Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blackmail (1973)

I dedicate this post to Mr. Kishore Kumar on his birthday (which I have just learnt about). He made an indelible contribution to this movie through one of his post popular songs (which I will talk about later in the post).


Masala actioners have been the bread and butter for superstar Dharmendra in much the say way as they have been the bread and butter for Hindi movies.  Rarely did one get to see him in a simple understated role- but every time it happened, the effect was sheer delight. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Chupke Chupke’ and ‘Satyakaam’ immediately come to mind as such instances, the other ones being his early black and white romantic movies- most prominent amongst them ‘Bandini’ and ‘Anupama’ (another Hrishikesh Mukherjee venture). Vijay Anand’s BLACKMAIL is another such movie where he plays a hardcore incurable romantic with much aplomb. The movie, apart from him, also starred Shatrughan Sinha, Raakhee, and Madan Puri in prominent roles.

On the surface this one looks like a regular romantic love triangle, but is actually slightly more complex than that. However it still has an uncomplicated story-line with no sub-plots whatsoever. Kailash (Dharmendra) owns a production unit where his uncle Prof. Khurana (Madan Puri) is working hard at idea that can change the way the world looks at electricity generation. After months of toil and effort, he is successful at generating electricity from solar heat (the idea may seem pretty non-impressive now that we actually have solar power). This invention by him promises to change the entire outlook of the industry towards electrical appliances. Meanwhile Jeevan (Shatrughan Sinha), a friend of Kailash, gets to know of this success seen at his production unit. Soon, he also discovers one more fact about his friend- that he is madly in love with Asha (Raakhee), but is unable to express his feelings to her. Incidentally Asha is not only Jeevan’s fiancĂ©, but also the daughter of a man who owns a production unit rival to Kailash’s firm. Jeevan, thereafter, plots a cunning plan to obtain the secret blueprint of the invention by Prof. Khurana- a plan that can threaten to destroy the lives of both Asha and Kailash.

The story, though simple, is told wonderfully well and is engaging for most parts, except the climax that is quite stretched. What adds to the movie are the performances by the two male leads and the excellent music. For me, this is one of Dharmendra’s top 5 performances. His is the most difficult role for is the one saddled with the toughest scenes. He lends credence to whatever be the situation- be it the initial portions when he is the shy and hopeless romantic, or later when he discovers that his wife had a past, or when he led to believe that his wife was cheating on him after marriage, and still later in the pre-climax when gets to play the ultimate action hero he was when he rescues his wife from the clutches of the goons including Jeevan. Raakhee too does well as a woman caught between her past and her present. Shatrughan Sinha plays an outright villain till the very end really effectively.

The superb production values are eye-catching and the outdoor scenes are mounted beautifully. But all these facts aside, this movie is remembered and cherished by lovers of Hindi cinema predominantly because of the song- ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’ One of the most memorable romantic number from that era, the song is used more than once in the movie to a breathtaking effect. This song is also one of the finest by Kishore Kumar, arguable the most emotive voice heard on the Indian silver screen. The climax song too is memorable for it is truly one of its kind in Hindi cinema- wherein the hero and the heroine get intimate for the first time while hiding from the goons who are after their lives, in the middle of a forest (and a forest fire subsequently). In the hands of less able hands this would have proved to be too cheesy for screen, but Vijay Anand pulls it off quite aesthetically.
Parting Note- The movie is nice fell good entertainer embellished with great performances and a superb song- which I am signing off with…








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