Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ek Phool Char Kaante (1960)

This is a B&W comedy that I remember watching on Doordarshan in the good old days. When I stumbled across the DVD in the Indian video store, I was eager to find out whether the movie stood the test of time - so many of my childhood favorites have turned out to be awfully kiddish or silly! Well, the good news is that I still liked it.
Sanjeev (Sunil Dutt) is your average movie hero who is on the lookout for his heroine. The moment he sees her in a group of picnicking girls, he recognises his nemesis in Sushma (Waheeda Rehman). The two engage in some preliminary sparring followed by loving duets. When their love is revealed to Sanjeev's parents (Bir Sakuja and Mumtaz Begum) they are delighted with Sushma - not your conservative movie-parents, obviously. Sanjeev's father even engages to talk to her family about it. That's where the couple's trials begin. Sushma is an orphan brought up by 4 eccentric bachelor uncles (the 4 thorns - char kaante - of the title). Each of them has his own ideas about a suitable boy for Sushma.
Uncle 1 (David) is keen on theatre and thinks Sushma should marry a good actor. Uncle 2 (Rashid Khan) is a yoga fanatic and thinks she should marry someone who can stand on his head. Uncle 3 (Dhumal) is extremely pious and thinks only a person well-versed in the mythological texts can prove to be ideal husband for her while Uncle 4 (Johnny Walker) is a fan of modern dancing and his vote goes to someone who can do Rock-n-Roll like Elvis!
The situation is hopeless - how can one man satisfy all these requirements? Anybody else might have given up in despair but our hero is made of sterner stuff and starts on his campaign to woo the uncles. Outsmarting, outdancing, outacting and outpraying his rivals takes a lot of effort on Sanjeev's part and leads to hilarious situations. Does he achieve his goal? Hint: this is a comedy not a tragedy...
Sunil Dutt is wonderful as the the aspiring suitor. Comedy appears to be his forte - its a pity he played the idealistic teacher and angry dacoit more often. The only other comedy I remember seeing him in is Padosan (1968) where he sports a Laloo Prasad Yadav hairdo. Here, he plays a more intelligent role and is fun to watch. Waheeda Rehman is always worth watching especially in bubbly roles like this. She imparts Sushma's character with her charm and effervescence, not to mention her incomparable dancing skills. It is the four Uncles though, who make this movie. They are delightfully eccentric and wonderfully goofy. Johnny Walker and Dhumal are your usual suspects when it comes to comedy but David and Rashid Khan were equally good. The music is good but not particularly memorable - at least I dont remember much of it. On second thoughts, there is one song I do remember. Its the peppy rock-n-roll number Oooo meri baby doll where Sunil Dutt is trying to impress Uncle 4 with his dancing skills. He has all the signature Shammi Kapoor moves down pat, but you can see that its a great effort on his part!
On the whole, this is one frothy, frivolous, fun, comedy that I would recommend watching.

6 comments:

memsaabstory said...

I love this movie, love the songs too (especially Oh Meri Baby Doll--FAB). In fact I liked all the songs so much that I ripped them off the DVD (no easy task on a Mac). I like Dil Aye Dil and Sambhal Ke Karna particularly too.

It's great to see Rashid Khan do something other than his usual weaselly almost-invisible sidekick thing too :-)

Bollyviewer said...

The songs were quite good as I realised on my second viewing (yup I tend to watch things over and over again). But I dont recall having heard them anywhere else (radio/TV), so they just didnt stay with me. The Baby Doll number I remember for Sunil Dutt's dancing (I dont think he ever did rock-n-roll anywhere else) and the other fab dancer in the song (whose name I dont know).

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Totally agree w/ memsaab about Rashid for once getting a better role for once! And david can do absolutely anything :)he rocks.

Sallu and Karishma did "Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge" (2000), which basically apes "1 phool 4 kaante" to the t...:)

Bollyviewer said...

Hmm... ya nice to see Rashid Khan in a good role though I did like him in Bombai ka Babu where he was so villainous. David usually did get great parts and as you put it - he rocked in every one of them.

I remember seeing Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge - it was fun too, but give me Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rehman any day.

harvey said...

I only knew "matwari naar tumhak tumhak chali jaaye". O meri baby doll is a hit!
Great to watch Sunil Dutt doing an Elvis. A good attempt!
Would have been a cake walk for Shammi Kapoor, but it would be very unfair to compare Shammi with Sunil.
Thanks for bringing this movie ot my notice. Never had the oppurtunity to watch it in the good ol' DD days.

Bollyviewer said...

Ooo meri baby doll is so un-Sunil Dutt-like, its fun for that alone! And it could have been worse - imagine Dharmendra trying the same number. :-(