Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dhund (1973)








No one I know knew about this movie from the early 70s. Produced and directed by BR Chopra, a man who gave a series of enthralling mystery movies in the late 1960s, Dhund is amazingly well-knit suspense thriller that may even be termed as the best effort of Mr. Chopra and stars Zeenat Aman, Navin Nischol, Danny Denzongpa, and Sanjay Khan in principal roles.

The movie is essentially a murder mystery and it wastes no time in coming straight to the point (a thing that cannot be said of previous BR Chopra offerings). The first few minutes really set up the interest levels at the zenith and the taut screenplay ensures that they don’t go down till the very end. As in many other suspense movies, the story takes place in serene landscapes and that adds to the overall effect in this case. Giving anything away about the plot will be a disservice and I restrain from doing so.

According to me the star of any mystery movie is its script and Dhund has a ‘Superstar’ in that regards. It is an adaptation of an old Agatha Christie play and stays true to the original, for its own good. And although the screenplay in inherently engaging, the performances of all the actors elevate it to even greater levels. Zeenat Aman is amazing in her portrayal of a damsel in distress. Most of her movies don’t go beyond showcasing her stunning looks but this movie gives her the chance to put her acting abilities to show. Modern day heroines can take a cue from the earnest manner she approaches her character with. Navin Nischol looks the part of an intelligent ‘pardesi babu’ and does well in an understated manner. Danny Dengzongpa is menacing as the brutal husband and evokes hatred from other characters and viewers alike- a feat very few on screen negative characters can accomplish without caricaturizing their performance. Sanjay Khan looks handsome and is decent in his role. The surprise package is Ashok Kumar who pitches in with a cameo that in taken straight out of the earlier BR Chopra classic ‘Kanoon’. Deven Verma manages to garner a few laughs in the role of a wayward servant.

On the whole Dhund is an unknown gem of Hindi cinema and is a must watch for both ardent fans and cynics of our movies. This movie just gave me one reason to complain- it does not rise very high on the musical front which is rare for a movie coming from BR Chopra.

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