Khalifa (1976)

February 17, 2017 11:38 pm | Updated February 19, 2017 08:31 am IST

MASALA FARE “Khalifa” starring Randhir Kapoor and Rekha has some riveting moments

MASALA FARE “Khalifa” starring Randhir Kapoor and Rekha has some riveting moments

The world of cinema knows Prakash Mehra as one who catapulted Amitabh Bachchan to superstardom with “Zanjeer” in 1973. Thereafter followed a string of six super hit films between the two. Though there is more Mehra than this as he gave films like “Mela”, “Samadhi” and “Khalifa”. Along with Manmohan Desai, he can be called one of the pioneers of the ‘masala’ genre of filmmaking.

The leading man of “Khalifa”, Randhir Kapoor, in the double role of a conman working to dupe rich people and a hardworking, principled young man is unable to infuse any distinct flavour to the two characters, meant to be diverse from each other.

In stark contrast, Rekha is simply outstanding. She showcased her immense talent with latent ease, even mimicking Dev Anand in some scenes. Her mature and nuanced take of the role set a monumental mismatch with Randhir Kapoor’s bubbly style of acting.

Another actor who stole the show was IS Johar (Diwan Manoharlal Agnihotri) as Rekha’s uncle and a dubious conman. It seems his dialogues, dripping with scathing witticism and razor sharp riposte, were written specially by Anand Romani. Delivered in his archetypal, deadpan style, he left the audience spellbound and craving for more.

Overall, the story of Khalifa and the proceedings may seem rather disjointed but in parts it is quite riveting. Thus, we have a destitute widow, Maya Devi, who has given birth to twins, both boys. Vikram (Pran) offers her some money as compensation, as her husband had died in an accident while working for him. Aware that she will not be able to raise the two children on her own, she gives one child to a rich lady, Ganga Devi (Lalita Pawar).

At the same time Dharamdas Sharma’s (Madan Puri) wife gives birth to a stillborn child. Concerned that this news will traumatize her, he has Maya Devi’s other child kidnapped. The two boys grow up but while Rajendra/Rakesh, raised by Ganga Devi becomes a conman, the other, Vinod who grows up in the smuggler Dharamdas’s house is a straightforward man, unaware of his father’s activities. When he comes to know the truth, he leaves the house and over a period of time falls in love with Rekha (Rekha).

Rajendra lures Vikram’s sister Sweety (Sonia Sahni) by false assurances of love and marriage. But when she gets pregnant, he dupes her leaving her stranded. A despondent Sweety commits suicide, leaving a devastated Dharma seeking revenge (in a rare lapse in his acting career, Pran looks ludicrous as a double barrel gun wielding revenge seeker). As happens in all con dramas, especially with dual roles, there are several instances of mistaken identities, confusion, and slapstick comedy (quite cheeky and well executed in parts) before the film has a happy ending. RD Burman does a good job of composing music and uses Manna Dey quite effectively, to relevant lyrics penned by Gulshan Bawra.

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