Paying Guest (1957)

08 Jun


Kaagaz ke Phool pulled me down so much, that I thought, even I need a break from Guru Dutt, thus joining the long string of people who “bhichde sabhi bari bari” from him. Moreover Nutan celebrated her Jayanti on 4th of June (and bollywood deewana celebrated his birthday as well), so I thought of jumping the bandwagon to celebrate it. I looked at my pile and first my eyes went to Bandini, but then I remembered how dustedoff once recommended Paying Guest to me. So off I went to see it.

Last summer I saw the beginning of it in Bombay, but the VCD player decided to strike on that day and seeing Dev Anand’s antics I was even relieved. But this time when I saw it, it was less irritating and I think I even warmed up to it. It is pure masala film. Is Film me kya nahin hai, is me drama hai, emotion hai, suspense hai, love story hai, sundar heroine hai, matwala hero hai, sunheri vamp hai. It is in fact a three tier film, wonderfully knotted together. The only thing lacking is a good director. So, off we go……………………….!

The Love Story

As many of the 50s heroes, Ramesh (Dev Anand) is garib (poor). Well, he is not unemployed but he is too much of an unsuccessful lawyer.

On his search for a room he lands up at Mirza sahib’s house. Coming there, he gets promptly in a fight with the tenant upstairs, Shanti. Not only a lawyer but uncouth in his behaviour leads him to being thrown out. Shanti and her father, Digambarnath also leave the house and move to another one.

Digambarnath, who would like to line his wallet a bit more, is searching for a tenant, who would be paying guest. Knowing that, after his silly behaviour Digambarnath won’t take him up as a tenant; Ramesh dresses himself as Mirza sahib, an old muslim gentleman. (Where in the hell do the hindi film heroes get the disguises so soon. If I had to search for a disguise I wouldn’t know, which place to look).


Shanti is no dud, she is a student at the local college and is also a member of the debating club, where they discuss such high brow topics like ‘money or love, what is more essential for a successful marriage’. Shanti is all for love and her opponent her friend Chanchal (Shubha Khote) all for money. I would have liked to tell Chanchal not to be so open about it, but then remembered, that she can’t help it, Subodh Mukherjee (the director) asked her to be so.


Ramesh, meanwhile carries on with his wooing (Mana janab ne pukara nahin) and his idea of it is to get beaten up by his alter ego Mirza sahib, which brings in oodles of sympathy from Shanti.


And while playing Holi; Mirza sahib’s disguise falls, her father gets a fit. This gives Ramesh a chance to look after him and impress him. Since Miya, Biwi and Baba all are raazi, the screenplay sails to other shores. (O nigahen mastana)


The social drama

Shanti is not the only daughter of Digamabarnath. His eldest daughter Uma (Dulari) is married to Prakash (Yakub), who is a pukka Raavan (though after Mani Ratnam’s film, we all will have to revise our views of Raavan, but till then we go on with it). He not only demands money from his father-in-law for drink but also mistreats his wife. I brace myself to hear some Sitagiri. But hooray, we are spared of it. But not poor old Digambarnath! This leaves the family, what with Ramesh’s unemployment and Prakash’s drinking, very much penniless


Meanwhile Chanchal has married an old rich lawyer (Gajanan Jagirdar), who is immersed subah aur shaam in kaam hi kaam (morning till eve only work on mind) and doesn’t take pyaar ka naam (word of love) in his mouth.


Seeing Ramesh and Shanti’s not only blossoming but blooming love, she becomes jealous and plans to seduce Ramesh and also because he had made fun of her a few scenes back about her marriage to the old barrister.


Prakash comes to her help to ‘create a rift in the lute’ (as Jeeves would put it). He gives Chanchal chocolates, which will make Ramesh drunk, though how that is going to help matters is past my understanding.


Ramesh does get drunk and sings ‘hai, hai, hai yeh nigahen’ and when he arrives home, Shanti give him a piece of her mind. It seems after all the trauma which her sister undergoes through a drunkard husband; she has grown an acute aversion to all sorts of alcohol and alcoholics, even temporary. I mean temporary alcoholics not temporary aversion or husbands.


Chanchal sees her chance and takes him to her home. This doesn’t go quite well with the old barrister. He removes his wife from his will and takes her to a far, far away place, which is near a sea or a river and confronts her with her (unsuccesful) attempts at adultery and asks her to leave his home and hearth. Why they don’t quarrel at home like all husbands and wives escapes me. But broadminded as he is, he is ready to bring her to back to the town. Prakash meanwhile, who has watched this scene, slits the tires of the car. That means they can only take the boat across the river. Don’t worry if this is making your mind boggle, even my head was spinning at this twists and convulsions of the story which would put a python to shame.


Anyway off they go paddling a boat and just as the boat passes a young coconut palm, we hear his blood-curdling cries. I have always wanted to use this word ‘blood curdling’. Ha!


And in the very next shot we see Chanchal sobbing with her dead husband’s head (still connected to his torso) in her lap, while she is narrating how her husband drowned. We all know that foul play is afoot here.


Remember Ramesh and Shanti. Well, Shanti just has to sing ‘Chand phir nikla‘ and Ramesh returns to her. Her aversion it seems was temporary.


The Suspense-Thriller

Prakash, who has aided Chanchal in the crime, wants his pound of flesh. She though, would like to take the shorter way out and threatens him with a gun. In the flood of emotions, they accuse each other of all the dirty deeds. This leads to Prakash throttling Chanchal, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Shanti, who rushes to her aid and finds her lying on her back in front of Prakash.


She assumes that Chanchal in this position doesn’t need her help and runs away. They in turn think that she has heard everything and needs to be removed. And off goes Prakash in hot pursuit, shooting bullets here and there (reminded me of the opening scene in Munnabhai MBBS). Shanti finds refuge in a store room, where Prakash slips and loses his weapon and Shanti takes it up and a shot is fired, killing Prakash. Police come and arrest her, but on their return the corpse is missing!


So where has Prakash disappeared? Did Shanti kill him? What did Chanchal tell her man-servant when the police came? Will Ramesh get a chance to do a Perry Mason?

To get the answers to this questions, watch Paying Guest. But please don’t forget to shut off your enquiring brain. Just enjoy the ride!

By the way what is Dev Anand wearing here in this pic?

 And here is Amrish and Madan Puri’s in-mela lost brother Chaman Puri


Posted by on June 8, 2010 in Bollywood


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

31 responses to “Paying Guest (1957)

  1. dustedoff

    June 9, 2010 at 7:35 am

    My favourite thing about Paying Guest are the songs – so absolutely fabulous, especially O nigaah-e-mastaana, which has great picturisation as well. The story is pretty wonky, but as eye candy (and ear candy, I guess!) it’s a watchable enough film. Oh, and one dialogue I really like… when Dev Anand’s going about looking for a room to rent and his prospective landlord asks for a reference from his previous landlord, Dev Anand admits the man has died. The one before that? Also dead… finally, the landlord says, “Aap vakil hain ke maut ka farishta?” (Are you a lawyer or the angel of death?!”)

    Hehe. 🙂

  2. harvey

    June 9, 2010 at 10:25 am

    The songs are all catchy, aren’t they? I love each one of them. Nearly all of them werre shown so often on Chaaya Geet or played on Vividh Bharati!
    What I loved about the film is, that it didn’t have any Sitagiri dialogues.
    As you say the story is pretty wonky, but haven’t we all learnt to forgive such things and moreover the songs and the eye candy make up for that. Shubha Khote looks so fabulous and so does Nutan.
    I couldn’t half understand Dev’s wardrobe, but his smile and puff and the grim look compensate.
    The dialogue with his first landlord is a hoot. A pity that they didn’t continue.
    Nutan, I’ve heard was a trained Kathak dancer, but I’ve never sseen her dance like Vyjayanthimala or Padmini. wonder why.

  3. sunheriyaadein

    June 9, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    I haven’t seen this film yet. Dustedoff had recommended it to me too, and I have finally ordered for it. Same here, I love the songs, each and every one of them. And it definitely has the eye-candy factor.

  4. harvey

    June 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I think you will surely like it. You just have to overlook certain potholes so to say!
    Do tell what you think of it, if you watch it.

    • sunheriyaadein

      June 12, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      I’m used to ignoring the potholes…will definietely write up once I watch it.

  5. Richard S.

    June 10, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Thanks to your post, I have now sent a belated happy birthday comment to Bollywooddeewana (who shares a birthday with both Nutan and my sister)…

    I have seen other movies with Dev Anand and Nutan, but never Paying Guest. I’ll have to catch it sometime.

    And yes, it’s too bad we didn’t get a chance to see Nutan dance more. I guess to dance like Vyjayanthimala or Padmini, she would have to have been trained in bharatanatyam 🙂 , but some Nutan kathak would have been interesting.

    Speaking of Padmini, her birthday is June 12.

    • harvey

      June 10, 2010 at 10:56 am

      “sent a belated happy birthday”
      There you are, we have an indi birthday reminder system. Though we’ll have to work on its effficiency.

      I’ve seen only Tere Ghar ke Saamne and Paying Guest. I liked Tere Ghar ke Saamne as a comedy a lot. And the music is divine.

      “dance like Vyjayanthimala or Padmini” 🙂
      I meant so often as Vyjayanthimala or Padmini. But maybe it is just a promotion thing. The only dance of hers I remember is the wonderful song by Asha Bhosle ‘Nigahen milane ko jee’ from Dil hi to hai. And she does have a sort of a Garba dance in Saraswatichandra ‘Main to bhul gayi baabool ka desh’.

    • harvey

      June 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

      Thanks for the reminder for Padmini’s birthday. Will searrch for a film with her, but I doubt if I have any.

  6. bollywoodeewana

    June 10, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    first of all, I love this quote “Is Film me kya nahin hai, is me drama hai, emotion hai, suspense hai, love story hai, sundar heroine hai, matwala hero hai, sunheri vamp hai”

    I Guess he’s wearing a blazer without a shirt underneath, very stylish of him, i personally like Dev’s hairy chest in comparison to this Dior Homme model’s smooth chest

    in fact Dev is another one of my favourite bollywood fashion icons. I’ll be checking this one out, Ultra has done us all the favour of uploading it in one single clip on youtube, below is the link for anyone interested in watching

    • harvey

      June 10, 2010 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks for the compliments, bd! (I hope you don’t mind being called bd, if yes, please DO tell).
      I also would take Dev’s hairy chest anytime rather than a smooth one. How does Bond say in this film, where he goes to Japan: A bird likes to build a nest in ….. something. Not that I am so keen on birds! 😉 So here ye cometh all with hairy chests!
      Thanks for the blazer tip. I wasn’t sure if he was wearing a bathing robe or a blazer.
      In later years he took up to buttoning his shirts up and gone was the hairy chest and all!
      In the 50s you see him shirtless quite often. So much for Salman starting the trend!

      • sunheriyaadein

        June 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm

        True, of late I’ve been seeing so many of the heroes topless in 50s and early 60’s I’m surprised that Salman got the title of trend-setter :

        Dev Anand really flaunted his hairy chest. Baarish was another Dev-Nutan pairing. I loved them in Tere Ghar Ke Saamne . Even Baarish was fun. Thanks to bollywooddeewana for that link. Will watch it tonight 🙂
        Now that you have provided with the link to one single clip on youtube, I can’t wait for my DVD to come 🙂 It’s too much of a temptation to resist. Like bollyviewer said, this post itself is so much fun that I could actually do without watching the movie, but just for eye-candy factor, I want to watch it atleast once.

        Ahhhhh….Baat Ek Raat Ki – I had seen it around 9 years back and still remember the court scene at the climax. And Na hum tumhe jaano , * sigh* Hemant da’s voice is so hauntingly melodious I can feel myself drowning in it.
        He’s my new found love. I’ve always been in love with Rafi – I adore the man. Few months back, I was listening to Yeh nayan dare dare, Na hum tumhe jaano, Bekrar karke hume, Zara nazron se kehdo ji, Tum pukarlo….. one late night and I was like, I have been listening to him all these years, why didn’t I fall in love with him before this?! So that was a sudden realization 🙂

        • harveypam

          June 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

          “I’m surprised that Salman got the title of trend-setter”
          Move over salman, Dev saab has the rightful claim to the throne!

          Oh, you do have to watch the movie. It is total fun. Get some friends, lots of chips and drinks. You will have a whale of a time! But you can also watcch it alone like I did! 😦

          “Ahhhhh….Baat Ek Raat Ki”
          I want ‘Baat Ek Raat Ki’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          hemant Kumar does have this wonderfuf voice, doesn’t he?
          I prefer Rafi for breezy songs, but he does give his best for ‘Zara nazaron se keh do ji’. I think he is best for soulfful philosophical songs!

          “why didn’t I fall in love with him before this?”
          Just imagine the torture of being torn between Rafi and Hemant! Better separate them in different time phases! 🙂

          • sunheriyaadein

            June 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm

            Chips and drinks are readily available, but it’s difficult to gather friends to watch an old movie…. 😦
            So, I’m pretty sure that I’ll also end up watching it alone just like you. I was actually targetting it tonight, but with World Cup going on, I couldn’t.
            Oh yes, indeed. Hemant da has such a wonderful voice! I think I can manage the two of them…I’ve been doing that for the last few months now 😉

  7. pacifist

    June 10, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I watched this about a month ago.
    As the film progressed my excitement grew because every song that turned up was one I loved – but didn’t know belonged here.

    I bought this DVD just because it was of the 50s and there was hardly a film then whose songs were not great – and I was not disappointed.
    All that eye candy was useful too 😀

    Shubha Khote was indeed different here.

    • harvey

      June 10, 2010 at 9:50 pm

      The songs are lovely, aren’t they?
      Nice light hearted entertainment and no hidden messages!

      EYe candy! *sigh*

      AS for Shubha Khote, I’d a feeling the film belonged to her. She had more variety of feelings to emote. If Nutan didn’t have so many songs, Shubha would surely havve more screen time as well. She made a good job of it, but I was left with a feeling, she could have given it a little bit more (for e.g., a few more smiles). Nadira would have stood out and eaten up everybody.

  8. pacifist

    June 10, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    >Nadira would have stood out and eaten up everybody.
    She made a very good vamp I think. Even though she was quite a caricature in Aan I liked her.

    Yes, Shubha Khote had more of a role than Nutan. I mean she was part of the story. Good for her. Minus Mehmood she was not bad, in fact somewhat better.

    • harvey

      June 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

      I myself think she is at her best when she has to portray a caricature, she lifts it up to a different dimension, in Julie for e.g.! The same can be said of K. N. Singh and Rehman, with their mannerisms and all. What would Nadira and K. N. Singh do without their eye brows? It would be like asking Hrithik to shed off his muscles!

      I love Shubha Khote and I do think comedy is her forte, but I am just plainly baised towrds her. Everytime I see her on the screen, it is like seeing a dear old aunt (not the Aunt Agatha type but more like Aunt Dahlia)

  9. bollyviewer

    June 11, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Hehehe dunno about the film, magar is post mein drama hai, emoshun hai, romance hai, tragedy hai… I bet its way more fun than the film itself. 🙂 I think I watched or tried to watch this long ago, and didnt care much for it. I’ll give it another try – just because I love Dev-Nutan and love the songs.

    Dev as Perry Mason? What a fabulous idea. WHY did they not do it? Guess Baat Ek Raat Ki is the closest we’ll ever get to Dev Mason.

    • harvey

      June 11, 2010 at 10:49 am

      Thanks for the compliments dear! the way you have written emoshun, I practically heard Dharam’s voice!
      Give it a try, but don’t forget to switch off the intellectual part of your brain.

      Yeah! Dev as Perry Mason would have been THE hit. The way he has done it here is a good start.

      ‘Baat ek raat ki’! *sigh* I’ve wanted to see that since I heard the short version of it on radio. But could never get my hands on it.
      *starts singing, more like humming ‘na tum hume jaano’ and wondering why he can’t recreate Hemantda’s smoky voice*

  10. yves

    June 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Yes, Paying Guest was a fun wonky story, well put Madhu. The song I appreciate most was Chand phir nikla.
    For me the movie was not much more than a Nutan showcase, not that I complain, though!

    • harveypam

      June 21, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      Chand phir nikla has been one of my steady favs since I was ~12.
      The movie could have been Shubha Khote showcase, if she just had tried a bit more. But I also don’t complain when I get to see Nutan and add Dev, what does one need more?
      maybe a better director! 😉

  11. raja

    June 23, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Saw the movie a while ago and remember loving it. The first half was really timepass – there was wonderful chemistry between Nutan and Dev. The second half was good in its own way too but I just loved the first half. But then, I love Nutan in her happy roles, the second half got a bit serious. 🙂

    The songs are great too – “O nigahen mastana” is gorgeous, with its picturisation. And of course “chhod do aanchal”, “maana janaab ne”, “chand phir nikla” and “haaye haaye haaye yeh nigaahen”. Lovely!

    • harveypam

      June 23, 2010 at 11:44 pm

      Welcome to my blog. Raja!
      You are completely right. Though the direction is poor, the wonderful chemsitry between Nutan and Dev and their beauty coupled with S. D. Burman’s songs save the film.
      It is a treat to see Nutan in this film!
      Shubha Khote could have done with a song as well!

  12. coolone160

    April 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Dev Anand was just hilarious in this film 🙂 .His antics,mischievousness in this film remind me of “Funtoosh” Never imagined that Shubha Khote could play such a bold role! It was indeed a surprise package of that film……………

    • harveypam

      April 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      I enjoyed the film a lot too. It just wasn’t to be taken very seriously that’s all! A pity that Ntuan didn’t have much substance to her role. Shubha Khote in contrast had a whole array of emotions to portray and she did it quite well. Though I think Nadira would have suited the role better.

  13. mahesh

    July 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    have visited your blog off and on. this is just to say that it is very interesting.

    • harveypam

      July 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you, Mahesh!
      Am very glad you like my posts!


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