Spy thrillers have been popular with Hindi cinema fans for long. It is one genre that has continued to appeal to this generation too. “Farz” (1967), “Jewel Thief” (1967), “Aankhen” (1968) were among the top hits in times when Indian cinema was looking for alternate scripts. Of course, there was still lot of rural India depicted in cinema but there was room for spy and suspense thrillers. “Farz” was a surprise packet that propelled Jeetendra among the elite even as Dev Anand and Dharmendra could back themselves for having an individual impact on the success of their movies.
Dharmendra looked the dapper spy, capable of pursuing a case and then bashing up the villain and his gang single-handedly. His he-man image was built on this reputation. He romanced on the screen with the biggest names in the field and there was a sense of assurance when Dharmendra was the protagonist. He was a guaranteed ticket to success at the box office and scripts were written keeping in mind his presence on the screen.
“Aankhen” projected Dharmendra as a perfect spy. It was a role tailor-made for him. When “Keemat” came his way four years after “Aankhen” he was at the peak of his career. He commanded a wide range of fans —young and old, men and women — and there was reason to believe that casting Dharmendra in the lead role would ensure the film’s future. It would not bite the dust at least. Of course, it was not always true.
“Keemat” was not among the best spy thrillers of Indian cinema. It had its weak and amateurish moments but then the audience too was not so well informed. It would lap up anything in the name of thriller and producers exploited this aspect. The pace of the movie did not matter as long as it had some good music and the leading pair was passable. Here Dharmendra and Rekha were more than passable.
What endeared the audience was Dharmendra’s ability to pack in humour in his role. It was essential to give the audience some relief. It came in the shape of music or humour and Dharmendra came up trumps, often overshadowing the comic artists in the movie. “Keemat” featured some inane humour from Rajendranath and Agha, both much forgettable. In fact, the fact that the movie became a hit must have come as a pleasant shock to the producers too but it augured well for those who believed in making spy and action movies.
The Indian audience was slowly getting weaned by parallel cinema. The off-beat movies were popular with the younger generation and “Keemat” managed to sweep the box office despite poor music. Barring “Maaf Karo O Baba Maaf Karo”, a duet by Kishore and Lata, not one song made an impression and it was left to Dharmendra to carry the film on his individual strength.
Dharmendra plays Gopal, an agent who is given the task of tracking down a gang that is involved in human trafficking. Suddenly girls go missing and their bodies are discovered underwater. Obviously a big gang is involved and Gopal must unearth the truth. It is not a job that he takes willingly but then he can’t escape the responsibility.
In trying to reach Nanda (Padma Khanna) he runs into Sudha (Rekha). The two sisters are a huge contrast. Rekha tracks Nanda down with the aid of Agent Gopal and in the process falls in love with the spy. Ranjeet and Prem Chopra are the bad men, the latter a wasted character, who keeps blabbering and laughing without reason. In terms of acting there is not one actor who stands out except when Dharmendra brings out the comic side of Agent Gopal.
Music was a casualty in “Keemat” despite Laxmikant-Pyarelal lending their name. For Rekha it was too early in her career. Big offers had not come her way yet but Keemat's success paved the way for roles against top stars of the industry. Her plump figure in “Keemat” may surprise her followers from the later generation but Rekha did have her moments on the screen with Dharmendra contributing handsomely.
Genre: Spy thriller
Director: Ravikant Nagaich
Cast: Dharmendra, Rekha, Prem Chopra, Rajendranath, Ranjeet, Agha, Padma Khanna, Jayshree T
Story idea: Ramjee
Dialogue: Vishwamitter Adil
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi