A song on youtube put me on the track of this movie and when I finally saw the movie it was worth the price of the DVD and more! It is old, B&W, has a great cast (Shashi Kapoor and Sadhana, both of whom look lovely), beautiful songs composed by Salil Choudhary and a very romantic story.... Whats not to like? OK so there are very convenient co-incidences, Rajendra Nath does his usual comic turn and Shashi's character obsessively dislikes our heroine. But these are just minor details...
The story begins with Kavita Choudhary (a very beautiful Sadhana) a fifth year medical student receiving her nth love letter (prem patra). The unknown lovelorn youth had the audacity to tie the letter to her saree palloo! In her fury she plans to complain to the College Principal and is dissuaded by her friend.
The hero of the story is introduced less dramatically. Dr. Arun (Shashi Kapoor) is shown to be a serious and caring doctor hard at work with his patients. His moustache and well oiled hair attest to his seriousness and sincerity. (Shades of Raj Kapoor? Even Shammi Kapoor started out looking like that in his earlier movies!)
His hard work is rewarded when he is told that he will get a fellowship to study further in England. In his happiness he runs up the stairs and (surprise!) collides with Kavita with the inevitable result. A little bit of matchmaking from mutual friends Kedar (Rajendra Nath) and Sumitra (Chand Usmani), and the couple are well on the way to romance.
Enter: trouble in the form of Arun's young foster sister - Ratna (Parveen Chowdhury) - who is desperately in love with him (its Shashi after all - who can blame her!). She writes a love letter in his handwriting to Kavita who is inexplicably unhappy with the love missive and complains to the college principal. (Kavita expected better love letters from Arun??!!)
Arun is heartbroken at this rejection of his love (even though he didnt write it, he didnt think the letter was sooo bad!) and also loses his scholarship. He goes home to his village. On the advice of his uncle, Arun agrees to marry the local landlord's daughter, sight unseen. In return, the landlord finances his trip to England and all is right with Arun's world again.
Arun's fiancee Tara (Seema Deo), in the meanwhile, is sent to her city cousin to gain some town polish and sophistication. The city cousin is, of course, Kavita. Aside: how come families in Hindi movies happen to be so closely knit and spread everywhere to catch the hapless characters? O well, we wont trouble ourselves with these details.
Coming back to the story, Tara acquires not just sophistication but a boyfriend as well (the poor woman hadnt seen her fiance, so, this isnt too surprising).
Tara is ordered by her father to start up a correspondence with Arun. She gets Kavita to write for her, setting in motion a correspondence between the two. Over the next few months, Kavita and Arun fall in love with each other through letters.
Arun, in the meanwhile, has been undergoing a transformation of his own. He's lost his earnestness and moustaches and learnt to smile. He is shown smiling (the trademark Shashi Kapoor smile) over a letter in a chemistry lab, of all places! What is a doctor doing in a chemistry lab? Waiting for the explosion, of course!
The inevitable happens and he loses his sight. He returns home, blind and helpless (wearing the coolest shades and suits!) and Kavita helps care for him as Tara. She learns how much Arun still dislikes Kavita and dreads the day when he will recover his sight. What happens when he does recover?
The storyline has a comforting predictability about it. What raises it above the standard Hindi fare of the times is the excellent direction, cinematography and great performances by the cast. Sadhana brings a depth of sensitivity to Kavita's character. You can feel Kavita's pain when Arun tells her how much he hates Kavita. Shashi invests his character with appealing sincerity and charm. Rajendra Nath is pretty good as the caring friend and turns in a more restrained performance than usual. The side stories of Tara and Subhash (Sudhir) as well as Ratna are well sketched and interesting. The movie also offers some beautiful songs - Do ankhiyaan jhuki jhuki si (Mukesh and Lata), and the Talat Mehmood - Lata duets Saawan ki raaton mein and Yeh mere andhere ujaale na hote. All in all, a soft and beautiful love story and definitely worth a watch.