In the Quest of a Wife
Anu, Richard and Yves‘ influence and ‘prodings’ made me buy a Raj Kapoor DVD collection the last time I was in India. It contains all films directed by Raj Kapoor (except Prem Rog). I was so happy to have got it, that I am still sitting before it like a mouse in front of a snake and don’t know where to start. I had to take a decision and I did it in a way, which any grown-up and mature person would do. I took the easiest route out and chose a film, which was not in the collection and still qualifies as an RK film.
I had seen Biwi-O-Biwi years back on DD and loved it although my brother had narrated the story to frame-by-frame. Many of such encounters with old favourites result in big disappointments. But this wasn’t!
The film opens with a woman (Dulari) and her husband (Om Prakash) sitting with an astrologer and going through the horoscope of their son, Chandramohan (Randhir Kapoor). It seems he has Mangal (Mars) in his horoscope and thus would have trouble finding a bride. His father’s opinion about him is not high and calls him a good-for-nothing. His mum though thinks the world of him, who just seems to never have got the chance.
I agree with his father. Chandramohan, although his mother claims that he his a graduate, seems to be quite a nincompoop. If one goes by his looks, he seems to have been lazing around at his parent’s place for quite a long time after his graduation. I would say he is 40. His idea of searching for an appropriate girl-friend is to visit temples and riding his bicycle singing gori ho kali ho (any girl will do for me). The fact that he is jobless doesn’t seem to worry him much.
His singing draws attention of his childhood friend Gafoorbhai (Deven Verma), who would like to take Chandramohan to Bombay, where he can pursue a career of a singer, while he (Chandramohan not Gafoor, who already has two wives) looks for a good bride for himself.
Chandramohan’s father is relieved that his son will be leaving the house soon and packs him off with Gafoorbhai, before he changes his mind. In the big bad city a con man, Shankar (Sanjeev Kumar) relieves them of their luggage.
Shankar, a master of guises, works with Rina (Yogeeta Bali), who acts as a stool pigeon. I am amazed that her name is not Rita! Rina is madly in love with him and he exploits this fact to his advantage.
In Bombay Chandramohan also meets Asha (Poonam Dhillon) and falls for her, but like in a true filmi-manner they don’t hit-off together. The fact that he becomes a big hit in the stage-singing-business, makes Asha fall in love with him.
Asha is the only daughter of Col. Mangal Singh (also Sanjeev Kumar). The Colonel considers civilian men as unsuitable for his daughter. But as it is, he doesn’t have much of a say in this matter, his mother (Dina Pathak), who is the autocratic, but benign, sovereign of the house, has the last say in all the homely matters.
The theatre, where Chandramohan sings, has a patron (now, since she is a woman, should we be saying matron?) in form of Nisha (Simi), who is not only generous, but also considers Chandramohan as her younger brother. Her generous nature has also been discovered by Rina, who worms her way into her confidence.
Then there is Nirmala (Shashikala), who has a marriage bureau, whom Chandramohan has commissioned with the task to look-out for a suitable manglik-bride for himself. She will also be commissioned by Col. Mangal Singh to find a suitable manglik-bridegroom for Asha, who also has Mars in her horoscope.
When Rina meets Col. Mangal Singh, she is astonished at seeing the similarity between her lover and Col. Singh. When she tells about this to Shankar, he decides to impersonate the Colonel and thus channel rich Nisha’s money into his pocket.
What follows are twists in the plot which would put a boa constrictor to shame. Okay, that was a bit of exaggeration, because I have never ever seen a boa constrictor, leave alone see it doing the twist. Coming back to the film, it is a comedy on the lines of P. G. Wodehouse. It was great fun watching it.
Sanjeev Kumar is brilliant in his double act as the brawny Colonel and the clever con-man Shankar. Just watch how he takes care that the Colonel and the impersonated Colonel don’t sound the same. He does go at times over the board but it is tolerable. Randhir Kapoor puts on a good act together as the clumsy Chandramohan. He is a good comedian. His weight problem shows, but one can imagine that he has been, like his father accuses him, lazing around since his graduation. Simi Garewal and Dina Phatak are as always reliable actresses. Poonam Dhillon, thankfully has for most of her part the function of standing around and looking pretty, which she does with quite ease. Prema Narayan is wasted on her role as Asha’s friend. Shashikala does nothing more than shriek „Uiii Maa“. Yogeeta Bali does her role justice. And not to forget there is a “friendly appearance by a few love ones”, whatever that means.
R. D. Burman’s music is not peppy like in Jawani Diwani, though the song meri bulbul yu na ho gul reminds one of jaan-e-jaan dhundta phir raha. The other songs are just about hummable.Sanjeev Kumar is the leading actor as far as the acting and screen time is considered, Randhir Kapoor the romantic lead, but it is Abrar Alvi’s witty dialogues which carry the film on its shoulders. What one misses is a good director. Rahul Rawail’s direction lacks the bite and sharpness, needed to frame Alvi’s ingenious dialogues.
All the same a funny movie! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it! Don’t miss the delightful animation summary of the film during the credits. If you want to watch it, here it is.