Thursday, May 22, 2003


Being a 1981 product of the Ramsay picchur factory, this B-flick boasts a sepia-and-overflowing-red tainted colour-drained print (characteristic of rare prints that did not meet the requirements for preservation set down by large inflated corporates with marigolds for brains like YashRaj Films -- see below for extended rant), a stellar star cast (love that phrase!) including Navin Nischol, Sarika, Bharat Bhushan (yes, he dies in this movie too), Om Shivpuri and Nadira (yep, you read that right!). Additionally present are the usual suspects (read: comic fillers and obligatory extras):

* Birbal (doing an Om Prakash impersonation)

* Rajendranath (credited as 'Narendranath' and playing Bahadur Bakshi, a cowardly veterinarian colleague to Navin Nischol's Dr Sameer Mahipat Rai). I think I've seen him credited thus in an old Joy Mukherji flick, but I'd have to do some digging to verify this.

* Jayshree T playing (again) the low-budget seductive moll (a club dancer, in this case, with whom Dr Vishal [Shivpuri] has a torrid -- well, as much as the censors and the constraints of economy allow -- affair)

* Not to forget Sarika doing her bit as the desi version of the clueless blonde, with nothing to contribute to the plot except being a love interest and the dumb gal who uses her IQ (which cannot be measured even on the Kelvin scale) and gets into the chu.Ngal (clutches) of the mutating Dr Vishal

The film has several appealing aspects (B-genre, plot points, compositions) to it:

* Bharat Bhushan plays a taa.Ngevaalaa called Robert, with two kids, Georgie and Rosie. To reiterate, he dies in the movie (again): thanks to some hawk serum injected into him by Dr Vishal (Shivpuri), his eyesight hits a sharp improvement, and then his eyes cannot stand the light. His iridic infrastructure shortly collapses under the strain, and so does he.

* Brother Keshu Ramsay (who went on to direct Dak Bungla for the family canon, produce Khiladi 420, and the forthcoming Khakee [post mentioning the film] and produce and direct the interesting Khoj) lends his services for a cameo as a bystander spouting some prolix at the cemetery (see note about the cemetery below) and credited as a "Brotherly Appearance". That must the first time such a credit has appeared (in addition to the regular "Special Appearance" by Sudhir and Gajanan Jagirdar)

* Based on the name and profession of Bharat Bhushan's character, one must assume that the population of the bastii is Christian, and is in danger of extinction. The Hindus (represented by the Mahipat Rai family) seem to be safe, even by the end of the movie. Would this be the first example of subtle religion-conscious horror flicks?

* The CBI office where junior artistes dressed up in police uniform are operating typewriters

* The use (unauthorized, of course) of Pink Floyd's Time as Dr Vishal enters the club/hotel that Jayshree T is supposed to perform her dance number (which is also the second of two songs featured in the film: merii jaa.N, a thar-tharaataa duet complete with English grunts and words ("don't touch me") with Asha). More song information can be found in the credits section below.

* A rock-solid performance by Om Shivpuri (as the bat serum infected world-famous Dr Vishal -- CRIB: If he's world-renowned, how come no one mentions his last name???)

Observations: The film is set in an (imaginary) bastii in the district of Chandan Nagar, which based on events transpiring in the film, seems to be located somewhere between Poona and Bombay. A key piece of evidence is milestone 73 (chosen for its prime properties?) on the highway where Vishal wishes a rendezvous with Sameer.

Synopsis and Review

another dahshat, also scored by Bappi.


starring Navin Nischol (Dr Sameer), Sarika (Kiran), Om Shivpuri (Dr Vishal), Nadira (Kamini)

with Narendranath (Dr Bakshi), Pinchoo Kapoor (the CBI lead), Dev Kumar, Ramesh Dev (playing a muslim police inspector called Dr Mullah!), Gopi Krishna, Jayshree T, Bharat Bhushan (Robert), Madan Puri (Mr Mahipat Rai, Sameer's dad), Agha (Kiran's dad), Chand Usmani

Special Appearance Sudhir Gajanan Jagirdar

Brotherly Appearance Keshu Ramsay

Records on HMV (aka lost forever)

Music Assistants Anil and Aroon

Playback Asha Bhosle Kishore Kumar Sulakshana Pandit Bhappi Lahiri

Lyrics Amit Khanna

Music Bhappi Lahiri (I don't think he sang for anyone else but himself!)

Co-Editor Shyam Ramsay

Sound Engineer Kiran Ramsay

Associate Director Arjun Ramsay

Cinematography Gangu Ramsay

Story, Screenplay, and Produced by Kumar Ramsay

Directed by Tulsi Ramsay & Shyam Ramay


mere pyaar kaa miiTar (Kishore): Yes, you read right. Ultra-pedestrian lyrics composed in the O P Nayyar vein (a really cool experiment) and picturised on Navin Nischol and Sarika (accompanied by Narendranath and Dev Kumar) on a taangaa, high on bhaa.Ng.

merii jaa.N (Bappi, Asha): a vigorously danced out club number with Jayshree T and dude_with_skin_coated_with_shoe_polish? (Who is this guy?). Lotsa cool riffs from Bappi-vaaDii.

Open Question: Was there another song with Sulakshana Pandit (since she's credited)?

Another Open Question: Who's the voice intoning "Dahshat" over the opening credits?

extended rant about YashRaj films

I must first say that I am glad someone (in this case YashRaj Films) has decided to convert to DVD a lot of the old Bollywood films (so what if they weren't "classics", they're still historically important). Now, since it's YashRaj Films, we need a business angle. Which would be fine, all things considered, if they had invested at least a fraction of the effort involved in transferring a film to DVD. Reviews on should be a fair indication of how much the Indian sector needs to come up to speed on good DVD conversions. Back to YRF. Their DVD catalogue is impressive. Being an RD Burman fan, I was especially pleased to see Jagir (which has an awesome electronica-laden soundtrack, and is probably a passable film). However, there are two things that mar the joy at this bit of news (and this brings me to the rant):

* The DVDs are either UK or USA/Canada. A paltry subset is available via Ultra Distributors for VCD and VHS distribution in India only. So, of course, prices are obscene: USD 17.99 plus shipping.

* Let us now examine the "Features" section of our sample DVD. I draw your attention to the last item: "Reproduced from vintage source for the sake of nostalgic appeal, hence possibly compromising on quality". This means, I am getting some sub-rate product and paying through my ... ahem ... for it.

Hence the rant. And if you thought I am getting more than it's worth, considering that this is such an obscure film, check out the page for an unchallengeable classic in Hindi (and even Indian) cinema, Pyaasa. Same deal.

On a related note, Raj Kapoor's Shree 420 (redone for the 90s as Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman) made it to DVD in two avatars: one from YRF (they decided to do away with the nostalgia bit on this one, methinks ... no "nostalgic appeal" nonsense on this page) and the other from Shemaroo Video. Michel Hafner reviews both and provides a comparison: the conclusions are not cut-and-dry, both versions have pluses and minuses. Pity.

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