Aamir Khan starrer movie – Talaash (2012) had received mixed response from both the viewers and the reviewers. Some appreciated it for the well-knitted script, high emotional quotient and performances whereas some found themselves as cheated due to the presence of a supernatural element in the supposed earthly mystery. In my review, I have mentioned that the climax of Talaash reminded me of a very old Bollywood movie – Ek Paheli (1971). Today I am reviewing that only. Besides, today is the birthday of it’s lead character – Tanuja whom I convey warm birthday wishes. The story of Ek Paheli (a puzzle) starts with the arrival of Sudhir (Feroz Khan) at Goa. He has returned from London after the demise of his father. Now to properly settle down in Goa, he decides to throw a party to introduce himself properly in the business and social milieu of Goa and also decides to refurnish his ancestral house afresh. Being a music-lover, he approaches a curio shop and purchases an old piano through auction which appears to him as an attractive antique piece. There he happens to come across Maria (Tanuja) who tells him that she is very fond of that piano but being poor, cannot afford it. Sudhir gets attracted to her and allows her to correct a defective key of the piano by visiting his residence. He is also willing to invite her to the party being thrown by him at his residence but suddenly she vanishes from his house in quite a mysterious fashion when he is talking to his employee and confidante – Rocky (Rajendra Naath). In the party, a female guest is allowed to play the piano who falls dead in between of that act.
Shortly thereafter, Maria visits Sudhir again at his residence. Sudhir feels himself as attracted to her but she is seen as attracted more to that piano that Sudhir has purchased. She likes playing it. The old servant of the house, John (Bipin Gupta) does not approve of Sudhir’s life style and there happens a spat between the master and the servant. Shortly thereafter, John is found as dead. Since apparently John has been murdered, police inspector (Sanjeev Kumar) starts his investigation. Gradually it comes to fore that someone is actually after the life of Sudhir. The needle of suspicion in this regard points towards Shankarlaal (Madan Puri) who is Sudhir’s late father’s ex-business partner and his greedy sight is on Sudhir’s wealth. Sudhir starts his own investigation too alongside police but quite mysteriously he crosses paths with Maria every now and then. He also meets with an accident in between. Maria plays a vital role in saving him from the evil designs of Shankarlaal and his accomplice, Rosy (Aruna Irani) also. Sudhir feels himself as in love with Maria but does not know anything about her. The mystery is finally unravelled when Sudhir approaches the missionary school which Maria had been a student of.The movie is suspense-filled and when I watched it first around two and a half decades back on Zee TV, it proved to be quite engrossing for me because what got revealed in the end was something I could not imagine even in the wildest of my dreams. And the same thing happened in Talaash also which took me instantly down my memory lane and enabled me to contrast Talaash with Ek Paheli. Since I liked the movie, I bought its VCD also and despite knowing the solution of the mystery, keep on watching it from time to time. The charming personality of Tanuja and the Goa-ni environment prevailing in the movie coupled with some good songs enchant me though as an objective reviewer, I have to admit that it is not a great movie.
All the same, Ek Paheli is a nice timepass not only for the mystery fans but also for the audience of the routine formula-based flicks which contain romance, songs, comedy, conspiracies of the villain and action. The first scene itself catches attention of the viewer who finds himself / herself as hooked for the next two hours and fifteen minutes, trying to solve Ek Paheli (a puzzle) known as Maria in the movie. In Talaash, all the questions have been answered in the end but in Ek Paheli, the mystery of the death of the party guest has not been explained properly anywhere throughout the movie as to who did it as well as why and how.
The role of Tanuja is the heart and soul of this movie. She looks not only very beautiful and a Goa-ni girl from every angle but she has performed also very well. Her gestures and mannerisms add to the mystery of the movie and keep the viewer engrossed. Dashing hero Feroz Khan has done well. His character has been developed in such a way that it fails to win any sympathy of the audience which is clearly the fault of the script-writer. Sanjeev Kumar as the police inspector, Rajendra Nath as the hero’s confidante – Rocky, Madan Puri as the villain, Aruna Irani as the vamp, Bipin Gupta as the old faithful servant of the household etc. all are perfect in their respective roles.
Technically the movie is ok. The scene involving chasing of motor boats in the sea is good. The beauty of Goa is visible in different scenes of this coloured movie. Since the interest of the audience is maintained continuously, the length also appears to be quite in order. Background score is also according to the mood of the movie.
Usha Khanna has prepared good songs for this movie with the help of the lyrics of Asad Bhopali. The title track – Main Ek Paheli Hoon (sung by Suman Kalyanpur) and Mera Tumhaara Saath To Sadiyon Ka Saath Hai (a duet of Mohammed Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur) are ear-soothing quality songs. Aansoo Ki Ek Boond Hoon Main is also impressive which is again Suman Kalyanpur’s solo.
Though the script, the characters and the milieu of Talaash are entirely different from those of Ek Paheli but the spectators who see both these movies can contrast them for similarities in the basic grains. The intriguing thing about these two movies that came to my notice is that the way the long explanation in the end through flash-back in Talaash has been found as boring by many viewers, the similarly boring explanation through flash-back is there in Ek Paheli too. If we consider the quality of the screenplay, the direction and the performances; then definitely this more than four and a half decades old movie is a couple of notches below Talaash. Nevertheless it’s an interesting movie. For me it has a repeat value due to subjective reasons but for the other movie buffs too, it will prove to be a decent one time watch.
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