Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ittefaq (1969)



To a fan of suspense and mystery movies, there is nothing more satisfying than viewing a taut and fast-paced thriller. ‘Ittefaq’, one of the early movies directed by the much celebrated Yash Chopra (and rightly so), is one such movie that is gripping enough to keep to you thouroughly engaged with its suspenseful plot and unconventional sequence of events. Produced under the BR Chopra banner, which was famous for its mystery movies, Ittefaq can be rated as one of the best thrillers to have been made in Indian cinema. It is an unusual Hindi movie with no songs and a run-time of just over 100 minutes.

The movie starts off in dramatic fashion, and takes no time in coming straight to the point. Painter Dilip Roy’s (Rajesh Khanna in a complex role) wife is found dead in their apartment and he is accused of the crime. His wife’s sister Renu (Bindu) gives testimony against him and despite his many protests and claims of being innocent, Dilip Roy is convicted of murdering his wife. During the course of the judicial proceedings, his wild and unpredictable behavior leads the court to label him as mentally unstable and thereafter he is sent to a mental asylum. One rainy night, Dilip spots an opportunity to escape from the asylum and chances it. With Police on his trail, he enters the first house he spots feasible to break into. He finds the lady of the house, Rekha (Nanda), all alone and forcefully takes refuge there. What transpires in next few hours is what Ittefaq is all about.

With limited characters and the entire drama unfolding almost in one house, the movie has its focus pretty clear and it is one rare movie from its times which has no subplots, no distractions whatsoever. The drama between Dilip and Rekha is the highpoint of the enterprise, with the last thirty minutes being edge of the seat stuff. The only time the movie slacks a bit is around the half-way mark, when it looks like a slight romantic angle in developing between the main leads, but such fears are unfounded as is revealed in the latter half of the film. The twist and the subsequent culmination to the film are fantastically shot and wonderfully performed.

Another element that adds tremendous value to this movie is its background score and its sound design. Each and every sound, disturbing the silence of the night, has some meaning attached to it and plays some or the other role in building up the mystery. The lighting and production values are top notch, and the editing is razor sharp. The characters of the supporting cast are well defined and are performed ably by well known actors from that generation. But as far as the performances go, Rajesh Khanna takes the cake. He is saddled with a very difficult role and is present in almost each and every scene of the movie. In one of the early roles of his career, he performs remarkable, especially during the latter portions of the movie. Nanda, in a very unconventional role does very well and delivers one of her best performance. Iftekhar (the man who can be seen as a Police inspector in almost every movie from that time), plays a CID inspector here and gives an impressive act.

Parting Note: Ittefaq is one of the better suspense movies made in Indian cinema. Fans of this genre will find it highly satisfying, and so will the fans of Rajesh Khanna, for they will get to see one of the best performances of his career. 

4 comments:

  1. I agree completely. Ittefaq is certainly one of the top Hindi suspense films there is! Very taut, with most ends neatly accounted for at the end, and only a few (very few) holes. ;-) Otherwise, excellent film. Have you also heard the interesting bit of trivia, that BR Chopra shot all of Ittefaq in a mere 28 days? Saira Banu, with whom he was at that time filming Aadmi aur Insaan, broke her leg and couldn't come for shooting, so it had to be stopped - therefore he spent that time filming Ittefaq instead.

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  2. Hey... thanks for sharing this piece of info- really amazing this- evidently it is a remake of an English whodunit- so I guess they wouldn't have needed much effort in writing the screenplay- still impressive that they shot it in just 28 days... By the way I received my copy of the Englishman's cameo the day before :) I am busy with my term exams right now... would be done with them on friday- hope to read the book over the weekend- looking forward to it!!

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  3. Yes, I believe Ittefaq was based on Signpost to Murder (is that the name? I'm not sure). Haven't seen it, so can't comment on how close a copy this was... but still, commendable to have shot it in less than a month!

    I hope you enjoy The Englishman's Cameo. :-) And good luck with your exams!

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