Jeevan Ke Safar Mein Raahi . . .

Time and again it is proved to me that even the smallest thing takes places only when its due time has arrived. This review had been planned by me long back upon the sad demise of Nalini Jaywant on 20.12.2010 but its writing kept on getting postponed because I wanted to watch this movie once again (originally I had watched it in 1978 on Doordarshan) before writing the review. And neither could I get a VCD / DVD of it nor found it on internet. The hero of this movie Dev Anand also passed away on 03.12.2011. Finally I got it on internet after a long wait. And then its review took the shape in my mind. Here it comes. Munimji (1955) is an entertaining movie starring young and dashing Dev Anand and very beautiful Nalini Jaywant. It’s a social drama with entertaining romantic, comic and crime-related punches added to it. The word Munim has an African origin whose meaning is benefactor. However, in our country, the general handymen of big businessmen and landlords were called Munim who used to do all the things related to the business or money-matters (maintaining account-books, controlling cash and other assets, dealing with parties and banks and the likewise). The title of this movie is as such because the hero remains in the get-up of a Munim while working for the villain and is called Munimji (respected Munim) by the heroine.

It’s the story of Maalti (Nirupa Roy) who gives birth to the son of her wealthy lover who refuses to accept her as his wife and her son as his heir. He has married someone else and got another son through his legitimate wife. Due to his sudden demise, Maalti gets an opportunity to change his other son with her own son and she keeps on living in his house as a maid-servant, taking care of both the children. But now due to the exchange of children by her, her son is called the legitimate son and heir of the deceased person whereas she treats the other child as her own son (i.e, the son of a maid-servant who should serve the master). That son is Amar (Dev Anand) who is devoted to his (apparent) mother – Maalti being ignorant of the injustice that she has done to him and he serves as Munim in the factory of another rich man which is managed by his step-brother, Ratan (Pran). The daughter of that rich man, Rupa (Nalini Jaywant) is the betrothed of Amar since infancy but due to Maalti’s exchange of the male-children, she is considered the betrothed of Ratan. Amar and Ratan hate each other and that hatred is increased only when they become rivals for Rupa’s love. Amar meets Rupa as Raj and she starts loving him whereas he keeps on meeting her in the get-up of Munimji also saying that he is related to Raj and can act as a messenger between herself and Raj.

Ratan, on the other hand, is not only a spoiled youth who embezzles factory money for the sake of gambling but he is also a bandit who carries on his activities in the fake name of Kaala Ghoda (black horse). He wants to marry Rupa to get hold of her father’s wealth but he is already secretly married to another girl, Bela (Ameeta). In the climax, Maalti comes to know that the bandit Kaala Ghoda is none else but her son Ratan only. She tells Ratan the truth that she only is his mother and not the mother of Amar who is the actual heir of their father. Ratan imprisons her so that she is not able to tell his true identity to the world and threatens Amar to kill her. For the sake of mother’s life, Amar confesses before the police that he only is the bandit Kaala Ghoda and gets arrested. Ratan is all set to marry Rupa now when the mother gets released from his prison and reaches the matrimonial place to correct her errors and ensure that Amar gets what he deserves.Munimji at many places appears like a predecessor to the David Dhawan movies of the nineties which should be watched without applying logic in order to enjoy them. However it is much better than them because it provides healthy entertainment sans all kinds of vulgarity. Right from the start to the very finish, it is very very entertaining. The copy uploaded on internet is marred by continuity-jerks due to the omission of certain scenes. Still watching it is a good experience. It’s a total timepass movie in which the track of the bandit Kaala Ghoda has got less footage whereas the romantic and emotional tracks have got more footage. Comedy is also less but whatsoever quantum of that is available in the movie, is sufficient to make the audience laugh (or smile at least). Director Subodh Mukherjee has handled the script very well and served a delicious dish to the entertainment-hungry audience.Now-a-days real animals are not used in movies due to PETA and the hullabaloo of so-called animal-rights activists. But a few decades back, actual animals were used in many movies. Munimji is one such movie in which several wild animals have been used (in the scenes taking place in a forest) and a lot of entertainment has been generated through them. The fight of a tiger and a python in a scene is thrilling. The photography of the jungle, the caves, the fall etc. is very good.

Young and dashing Dev Anand and gorgeous Nalini Jaywant have played their parts well and their on-screen romance is pretty impressive. Though DevSaab is over the top in emotional scenes, his dashing personality makes up for the deficiency in acting. Pran as a baddy is good like always and he has generated laughs too for the audience through his performance in the song – Dil Ki Umangen Hain Jawaan. Barely 24 years old Nirupa Roy is completely miscast in the role of the mother of 32 years old Dev Anand. Despite wearing a wig of gray-hair, her youth is not hidden and from no angle does she appear to be that old as the director wanted her to look like. However she has performed well. The formula of a mother’s sacrificing her own son in the climax for the sake of truth and justice seems to be pretty old because Nirupa Roy does the same thing to Pran in this movie that she does to Amitabh Bachchan in a two decades later movie – Deewaar (1975). Mother India has found a presence in the Indian cinema of all the times. Ameeta as the clandestine wife-cum-accomplice of the villain has got less scope but has performed satisfactorily.

S.D. Burman’s music is the biggest asset of this movie. The best song is undoubtedly Kishore Kumar’s immortal song – Jeevan Ke Safar Mein Raahi, Milte Hain Bichhad Jaane Ko. Its another version in Lata’s voice is also there in the movie. Other Lata songs in the movie – Nain Khoye Khoye Mere Dil Mein Kuchh Hoye Re, Aankh Khulte Hi Tum Chhup Gaye Ho Kahaan, Ghaayal Hiraniya Main Ban Ban Doloon, Ek Nazar Bas Ek Nazar etc. are also quite melodious and impressive. Shivji Bihaane Chale (Hemant Kumar), Zindagi Hai Zinda (Geeta Dutt) and Dil Ki Umangen Hain Jawaan (Hemant Kumar-Geeta Dutt) are also good to listen. Geeta Dutt’s hilarious song – Anari Anari sung for this movie only was not found by me in the movie when watching.

While paying my tribute to Late DevSaab and Nalini Ji who left us in the December month only in consecutive years, I recommend this entertaining movie to one and all. If you are sick of watching the crap being served by several contemporary filmmakers, please watch this musical romance-cum-social drama from the black and white era of Indian cinema and let me assure you that you won’t regret after watching it.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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