I am a very big fan of Late Sanjeev Kumar who has been one of the most versatile actors ever reigned in Bollywood or say, Indian cinema. He was not only an outstanding artist who could fit himself into any role but also the owner of a handsome personality because of which he was able to dance around the trees with the heroines, singing romantic songs (even his obesity did not dilute his manly charm). Uljhan (1975) is a movie which stars him opposite a newcomer singer-actress Sulakshana Pandit. The plot is very good in which the police officer husband investigates a murder committed by his wife only and that too just before the matrimonial ceremony of the two. The very first scene lends momentum to the story and it carries the viewer away towards the end like a swiftly flowing water stream.Uljhan (fix) is the story of Karuna (Sulakshana Pandit) who is going to marry Anand (Sanjeev Kumar), the brother of her best friend, Kamla (Farida Jalal). On the wedding day of Karuna, she comes to know of Kamla’s plight who is being blackmailed by her ex-lover Brij Bhushan (Ranjeet) who is a bad character and habitual of exploiting young innocent girls. He calls Kamla in his hotel room to get her love letters (written to him) back. Karuna stops Kamla from going there and goes to Brij’s hotel room herself instead. In her bid to get Kamla’s letters back, she unknowingly kills Brij (comes to know of his death the next day only) but anyhow manages to reach her home back in time and gets married to Anand. Anand’s father is a retired judge (Ashok Kumar) whereas his boss in the police headquarters is his uncle (Pinchoo Kapoor). Having been assigned the case of Brij’s murder, Anand is not even able to proceed on his honeymoon though he loves his wife very much. Karuna is very scared within herself because of the police investigation but at the same time, she loves her husband as much as he loves her. When Anand comes to know that Karuna is the murderer, he is shocked but compelled to arrest her. Now Karuna’s father-in-law, the retired judge, comes to her rescue. He has utmost faith in her innocence and he gets her exonerated in the end.
The director, Raghunath Jhalani had directed many movies of the genre of social drama in the sixties and the seventies. He, therefore, has given the same look to this movie also though the plot is based on a murder. Some other director might have made a thriller on this plot but Jhalani has made a social drama. Yet there is no dearth of interest and entertainment for the audience and once you are in it, the narrator ensures that you stick to the screen till the climax. The narrative does not loosens its grip on the viewers anywhere during the duration of some 140 minutes. The story flows nicely and this flow is nowhere blocked. Even the songs are situational and enrich the screenplay instead of becoming obstacles in its way.
The relationships of the characters are in typical Bollywood style with the police inspector’s boss being his uncle and friend (Asrani) being his colleague with the father as the retired judge (who wears the lawyer’s coat once again to defend his daughter-in-law in the court) and finally, two very good (lady) friends becoming sisters-in-law with one of them marrying the brother of another. However, to enjoy the movie, we have to ignore these seemingly unreal things.
The screenplay writer has created enough emotional as well as rib-tickling scenes in the movie, diluting the thrill (and the suspense, if you are an overthinking viewer). However, this has made the movie an interesting social drama with a curiosity factor as to how the murdering wife will escape from the claws of the law.
It’s to be acknowledged all the same that Uljhan is not an original work. The same stuff had been made earlier too under the title Kangan (1959) casting Ashok Kumar and Nirupa Roy as the romantic lead pair. Kangan is also quite an entertaining watch. However personally I feel, Uljhan treats and presents this story in a better way.
Kalyanji Anandji have given very good music in the movie. One song – Apne Jeevan Ki Uljhan Ko Kaise Main Suljhaaoon – sung by both Kishore Kumar and Sulakshana Pandit separately, is an excellent song. The other songs are also situational and meaningful according to the twists in the story as well as good to listen and watch.Sanjeev Kumar has delivered a natural performance as always expected of him. Among the supporting cast, Ashok Kumar, Farida Jalal, Master Raju, Urmila Bhatt, Pinchoo Kapoor, Aruna Irani, Asrani and Ranjeet have done justice to their respective roles. However this movie belongs to the debuting singer-actress Sulakshana Pandit, the elder sister of the actress, Vijayeta Pandit and the music directors – Jatin-Lalit. She can be praised upon all the three counts – her charming beauty, her acting performance and her enchanting voice in the songs assigned to her. This highly talented and beautiful artist could not carve a niche for herself in Bollywood and disappeared from the acting as well as the singing field after a few years is a sad thing. Her debut movie Uljhan itself has remained as the only memorable movie of hers.Uljhan is a very good watch. Once you start watching it, I bet, you won’t leave it till the very end. Mainly it is for the social drama audience but it will be liked by the thriller and mystery fans too.
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