does go over the top on a few occasions.

Initially, the inspector feels that Johnny is the culprit. On further investigation, his finger of suspicion veers towards Satish and Rana Choudhary (veteran actor Rahman gives a credible performance), a respected politician in whose flat Sunita lived. Even Johar tries to blackmail Rana to extract his pound of flesh. Who actually killed Sunita, keeps us hooked.

Technically, the film might not seem too riveting for the type of genre it projects, although the director succeeds in maintaining a tempo of suspense for most part. The background score contributes significantly in achieving this. The same cannot be said about the editing (Babubhai Thakker), lighting or camera angles (cinematography by Ramchandra), which could have been used more astutely. There are no long shots or zoom in to enhance the mystery. One is also a tad disappointed by the music score, composed by Kalyanji-Anandji to lyrics penned by Indeevar, Verma Malik and Maya Govind.

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