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Monday, July 27, 2009

Amar Deep (1958) – of anti-smoking campaigns and tangled love affairs

Long before cancer studies woke up governments to the harmful effects of tobacco, there was one person who, singlehandedly and tirelessly, crusaded against smoking. This wise person is none other than my favorite comedian, Johnny Walker. What? You dont believe me?!! All ye doubters, check out Amar Deep for proof of this great man’s war against smoking.

Apart from before-its-time anti-smoking ideas, the other interesting aspect of this film is the wide-ranging love-tangents. Most Bollywood films have everybody related to every one else. Here, not only is everybody related to everybody else, they are also in love with everybody else! This is not one of your garden variety love triangle, square, octagon, or any other geometric shape – its a LOVE WEB!
Aruna is a lovely, if somewhat spoilt, rich young woman who loves to dance. Pran (Pran) - her arrogant housemate and her father’s (Bipin Gupta) adopted son - views her interest in dance and music as unhealthy and never fails to make a nasty point of it. From the very fact that he is PRAN and looks like he swallowed a ton of be-nasty tonic before breakfast, we know he is the villain. And we soon find out how he dares to lay down the law in Aruna’s home. Aruna’s Dad had promised his dying friend (Pran’s father), that he would get Pran and Aruna married.
When Aruna is told about about her childhood engagement, she takes to her heels and doesnt stop running till she reaches a comfortable bed in a broken-down bus! The bed’s owner - Ashok (Dev Anand) - considerately allows her to sleep undisturbed all night, and then wakes her with a cup of tea in the morning. Aruna doesnt appreciate his culinary skills, but with the farsightedness of an intelligent woman, falls for a man who serves bed tea.
Their romance is unintentionally hilarious as both spout very flowery romantic sentiments with wide-eyed intensity! But its Dev-Vyjayanthi after all. One cant help being won over by their combined charms! The romance doesnt get time to flourish beyond a lovely song and flowery speeches, when Pran finds Aruna. He drags her home in his expensive car with Ashok gamely sprinting after it. Poor Ashok’s chances of setting a new world record for sprinting are lost when he gets into an argument with a truck. Sadly, our hero comes off worst in the argument, and needs urgent medical aid.
When Ashok comes around, he has lost his memory! He wanders around in a daze of incomprehension and sadness at his forgotten identity. He does surface once in a while to rescue the odd helpless person. One of his recuees is a beautiful gypsy performer Rupa (Padmini), whom he saves from a very nasty accident. She and her family – sister Champa (Ragini) and father (David) – are very grateful and make Ashok welcome in their midst. Rupa falls for him and her feelings are reciprocated by Ashok who has completely forgotten Aruna! Clearly, constancy thy name is NOT Ashok.

Aruna however, hasnt forgotten Ashok. Her father’s death leaves her sad, but she hasnt lost hope of re-uniting with Ashok. Fate plays into her hands when Ashok joins her factory as a worker. Pran beats one of the workers, seriously injuring him. Ashok carries the injured worker to Pran’s home to protest, and Aruna saves the situation by calling the doctor and doling out sympathy. Ashok doesnt recognise her and treats her as only an outraged worker in a filmi factory can treat the factory’s owner. Poor Aruna! She follows Ashok home only to find him with Rupa. What is left for Aruna to do but to sing a sad song? (I would have recommended the fail-proof filmi cure for amnesia – a judicious knock on the head.)

Aruna is not the only one saddened by the Ashok-Rupa romance. There is Ustad (Johnny Walker), a fellow gypsy, who is madly in love with Rupa. He’s been trying for several years to get Rupa to notice him, but to no avail. Champa, Rupa’s sister, loves him, but he has eyes only for Rupa. This, as you may have gathered, is the comic side plot. Ustad tries various stratagems to win over Rupa, including taking help from sadhus and soothsayers, trying black magic, etc. All the poor man gets for his pains is Champa’s tongue lashings and nasty skin troubles!
So lets account for the various love-interests - Pran wants Aruna who loves Ashok who loves her AND Rupa. Champa loves Ustad who loves Rupa who loves Ashok. See, I told you! Everybody loves everybody else. Unfortunately, it doesnt make for world peace! So who ultimately lands up with whom? That would be telling. Go find out yourself!
The story is pretty fast-paced and dramatic (lots of NAHIIIINs), and there are some very lovely songs (check them out here). My favorite is the haunting romantic number Dekh humen awaaz na dena, and the satirical Lene se inkaar nahin which also has some beautiful dancing by a child artist. The other songs are also very good and have some great dancing by Padmini and Ragini as well as Vyjayanthimala.
Its not a movie distinguished by subtle and powerful acting - Vyjayanthimala and Padmini compete for the hamming stakes and between them, succeed in making Dev Anand look like a good actor! Almost everybody sports at least one NAHIIIIIN face, except Pran who does more sulking and lashing out than any evil villainous deeds. The dialogues, for the most part, are fairly flowery, except in the comic side plot where they are actually quite funny.
All in all, its a fun time-pass movie with beautiful people and lovely songs-n-dances.
A BIG thank you to Richard whose write-up inspired me to get this film.


  1. Oh, wow. That's quite a star cast and quite a convoluted story. How come people in Hindi cinema lose their memories at the drop of a hat (and retrieve them, as you so rightly point out, with a bang on the head?)

    I've got to see this - I hadn't realised there was a Vyjyantimala-Dev Anand starrer earlier than Jewel Thief.

  2. Bollyviewer, you are welcome, and thank you for the nice reference. (And by the way, I have just changed/updated my YouTube clips for this.) You've done a very good writeup here, with a most original beginning and some really nice screen caps.

    Dustedoff, I wouldn't have noticed this Vyjayanthimala-Dev Anand starrer if I hadn't sought it as a Padmini-Dev Anand starrer. :) Actually, Padmini was the only star of this movie who had also been in Amara Deepam, the 1956 Tamil movie that it was based on (with Sivaji Ganesan and Savitri). I would love to see that one sometime for comparison!

  3. dustedoff, I saw another amnesia story this weekend where the victim loses his memory and everybody starts worrying over what his religion might have been! Even Hitchcock wasnt immune to the charms of amnesia stories. Now I am tempted to do a series on amnesia movies. ;-)

    Richard, thanks so much for bringing this to my notice. Though I must admit, my motivation for watching this wasnt quite the same as yours! lol

    Its interesting that you mention the Tamil original - some of the dialogues in this one sounded a bit stilted, like they had been directly translated from another language.

  4. I never warmed up to Dev-Vyjanthimala as an onscreen pair. Even though their chemistry in Amar Deep is better than in the disasterous "Duniya", it's still pretty blah, IMO. The reason might be a mismatch in styles - he's urbane and suave while she's earthy and um, matronly.

  5. Heeeeee! I love the screencaps of Pran in that dressing gown!!

    (And Dev without a cigarette?! Nahin!!!!!)

  6. Shalini, "matronly"?!! lol I bet Baburao Patel thought so, too (and may even have said so in his Filmindia). And you are right about Dev-Vyjayanthi - they certainly had very different styles. I actually preferred Tanuja-Dev in Jewel Thief.

    Filmi Girl, Pran wasnt allowed to be as villainous as I know he can! As to Dev without cigarettes - I think he was so taken aback by all the drama around him that he forgot to light up. :-)

  7. bollyviewer: Was that Jahan Pyaar Miley? Because I saw it this weekend, and it was about a man who loses his memory in a train accident and everybody's driving themselves - and him - nuts worrying about what religion he is.

    Now, that's what I call coincidence.

    And yes, please do a series on amnesia films! Door ki Aawaaz is another of those (and has Johnny Walker singing Hum bhi agar bachche hote). And there's Dulha-dulhan, Ek Musafir ek haseena... sorry. Your blog. Will scoot! ;-)

  8. Yes it was Jahan Pyar Miley - quite a co-incidence! :-)

    As it happens, I have already posted about Door Ki Awaaz (even I was much struck by Hum bhi agar bachche hote - the joys of DD watching!) and Ek Musafir Ek Haseena. Maybe I will go ahead and do amnesia month! I'll have to find Dulha Dulhan and hopefully the library can supply Spellbound - any other suggestions for amnesia stories?

  9. There is the 'not so cute anymore' Rishi Kapoor film Henna...does it qualify for 'Old is Gold'? Amnesia played a central role there.

  10. Random Harvest is another I can think of, and wasn't Rajesh Khanna in Raaz also suffering from amnesia? I don't remember the film too well... been a while since I saw it.

    There's also Shaadi, where Dharmendra loses his memory after a plane crash.

  11. Frankly, with that dressing gown and his expensive car, Pran sounds like a much better catch than Dev Saab. Handsomer, too. But alas, if he's anti-dance -- that's just EVIL.

  12. From the looks of the huge bandage on her head, I'm guessing that Meena Kumari plays an amnesiac in Bharon Ki Manzil.

    If you haven't seen the movie, please watch it - so I don't have to!:-D

  13. A love web! Hahahaha!

    Someone over at Bollywhat was saying that Johnny Walker is their favorite filmi comedian. I've never seen a movie with him.

  14. Ruchi, amnesia did play a very major part in Henna along with the 'not so cute anymore' Rishi. However, that is one movie that I would watch only if I was afflicted by amnesia! Cant you think of anything nicer?

    dustedoff, you are a goldmine of information, as always! Shaadi has a lovely cast. Do you remember anything of the plot? I tried watching Raaz a while ago and inspite of relatively non-annoying Rajesh Khanna (quite unusual in my experience), nice looking Babita and some great songs, it was a very painful experience! I dont think I can bear to re-watch. Random Harvest though, is lovely AND available in the library. *off to order it*

    Anarchivist, nahiiiin, yeh jhooth hai! Pran is sooooo not handsomer than Dev A at his prime. ;-) Plus, Pran is not just anti-dancing, he is anti- everything here! Not an option for Vyjayanthi at all!

    Shalini, you are EVIL! Arent there enough impossible-to-find DVDs in my to-find list? Must you keep adding more?! O oooo. My trusted sources dont have it. Great! Now I will never know why Meena Kumari forgot her daughter and husband and 16 years of married life.

    ajnabi, Johnny Walker got good comedian roles in the 50s but after that his comedy became rather repetitive and stale. He had a fun part here, though. Try one of Guru Dutt's earlier films - Johnny W is the only ray of sunshine there!

  15. Yes, I do remember Shaadi pretty well - it happens to be one of the first films I ever bought on DVD, though in retrospect it wasn't really worth buying. Here's my review of it:

    And yes, I agree Raaz wasn't one of the can't-be-missed Rajesh Khanna films. Forgettable.

  16. I seem to get memory problems when I start thinking of amnesia films! All that keeps coming to mind are stray dialogues such as 'gehra sadma ...inki yaddasht pe asar hua hai'!

    Wasn't there a Rajesh Khanna movie with Sharmila Tagore and Rakhee where he forgets one and then marries the other and finally it ends with some MCP solution where they all live 'happily' together? Can't remember the name :)! Oh another one, I think it was called 'Asha' - Reena Roy, Jeetendra and...someone else...I think it was again the same thing - he forgets one and then falls in love with the other.

    Amnesia seems a very good excuse for men to commit bigamy, I wonder if there are any Hindi movies that show women ending in similar situation because of amnesia?

    I somehow think you would not appreciate my latest movie suggestions either...maybe I need a 'gehra sadma' to make me remember some nice and proper amnesia films!

  17. Bharon Ki Manzil is available on VCD. I'll happily, cheerfully, gratefully send you my copy for your viewing pleasure.:-0

    Btw, methinks Meena Kumari-Dharmendra must have the worst output of any real-life "couple" in Hindi films...

    If incoherent, incomprehensible, poorly edited films are your thing, "Miss Mala" with Kishore Kumar & Vyjanthimala is another entry in the memory-loss genre.

  18. What a fun review, Johnny Walker is always hilarious to watch

  19. Thanks for another excellent review, bollyviewer. I actually only skimmed it because I didn't want too much given away. I have long been a fan of Johnny Walker and this review has tipped me over the edge and made me decide to start actively building a collection of his films, as I do with Nandita Das films and films with qawwalis. Penury in perpetuity!

  20. Ruchi, the Rajesh Khanna-Sharmila-Raakhee starrer is Daag: A Poem of Love. But as far as I remember, it's not a case of amnesia; he's escaped from the police and has created a new identity for himself. I could be wrong, though... it's been a while since I saw that film.

  21. I saw Raaz the other night, and I am probably going to write it up (ehr, soon), because I felt it takes real talent to turn a story with that much potential in something so utterly dull.

    Dil ne pukara has memory loss of sorts, and there is some of it in Trishna but I can't think of anything else that hasn't been mentioned already at the moment. It seems to be rarer than blindness in any case.

  22. dustedoff, I must be suffering from a mild case of amnesia, myself! Now that I've seen it, I remember your Shaadi post perfectly, and that is another film on my try-to-find list. :-D

    Ruchi, if I take up all your suggestions, the gehra sadma will happen to me! A Rajesh Khanna movie and that too with Yash Chopra (yes it is Daag as dustedoff points out) - ek to karela, oopar se neem chadha! Sadly, women in Hindi films do not get commit polyandry (that happens only in the decadent West!), no matter what the excuse! Wait... I think Divya Bharti did in Deewaana, but her husbands (Rishi Kapoor and Shahrukh Khan) solved the matter with no inputs from her. Anybody remember if amnesia was involved?

    Shalini, the synopsis on imdb sounded very interesting even though Meena Kumari looks positively scary in the song you linked to! Plus, there is Dharmendra (yes he does have very bad movies with Meena!) and Farida Jalaal. OK, I am game to watch it, inspite of the potential risks involved!

    "incoherent, incomprehensible, poorly edited films" are not really my thing, especially if they involve Kishore Kumar! But Miss Mala has some lovely songs. Note to self: STOP following good songs into BAD movies.

    bollywooddeewana, Johnny Walker is one of the few Hindi comedians that I can bear to watch, and was pretty fun to watch here.

    maxqnz, movies with qawwalis - I'd say your "penury in pepetuity" is assured with that alone! Add Johnny Walker to the collection, and you may run into debts. Ah! the troubles we filmi-buffs have to endure.

    gebruss, you crack me up! It does indeed take real talent to turn a story with that much potential into something so utterly dull.

    And thats right - Trishna has memory loss too. But I'd much rather watch amnesiac Shashi of Jahan Pyar Miley!

  23. bollyviewer, regarding polyandry in Hindi films: yes, I don't recall any instances. Though I can think of a couple of films (other than Ijaazat, which I still haven't seen), where the heroine marries twice, after a legal divorce, of course! Aap ki Kasam and Mere Mehboob - the latter, in true filmy style, doesn't let her second marriage be consummated. Eeesh!

  24. O I dont remember divorces and second marriages in Mere Mehboob. Everyone had so much trouble getting married the first time round! Who got divorced and remarried?

    There was Nikaah as well, not to mention a couple of "widow remarriage" movies (Bahu Beti, Prem Rog) where women were allowed to remarry (after making it very clear that the first marriage was unconsummated). Were Raj Kumar and Vimmi married in Humraaz?

    Ooooo I just remembered the awful Mukti where Vidya Sinha lands up with two husbands because the first one doesnt die when he is supposed to! Of course, the second marriage is entirely platonic. Hmm.... looks like Deewana is our best bet for polyandry.

  25. Yes, Vimmi is married to Raj Kumar in Humraaz so her marriage to Sunil Dutt is bigamous. And not only are both marriages consumated but she has a lover on the side! No wonder she's polished off half-way through the movies - I'm surprised she was allowed to live even that long.:-)

    There are a few movies that allow women with prior, um, experience (in marital or non-marital relationships) to have a second chance at love and happiness - Ek Hi Raasta, Duniya Jhukti Hai, Andaz, Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan, etc.

    PS. Let me know if you want "Baharn Ki Manzil".

  26. "And not only are both marriages consummated but she has a lover on the side!" - even Bollywood vamps arent allowed to be so bad! She should have been hung, drawn and quartered, not just murdered. ;-)

    And thats a great list of second-time-happy heroines. I have only dim memories of Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (how can one forget Chal mere ghode?) and havent seen Duniya Jhukti hai. Is it worth watching? The cast is certainly interesting.

    And yes, I'd love to watch Baharon Ki Manzil. You can contact me at bollyviewer_at_gmail_dot_com.

  27. Found this on You Tube, and thought you'd like's the Russian version of Pardesi. Unlike the video I have, this version is in full and glorious color.

  28. as always any campaign against this horrible vice is welcome, I speak for a smoker for long years you don't know the terrible consequences of this vice, I really appreciate this message.

  29. Nice and informative post. Smoking is one of the powerful addictions, which can lead to death. Small percentage of reduction in smoking is beneficial for the health. Even with the well-known heart, blood pressure, and cancer risks can be avoid by quitting smoking as early as possible. Many smokers try to quit smoking but they are so much addicted to it they fails to quit smoking.

  30. I love bollywood specially chocolate hero like Rishi Kapoor and amir khan.
    What can I say about dev anand He is always evergreen.

    Smith Alan

  31. Wow, nice post,there are many person searching about that now they will find enough resources by your post.Thank you for sharing to us.Please one more post about that..

  32. Hi there Bollyviewer! Just stumbled across your blog from Dustedoff's! I was ROFLing the whole time at your post, for two reasons. Number one, your hilarious captions. Really, they were better than the stupid nonense films of nowadays. And number two. The truck thingy... did the film makers intend it to be a Nau Do Gyarah reference? Oh, and the puff thing made me roll off the bed! Thank you so much! I have to see it now (and stop laughing)!