Four years back, the sad demise of Suchitra Sen had reminded me of another great Indian artist who, like Suchitra Sen, was a precious gift of Bengali cinema to Hindi cinema. This extra-ordinary actor is Uttam Kumar who passed away in 1980 at quite an early age of 54 years. Like Suchitra Sen, Uttam Kumar also acted in a very less number of Hindi movies but in each one of them, he left his mark. Then I happened to watch a long-forgotten Hindi movie on internet which stars Uttam Kumar alongwith Amol Palekar, Pradeep Kumar, Dr. Shreeram Laagoo, Saarika, Amjad Khan etc. in lead roles. This movie is Plot No. 5 (1981) which is a suspense thriller.
Plot No. 5 tells the story of a chain of mysterious murders. The common thread in these murders is that all the victims are young modern girls and almost all the murders seem to have taken place on the roadside where it’s a common thing for the bold young girls having no conveyance with them to ask for lift from the passing vehicles. The investigating officer of the case Khan (Amjad Khan) finds that all the incidents point in one way or the other, to plot number 5 which is a residential place situated in the town. This plot number 5 is resided by two unmarried brothers – Sanjay Sinha (Uttam Kumar) and Ajay Sinha (Amol Palekar) who are wealthy businessmen. Sanjay is handicapped and restricted to wheel-chair. Ajay is completely devoted to his elder brother Sanjay and ready to do anything for him.
However these two brothers are not the only suspects in the eyes of the police. They are partners in a club which contains two more partners and both of them are very colourful characters. One is Mr. Varma (Dr. Shreeram Laagoo) and another (Pradeep Kumar) is a doctor by profession and fondly called as Doctor only. The talks and interactions of these foursome show that though they are partners, there appears no love lost among them. Whenever they are in discussion, their attitude is sarcastic and accusing towards the other ones. It’s prominent especially in respect of Mr. Varma and Doctor. A servant in plot number 5, i.e., the household of the Sinha brothers, is also suspicious by his activities and gestures. Finally, Khan is able to unearth the mystery behind these serial murders and unmask the killer with the help of Ajay’s sweetheart and fiancee (Saarika).In my review of Shart (1986), I have highlighted this fact that though Bhatt Camp’s movie Murder 2 (2011), is said to be based on a Korean movie – The Chaser (2008), the fact is that the story of a very old Hindi movie Shart was ditto and that’s why we can say that The Chaser was a plagiarized version of the Hindi movie and Murder 2 was an instance of plagiarizing the plagiarized stuff only. After watching Plot No. 5, now I feel that the theme of the serial murders of young girls (or women) is even older than Shart because the same theme is here also. The theme is damn good and the final revelation in the climax explains the reason behind these murders quite logically. However let me frankly admit that Plot No. 5 is not a well-made movie. It appears to be a half-hearted effort made by the writer and the director. The writer could not write an impressive as well as interesting script for the movie and the director (Yogesh Saxena) equally faltered in his job.The colours of this colour movie are found quite faded when watched on the small screen. Most of the technical aspects are also not up to the mark. The name of the great music director Salil Chaudhary appears in the credits as the music director of the movie. However except a disco song Chic Chic Chic Chica Chica (by Biddu), there are no songs in the movie (at least in the version uploaded on internet). Background score is good though.
At the cost of repetition I assert, the poorly written script is the main culprit here, else a very impressive suspense thriller could have been made on this brilliant theme. A murder mystery or suspense thriller should contain interesting and curiosity-generating investigation of the crime(s) taken place. The movie badly falters in this regard. The bulk of the narrative has been devoted to the interactions and discussions between the four prime suspects who are shown as suspecting one another for the murders. This has restricted the movie to mainly a slow-paced in-house drama. Nevertheless, a couple of sequences are quite impressive.
The suspense is not great in the movie. Intelligent use of deductive reasoning may tell you as to who can be the murderer. Still Uttam Kumar and his interactions with Amol Palekar playing his younger brother are able to maintain interest of the viewer till the climax. It’s a pure suspense thriller or a pure mystery because (despite some effort made by Viju Khote playing the sidekick of the investigating police officer) there is no comedy in the movie, nor is there any romance. Drama and drama only is there from the very start to the very finish.
Still this movie is watchable. At least once. Why ? Because of the performances. All the principal actors, mainly the male actors (female actors – Saarika, Priyadarshini, Komila Wirk etc. have got very less footage) have done very well except Amjad Khan whose role is the most badly written one. Dr. Shreeram Laagoo, Pradeep Kumar and Amol Palekar have delivered praiseworthy performances and if not the script, their gestures and dialog delivery are able to maintain an aura of suspense and thrill in the movie.Unarguably, Uttam Kumar is the best performer. For the first time (and perhaps the last time as well because this movie was released post his death), he has acted in a Hindi suspense movie with his role containing gray shades. He has risen above the script and delivered an enchanting performance embedding a marvellous underplay.
Plot No. 5 can be liked mainly by the die-hard fans of the great actor Uttam Kumar only. However I recommend it to the audience of suspense movies too as a one time watch.
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