Do you read detective novels and rely upon them ?

The world of fictional work can be classified in various categories / genres. One immensely popular category of such work is the stories of crime detection genre. People from all over the world have been reading / seeing such stories with a great interest for over a century. In the post-independence India, several Indian authors have produced detectives who are the desi versions of Sherlock Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Perry Mason of Erle Stanley Gardener or Hercule Poirot of Agatha Christie. Such novels (alongwith the romantic and social novels) were a runaway success in India through the pocket book versions which were quite cheap and easily affordable by common readers until the advent of internet finally led to the dilution of the reading habit of the Indians and reading such books no longer remained their favourite pastime. However in the heyday of the pocket book business, not only millions of Indians read the detective novels but a sizable chunk of such readers believed in their stories also. Quite naturally, the mystery writers writing in vernacular (and more than them, their publishers) made a lot of money through regular penning of such novels. Some of them were even lucky enough to become millionaires through this profession. And more than the money, such authors gained popularity and a kind of celebrity status viz. Ved Prakash Sharma, Surendra Mohan Pathak, Colonel Ranjeet etc.

When this profession was at its peak (the decline started soon thereafter due to cable TV and internet), there came a Bollywood movie which portrayed a detective novelist as its hero. This movie is a suspense-thriller made in the style of formula-based potboilers. It’s Rupaye Dus Karod (1991). To me, this movie appears to have been made to cash on the popularity of detective fiction and detective novelists (at that time). It’s not an excellent movie but not too bad either.rupaye-dus-karod-indian-movie-posterRupaye Dus Karod (ten crores of rupees) is the story of a detective novelist (writing in Hindi, of course) – Ravi Varma (Rajesh Khanna) whose father had to flee from India in his childhood itself because of a conspiracy masterminded by his wicked business partners (Kiran Kumar and Sadashiv Amrapurkar). Brought up by his mother, he obtains a law degree but does not practise and instead writes Hindi novels of crime detection genre. Being the hero of a Bollywood movie, he is successful and famous in his profession. His father transmits a sum of Rs. 10 crores from abroad for his family and now the baddies (his so-called old friends and ex-business partners) are interested in usurping this huge sum. They are well-aware of the talent of Ravi Varma and therefore, they hire his services to draw a scheme so that this money could be usurped by them. For compelling him to do this job for them, they kidnap his mother and threaten to kill her.

Now, to save his mother’s life, Ravi Varma agrees to work for them and prepares a chain of small schemes which combined together, develop into a great scheme through which the villains will be able to usurp the hefty sum of Rs. 10 crores. However, since our hero is not a baddy himself and he is doing all this under compulsion only, his schemes are not meant for the threatening villains only but also for himself to get rid of their pressure, save the life of his mother and finally not allow the hard-earned money of his father (he does not know that the person sending the money is his separated father only) to get into the hands of the unscrupulous people. He involves some youngsters in his composite scheme as his assistants – Chunkey Pandey who is the son of Kiran Kumar and keeps on chasing skirts, Amrita Singh who is very keen and enthusiastic to become a detective herself, Avinash Wadhavan who is her brother, Deepika Chikhliya who is the assistant of this novelist hero etc. These youngsters trust him so much that they blindly follow his dictates. During the proceedings, another young girl – Sonu Waalia gets murdered. Now this story does not remain restricted to the scheming for usurping of the money mentioned in its title but gets transformed into a murder mystery. When the youngsters are caught by the law and come to know how they have been used by the hero, they misunderstand him. However, as expected, the hero turns the tables on the opponents, resolves the murder mystery, makes his young comrades come out of the legal trap they have been caught in and gets reunited with his parents in the climax.downloadRupaye Dus Karod is one of those movies which were made on novel themes and good scripts but the penchant of the moviemakers for the regular Bollywood formulae to ensure that the movie did well on the box office diluted the quality of the product coming on the screen before the audience. I always fail to understand why these filmmakers never realize that going for the regular formulae (songs, dances, over the top comedy, fights etc.) without a need, takes away the advantage of the novelty of the idea and the good script available with them and proves counter-productive also because instead of boosting the box office performance of the movie, such superfluous things make an adverse impact on the same.

And therefore, Rupaye Dus Karod is also no better than the run-of-the-mill Bollywood movies that used to come during the seventies, the eighties and the early nineties. The movie is entertaining, no doubt but it’s not as good as it could have been, given the good story idea which appears to have been lifted from some thriller novel itself. The movie has everything – comedy, romance, sentiments, ideals, action and mystery. However the whole movie is just an average product. The director could not do justice to the good script. A sort of seriousness is missing in the narrative as well as many characters of the story which should have been there to make an impact. The ending scene also contains novelty but again it’s not as impressive as it could have been.RupayeDusKarodSince I have read hundreds of detective novels in Hindi (because the book stalls used to be flooded with such pocket books around two decades back), I was amused to see the covers of many real Hindi novels shown in a scene. These novels were written by an author named Ravi Varma and perhaps to use them only, the hero has been christened as Ravi Varma in this movie. Erroneously, one cover shown is of a novel written by another author – Rahul. It’s a mistake on the part of the director and an omission on the part of the editor (to correct it in editing). Anyway, these gentlemen might have been confident that none would catch it (except Mr. Jitendra Mathur).

Technical aspects of the movie alongwith the music of Bappi Lahiri are just ok. The thrills in the climax are slightly better. Production value is also modest.

The director could not extract admirable performances from the artists. However Chunkey Pandey and Amrita Singh (today’s birthday babe) have tried their level best to make the audience laugh (though they look less humorous, more ridiculous). Rajesh Khanna is miscast in the lead role. Sadashiv Amrapurkar has got ample footage but he is also stereotyped. Avinash Wadhavan and Sonu Waalia are the better performers in this movie.

Summing up, if you are fond of detective novels (written in any language) and also feel that the incidents shown in such stories are close to reality, then you may like this movie. But otherwise also, this movie is a good one time watch and can be enjoyed on TV / computer in a lazy afternoon.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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2 Responses to Do you read detective novels and rely upon them ?

  1. kokilagupta says:

    Sounds interesting but the unnecessary song dance routine and the idea to bear a certain Mr. Chunky Pandey thwarts the interest! Neat review.

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