The insider who was a blackmailer

‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’ is an idiomatic expression in Hindi language whose origin is the story of the Indian epic – Raamayan. It’s a term used for a member inside the house (quite naturally, knowing the secrets of the house) whose betrayal leads to the fall of the house. While referring to the Rama story, Vibheeshan (the youngest brother of Raavan) is called as the ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’ and the maxim – Ghar Ka Bhedi Lanka Dhaaye (the insider, i.e., Vibheeshan leads to the fall of Lanka) is quoted for him only. Taking a clue from these facts, a person who possesses the inside information of a family / house / organization and uses it against the same (for the sake of material benefit or revenge or the like wise) is called ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’. In a nutshell, an insider can be called ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’.Ghar-Ka-Bhedi-Surendra-Mohan-Pathak-925660502-435994-1Hindi mystery writer, Surendra Mohan Pathak titled the 107th venture of his crime reporter hero, Sunil as Ghar Ka Bhedi which was first published in January 1999. It is based on the murder of a corrupt journalist, Gopal Krishna Batra who was a stigma in the name of journalism because he used to blackmail the people on the basis of certain inside information gathered by him about them. He used to write a regular column – ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’ in a newspaper – ‘Jaagrook’ (alert) in which he first gave certain indications about the prospective blackmail victim (and his / her concealable secret) and thereafter extracted money from him / her by threatening to reveal the whole truth before the world. The byline of the column contained only the initials of the column-writer which were GKB. Whenever somebody enquired about the full form of GKB, the answer came from the administrators of the newspaper as ‘Ghar Ka Bhedi’. However since the initials of Gopal Krishna Batra were also GKB, he only was suspected to be writing that column. One more reason behind this suspicion was the drastic improvement in his financial status since the beginning of the column in the newspaper. He had started living in a magnificent mansion in a posh area called North Shore (in the fictitious city of Rajnagar) alongwith his wife, Bhaavna and sister-in-law (wife’s younger sister), Sanchita and maintaining a lavish life-style.

And now Batra has been murdered.

The news of Batra’s murder is broken to our hero, Sunil who happens to be the chief reporter of a national daily of high repute, Blast; by his junior reporter, Arjun when he is in his regular drinking session with his hand-in-glove friend, Ramakant in Youth Club, a night-club owned by Ramakant. Now our hero alongwith his close friend and junior reporter, starts investigating the murder of Batra. He comes to know that Batra was a licentious person, having an affair with not only his unmarried sister-in-law, Sanchita but also the young educated maid of the house, Neena Manuel. However he also finds that the other members of the house are no saints either. His sister-in-law Sanchita lives a carefree lifestyle full of boyfriends and she never minded the advances of her brother-in-law too. And the wife, Bhaavna has at least three admirers outside the household – 1. Inspector Sukhbeer Chaanana, the police officer investigating Batra’s murder, 2. Saagar Santoshi, a novelist who is the neighbour-cum-old friend of Batra, 3. Sanjeev Suri who is apparently a DJ (disc jockey) performing on radio but actually a gigolo who gets intimated with wealthy but lonely women and extracts money from them in lieu of the services rendered by him to them. In addition to these people, Sanchita’s boyfriend Pankaj Saxena is also suspect for this murder because he had been very unhappy with Sanchita’s relationship with her brother-in-law and had boxed him in public for that reason. One more in-house suspect is the driver of the family, Jagat Singh whose brother (who was a doctor) had committed suicide due to Batra’s blackmailing. The list of suspects does not end here. Niranjan Chopra, a drug-dealing gangster who runs a notorious night-club – Nickle Chain, Taanya Chatwaal, a young girl who is a drug-addict and maintains illicit relationship with Niranjan Chopra to get her regular dose of drug and her father Naresh Chatwaal who is not only a big industrialist (known as the Cotton King) but also likely to be sworn in as the Union Minister for Industries, are also among suspects. Now it’s a great challenge for Sunil to single out the real murderer out of so many suspects. And his endeavours in this respect keep the reader hooked throughout the novel.

The novel is not only an intricate mystery (I don’t know whether it’s Mr. Pathak’s original idea or he has lifted it from somewhere) but also a humour-studded story. The story starts with the usual drinking session of Sunil with his friend, Ramakant and thereafter the continuous presence of Ramakant in the novel keeps on tickling the funny bone of the reader. The good dose of humour adds immense value to the interesting mystery and makes the novel worth reading more than once. The hero’s interactions with his junior, Arjun are also interesting and his quick-wit and smartness is scattered throughout the novel.

Mr. Pathak’s spicy language and the tassels added to the main narrative not only render a repeat value to the novel (I have read it many times) but also make it as readable by all kinds of readers interested in light stuff. Above all, it contains inspiring stuff too in the form of the motivating and positivism-filled talks of the ever-optimistic hero. The novel has a fresh feel despite a lapse of more than 18 years since the issue of its first edition. I recommend it wholeheartedly to all those who can read Hindi and like reading fiction.

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Because they swapped wives

If someone has really given Surendra Mohan Pathak a run for his money in the field of Hindi pulp fiction of crime-detection genre for around 25 years, it’s Ved Prakash Sharma. Ved Prakash Sharma, an ordinary person from Meerut (U.P.) with a modest education, not only wrote many bestseller Hindi novels but some of his novels were adapted for Bollywood movies also viz. Bahu Ki Aawaaz (1985) and Anaam (1993). Moreover, he himself wrote screenplays and dialogues of Akshay Kumar starrer movies like Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995) and International Khiladi (1999).

Initially Ved Prakash Sharma used to pen crime-detection and thriller novels under his regular Vijay-Vikas series only. However after graduating in this field for a few years, he created some lead characters of different types. One such character is Vibha Jindal whom he has established as the head of a big industrial house with a keen interest in resolving mysteries related to crime. The writer has portrayed Vibha, now a widow and mother of a grown-up son, as his college buddy and first love. And on this ground, in the novels of Vibha Jindal series, the author himself alongwith some of his family members too, remains present and shows himself as taking active part in the investigative activities going on in his story.

Mr. Sharma has written total four novels taking Vibha Jindal in the lead role of the detective. Though all four are very good, I consider the novel under this review as the best one of this series. In this novel, not only the consecutive murders keep the reader hooked but the interactions of the author himself and his son – Shagun (being characters of the novel) with the lady-detective, Vibha add optimum spice to the narrative, making the reading a very very delicious one.Kyonki Woh Beewiyaan Badalte Thay (because they swapped wives) contains a series of murders of sons and daughters-in-law of big business families in Delhi. Since the daughter-in-law of Bajaj family – Chaandni is the friend of Shagun (author’s son), she approaches the author, requesting them to pursue Vibha Jindal to investigate this case (because Vibha has earned a name not only in the field of business and industry but crime-detection also and she commands a respect in the top brass of the police department as well). How Vibha investigates the case with the author and his son forms the major part of the novel and the murderer turns out to be someone whom the reader cannot think of even in the wildest of his dreams.

The author has dared to disclose the reason behind the murders of high profile victims in the title of the novel itself (Because they swapped wives). Despite knowing the reason behind the killings of the victims even before reading a single word of the novel, the reader remains spellbound through the 360 pages long narrative. The author gets the reason behind the killings clarified just before the climax from the mouth of one of the characters but the reader knows it beforehand. The beauty of the narrative is that despite this knowledge, his curiosity in the story does not get diluted, it only thickens and deepens. There is no boring sequence in the novel and the reader feels to lose his existence and amalgamate with that of the characters of the story.

I don’t know whether the phenomena of wife-swapping (and husband-swapping) as portrayed by the author in this novel is actually there in the Indian (high) society or not. However this novel is damn interesting and despite some events not being very convincing, provides very good entertainment. It is definitely a very big treat for the Hindi readers of crime-detection genre.

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Murder is easy ? Yes, when none can suspect you.

Mystery-queen Agatha Christie’s mysteries can be categorized as- 1. Hercule Poirot Series, 2. Miss Marple Series and 3. Parker Pyne Series, 4. Tommy and Tuppence Series, 5. Thrillers. The last category consists of such novels which do not contain any stock character of her novels. One such thriller novel which is, in fact, an intricate murder mystery, is Murder is Easy (also published under another title – Easy to Kill.The title of the novel is – Murder is Easy (or Easy to Kill). Now, being a very big fan of murder-mysteries, I assert that it is always easy to commit a murder. Any damn fool can do it. The difficult thing is not to commit a murder but to escape from the claws of the law after committing it. Taking the life of someone else is quite easy, the difficult thing is to save your own life from the gallows (or electric chair, depending upon the type of awarding the death penalty in the country particular) afterwards.

And when is it easy not to get caught after committing a murder ? Definitely when you don’t have any motive to commit that murder and therefore you’re beyond anybody’s suspicion, for naturally only those are considered as suspects by the police who have a motive for that or any interest in the death of the victim. Hence when no motive is apparent on your part, you are not going to be suspected and that murder will be easy for you to commit. Further, it’s easy to commit a murder and get away with it when you are able to manage it in such a way that it does not look like a murder.That’s how Agatha Christie has knitted the network of this novel in which there is a series of murders. Luke Fitzwilliam, a retired policeman happens to meet Ms. Pinkerton, an elderly but sweet lady from Wychwood-under-Ashe. She tells him that there’s a serial killer at large in her village and that she knows the killer and is going to the Scotland Yard to give the relevant information to the authorities. She also tells him that she knows who the next victim of the murderer is. However, the next day, Luke comes to know of her death in a hit-and-run type incident. When Luke finds that the person considered by Ms. Pinkerton to be the next victim is actually dead, he decides to investigate the things himself and moves to Wychwood.

Luke comes across several people in the village and delves into the psyche of several ones for marking them as suspects. Then comes the romantic angle too because he happens to have an affair with a charming girl in the house of his pompous and talkative host, Lord Easterfield. Amidst romance and thrill, the story heads towards its destination and the reader is taken aback to find in the end that the murderer is not the one whom every needle of suspicion is pointing at. This way Madam Christie has played with her readers by serving them a probable murderer only to give them a strong jerk in the climax.Agatha Christie had had a habit to keep a psychological base of her homicide stories. Murder is Easy is no exception in this regard and it is unique also in the respect that it emphatically underscores that murders can be committed even without an apparent motive. The objective of the murderer may be so subtle that it can’t be understood or empathized by others. And that lack of understanding may prove to be a security cover for the murderer because that keeps him / her above suspicion.

Further the psyche and the personality traits of every suspect have been properly examined to make him / her a genuine suspect. That makes the novel very interesting and intriguing. Humour has also been generated in this process.Agatha Christie used to write romantic novels too under the pen-name of Mary Westmacott. This particular novel seems to have been authored by a combination of Agatha and Mary in her own personality because it is a mystery but contains a very good dose of romance as well. The investigator falls in love of a girl who cannot love him for certain reasons. This romantic angle has been properly developed with sufficient footage given to it.Murder is Easy is an outstanding novel which tests the wits of the readers in a stylish manner and the overall impact of the novel is nothing short of marvellous. It’s a novel which is a treat not only for the mystery-lovers but also for the readers of romantic stuff.

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The Sacrificing Day of a Great Amazon

I am tracing back to the period of almost 170 years back. Three cavaliers were riding their horses alongside the bank of the river Ganges (U.P.) at the dusk hour. Two of them were young males whereas the third one was a teenager girl. Suddenly one of the male-cavaliers overtook her. She exclaimed – ‘Oh ! You overtook me. Let me see how you remain ahead of me.’ She poked her horse a bit and within moments, she overtook her male companions.

These three youngsters were no ordinary people. The males were the sons of the ex-Peshwa of Bithur – Nana Saheb and Rao Saheb whereas the teenaged girl was the great amazon of the first war of Indian independence (1857) – Maharani Lakshmibaai. Today (17th June) is the date of her sacrifice for her motherland. The great patriotic lady had laid down her life in the war against the British army near Kalpi (M.P.) 159 years back from today, i.e., on 17th June, 1858 at the tender age of less than 23 years.This brave patriotic lady was born on 19th November (coincidentally Mrs. Indira Gandhi was also born on the same date) of the year 1835 at Banaras in the house of a poor Maharashtrian Brahmin, Moro Pant Tambe and her original name was Manikarnika. She was affectionately called Manu as well as Chhabili in her childhood. Her father was given shelter by the ex-Peshwa of Bithur, Bajirao-II who was himself living in exile, away from his state which had been usurped by the British. Destiny made that intelligent, erudite and courageous girl the bride of the king of Jhansi – Gangadhar Rao. The king, much older to her, allowed her not only to continue with her education but also to learn the handling of arms and fighting in battle. Rani, rechristened as Lakshmibaai after marriage, also learnt riding horse and elephant.

Her real trouble started when her son could not survive and the British (the East India Company) did not recognize her adopted son, Damodar as the heir of the throne after the demise of the king. Under the vitiated and motivated ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ propagated by Lord Dalhousie, the then governor general of the East India Company, the British used to usurp the princely states which did not have any male heir, upon the demise of the king. However Rani Lakshmibaai did not bow before the mighty British and declared her adopted son as the king of the state, i.e., Jhansi and started administering her state as the caretaker acting on behalf of the minor king.

The war of 1857 had started with the rebellion of the sepoys against the British army. The dethroned princes, the landlords whose land and estates had been snatched by the East India Company, the disgruntled soldiers, the starving peasants etc. all were joining hands to get better of the mighty British in a bid to get rid of the Company’s oppressive and exploitative rule. Rani also joined the combined forces and after having been forced to leave Jhansi, she captured Gwalior. She was a shrewd strategist and much more able than her male counterparts and had she been made the commander-in-chief of the combined forces, the final war might have been won. But the typical Indian patriarchal mentality did not allow the male warriors to accept a female as their commander-in-chief. The outcome was the expected one. The complacent male warriors did not pay attention to the Rani’s caveats and finally got defeated by the British.

In the final battle of her life, Rani Lakshmibaai fought the British armed forces tooth and nail with her handful of supporters and soldiers. She had tied her adopted son, Damodar on her back and was fighting like the goddess Durga. But the death of her horse forced her to ride a new horse which refused to cross the water-stream on the way. And the British army following Rani, caught up with her. She got badly wounded in the armed struggle and got her salvation in a nearby jungle.220px-Rani_of_jhansiThe great Hindi poetess – Subhadra Kumari Chauhan wrote an unforgettable poem in the praise of this immortal freedom-fighter – ‘Bundele Harbolon Ke Mukh Hamne Suni Kahaani Thi. Khoob Ladi Mardaani Woh To Jhansi Waali Rani Thi’. I pay my tribute to the great lady who became the inspiration for millions of freedom-fighters after her death and still her memory is a kindled candle for the patriots throughout not only India but also the world.

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Govinda-Urmila starrer entertaining love story

Sooraj Barjatya started a new trend in the world of Indian love stories by Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). The stuff was old but the presentation was as fresh as a gust of cool breeze in the morning hours. Sooraj shifted to family dramas thereafter but a decade later, his disciple Nabhkumar Raju tried to follow his footsteps and came up with a love story somewhat in the style of Maine Pyar Kiya. This movie is Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain (1999) starring Govinda and Urmila Matondkar in lead roles. I had watched this movie with my small family (wife and little daughter) when I was working at Tarapur Atomic Power Station and it was exhibited in the open air for the entertainment of the employees.

A girl or woman living in your neighbourhood is called ‘Padosan’ in Hindi and this word itself is so special that it creates a stir in the romantic male hearts when falls into the ears. The story of Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain (I am smitten by you) is the love story of two neighbours – Rahul (Govinda) and Raadhika (Urmila Matondkar). Where Rahul is the only son of his businessman father (Paresh Rawal), Raadhika is the responsibility of her elder sister Devyaani (Dimple Kapadia) who is a social worker as well as a women’s activist. Rahul’s father readily accepts Raadhika as his would be daughter-in-law and gets affectionate to her since their introduction itself, making Devyaani agree for their marriage proves to be a tough nut to crack for Rahul. How she finally accepts Rahul for her younger sister forms the remaining part of the story which involves laughs, sentiments and action (in the climax) as well.Since the director of this movie – Nabhkumar Raju had learnt direction from Sooraj Barjatya, this first independent directorial venture of him clearly appears to be having an inspiration from Maine Pyar Kiya. The difference is where Maine Pyar Kiya focuses on romance, here the focus is on comedy. And the comedy is really good. Once love blossoms between the lead pair, the movie entertains in a different way. Finally, like Maine Pyar Kiya, action has also been inserted into in the final reels through a villain (Nirmal Pandey) who has influence over the elder sister of the heroine who is not ready for the desirable matrimonial alliance.

All the same, it’s to be admitted that Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain is a very entertaining movie for the major part of it. A good movie it is for sure. The role of the hero’s father has been crafted very well and the mutual understanding and affection of the father (Paresh Rawal) and the son (Govinda) touches the audience’s hearts. The way Paresh accepts Urmila as his would be daughter-in-law in the beginning itself and considers her as auspicious for their home, is heart-warming. Overall, it’s a feelgood movie. There is no dearth of entertaining scenes in the movie. Both the comedy and the romance aspects of the story have been handled very well by the director.Wall1Govinda has utilized his perfect comic timing to the fullest to entertain the audience. Urmila has ably supported him as the leading lady. Paresh Rawal is in full form. He has got a role which is able to conquer the hearts of the audience. Dimple Kapadia as the stern elder sister of the heroine as well as a women’s activist is perfect. Late Nirmal Pandey as the villain is also well in place.

Technically this formula-based romantic movie is okay. However the editor should have curtailed the final phase of the movie to shorten its duration.

The title of the movie has been taken from a song of Govinda’s earlier hit movie – Hero No. 1(1997). The album of songs of this movie also contains a title track. The songs penned by Anand Bakshi and composed by Uttam Singh are not great but not bad either. I like the song picturized on father Paresh Rawal and son Govinda the most which has been sung by Hariharan and Udit Naarayan whose lyrics are – O Mere Daddy, Ye Kab Hua Tha, Kaise Hua Tha Bhala.

Summing up, I assess Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain as a decent timepass and unconditionally recommend it to the entertainment-seekers.

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The great Indian family, rendering great messages

Tara Rum Pum was released on 27.04.2007 and I went to watch it with my family in the Om Cineplex of Kota on 29.04.2007 simply because of an animated bear family shown in the promos containing one mom-bear, one dad-bear and two bear-kids. That animated bear family appeared so lovely to me, my wife and above all, my kids that we could not stop watching this movie. However the experience of watching this movie went beyond my expectations. Though I found some flaws in it, nevertheless, as a whole, it turned out to be not only a complete family entertainer but also a movie rendering some invaluable lessons of life to the audience. When I came out of the cinema hall, I was not the same person who had entered it. This movie had inspired me, energized me and provoked certain thoughts in me (in addition to entertaining me). Now ten years have passed when I look back and recall what this movie was all about. My life has undergone drastic changes during this period and the original instigation for the change had come from this movie only.Tara Rum Pum tells the story of a US based Indian cab driver turned car racer – Rajveer Singh aka RV whose fate provided him the right channel to showcase his talent of fast driving through Hariprasad aka Harry (Javed Jaffrey). He went on to win 50 high profile races and made enormous money, married the love of his life – Raadhika nicknamed as Shona (Rani Mukherjee) and got two lovely kids when the ill-fate struck him and his rival in profession masterminded his accident during a race. The real story of this movie starts with the aftermath of that accident. RV survives but loses something as precious as life – his self-confidence. The haunting moments of that mishap have taken on his nerves, not allowing him to reach his peak in any race. The speed of his driving breaks down the moment the bygone painful moments start haunting him. Now he is scared of picking up the required speed during any race. And the result is obvious. He fails. After winning 50 races prior to his accident, he goes on to lose 10 in a row post his accident.

The world does not belong to the losers. A loser is bound to lose money, resources, recognition, support, opportunities, almost everything. RV also heads for the same destiny because he is no longer a winner. He has to digest the harsh reality of being a loser. But one thing he has not lost – the faith of his wife in him and his abilities. She has loved him in his riches. She loves him in his poverty too. She had married her against the wishes of her rich father and now in the difficult times, she is not ready to accept any parental help and hurt the self-respect of her man. But the problem which is staring right into the face of both RV and Shona is even bigger than their poverty. Hitherto they have fostered their children luxuriously but now their offspring has to learn to live in the conditions polar different from what they are used to. How to convey it to the tender hearts ? The parents, i.e., RV and Shona devise a plan to make their little son and little daughter accept the changed situation. They tell them that they are going to participate in a reality show whose requirement is to live in poverty and if they successfully spend their time in impoverished conditions, they will win the show.

RV, Shona and the little ones shift from a palace like mansion to a small shack and start living under severe monetary constraints with RV becoming a cab driver again and Shona playing piano in the hotels and parties. The only thing that they strive hard to ensure that their children do not lose, is good education. The parents work hard and arrange enough money to ensure that their kids are able to continue in their erstwhile school. Hardships do continue in terms of food, clothes, shelter and medical treatment. The zenith of their trouble comes when their little son needs a costly operation to survive. How to arrange the hefty sum ? RV’s adversaries are happy about it, mocking his helplessness and misfortune. The moment has come for RV to overpower the painful flashback and re-enter the skin of the winner. Harry comes up with an opportunity which RV can encash to repulse the inching death of his son and the ill-fate of the whole family. Can he do it ?In my blog post – Main Der Karta Nahin, Der Ho Jaati Hai … I have asserted that it’s the fear in a man (or a woman) which leads to his (or her) doom; hence get rid of fear and sooner or later, you will get rid of failure too. Late Dhirubhai Ambani used to say – ‘Seek an opportunity in every adversity you face’. RV learns it in the movie when a horrifying adversity is looming over his family. I got the inspiration from this movie only that if you don’t take any risk, you are taking the biggest risk. Besides, fear precedes failure and you have to overcome the fear (real or imaginary) first in order to escape the failure. This movie motivated me to take a risk in my career when an injustice was imposed on me in my then employment which was in the public sector. I left the job and grabbed an opportunity in the private sector. Other than the job security issue, there were several other practical difficulties too. However seeking motivation from Tara Rum Pum, I changed my job as well as place and shifted to Delhi in June 2007. Destiny has landed me in the southern part of the country now. Can’t say whether the decision proved to be right or wrong in due course of time, however it was to be taken to protect my self-respect and Tara Rum Pum gave me the courage to take that risk.

The movie underscores Indian family values and highlights the significance of saving alongwith earning. The lesson that RV learns the hard way is if you spend every penny you earn without any saving for the unforeseen difficult times, those times will hit you harder than normal. The movie underscores the significance of wife’s love and support for the husband when he is not the winner in the worldly life and her standing by him in the tough times. Shona’s protecting her husband’s self-respect when the days are no longer sunny for him, is exemplary. Such wife only is able to pave the way for the return of happy times for the family later. After watching this movie, I told my wife that I would gift a DVD of this movie to my daughter in her marriage so that by watching it, she is able to understand what an ideal wife is all about.

The plot of the movie has been inspired by certain Hollywood movies. Cinematic liberties have been taken aplenty and the movie is melodramatic in some parts. The filmmaker conveniently forgot that impoverished people can’t wear designer clothes. Anyway, the positives of the movie outnumber its negatives. It is interesting from beginning to end and several scenes leave a deep emotional impact on the viewer.Shot lavishly in the USA, this movie is technically superb. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is ear-soothing. I like its title track the most in which the animated characters appear with the human characters.

Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerjee make an ideal on-screen pair. Both have complimented each other very well and lit up the screen with their marvellous performances. The child artists alongwith Javed Jaffrey and others have also done their parts perfectly.

So here comes the great Indian family which sticks together and renders some great messages for life. I don’t know why this decent family entertainer did not score on the box office. For me, at least, it has a repeat value.

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Who was she ?

It’s the time of wee hours in India and it’s raining outside in Hyderabad. What can be a better situation to write a review of this movie which begins with the scene of heavy rainfall and that scene itself lends momentum to the mystery of the movie ? The opening scene picturized upon Saadhana and Manoj Kumar in heavy rainfall is itself so impressive that the viewer gets compelled to watch the full movie. Perhaps in no other Indian suspense-thriller, the opening scene is that much impressive. Manoj Kumar driving home in heavy rainfall finds Saadhana standing in the middle of the road, wearing a white saari and getting drenched without apparently unaffected by this fact. Mysterious dialogues take place between them and finally Manoj Kumar drops her near a graveyard and gets spellbound to see her disappearing in it with a highly melodious song echoing inside – Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim. The spellbinding suspense starts now for the next two and a half hours. This classic mystery from Bollywood is Woh Kaun Thi ? (1964).Woh Kaun Thi ? (who was she ?) is a black and white movie released in 1964 starring Manoj Kumar and Sadhana. It is still considered a classic mystery. In fact, its being black and white is a plus point of this movie as the mystery appears to be deeper with the characters appearing on the screen looking more mysterious than they actually are. The great music composed by Madan Mohan rendered further strength to the suspense and thrill of the movie and Saadhana in the title role delivered a splendid performance to make this movie totally spellbinding for the viewers.I have already discussed the highly impactful opening scene. The story moves quickly with the fact coming out that our hero, Manoj Kumar is a doctor, working in the hospital of K.N. Singh and having a love affair with Helen. Shortly Helen gets murdered and the mysterious woman, Saadhana who had disappeared in the graveyard in the beginning, reappears before him in a further mysterious fashion only to disappear even more suspensefully. His mother gets him married to a girl of her choice but you can guess that when he sees her face on the first night of their conjugal life (yes, there were times in India when the bride and the groom under an arranged marriage were able to see each other’s face for the first time on that night only), he is taken aback to see the same girl, now as his wife. Then several twists and turns keep on coming in the narrative taking the story to Shimla and the suspense is finally revealed in the climax.The story is just very very good and Raj Khosla was an able director of his time who directed classic suspense movies like Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967) too. He has handled the plot very well. The problem is with the revelation of the suspense in the climax in which the police officer, Raj Mehra delivers a long speech regarding the mystery and despite that leaves many significant questions unanswered. If you ignore this fact, you won’t find any fault with the movie which contains comedy, romance and melodious music alongwith the gripping mystery. The very first scene grips you like a powerful clamp and then you are so engrossed in the narrative that you can leave the movie after seeing its climax only, not before that.Saadhana looks so gorgeous in the movie that it’s better for you to watch her instead of reading my narration about her. And acting ? She has delivered a highly admirable performance in the pivotal role. Manoj Kumar is okay. The supporting cast includes Helen, K.N. Singh, Parveen Chaudhary, Prem Chopra, Dhumal, Raj Mehra, Ratnamala etc and all of them have performed their roles pretty well.

Technically also the movie is perfect. The aura of suspense is maintained throughout. The cinematographer has ably captured the snowy beauty of Shimla (in the sixties).

The discussion of Woh Kaun Thi cannot be complete without its music. Madan Mohan has composed immortal music for the movie with the classic songs of Lata like Naina Barse Rimjhim Rimjhim, Lag Ja Gale and Jo Hamne Daastan Apni Sunaai. The other songs of the movie viz. Chhod Kar Tere Pyar Ka Daaman (Mahendra Kapoor-Lata), Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyaan (Asha), Tikiriki Tikiriki Takuri (Rafi-Asha) are also very melodious and a treat to listen.

No suspense thriller fan should miss this classic mystery.

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