Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bandhe Haath (1973)

Bandhe Haath poster I’ve wanted to watch Mujrim, ever since I read the review over at Dustedoff’s. Since I’m trying to keep to my resolution of curbing my DVD-buying sprees, I decided to settle for it’s remake that I already own – this film! From the synopsis, this appears to be a very faithful copy, and left me just as dissatisfied as the original seems to have left it’s viewers! Why is it that some movies do not quite live up to the promise of their plots? It’s one of the great unsolved mysteries of our times. Sadly, while this film belongs to this mysterious category, it does nothing to help solve the mystery! It begins well enough, the story warms up pretty nicely and even gets along at a good pace – yet it all dissolves into some silly plot-twists and unnecessary melodrama at the end.

We join Shyamu (Amitabh Bachchan) just as his attempt to burgle a safe is frustrated by an inconvenient alarm. He manages to get away with his accomplice (Madan Puri), but in the flight, Madan injures himself. When Shyamu expresses disgust for this hide-n-seek lifestyle of theirs, Madan testily points out that he brought up the orphaned Shyamu as his own child, so is it too much to expect filial devotion from him? Shyamu tightens his lips and says nothing.
Madan’s injury lands him in hospital, so Shyamu goes alone on his next assignment. He accomplishes the burglary successfully, but the alarm is given before he can make a clean get-away. He makes a run for it, with Inspector Kumar (Ajit) hot on his trail. Kumar manages to catch up with Shyamu and take a brief look at his face. But in a last burst of energy, Shyamu makes his escape. He enters the first door ahead of him and finds himself inside a theatre. He hides in a make-up room, while a performance takes place on-stage.
From his hiding place, Shyamu overhears a conversation. The theatre owner (Asit Sen) is telling the theatre’s leading lady, Mala (Mumtaz), and the manager, Pritam (O. P. Ralhan), that he is expecting the arrival of writer Deepak from Pune. A bit later, Mala catches Shyamu sneaking out of her make-up room. When she demands an explanation of his presence, he blurts out that he is writer Deepak! Mala is immediately friendly and helpful. She asks him what he’s written for their theatre and when he randomly comes up with Chand Aur Chor (moon and thief), wonders why writers are more interested in thieves than in good men! When Shyamu makes a half-hearted attempt to defend thieves, citing difficult circumstances driving some to dishonesty, she tells him flat out that a good person is one who remains good even in difficult circumstances. This makes a big impression on Shyamu, and he decides to turn over a new leaf.
But before he turns over a new leaf, Shyamu needs to get rid of Kumar who is still on his trail! Mala solves that problem by inviting him to use the theatre’s guest room for the night. The next day, Shyamu’s imposture is nearly exposed by a letter from the real Deepak, explaining that illness prevents him from coming to Bombay. Shyamu promptly pockets the letter, explaining that he decided to come in spite of his illness, because he thought that work was more important.
Shyamu leaves the theatre with the firm idea of turning to an honest life. But when Madan hears this, he laughs it off, claiming that "honest" people are more crooked than common criminals like them! He then urges Shyamu to help burgle a safe in a room next door. When Shyamu refuses, Madan decides to commit the burglary himself and dies in the attempt. Shyamu gets to the hospital in time to see Madan’s dead body being carried away, and decides that the last of his ties with the criminal Shyamu are over. Little does he know that he’s left a tiny but significant part of his loot behind in Mala’s make-up room – a distinctive ring that Mala has carefully put away to return to him.
Now that he is safe from his criminal past, he wants to go see Mala again (it’s her honesty and principles that attract him, no doubt!). But what if the real Deepak has turned up by now? He has Deepak’s address, so he decides to check up on him before he renews his acquaintance with Mala. Shyamu finds that Deepak is a very ill man, in sore need of tender-loving-care. While he is providing some of that, a flash of lightening shows him Deepak’s face and he discovers that Deepak is his look-alike! Shyamu isn’t slow to take advantage of this situation. He’s soon changed clothes (and stolen jewels) with the unconscious Deepak, and is all ready to strangle him, when his conscience stops him. After some argument between his better and worse selves, Shyamu decides to be the Good Samaritan, and fetches a doctor. His good deed is instantly rewarded, because Deepak breathes his last in the presence of the doctor. Thereafter, it’s just a matter of telling the doctor a cock-and-bull story about the dead man being Shyamu, complete with stolen jewels, and Shyamu is now writer Deepak!
Shyamu’s first act as "Deepak" is to pack bags and move to Bombay and the theatre where Mala works. He even takes the precaution of burning all specimens of Deepak’s hand-writing, replacing all manuscripts with his own hand-written copies. So now Shyamu is all set to take the world (and Mala) by storm. To his great good fortune, he runs into Mala the moment he steps out of the train. She’s come to receive her cousin Kavita (Tun Tun) with her Mom, and invites Shyamu to stay the night at their house. Shyamu happily agrees, and quickly declares his love to Mala’s portrait that helpfully adorns the walls of the guest bedroom (for the convenience of all love-sick guests?). Mala hears his declaration and makes it clear that she thoroughly approves of his sentiments.
So now Shyamu has a place in honest society and the love of a good woman. You’d think that he’s all set for a good life. You’d be wrong! Inspector Kumar sees him on a visit to the theatre, and is instantly suspicious. But the worse is yet to come! One of Deepak’s fans - Rajni (Kumud Chugani), turns up, out of the blue. She had never met Deepak, but the two had carried out a romantic correspondence and she has every expectation of claiming Deepak’s romantic attentions. She is furious to see "Deepak" getting up-close and personal with Mala, and throws a scene. Once she mentions Deepak’s letters, Shyamu immediately hurries out with her, leaving Mala convinced that she is being taken for a ride by a womaniser!
Shyamu spends some time with Rajni, trying to find out how much of a threat she poses to his new-found identity. Once he realises that she has letters written to her by the real Deepak, he knows he must get to them before they can reveal his imposture. So he plays along with Rajni’s romantic wishes, trying to keep Mala’s suspicions at bay and staying one step ahead of Inspector Kumar’s investigations. But that isn’t the sum of his troubles. Rajni was betrothed to her father’s friend’s son Ranjeet (Ranjeet) who swears that he will fix this or any Deepak who comes between him and Rajni’s wealth. Shyamu does seem to have more than his fair share of perils. Here’s wishing him success, and confusion to his enemies!
The film has the potential to be a good thriller but it squanders it in favour of giving us a morality lesson about good vs bad! But that isn’t it’s worst crime. It sets up Shyamu’s perils very nicely, showing him getting deeper and deeper into a quagmire of deception. But then, instead of using some intelligent plot-twists to get him out of it, the film then goes overboard with silly capers and emotional attyachar! The result is a film that starts out as a fast-paced thriller but lands up being nothing much at all. Such a waste of a good plot and a great cast (no OP Ralhan, that does NOT refer to you!).
Of course, with so much wrong in it, talking about the plot-holes is quite superfluous. But there was one plot-hole that was so big and so annoying that I just have to mention it. Is handwriting the only way to confirm an identity? This was the 1970s, not the 1870s! Didn’t O P Ralhan (he wrote and produced the film) ever hear of fingerprints? Considering how Shyamu went around burgling safes without gloves, wouldn't it have been easier to just check fingerprints? To end on a more positive note, I must admit that I was surprised to find a police-officer who can penetrate masala disguises as well as you and I can. Such touches of reality are so rare in Bollywood that the film-makers ought to get a medal for it!

26 comments:

  1. Wow how gorgeous and sexy is Momtaz in her Amrapali costume in the 'yeh kaun aaya' song you've posted, this is on my rental list and i'll keep it for the songs and the eye candy if anything else. O.P Ralhan's movies always seem to have some great potential that ends up being wasted, Hulchul for example.Still though all his films always have great set designs, major eye candy and fab songs

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  2. bollywooddeewana, Mumtaz was very stylish in this film. I wanted all her clothes and accessories here! :D Ralhan's problem is that he is such a do-it-yourself fan - if he'd only hire writers and actors instead, his films might actually achieve their potential. This one was stylish enough in the set and costume designs, but the music was very meh - not one of RD Burman's better tracks!

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  3. Even though I love Mumtaz (she is gorgeous) I'd prefer watching Mujrim just for Shammi Kapoor. Kapoor is anyday better for me that Amitabh Bachchan. And I just cannot tolerate Ranjit :(
    The screencaps are super funny as usual. :)

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  4. I'm with bollywooddeewana here, Mumtaz's outfits were soo fly, I recently caught this on Zee Tv while I was internetless, and I had a fashion attack from all her wigs and funky gems! And I adored her funkadelic dancing to 'Ohh Maajhi' I've had that song in my head for soooo long!

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  5. the story sounds like utter faltu!
    but I love the music and songs!
    But once I've to be of a different opinion than you, for me it is one of Pancham's better scores!

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  6. the film actually bombed at the boxoffice;Mumtaz refused to do zanjeer with Amitabh as she was sceptical about his bankaability as a star and she didnt want to retire with a flop!!!

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  7. Sharmi, Ranjeet does not have a big part in the film. But I know what you mean about Shammi vs AB - I'd rather go with Shammi too!

    Rum, she was seriously gorgeous here and her fashions were all so great!

    harvey, I guess I like it better than Pancham's Amar Prem tracks. So maybe it isn't his worst music after all! ;D

    themuse, Mumtaz and AB made a rather odd pair - she was warm and sparkly and he was aloof and clearly uncomfortable in the romantic scenes. So, it was probably a wise decision for Mumtaz to stay away from further collaborations with AB, even though Zanjeer did become a big hit.

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  8. If it comes to a toss-up between Shammi/Ragini on the one hand and AB/Mumtaz on the other, it's going to be a hard choice for me - Shammi, definitely; but then, Ragini comes nowhere close to Mumtaz in the attractiveneness scale for me! But then, Mujrim also has Kamal Kapoor and Shubha Khote, which does count. Otherwise, the story seems to be almost exactly the same... down to Tuntun as the cousin!

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  9. dustedoff, that is my only consolation for not watching the Shammi version! Ragini is certainly a better dancer, but Mumtaz is so much better in every other way. Tun Tun had the same role in Mujrim?! She was horribly unfunny as the "bholi bhali" young cousin - it was 20 years too late for her to do the role!

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  10. Bollyviewer, I seem to be flooded with double-role films, since yesterday. Saw 'Afsana' with Ashok Kumar, and 'Apradhi Kaun' with Jagirdar, playing double roles, and now this review. I'm sure I saw this film as a kid, I saw everything, but don't remember it at all. I'd see it again, just for Mumtaz. :)

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  11. I haven't checked the songs yet....but I would prefer Mujrim to this any day :-)

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  12. Banno, Bollywood is fond of it's double roles! And I must admit that I love them, too. Once you admit the possibility of two random strangers who look alike and sound alike, you can do ANYTHING with the plot! :D

    sunheriyaadein, the more I think of it, the more I'm persuaded that I would prefer Mujrim too. It does NOT have OP Ralhan - something that would improve any film!

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  13. Speaking of double roles - what a coincidence. I just finished "Samadhi" last night. Dharam had a double role in it. Asha Parekh is the heroine with Jaya Bahaduri in a special appearance in the 2nd half. RD's songs in Samadhi were good - Kanta laga, jab tak rahey mera jeeya, mein dekha ek sapna. Otherwise the movie is meh

    I would like to watch Bandey Haath coz i like Mumu

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  14. Agree with you on the meh rating for the movie, but oh my what music. I actually think it's one of RDB's more underrated scores.

    I found it interesting that although Mumtaz was the bigger star, she didn't have much to do in the movie, other than literally, the songs and dances.:-)
    Gorgeous lady!

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  15. Filmbuff, I just checked up Samadhi on imdb - it sounds very intriguing. I love all the songs, though I hadn't realised they were from a Dharmendra film. Now I must get it, even if it is meh! :)

    Mumtaz is gorgeous in Bandhe Haath, but like Shalini points out, she does not have much to do except look good and cry a bit.

    Shalini, we'll have to agree to disagree about the songs. I thought that the movie, meh as it was, was a whole lot better than it's songs!

    I was surprised to see Mumtaz get top billing in the cast. Hard to imagine now that she was actually a bigger star than Amitabh Bachchan, back then!

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  16. I was planning to watch Piya Ka Ghar tonight. After seeing this review and discussion about Mumtaaz, I am wondering if i should be watching Jheel Ke Us Paar instead!

    Samadhi was directed by Prakash Mehra. Other than the RD songs and a young, fresh and natural Jaya Bahaduri, I didn't much like the movie. But I do look forward to reading your review. Who knows you may like it much better than I do.

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  17. I do remember this movie, but did not see it. Had the song "...Dekho Yeh Mere Bandhe Haath.."
    This was from Amitabh's pre Zanjeer days; and I vividly recollect many people & magazines wondering as to when (or if) he would become a major star.
    He had another movie with Mumtaz, again in the pre-Zanjeer days; "Raaste Ka Patthar".

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  18. Filmbuff, I love Dharam but I would pick a Basu Chatterjee film over one based on Gulshan Nanda's writing, any day. :D

    samir, AB-Mumtaz had more films together?! I was actually surprised to see Mumtaz in this film, because I'd not realised that they'd ever done anything together. Chitrahaar never showed any Amitabh-Mumu songs!

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  19. I was mistaken about Mumtaz in Raaste Ka Patthar, sorry about that.

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  20. Samadhi is based on a gulshan nanda story? That's news to me coz the movie credits the story to another guy as the writer. It doesn't seem to be a GN story.

    I didn't land up seeing piya ka ghar coz a desi DVD store guy gave me a copy of the Indian Idol 5 finale that concluded recently on 15 Aug. I usually never watch TV shows as such. Since he told me it is a good quality and it contained 5 episodes (4 preceding the finale), I bought it. I must say i enjoyed these episodes coz all the 3 contestants were good. The winner is very talented indeed. Piya ka Ghar must wait!

    As for the Mumu-AB story, it is ironical that mumu was rejected by so many heroes early on in her career as a heroine coz she was labelled as a B grade heroine. Yet she seems to have meted out the same treatment to AB. But then survival of the fittest as the saying goes and in the commercial jungle of filmdom, she was not doing anything different.

    I think the pairing of actors depends on the story and direction too. I personally think that had a talented director paid attention and paired AB and Mumu, they would have made a great pair too!

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  21. My apologies, I realised that you were referring to Jheel Ke US Paar as the GN story. Yep that is indeed a GN story. JKU had some lovely songs other than a handsome Dharam and a gorgeous mumtaaz. KJU too has to wait in my list for now!

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  22. Samir, Mumtaz does not star in Raste Ka Patthar, after all? :-(

    Filmbuff, I was referring to Jheel Ke Us Paar. It's been in my to-watch pile forever... I've neglected it for so many other films, and you neglected it for Indian Idol. Poor Garam Dharam! :D

    I agree completely about on-screen pairs. I think "chemistry" is usually a combination of a good script and a good director!

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  23. Mujrim is a lot better than Bandhe Haath, although it isn't perfect by any means. But I think it's better made. (No, Shammi has no influence on that opinion!) :D

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  24. "No, Shammi has no influence on that opinion!" - Of course not! ;D

    I WILL get my hands on Mujrim, one day...

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  25. I finally saw this and the songs make it more likeable than any other reason especially mumtaz and her dance moves i love the hair whipping movement in Bholi surat ki and the whole tribal set up and yup her wardrobe in this is fab i shall be doing a post on it on my at first secret and then neglected bollywood fashion blog, please follow it
    http://bollywoodmoviefashion.blogspot.com/

    Plus i quite liked the whole Love turning a hardened apradh aadmi into a softie

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  26. bollywooddeewana, I love hardened apradhis turning over a new leaf all for LOVE a lot too! I just wish this particular apradhi did it in a more fun way. He did have a very good reason for his reformation, though. Mumtaz looked awesome! And I will definitely visit your fashion blog - once I am back home from my travels...

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