Shikar (Hunt / Victim) is a Dharmendra, Asha Parekh and Sanjeev Kumar starrer murder mystery released in 1968, directed by Atma Ram and produced by Guru Dutt films (four years later than Guru Dutt’s death). Quite different from Guru Dutt’s famous movies, it is a murder mystery. The fact which makes it different and more interesting when compared with the traditional murder mysteries, is the forest backdrop of the story. The complete drama related to the murder and the investigation takes place in a forest with the abundant beauty of flora and fauna cooling the eyes of the audience.Dharmendra is an estate manager whose employer-cum-friend, Ramesh Deo is murdered at his residence in the forest estate. The needle of suspicion points at Asha Parekh who is the daughter of a retired police commissioner, Rehman and who had come to Dharmendra’s residence in a mentally and physically disturbed condition in the night in which the murder had taken place, only to disappear even more myseriously. Dharmendra alongwith the investigating police officer, Sanjeev Kumar makes attempts to reach the real murderer. Since he falls in love with Asha, her turning out to be the murderer does not suit his sentiments. However he is convinced that she is not the murderer. The activities of an employee in the estate office, Helen and a professional hunter, Manmohan are also suspicious. The twist in the tale comes when an old woman confesses before Sanjeev Kumar for this murder. The mystery is resolved in the ending scene amidst the hair-raising movements of wild animals.Shikaar is a thoroughly engrossing suspense thriller. The beginning itself is very good when a man-eater beast is hunted by Dharmendra. Soon thereafter, the murder takes place and then the wildlife environment provides a highly suspenseful backdrop for the murder investigation and activities of the people involved. The narrative moves fast and blocked only by the intermittent songs. However the insertion of the songs does not irritate the viewer because the songs alongwith the dances are just very good and a treat to listen and to watch. There is no boredom in the movie throughout. However the comedy track of Johnny Walker and Bela Bose should have been shortened.The flip side contains the usual irritating element found by me in most of the Bollywood suspense thrillers, i.e., the untied loose ends and unanswered questions. Being a great mystery fan, I am of the opinion that a good suspense-thriller is one which does not leave any question unanswered in the end and provides a feeling of satisfaction to the logically thinking viewer. In a good mystery, not only all the loose ends are tied in the climax but also the suspicious activities and gestures of the guilty as well as non-guilty are properly justified. Shikaar does pass this test but not with distinction.The cinematography of V.K. Murthy is outstanding. Any nature-lover will find this movie, full of scenes of flora and fauna, nothing short of a visual treat. There are several scenes involving wild animals like elephants, tiger, deers, bear and likewise. The running of the wild elephants in the climax is highly thrilling.Shankar-Jaikishan duo was in top form while composing the music of Shikaar. They have not only composed melodious songs like Tumhaare Pyar Mein Hum Beqaraar Ho Ke Chale (Rafi) and Mere Sarkar Meri Aahon Ka Asar Dekh To Lo (Mahendra Kapoor) but also pretty good songs for memorable dance numbers like Parde Mein Rehne Do Parda Na Uthao (Asha Bhonsle) and Jabse Laagi Tose Najaria (Lata and Asha together). Choreographer P.L. Raj has done a marvellous job with the great dancers like Helen, Bela Bose and of course, the movie’s heroine – Asha Parekh.I also appreciate the filmmaker for giving the titles of the movie in Hindi as I feel very bad about this fact that the credits of Hindi movies are given in English.
The original He-Man of Bollywood, Dharmendra is the perfect choice for the lead role who not only performs quite naturally but also looks utterly reliable in the action scenes involving wild animals. Sanjeev Kumar in the supporting role of the investigating police officer is as natural as rainfall in the month of Saawan. Asha Parekh, though not a great actress, maintains amazing on-screen chemistry with Dharmendra and she looks quite gorgeous in the dance sequences as she was a dancer par excellence. Helen and Bela Bose, being outstanding dancers, have performed well in dance numbers alongwith their acting performance. Johnny Walker, Rehman, Manmonan etc. are also quite okay.Shikaar is an interesting watch for both, the mystery fans as well as the people fond of watching wild life. I recommend this engrossing mystery having a forest backdrop, to all the suspense-thriller fans.
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