A traveller and a belle

Guru Dutt’s assistant and pupil, Raj Khosla seems to have learnt a lot from his senior (who was indeed a Guru). He was given the first opportunity to direct a movie independently by Guru Dutt only in the movie – C.I.D. which was a crime-thriller. However later, Raj Khosla came out of Guru Dutt’s shadow and developed his own style of storytelling. I keep him in high esteem because he gave us memorable and entertaining movies of many genres – mysteries viz. Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saaya and Anita, friendship-based thriller viz. Dostana (Amitabh-Shatru starrer), love-triangle viz. Prem Kahani and bandits-based stories viz. Kachche Dhaage and Mera Gaon Mera Desh (which was a predecessor to the immortal movie – Sholay). His movies were commercially successful because he was able to read the pulse of the audience.I am reviewing a very interesting movie made by Shashdhar Mukherjee (the real life father of the hero – Joy Mukherjee) and directed by Raj Khosla which is a rare combination of romance and thrill pervading its two halves. This movie is Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962).Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (a traveller and a belle) tells a story of a man’s amnesia happening twice in his life which was later repeated in several Bollywood movies. I don’t know the source of the basic grains of this script, however the writer-director, Raj Khosla has been able to present it in a highly impressive and entertaining manner.The main protagonist of the story is a military officer, Lieutenant Ajay Mehra (Joy Mukherjee) who is sent on the Kashmir front in November 1947 to fight the Pakistani invaders disguised as Kabayalis (tribals). He comes across a young bride-to-be who is fleeing for her life after the attack of the Kabaayalis at her marriage venue. While saving her life, he gets himself injured and loses his memory. The girl, Asha (Saadhana) takes care of him, taking the help of a child, Abdulla (Master Aziz ). The hero, not able to remember even his own name, leave aside the other things, soon finds himself in love with the heroine who is hesitant to respond to his advances considering that her marriage has, in the eyes of the world, taken place and socially she is a married woman (though the rites essential for a Hindu marriage through the Vedic system were not completed). She returns to her home and tells her elder uncle (she is an orphan, fostered by uncles and aunts) that neither the marital rites were fully performed, nor the groom and his greedy father are deserving people for her because they had taken her all bridal ornaments and fled away from there, saving their own lives and leaving her at the mercy of the invaders. Then the conscience of the uncle does not allow him to send his beloved niece with her so-called in-laws who are back to his door, demanding that their ‘daughter-in-law’ should be sent with them. When they try to take her away forcefully, the hero, already searching for his beloved, arrives there but the ensuing fight leads to his arrest. He escapes from the police van and moves to Mumbai (then Bombay) in search of his true identity because he had seen the label of a tailoring shop of Bombay on one of his shirts.

Now starts the second half where the hero is not able to reach the desired shop because now it’s been closed and replaced by a hotel but suddenly and unwillingly he gets involved in a clash with some bank robbers who are fleeing away after committing the robbery. This clash results in his another head injury which brings back his lost memory (of his life prior to the first injury) but now another partial amnesia has taken place with him due to which he has lost memory of everything that has happened between these two injuries, i.e., post the first injury and previous to the second injury. The bank robbers are relieved to find that due to this memory loss, the protagonist who now knows that he’s Lieutenant Ajay Mehra of the Indian army, cannot identify them. Still, being habitual criminals, they cannot take any chances. On the other hand, the cousin of Lieutenant Ajay Mehra, who was dreaming to usurp his property, considering him dead on the Kashmir border, is stunned at his return. There is a mysterious woman also in the picture who is linked to both this greedy cousin as well as the ringleader of the robbers. So there is a threat to the hero’s life from more than one side. One more woman who is actually the wife of one of the robbers, also approaches the hero, claiming to be his wife. The web of conspiracy against the hero seems to be getting more and more intricate.

Since his photograph alongwith the interesting tale of his memory loss and regaining the same, has been published in the national newspapers, Asha comes to know about him and she reaches Bombay to check his welfare. But the tragedy is that he has forgotten her too due to this second amnesia. The story reaches its happy ending (the union of the lovers post the arrest of the robbers) after many thrilling moments and twists in the tale.This movie is, in fact, a two-in-one entertainment. While the first half is dedicated to music and romance and studded with melodious and touching songs (composed by O.P. Nayyar and sung by Rafi and Asha Bhosle), the second half is a fast-paced thriller studded with checks and checkmates between the criminals, the hero and the Bombay police. Thus the two halves of the movie render two different types of entertainment to the audience. The second half also contains some songs but of different taste. The gripping narrative does not allow the viewer to take even a single minute break in any of the sessions (pre-interval and post-interval).

Raj Khosla has extracted good performances from the artists though chocolaty hero, Joy Mukherjee was not fit for anger and action (he’s the best bet for romancing). Being a great Saadhana-fan, my opinion about her may be biased but she is not just gorgeous, she has acted well too. Actually a Sindhi, Saadhana completely fits the bill of a Kashmiri girl in the movie. Her trademark hairdo (the famous Saadhana-cut for ladies’ hair) is visible in a few sequences of the movie and a normal hairdo in the remaining part. The complete supporting cast including the child artist – Master Aziz, comedians – Rajendra Nath and Dhumal and the baddies has done its part more or less satisfactorily. There is a dog – Sheru also in the first half of the movie. And in a unique sequence, a snake also appears who saves the lives of the lead pair from the Kabayalis.O.P. Nayyar has given the music of a lifetime for this movie. While the first half contains melodies like – Mujhe Dekh Kar Aapka Muskurana, Bahut Shukriya Badi Meherbani, Aap Yun Hi Agar Humse Milte Rahe Dekhiye Ek Din Pyar Ho Jaayega, Tumhen Mohabbat Hai Humse Maana Bataao Iska Saboot Kya Hai, Humko Tumhare Ishq Ne Kya Kya Bana Diya and my favourite – Phir Tere Sheher Mein Lutne Ko Chala Aaya Hoon; the second half contains some situational songs alongwith a great duet of Rafi and Asha – Aye Yaar Zulfon Waale Dildaar Zulfon Waale which is the climax of the movie. The album also contains a rare gem of Rafi and Asha – Main Pyar Ka Raahi Hoon which I did not find in the movie.The cinematography of Fali Mistry is simply brilliant. He has given the movie the look of the noir cinema of Hollywood during the forties (in the second half). The beauty of Kashmir has also been captured well (in the first half). The movie has been edited well and the narrator has kept the interest of the viewer alive throughout. Length of the movie is also okay and it’s not been unduly dragged.Now-a-days anything is shown by the Bollywood moviemakers in the name of entertainment. If somebody who is going to make a Bollywood movie, really wants to know how an entertaining movie is made for the Indian audience, he should watch this movie and meet Ek Musafir (Joy Mukherjee) and Ek Hasina (Saadhana).

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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2 Responses to A traveller and a belle

  1. Raj Khosla was a great director and screenplay writer who had his own style. Definitely, Ek musafir… is a great movie of the sixties.

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