Acting legend, Dilip Kumar has been bestowed upon with the title of Tragedy King in Bollywood (though he had done hilarious comedy too in certain films). However never had I seen him in a murder mystery and that too with himself doing the investigation of the murder, prior to Qila (1998) which is the last released movie of his acting career. Quite interestingly, Dilip Kumar is not only the investigator but also the murdered one as well, doing double role in this movie. In this way, the characters played by Dilip Kumar in his last movie, are quite different from the ones he played throughout his career.Qila was released in April 1998. After appearing in my viva of the Indian Civil Services Exam at the UPSC in the morning hours, I went to watch the matinee show of Qila at Plaza theatre in Connaught Place, New Delhi with my wife and my dear friend Aqueel Ahmed on 29th April, 1998. Since the movie was a murder mystery, myself, like always, started guessing about the murderer and discussing with my wife and friend in the interval. However my guesses did not come true. Somebody else came out as the murderer in the climax and not the one whom I was suspecting to be.Qila (fort or fortress) starts with a murder committed by Gulshan Grover. However an innocent man is arrested for it and put under trial in the court. The judge, Amar Nath Singh (Dilip Kumar) feels that the convict is innocent but there is nobody to support him. Being a man of justice, he decides to investigate the case himself and find out the truth. However, his task increases when his own twin brother, Jagannath Singh (Dilip Kumar ‘s second role) is found murdered in his fort (Qila). Jagannath Singh was a corrupt landlord with very low morals and mean mentality because of which Amar Nath Singh had distanced from him. However, he feels that finding out the murderer of his brother is his duty. So he starts digging his past which is full of skeletons. Coming to know of the injustice and wrongdoings of his brother with many people (especially women), judge Amar Nath Singh, alongwith his murder investigation exercise, takes corrective steps on behalf of his deceased brother to do justice to the victims. However all of them are in his list of murder suspects. The real murderer comes before him in the ending scene only.Qila contains a very good murder plot full of potential. However director Umesh Mehra faltered in developing it into an outstanding murder mystery which he could have done just by exercising some creativity and careful handling of the script. Perhaps he got too overwhelmed with Dilip Kumar’s personality and overlooked certain leads which, if developed properly, could have made this mystery more engrossing and satisfying in the end with revelation of a different character as the murderer.All the same, Qila is a good watch since the suspense is well-maintained. The background of the murder and the hidden facts are revealed to the audience on layer-by-layer basis. Dilip Kumar’s briskness and energy at the age of 75-76 years surprises the viewers. His dance in the song – Kurte Ki Baiyaan Ko Oopar Chadhaai Ke looks amazing at this age. He is all-pervasive in the movie and gets the maximum possible footage in the twin roles – one being a positive one and the other being a negative one. His towering performance has been ably supported by Mukul Dev who plays the unrecognized son of Jagannath Singh (why the director has named himself too as Amar is not understandable to me as two main characters of the movie having the same name, creates confusion only). The movie contains characters like Rekha, Malay Chakraborty, Mamta Kulkarni, Smita Jaykar, Satish Kaushik etc. However these are all dwarfed before the tall persona of Dilip Kumar. Other than Mukul Dev, if somebody makes her presence felt in the movie, it is Rajeshwari Sachdev who plays the daughter of judge Amar Nath Singh. Baddies are routine.The music given by Anand Raaj Anand is quite good. Two songs – Wah Bhai Wah and Kurte Ki Baiyaan Ko Oopar Chadhai Ke had become quite popular at the time of its release. One more song – Laai Hai Mehndi Waali Raat Apne Ghar Khushiyaan is also a pleasant marriage song.Technical and production value aspects of the movie are more or less ok. The scenes between the brother Mukul Dev and the sister Rajeshwari Sachdev are quite impressive. The director has rendered a logical end to the story after the mystery is resolved.
Qila is a good murder mystery which could have been a much better one. However it is an interesting watch. All the mystery fans as well as the fans of Dilip Kumar can be expected to like it.
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