The hound of the Baskervilles in Chandangarh

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had penned several stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, the most popular detective character of the world. He had penned one full-fledged novel also featuring Holmes – The Hound of The Baskervilles which was first published in The Strand Magazine (serially) during 1901-02. This novel was the third one among the total four novels authored by Sir Conan Doyle. The theme of the novel is the murders of a family by supposedly a supernatural hound which is after the lives of the Baskerville family males at Dartmoor, a foggy small town in England. Sherlock Holmes with his sidekick – Dr. Watson resolves the mystery behind the murders. It’s said that some real life characters and real life incidents were the inspiration behind this novel which is considered a classic mystery.However, today I am reviewing not the novel but a Hindi movie whose story is an adaptation from this novel only. It’s Bees Saal Baad (1962) which is the debut movie of the chocolaty Bengali hero – Biswajeet starring opposite the ever-gorgeous and one of the most talented Bollywood heroines – Waheeda Rehman. The movie, produced by the legendary singer-cum-composer – Hemant Kumar, was a much-talked-about one when released and got popularized as a spine-chilling movie.

Since it’s the Indian version of the story, the story is set in Chandangarh, a small foggy town containing a lethal quagmire also. According to its title – Bees Saal Baad (twenty years later), it starts with the arrival of the last beacon of the victim family of landlords – Kumar Vijay Singh (Biswajeet) twenty years later than the killing of his grandfather. It’s said in the locality that the spirit of a dead girl who was raped by his grandfather, has been seeking its revenge from the males of the family and now it won’t spare the last one left, i.e., Kumar too. No sooner does Kumar arrive at Chandangarh, then attempts start on his life. On one hand, he is busy in trying to resolve this mystery; on the other, he falls in love with Radha (Waheeda Rehman), the daughter of the local physician, Ramlal (Manmohan Krishna). There are some other mysterious characters in the story, viz. Dr. Pande (Madan Puri), Mohan Babu (Sajjan), victim family’s servant – Laxman (Dev Kishan) etc. Besides, whenever Kumar wanders in the town in the night to give the murderer an opportunity to kill him (so that he can catch him), he happens to hear a mysterious song – Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil. A funny detective, Gopichand Jasoos (Asit Sen) has also come over there in the quest of that murderer only. In the climax, the murderer is exposed and Kumar’s life is saved.I watched this movie after reading a lot about it and its spine-chilling scene which is of a murderous paw (containing very long nails) appearing on the screen behind the prospective victim. Well, it might have been spine-chilling when the people watched it on the big screen. I did not find it scary at all while watching it on TV. In fact, there is no horror in the movie despite its being called as a famous horror movie.

Now about the script and the narrative – in my considered opinion, the screenplay writer (Dhruva Chatterjee) and the director (Biren Nag) have faltered in giving the story of the legendary author the shape of an interesting Indianized suspense thriller. They have not been able to create a freely flowing narrative which is able to keep the viewers hooked as is expected in a good suspense-thriller or murder mystery. The director has tried to cover the deficiencies of the storyline by comedy of Gopichand Jasoos and the romantic track of the young pair which contains some memorable songs. However he has succeeded in his effort only partially. Time and again the narrative starts boring the viewer when the track of the comedian detective intervenes the main track. That’s the difference between the novel of Sir Doyle and this movie. In the novel, the detective – Sherlock Holmes is the hero whereas in the movie – the last male left in the victim family is the hero.Though the mystery is good (because it is based on the classic work of the legendary author), clear hints have been given in the beginning reels itself as to who can be the murderer. Hence, if you watch the movie attentively, you can easily guess the identity of the culprit.Still, the movie is worth a watch because of the brilliant on-screen chemistry of the lead pair of Biswajeet and Waheeda Rehman as well as the great music. Chocolaty hero, Biswajeet has done pretty well in his debut movie, especially in the romantic scenes and songs. While wearing a hat, he looks quite dashing. Waheeda Rehman not only looks innocently beautiful but she has acted well too. All others have done justice to the assigned roles. Especially the performance of Dev Kishan as the domestic servant, Laxman deserves a big hand.

Producer of this movie, Hemant Kumar has composed mesmerizing songs for the movie whose lyrics have been penned by Shakeel Badayuni. Hemant Da himself have sung the songs alongwith Lata. On one hand, we have his classic songs – Beqaraar Karke Hamen Yun Na Jaaiye and Zara Nazron Se Keh Do Ji; on the other, we have Lata’s classic songs – Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil, Sapne Suhaane Ladakpan Ke and Aye Mohabbat Meri Duniya Mein Tera Kaam Na Tha. In fact, music is a very big face saving grace of this movie despite the fact that the songs block the flow of the mystery-based narrative.

Technically this black and white movie is quite good. Not by the script but by the light and sound effect, the director has succeeded in creating a suspenseful environment in the movie. The scenes picturized in semi-darkness are pretty impressive. Length of the movie could have been curtailed sufficiently because undue footage has been given to the character of Gopichand Jasoos and his activities. He generates less laughter more irritation.Bees Saal Baad was a box office success when released perhaps due to the music, the romance and the hype related to the so-called horror in it. If remade by a skilled suspense-movie director, this script can be converted into an outstanding suspense movie. I recommend this movie to all the fans of Waheeda Rehman and Biswajeet. The audience of murder mysteries containing melodious songs will also like it for sure.

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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.

7 Responses to The hound of the Baskervilles in Chandangarh

  1. Rekha Sahay says:

    Yes , its an interesting movie full of
    mysteries .

  2. bsreedhar61 says:

    Seen this movie may be 3 times.. The story and action are a class of their own.. Thanks for sharing the Review, Jitendra!

  3. rustyautumn says:

    Great review! I have spent a lot of time watching more recent Bollywood films on Netflix but need to find the classics like this.

    • Hearty thanks. Kindly watch it with a modest expectation (as far as the mystery and thrill aspect is concerned) though the songs and the on-screen romance of the lead pair are wonderful.

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