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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Deewangee (1976) - Beware of diamonds!

I discovered this unknown (to me) movie by Subodh Mukherji Productions (the production house that gave us Junglee, Sharmeelee and Abhinetri) on Rajshri's movie (and TV-series) portal. An unknown movie starring *gasp* Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Amaan at their beautiful best - what a treat! The story has a pinch of Roman Holiday, lots of diamonds and generous doses of Bollywood masala but the result is a rather bland mish-mash. It appears that though diamonds are a girl's best friend, Zeenat hates them and they do nothing for Shashi or any of his assorted friends, either!
Shekhar (Shashi Kapoor) is a poor orphan who through hard work and misogynism (yes, he really hates women and tunefully explains why in Haseeno ke chakkar mein at 9:00 min into the movie!!!) has overcome the handicap of poverty to make himself an unsuccessful car mechanic. OK OK he has not overcome the handicap of poverty but you wouldnt think so if you saw his wardrobe and how perfectly his hair have been curled! His companion in poverty is his trusty lieutenant Birju (Jr Mehmood) who loves women as much as his boss hates them.

The two of them make regular jaunts to a nearby town where Shekhar goes to meet his friends, Bill (Paintal) and Harry (Ranjit). For this they usually *borrow* their customers' cars. This pair of Cinderellas clearly doesnt need a Fairy Godmother! The friends indulge in wild parties where Harry, Bill and Shekhar sit and enjoy a couple of rounds of beer! The only thing that enlivens these evenings (for us) is Harry's beautiful girl friend Kitty (Helen). She dresses up like a cabaret dancer even at home and is more interested in Shekhar than Harry. Now, I am the first to condone Shashi-love in anybody but given that Ranjit looks as hot if not hotter than Shashi, it is rather inexplicable, here!
One night when they return from their jaunt, Shekhar discovers a beautiful stowaway - Kanchan (Zeenat Amaan) - soaking their pristine back seat. Turns out that in return for her kindness to him, Birju has offered her the shelter of Shekhar's home. Having thus established his chivalrous nature, Birju leaves the rest up to Kanchan. Shekhar is unimpressed by Kanchan's beauty (he isnt supposed to be blind but he must be) or her distress (what a jerk)! But then a happy chance comes to Kanchan's rescue. Shekhar suddenly recognises her picture from a newspaper ad that promises a hefty reward to anybody helping to locate her. After that he is all expansive hospitality and smiles.
Shekhar writes to her Uncle who placed the ad and does his best to keep Kanchan from leaving till her Uncle and his reward arrive. Kanchan in the meantime, does her best to make her way to his heart through his stomach and through a judicious application of puja. She succeeds so well in this that Shekhar would rather have her than a few grand in cash. O well good food can do this to the best of us - naan and butter chicken anyone?
Just when you were getting comfortable with the Roman Holiday-ish aspects of the story, it changes into something else. Kanchan and Shekhar get married and live happily-ever-after, bringing up their son Baabla (Master Rajoo) in a small house straight out of Aa Gale Lag Ja. Any seasoned viewer of Hindi movies will know that such happiness before interval spells disaster. The disaster isnt long in coming. Once Shekhar has stopped playing at happy-families, he tells us how he hates having no money (Kanchan's cooking and singing beginning to pall on him?).
Old friend Bill comes to visit unexpectedly one day and asks Shekhar to store his locked briefcase for a while. The next day Shekhar finds out that Bill was murdered after leaving him. He also discovers that Bill's briefcase is filled with diamonds! Kanchan is horrified (!!??) but Shekhar is elated to discover such wealth and begins to dream big. There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, however, as Shekhar soon discovers. Two sets of villains headed by George (Madan Puri) and Munne Khan (Narendranath) are also on the lookout for the diamonds and arent above threatening Shekhar and his loved ones to get to them. What follows is a sequence of action scenes and betrayals that shakes the soul - Shekhar's that is, not mine - and convinces Shekhar that diamonds may suit Marilyn Monroe but arent really his cup of tea!
The movie starts out as comparatively interesting. The romance between the leads is really cute. Once they achieve the happily-ever-after stage though, the movie decides to take a shovel and beat the viewer over the head with its moral message! We are none of us to covet wealth. That way lies destruction of epic proportions! Junior Mehmood's part promises to be pretty interesting but is abruptly cut off at the same point where the movie changes track. Shashi, Zeenat, Ranjit and Helen look beautiful as ever. Their performances are also as expected with no great surprises. The soundtrack though previously unheard (by me) is surprisingly good. I loved the Kishore-Amit Kumar duet Haseenon ke chakkar mein best, but the other songs are also good - Puja ki vidhi na jaanoo, Woh bhi mujhse, Pyaar jab tera mera and Chal Sapnon ke shehar mein were all sweet and beautifully picturised.
All in all, a charming but average movie. Watch it for the great songs and the lovely lead-pair but dont expect a riveting story and too many fun dialogues.
And before I sign off, here's one interesting thing that I noticed about the movie: Shashi Kapoor weds the same red saree in all Subodh Mukherji Productions - Abhinetri, Sharmeelee and here!


  1. This looks interesting. It seems to suffer from what Beth calls the curse of the second half, though.

    I wondered, maybe his lack of money is partly due to his penchant for curlers and fashionable cloths?

  2. Master Rajoo! Helen! Handsome Ranjit (he was so hot in the 70s)! Jr. Mehmood! and curly Shash! No matter how bad the script and direction, it must be seen. Must.

  3. When I first saw this, I was thinking of new Deewaangee film (me ignoring the year).

    The older film sounds very interested. I need to get a copy

  4. Welcome gebruss. The second half does seem a bit cursed - if only the movie would decide on a genre and stick to it. And yes, you've hit on the right explanation for his poverty here - must take a fortune to be perfectly curled and clothed!

    memsaab the movie wasnt bad as much as - yawn - boring. :-( With Subodh Mukherji (he tells us that "a film of SMP is joy forever") and Shashi I had higher expectations!

    Nicki I've seen the newer one which is a rip-off of the Richard Gere starrer Primal Fear. That one also suffered from the curse of the second half!

  5. I'm with Memsaab. I can't not watch this. It's a crack and I'm a junkie.

    And OMG I am in fear and awe and love that you admitted to thinking Ranjit was hot. Sometimes. I didn't say it.

  6. Ha ha! I love the way producers plug themselves in the movie credits. Hilarious.

    and thanks ppcc. You put it perfectly. It's crack.

    And of course Ranjit is hot. You could only not know that if you had not had an eye transplant yet and were still blind.

  7. Are those really Shashi Kapoor legs in the 'The oft repeated wedding' screen cap? They look so awfully and sadly thin!

  8. ppcc, we all certainly need our fix and this one works for both Shashi as well as Zeenat junkies! :-) Who knows, with subtitles it may even be fun.

    Ranjit was totally hot in the 70s - cant believe I didnt notice till now!

    memsaab, cant say I've come across such an outrageous plug in a movie before. Any other producer does that, do you know?

    "And of course Ranjit is hot. You could only not know that if you had not had an eye transplant yet and were still blind."

    Just had my eye-transplant. Cant believe I was blind this long! :-)

    Ruchi, nobody, but NOBODY, uses the adjectives "awful" and "sad" in relation to house favorite Shashi Kapoor on Old Is Gold! ;-) Now that we've got that out of the way, I must admit that those might be Shashi's legs. Handsome he certainly was but nobody could accuse him of being a body-beautiful!

  9. Have to see this movie....going by your narration it sounds unmissable :)

  10. Toonfactory, you can check it out on Rajshri's site. Its not a great print, though.

  11. I think I'll have to check out the song picturizations before committing to the entire film - still curly-topped Shashi, Helen, Zeenat... it does seem difficult to belive that the curse of the 2nd half kicks in. :)

  12. Very interesting...after reading your post I am wondering how I missed this one ........

  13. I think this is the one movie I have seen with both of them together whose name I had forgotten, and have been in search of. :) Thank you Bolly!

  14. Filmi Girl, the song picturisations are very good and of course, everybody looks lovely - its quite watchable on that count. Approached with low expectations, it may even be great!

    Reviewer, my sentiments exactly! Couldnt believe I never knew of it till Rajshri decided to put it up on their site.

    Ana, you are welcome! It bothers me too, not to be able to recall the name of a familiar movie.

  15. Red saree? interesting.After reading review i m dying 2 see this movie.

  16. crazy on bollywood, hope you enjoy it... Check my response to toonfactory above for a link to the movie online.

  17. This is definitely Shashilicious cracktastic! I love the pictures with them in the car and on the motorcycle.

    Love all the curls and curler jokes :) We might need to start an official curls organization within the Shashi Pradesh federal government...we can't let such national treasures go unprotected.

  18. Beth, cracktastic is such a good word to describe several masala goodies! And yes, national treasures should be protected at all costs - lets go hunting for the all-important curlers NOW, and steal a march on the Villains.