Directed by Raj Khosla
This movie attempts to capture a madcap detective spirit, a cross between the Nick and Nora films and a noir film. It’s a fun little movie, but it doesn’t hold a candle to any Western-produced film in either of these genres. I am probably too biased to give this movie a fair review, since those two genres are two of my favorites. What I’m trying to say is that the film does not succeed in the standards it sets up for itself in the beginning (incidentally, this is a concept I learned from Elizabeth McCracken at Iowa). The plot mystery is clear enough early on, and most of the movie is spent following the main character, played by Dev Anand, as he is on the run from a false conviction and as he tries to find the people who will prove his innocence simply by their existence. The action is fast but the dialogue is weak; in Hollywood noir and madcap films, even though the story does not dwell on characters, their short lines and acting scenes are so well-produced that it makes up for character development. In this film, the screenplay is mediocre, which means the characters are never fully developed. The stock characters feel more like wooden popsicle sticks than stock (you have to admit there is at least a modicum of substance in stock). This was the first film in which I saw the rather famous Johnny Walker, who was known for playing the jester role. I found him annoying, but that’s because I always find that character type annoying—I’m talking more the Gomer Pyle type character than Danny Kaye or Donald O’Connor (who were very good at what they did). Waheeda Rehman made something of a debut as the mystery woman, and Dev Anand is every inch deserving of his sobriquet “Debonair Dev” (he moves rather like a cross between Clark Gable and Cary Grant).
You can decide for yourself if it is a good or bad thing that this review was littered with references to Hollywood. I make every effort to analyze Bollywood on its own terms, but this film couldn’t fend off the comparisons.
Rating: The story is accessible, but the script is so poorly written that most Western viewers won’t give it their time. The film quality is also unfortunately not well-taken or well-restored (I don’t know if it’s one or both). The picture is dark and shadowed, but not in an intentional way—just in a way that looks like the film itself has not aged well.
Library Collection: There’s no real need to collect this unless it is requested. There are other examples of films with Dev Anand that would equally show his qualities.