A long forgotten suspense thriller

Today is the birthday of producer-director-actor Rakesh Roshan. On this occasion, I am presenting the review of Goonj (1974) which is a long forgotten Hindi movie starring actors like Mahendra Sandhu and Reena Roy and of course Rakesh Roshan who were (unjustifiably) tagged as B grade ones in their time (Reena Roy though graduated to the so-called A grade later). It’s a good suspense thriller and whosoever were able to watch it on the big screen (when it was released) or on Doordarshan (if telecast), must have enjoyed it a lot.

Goonj (echo) starts with the murder of a woman by a man who thrusts her from a cliff. The victim turns out to be Meena (Reena Roy) who was a painter and married to Rakesh (Rakesh Roshan), a rich businessman and a painter like her. Rakesh’s friend Raj Kumar aka Raju (Mahendra Sandhu) arrives at the place (a hilly estate away from the city in which Rakesh has his old-fashioned mansion and he lives there only). Raju is received at the railway station by a stranger (Shetty) who has already arranged a horse for him to reach Rakesh’s residence. When Raju reaches there, it is shown that Meena is already there in a spirit like appearance. Thereafter, the story starts in the real sense in flash back with the narrator speaking about the bygone period of the lives of the characters of this story.Meena is the granddaughter of a deceased rich man who had made a will that she would have to marry within a month of attaining the age of 20 years, else the wealth would go to charitable institutions. Meena has been fostered by her uncle – Ratanlaal (Karan Dewan) after the death of her parents who is in financial troubles and awaiting her marriage so that she is able to support him after getting the wealth. In this regard, he gets caveats and consultation from a crooked lawyer (Raajan Haksar) who is thinking of usurping Meena’s wealth by arranging her marriage with his licentious nephew – Roopesh (Rajesh Behl). Rakesh too has a greedy aunt (Lalita Pawar). However Meena is actually in love with Raju and they have decided to marry.

Before Meena and Raju could marry, Raju is called by his ailing father who wants to see him married. In his absence, Meena is wrongly informed that he has married some other girl in the city. A disheartened Meena agrees for marrying Rakesh whose greedy aunt had initiated this matrimonial alliance proposal (after knowing about the will of Meena’s grandfather). When Raju whose father has died, comes to know of Meena’s marriage, he starts burning in rage, considering Meena as infidel to him. Rakesh’s aunt is also unhappy with Rakesh and Meena as she is not allowed to interfere with Meena’s wealth after this marriage.

On the other hand, Meena and Rakesh are invited by Roopesh and his female friend Sonia (Komila Wirk) to a party thrown on the occasion of Sonia’s birthday. Rakesh being out of station, they reach the venue separately and not together (reaching at different points of time). Thereafter Meena is shown as being murdered by someone who thrusts her from the cliff situated in the estate. Her uncle disappears thereafter. Investigating police officer – Khan (Kaader Khan) suspects many people in this regard. A lunatic (Hiralaal) also crosses paths with the people involved. Even the servant in Rakesh’s home (Viju Khote) appears to be mysterious by his gestures.

Now as shown in the beginning of this movie, Raju comes back and reaches Rakesh’s house. However it’s Meena who opens the gate of the mansion for him, ushers him to the guest room of the mansion and entertains him. When Raju tells Rakesh about it and comes to know from him that Meena is dead, both are taken aback and scared like anything. Is Meena alive or it’s her spirit who wants to seek revenge from her killer ? The same question appears before Roopesh also whom ‘Meena’ meets. The biggest surprise for the males comes when a stranger approaches Rakesh’s home and starts asking for his ‘wife’. When Rakesh expresses ignorance of his wife, he starts accusing him to be in collusion with his in-laws. What’s the solution of this mystery ? The climax of this brilliant suspense thriller reveals it.

As said in the opening para, those who could watch this admirable suspense-thriller on big screen / Doordarshan are fortunate because now this movie is available on VCD / DVD of Bombino whose quality s…o poor that the less said the better. Not only many scenes appear to be missing giving continuity jerks to the viewer but also both the picture quality and the sound quality are extremely bad. Adding insult to injury, a statement from Bombino appears every now and then just in the middle (yes, middle) of the screen to irritate the viewer. It’s a pity that such a brilliant mystery could not be transferred to CD in a proper form.

The movie is damn interesting with full marks to the writer as well as the director (S.U. Sayeed). The opening murder scene is re-exhibited at the interval point after the story till then has been narrated in flash back. It’s a good style of narration which has been adopted in contemporary movies like Aashiq Banaya Aapne (2005) and Gangster (2006) also. Post interval, the story moves further with several suspects available for the murder taken place, having own respective motives for committing the same. I am patting my back because I was able to correctly guess the murderer before the director unmasked him in the climax. However I could not correctly guess the motive behind the murder. The mystery is very intricate with several characters involved with the various things shown being linked to one another.

Still unanswered questions are there for the viewer after the movie is over. May be due to the continuity jerks in the movie available on the CD (because many scenes appear to have been removed). Else, the script has been written proficiently with everything perfectly falling into place when the revelation of the suspense is made in the climax. There is nothing superfluous and all the incidents and characters are logically connected to one another, creating confusion for the viewer during the movie but explaining everything to him in the climax (not by spoon-feeding). The climax underscores that everything earlier shown in the movie was meaningful and linked to the main story.

There is one hilarious comedy scene in the movie involving a drunkard and one party song. Otherwise the director has shown his better sense by keeping the movie free from superfluous comedy, action and romance and concentrated on the mystery only. He has been completely successful in his mission, keeping the viewer hooked in suspense. Since I watched on the internet, I did not get any scare, however those who had watched it in the theatre, must have found a couple of scenes as scary.

Majrooh’s lyrics and R.D. Burman’s music are if not great, not bad either. One suspense song – Aa Meri Jaan, Main Khadi Hoon Yahaan (sung by Lata Mangeshkar) is quite impressive.

All the actors have performed reasonably well.

The movie boasts of technical excellence. The art director and the cinematographer have been successful in creating a mysterious environment throughout the movie. The setting of a hilly region (with a mysterious mansion) is not only beauty-soaked but also mystery-soaked. The narrative flows freely on the right track without any blockage or digression anywhere.

I recommend this long-forgotten but praiseworthy suspense thriller to the mystery fans but I do not recommend to buy the VCD / DVD of Bombino. If you are not able to catch it on any channel telecasting old movies, then better watch it on the internet (free of cost).

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
This entry was posted in Movie Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A long forgotten suspense thriller

  1. SaamriCom says:

    Reblogged this on Saamri and commented:
    Always love a Bollywood mystery film… too bad there are so few of them.

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