Making the things disappear from the sight of the onlookers (or someone’s possession) is called an art of magic which the professional magicians demonstrate in their shows. In Indian lingo, this is called – Haath Ki Safaai (the craft of the hand). But some petty criminals use the same term for their act of pickpocketing too, boasting this skill of theirs with pride and considering it no less than any other art. In Riteish-Jenelia starrer – Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya (2012), the sister of the hero keeps this ‘art’ of hers in high esteem and later it is known that she demonstrates it every now and then because she wanted to be a professional magician but couldn’t. The moral of the story is that youths pick up the wrong path when they do not get any right path to channelize their skills and energy. Hence it is important that the society provides opportunities to them to utilize their talent and vigor in the right direction.
Haath Ki Safai (1974) is a run-of-the-mill Bollywood movie based on the ‘lost and found’ formula in which two brothers are separated in their childhood and cross paths in their youth. The title of the movie has been kept after this craft of the hand (Haath Ki Safaai) professionally adopted by the younger one of them. The movie is a very entertaining one.The person demonstrating his Haath Ki Safaai in this movie and is proud of this art of himself is Raju (Randhir Kapoor) who was separated from his brother Shankar (Vinod Khanna) in childhood. Both these brothers have grown up in criminalized environment and criminals’ company and therefore, become criminals themselves. Raju has become a pickpocket whereas Shankar becomes a gangster. Destiny makes them cross paths time and again and they start disliking each other (without knowing that they are actually brothers). Shankar is happily married to Roma (Simi Grewal) who wants her husband to leave the path of crime and finally, he agrees for that. However the crime world is not a place so easy to quit.
Raju comes across a runaway rich girl – Kaamini (Hema Malini) who is escaping from his uncle who is forcing her to marry Ranjeet (Ranjeet) against her will. Gradually Raju and Kaamini fall in love. But it’s Kaamini only which again becomes a bone of contention between Raju and Shankar. After a lot of drama and action, the brothers finally identify each other and the reunion of all the four lead characters takes place with the arrest of the baddies.The USP of this potboiler is the character of Randhir Kapoor alongwith his heart-winning performance. He makes the audience laugh time and again with his perfect comic timing. The memorable comedy song – Peene Waalon Ko Peene Ka Bahaana Chaahiye is a showcase of his comic talent. His demonstration of his pickpocketing art not only justifies the movie’s title but also entertains the viewers very much.
Writers Salim-Javed and director Prakash Mehra have done their best in making a thoroughly engrossing movie. The screenplay studded with the frequent encounters of the two male leads is taut and does not allow any boredom to creep in. Action, thrill, romance and sentiments are there in the movie in optimal quantum but it’s the comedy which overpowers everything and adds immense value to this apparently ordinary movie.In addition to Randhir Kapoor, the other main characters also have done pretty well. Vinod Khanna won the Filmfare best actor award for his role in this movie. However I admire Simi Grewal very much who was always a natural performer irrespective of the role assigned to her. Hema Malini had started her career a few years back as the heroine of Raj Kapoor but in this movie she is quite at ease while playing the heroine of Raj Kapoor’s son, i.e., Randhir Kapoor.
Kalyanji Anandji have composed good music for the lyrics of Gulshan Bawra. Peene Waalon Ko Peene Ka Bahaana Chaahiye (Kishore-Lata) is the most popular song of the album which proves to be no less than a mini laughter show for the audience. But the other songs – Vaada Karle Saajna Tere Bin Main Na Rahoon Mere Bin Tu Na Rahe Hoke Juda, Tumko Mohabbat Ho Gai Hai Humse, Tu Kya Jaane Wafa O Bewafa, Oopar Waale Teri Duniya Mein Kabhi Zeb Kisi Ki Na Khaali Rahe etc. are also quite good.
Technical aspects are all in order. Production value is decent. The movie is not unduly long.
Randhir Kapoor had not allowed himself to be shadowed by his legendary father (Raj Kapoor) and carved a niche for himself in cine-world through his natural talent and sincere efforts. Haath Ki Safai is one of his memorable movies which the typical Bollywood movie buffs will like for sure.
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