Bees Saal Baad (1962)

Several people who read my last post – which, as I’d mentioned, was an adaptation of a suspense novel, and in turn was remade in another language – guessed what this post would be all about. You were all kind enough to not let the cat out of the bag, but I guess you all got it right. The Hound of the Baskervilles, made in 1939 with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, was remade in Hindi 23 years later, as Biswajit’s first Hindi film, Bees Saal Baad.

Obviously, where there’s a ‘bees saal baad’ (‘twenty years later’), there has to be a ‘bees saal pehle’ (‘twenty years earlier’) as a reference point. This takes us to a place called Chandangarh, which is ruled by a jagirdar (landowner). One night, with the lamps shining in the high-pillared mansion, the jagirdar hears the sound of ghungroos (ankle bells) in the tall grassland and swamp that adjoins his mansion. This seems to be something he’s heard before, because, with a determined look on his face, he sets off into the grasses, following the sound of those ghungroos.

He also carries a revolver with him. But it eventually proves useless – a creepy long-nailed hand comes out of the darkness, flinging itself on the jagirdar’s neck… goodbye, world.

A man (whose face we never see, but who wears a pair of distinctive two-toned shoes) hauls the dead jagirdar off the ground, puts him into a horse-drawn carriage, and drives off.

Cut to bees saal baad. Twenty years later, and it’s another eerie night in Chandangarh. At the tiny railway station, a young man alights from a newly-arrived train. This is Kumar Vijay Singh (Biswajit), the new jagirdar of Chandangarh. He is met at the station by the local physician, Dr Pandey (Madan Puri). From Kumar’s words: “Dr Pandey! You’re still here?” and the fact that Dr Pandey wears a pair of two-toned shoes, it’s obvious this man’s been in Chandangarh a long while.

Watching Kumar’s arrival and Dr Pandey’s reception of him is a sinister man with a patch over one eye…

On the way to the mansion that Kumar’s inherited, Dr Pandey warns him against something equally sinister: a legend that surrounds Kumar’s ancestors. Every jagirdar who comes here is lured into the grasslands and swamp beyond, and is found murdered. Having spooked Kumar out sufficiently, Dr Pandey then cheerfully changes the topic and pulls into the mansion.

… where he introduces Kumar to the only servant in the rambling big place, Laxman (who is this actor? Dev Kishen?). Laxman seems like a cross between gloomy and dim-witted. He looks sideways at Kumar most of the time, makes ominous statements, and is generally a bit of a mystery. Or a nutcase. Or perhaps both.

The mansion – which doesn’t even have electricity, and is lit by chandeliers (Shweta, here’s another for you, if you haven’t discovered it yet) and hanging candles – is eerie in the extreme. Every evening, Laxman goes about the place, lighting it up. And every evening, too, in the grasslands beyond, one can hear the sound of ghungroos. Things haven’t changed much in twenty years.
And, in the deep of the night, Kumar hears the sobbing of a woman – somewhere, perhaps, in the mansion itself, but he can’t figure out where.

Soon, we are introduced to more characters.

With the coming of dawn, Chandangarh is transformed from a place of ghosts and weird legends to one of sunshine and cheer. For Kumar, the morning also brings an unexpected but immensely pleasing meeting – with the lovely village girl, Radha (Waheeda Rehman). He surprises her while she’s going about singing, and manages to convince her he’s deaf and blind and perhaps slow-witted too… until she realises he’s nothing of the sort, and runs off.

Radha is an orphan and lives with her uncle Ram Lal (Manmohan Krishna), who is the local vaid (physician) of the village. Ram Lal is very fond of her, and the interactions between uncle and niece are sweet. Playful, too, on her part; and indulgent on his. They also have a pet black cat, who miaows very persistently.

Radha and Kumar’s love story progresses swiftly and well. Radha, from being petulant and shy, soon deigns to smile prettily when he’s around, and even listens to him sing to her now and then (yes, if I had a man singing songs like those to me, I’d listen too). She also makes it quite obvious to her uncle Ram Lal that she thinks of Kumar as more than just the local jagirdar.

Anyway, back to the local characters, There’s Mohan Babu (Sajjan), who uses crutches and whose family supposedly once had a running feud with Kumar’s own family. Mohan Babu wants to heal that rift and be friends with Kumar. Kumar, however, is not inclined to like the man.

Perhaps with reason; though that must be all a case of intuition on Kumar’s part. When he’s on his own, in his own home, Mohan Babu’s persona undergoes a change. He seems to be an alcoholic and a debauch – besides being perfectly capable of walking around on his own two feet, without needing those crutches. And, as a servant, he’s got that one-eyed man from the railway station – but with both eyes obviously intact and functioning.

Lastly, there’s a new arrival on the scene. This is the comical detective, Gopichand (Asit Sen). Gopichand has come to Chandangarh attracted by the Rs 10,000 reward that has been announced for whoever is able to catch the murderers of the jagirdars of Chandangarh. Gopichand has big plans to interrogate everybody in the vicinity, and Kumar, taking pity on him, allows him to stay on in the mansion with Kumar.

…which enables Gopichand, one night, to see something very odd: the servant Laxman, going out onto the high terrace and swinging a lamp – and an answering light shining from the swamps. Gopichand tells Kumar about it, and both he and Kumar watch Laxman, but to no avail; it’s all pretty inexplicable.

Laxman, does, however, give Kumar one valuable piece of information: the origin of that curse on the jagirdars of Chandangarh. The story began with Kumar’s dadaji (paternal grandfather), who was a lecher of the first order. As soon as he took over the jagir of Chandangarh, he set about trying to seduce the local women, and one day kidnapped a girl. She managed to escape, but the jagirdar chased her into the surrounding grasslands and raped her, eventually killing her as well.

When the dead girl’s father, Radheshyam, arrived at the mansion, begging to have his daughter back, the dadaji had Radheshyam flogged to within an inch of his life.
The jagirdar was succeeded by his son (Kumar’s father) and he, in turn, by his younger brother, Kumar’s uncle, both of them good men who wanted to maintain amicable relations with the local villagers. Both were killed – lured out into the swamp by those ghungroos.

Now Kumar, besides hearing the sound of the ghungroos, has also begun hearing a beautiful voice, singing and beckoning him from the mansion out into the grasslands and swamp. And he has seen a fleeting glimpse of her…

Is it Kumar’s turn next? What is going on? Who is murdering the jagirdars of Chandangarh? Who is the mystery woman? Whom is Laxman signalling to? Why is ‘Mohan Babu’ going around in disguise? Did Dr Pandey murder that jagirdar twenty years earlier?

Watch. This is by no means a perfect mystery story, but it’s deliciously spooky in places, there are plenty of forehead-crinkling “Huh? What’s happening?” moments, and the revelation at the end is surprising enough for most tastes. Lots of juicy red herrings too.

What I liked about the film:

Read the last paragraph of that synopsis! Really, if you like Hindi suspense films, you mustn’t miss this one. It’s a classic, even though it does have its flaws.

The music. Hemant didn’t just sing two of Bees Saal Baad’s best-known songs (Beqaraar karke humein yoon na jaaiye and Zara nazron se keh do ji), he also composed the music for the film. Another lovely – and suitably haunting – song is the one that’s repeated throughout the film, Kahin deep jale kahin dil.

The difference between night and day. The tall grass, the candle-lit mansion with that mysterious sobbing woman, the definitely odd Laxman… and the ghungroos (and later, that haunting voice singing in the night): no, night is not a time I’d have wanted to be the jagirdar of Chandangarh. But day is lovely, normal and beautiful countryside, with none of the unseen, lurking terrors of night. I thought that was a good contrast.

Waheeda Rehman, of course. Beautiful as ever, and such a great actress. She doesn’t have much of a role in this film, but she still does a good job as Radha, playful and affectionate with her uncle; initially crabby but later demurely in love with Kumar; and finally, scared out of her wits for the life of her love.

What I didn’t like:

The usual faults I find in a lot of mystery/crime films. Plot holes. Why, for example, is it that Ram Lal, who’s touted as a great vaid and has been prescribing medicines for Mohan Babu’s ‘bad leg’, hasn’t realised that there’s nothing wrong with the leg at all? Either: (a) he’s a dud as a vaid, or (b) he’s in on Mohan Babu’s secret and is in league with him. Neither of which turns out to be true.

Minor spoilers ahead:

The falling flat of some details. Take, for instance, the recurring Kahin deep jale kahin dil. When a woman sings “piya der na kar, aa mil” (beloved, don’t be late; come, meet me), what do you assume? That she’s calling you to come to her? Hah. Fooled you!

Mohan Babu’s true identity – when revealed – is interesting, but what follows that is rather pointless. It made me think that his assuming the disguise of ‘Mohan Babu’ was just for the fun of it.

Spoilers end.

Comparisons, comparisons:

The fun part. How does Bees Saal Baad compare with The Hound of the Baskervilles?

There is, in my opinion, actually little to compare in the two films. Though everybody (me included) says that Bees Saal Baad is a remake of The Hound of the Baskervilles, the films are very different. True, they do share similarities: the debauched ancestor, whose debauchery has caused a curse to fall on the family; the mysterious murders of the lords of that land; the man in disguise; the woman who sobs in the night; and the servant who shines a light out into the wastelands.

Beyond that, though, this is a very different story. Bees Saal Baad is actually a very Hindi film. Everything one has come to expect of a Hindi film, regardless of genre – the comic side character, the songs, the romance between the hero and a heroine – are here, and in place. There is the drama. There is a little bit of melodrama. But the motive for the murders and the singing is vastly different; the detective is a clown, not a Sherlock Holmes, and there’s much more masala all around.

Even if you have seen The Hound of the Baskervilles and don’t want to watch what you think is a plagiarised version, I’d suggest you give Bees Saal Baad a try – at the most, I’d say it’s inspired. Not plagiarised.

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71 thoughts on “Bees Saal Baad (1962)

  1. OK, as you have rightly pointed out, I too did not want to let the cat out of the bag, I knew your next post was going to be Bees Saal Baad, so I guess I can say it now, Bees Saal Baad was a remake of the Bengali film I mentioned in your last post. Hemant Kumar produced this film and introduced Biswajeet to the Hindi film audience.

    • Thank you, Shilpi! Yes, I guessed you’d know which film I was talking about – a lot of people who are fond of old Hindi films would almost certainly know this one. By the way, I looked around for Jigangsha (at least on IMDB), but couldn’t find anything. Did Hemant produce that film too? Did Biswajit star in it? I couldn’t find it listed in their filmographies or even in the database – which was odd. Not, of course, that IMDB is always correct (in fact, I can think of a few Hindi films too that aren’t listed there).

      • I did a Google search for Jigangsha and all I found was a song. Then I realized I may have got the syllable wrong, I typed Jighangsha and found that the song was from some later movie probably a Bangladeshi film but I did get some info on this Jighansha. It was made sometime in the 1950s, it was directed by Ajoy Kar a well-hnown name in Bengali films and featured Manju Dey and Bikash Ray. As usually happens most people found the Bengali version far better than Bees Saal Baad, I believe it was more scary particularly the Metro doorman his height I am told added to the film’s suspense.

        • Thanks for taking all that trouble, Shilpi! Now I have something to go on – so even if all I find is a version that is without subtitles, perhaps I can bully my sister (who knows Bangla, since she’s married to a Bengali) to sit and translate for me. It sounds amazing.

          Really sad, though, that despite having a mother who’s half-Bengali (my maternal grandfather was Bengali, and my mother grew up in Calcutta), I can’t use her as a resource for films, Bengali or otherwise. Most of her life before she got married was dictated by her grandfather, who was a very orthodox Christian and thought films were ‘evil’ – the only films my mother remembers watching when he was alive were The Ten Commandments and I think Ben Hur! Those passed his strict censorship, but that was it. Oh, yes – and he did allow the family to watch the 1943 Kismet. I don’t know why – maybe he was very patriotic or something, and Door hato ae duniyawaalon appealed to him! :-)

          • That’s interesting, as for Kismet I have heard stories from my parents about the popularity of that film so much so,they used to say that many non-film goers ended up seeing the film.

            • Ah, so maybe that’s why. Perhaps ‘respectable people’ whose opinion the old gentleman valued had told him the film was good and above-board and perfectly safe for his family to see.

  2. well,i do not think that giving the excuse that one should not watch bees saal baad because it is plagiarised/inspired/remake of 1939 film hound of baskervilles is a very lame and stupid thing to do..if one goes by that logic ,then one should even watch the basil rathborne starrer film since it itself was not an original but only the 12th film adaptation of the sherlock holmes novel,while bees saal baad is the 16th film adaptation of the same novel.by this logic one should then only watch the first 1914 german film adaptation of the novel or the first talkie 1932 hound of baskervilles .but we don’t do it that way.Anyways,hound of baskervilles has about 26 film adaptations so far and bees saal baad is the third best film adaptation,of all the 16 film versions i have seen.Moreover ,i think that bees saal baad can be in no way called a remake or plagiarised version of the basil rathborne starrer film since the screenplay and the canning of the shots is widely different.I would not even call it inspired since i think a novel can be adapted many times and by many persons in different eras and countries.

    amen.

    • Heh. No need to get so antsy with me!

      I didn’t say it was plagiarised – but I did see it listed as such on a site (I’ve forgotten which, now), and did get annoyed, because I don’t think Bees Saal Baad is an example of plagiarisation. As you say, the shots and the screenplay are very different. And, further, I have heard people (stupid people, as you point out!) say that they will not watch a film because it’s ‘plagiarised’.

      I’d still say Bees Saal Baad is ‘inspired’, though, from Conan Doyle’s book because there are plot elements here – see the ones I’ve mentioned in the ‘comparison’ section – that are obviously borrowed from his book.

      Whatever. It’s a great, entertaining, very watchable film. And there is absolutely nothing to stop a book being adapted. My only regret is that Hemant & Co. didn’t acknowledge the inspiration. :-( I would feel annoyed if anybody adapted a novel or story of mine – even took plot elements from it – without at least acknowledging the fact. Even if they don’t buy movie rights, the least I’d get is some publicity and some added sales! Look at Saat Khoon Maaf – it helped boost sales of Ruskin Bond’s Sussana’s Seven Husbands all of a sudden.

      Rant over.

      • i think you got me wrong,i was not even slightly angry at you.yes bsb is indeed inspired from the book but not from the film.I think i made it quite clear in my earlier comment.well as for the writing credits that you so rightly talked about,there was a huge problem back in 50′s and 60′s about giving due credit to any novelist who did not belong to india cos of the heavily stupid copyright laws of india that existed in india at that time.even now these laws are stupid but better than those that existed back then.things started improving from 70′s and with the advent of globalization,things have got much better.But still a lot is needed to be done.I remember hearing an old interview of hemantda where he said that he actually wanted to give credit to arthurbabu,but those stupid indian laws prevented him from doing that.But ,he was adamant that no one other than the original writer should be given credit,therefore ,if you look closely at bsb ‘s credits,you will find no mention of who wrote the story.Hemantda said that since he could not get arthurbabu’s name on the credits,he made no mention about the story writer,since he did not want anyone else to get undue fame.

        and yes,i have indeed seen 16 versions of hound of baskervilles.you know, i am quite a big movie buff who has just can’t get enough of watching movies.

        • “But ,he was adamant that no one other than the original writer should be given credit,therefore ,if you look closely at bsb ‘s credits,you will find no mention of who wrote the story.Hemantda said that since he could not get arthurbabu’s name on the credits,he made no mention about the story writer,since he did not want anyone else to get undue fame.”

          I hadn’t noticed that! Thank you – yes, that was a good thing Hemant did. At least nobody else got credit for the story. I didn’t know, also, about those copyright laws that resulted in Indian films etc not being able to give credit to foreign writers. Not that it always happens even now – and I believe a lot of more recent Hindi films are pretty blatant lift-offs from foreign (esp. Hollywood) flicks, with no thought even of acknowledgement.

          Anyway, less about that. Tell me, if Bees Saal Baad is #3 in your list of the top 16 adaptations of the novel, which are the two that precede it? Would love to see those!

          • first,sorry that it took me a while to reply to your question.well,as i said before there are 26 screen adaptations of hound of baskervilles which includes silent films,parodies and television adaptations also.There might be even some more adaptations which i have not come across yet.Of these 26,i have been able to see 16 versions.the best version that i have seen is the 1981 russian film sobaka baskerviley directed by Igor Maslennikov.The acting is brilliant and there is a humorous touch throughout the film that i like.The second one is of course the basil rathbone starrer 1939 film adaptation.Bees saal baad along with Jighansha comes at my no.3 spot.While bsb has better songs and a better hero,jighansha has a better villain and better photography[that's something great since bsb itself has great photography].Other than that the 1937 german version is also very good.Those who like anurag kashyap type of dark cinema might like the the 2002 version by david attwood the best.Also ,i watched a parody adaptation of hob which was funny to the point of being ridiculous and irritating.Finally,i would like to say that this list is completely my personal opinion and one may or may not agree with it.

            • Raunak, thank you for taking the trouble to make that list! Of course, I understand that everybody has their own opinions on what does or doesn’t comprise good cinema, but some things, I think, remain universal – and you’ve given us leads to what may be universally good films.

              Of your list, the only ones I’ve seen are of course the Basil Rathbone one, and Bees Saal Baad. I am not sure, but as far as I remember, there was a short film made as part of the Jeremy Brett-Holmes TV series too. I recall distinctly that I saw The Sign of Four short on TV, but my memory of this one’s vague… I think I saw it, but then maybe not.

              The Russian one sounds like something I’d love to see! I am a fan of of a touch of humour in unexpected places – black humour is a favourite genre in which I write. :-)

    • Yes, it is wonderful, isn’t it? :-)

      I wish I could do Kohra – that’s another film I like a lot, though it’s been a long time since I watched it. Unfortunately, I’m not being able to get hold of a DVD or even a VCD… have looked around for it. If I find it, I’ll certainly re-watch it and post a review!

      • I’ve an m4v copy of KOHARAA on my MAC. But how could I send it to you? I purchased the DVD from Flipkart.com recently.

        • That’s very kind of you to offer to share it with me, Padmakar! But now that you’ve told me you got it from Flipkart – that’s a good enough lead. I’ll try there too, I’m sure I’ll be able to get hold of it.

          Thank you so much!

  3. ‘Bees Saal Baad’ is a lovely watch, just for the music and Waheeda Rehman. It’s also beautifully shot, though the DVD I watched recently was terrible. The loopholes of course and the ending are a little disappointing, but the rest of the film makes it well worth it all. I haven’t seen ‘The Hound of Baskervilles’ nor the other 14 remakes. :)

  4. Yes, even if it’s just for the music and Waheeda, this is a very good watch. Lots of good entertainment value. Let’s see what raunak says about his top two adaptations! Then we’ll know what to look out for! :-)

  5. I just realised that I know next to nothing about Bees Saal Baad, though it feels so close to me.
    Many years back on Tabassum’s Phool Khile hai Gulshan, Gulshan, Manmohan Krishna got interviewed and he said that this is his favourite role. He compared an actor’s enaction of a role to that of polishing a copper vessel and he said that the role in Bees Saal Baad was a big copper vessel. Funny similies!
    And then they went ahead and revealed the ending! I was so shocked by this move of theirs that it literally got burnt in my memory and thus have no motivation to watch this film.
    But after reading your review of the film would love to watch it!

    • Oh! That was so ghastly, to go ahead and reveal the ending of a mystery film! Not done at all. :-(

      But I like the simile of polishing a copper vessel… hmmm. Why, I wonder? Because it’s just the shell of the character that you have to begin with, and adding layers to it, making it a three-dimensional human being, is an actor’s (or at least a good actor’s) job?

      Incidentally, many years had elapsed since I’d last watched Bees Saal Baad, so even though I remembered who the killer was, I’d forgotten the details of why and how and what exactly was going on. So, despite knowing who was behind it, the film still made very enjoyable viewing! Go ahead and see it. :-)

  6. Thanks for this I’ve bumped Bees saal baad up my list, I always deferrred it for some reason and Bees saal pehle made me Lol, That could make for a lovely movie title, i’m sure there’s one out there. And thanks for confirming the 80′S bees saal baad isn’t a remake of this one, as horrible as it sounds i’ll give it a go as there’s a famous peppy number in it

    • I remember, when I was a teenager, I watched this version of Bees Saal Baad, and then, shortly after, came across the later version – which I pounced on, because I thought it was a remake of this. Hated every moment of it, probably in part because I was disappointed that it wasn’t a remake after all!

      But hey, watch it for the song – I don’t recall which one you mean – and Dimple was very striking. :-)

    • Thank you for pointing me to Bees Saal Pehle, bollywoodeewana! I hadn’t known about that film, and it came as a surprise. I wonder if it has any sort of connection as far as story goes to this one – since I see, from that link you put in, that it was also produced, and the songs composed, by Hemant – who produced and composed Bees Saal Baad. Will keep an eye out for it!

  7. Now that you have reviewed so many mystery films, the questions that come to mind are —
    Did any of these movies provide the inspiration for Muzaffar Jang ?
    Who would you like to portray Muzaffar Jung in a possible movie adaptation of your novel ?

    I love this movie, even though I am usually underwhelmed by Biswajeet. The songs are great & the suspense is credibly maintained.

    • I agree with being generally underwhelmed by Biswajit – but he’s fine in this film. (Maybe because he doesn’t have to do much except look either spooked or sing songs? ;-)) But yes, this is definitely one of his best films.

      As far as your questions are concerned: nah, none of these mystery films (though I adore the genre) inspired Muzaffar Jang. Muzaffar was inspired, actually, by the huge number of historical detectives out there – I’ve read about detectives from just about every age: ancient Roman (Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis are favourite authors here), medieval Chinese (Robert van Gulik’s fantastic Judge Dee books), medieval English/Welsh (Brother Cadfael, by Ellis Peters – also made into a very good BBC series), medieval Irish, ancient Egyptian, and God knows what else. And it got me thinking: India has a fascinating history too. Why not set a story here? Therefore… (as it happens, I just about got my foot in the door; Jason Goodwin, who wrote The Janissary Tree and introduced the world to Yashim the Eunuch, had also been planning to create a Mughal detective. Fortunately, he mentioned that to Thomas Abraham, who heads Hachette India – and Thomas warned him off, because Hachette had already signed me on.)

      As to who would play Muzaffar? Hrithik Roshan. His Jodhaa-Akbar Akbar is very much like I’d imagined MJ.

      • Ooh, Hrithik Roshan as Muzaffar Jang. I like the idea. I liked Hrithik (and Aishwarya) the best in ‘Jodhaa-Akbar’.

        • My editor at Hachette and I were recently trying to brief a graphic designer for the next MJ book’s cover. The designer wanted very much to do an MJ illustration for the cover, and since he hadn’t read the books, wanted a description of Muzaffar. I went into describing him as best as I could, but my editor summed it up more precisely (and without any prompting from me!): “Think Hrithik Roshan in Jodhaa-Akbar!”

          • I’m adding my approval of Muzaffar Jung looking like Hrithik Roshan of Jodhaa Akbar. He looked and acted so well in it. :)
            Simply gorgeous!!!

            • Wasn’t he? I actually don’t watch too many new Hindi films – my husband isn’t very fond of Hindi films – but this one we did see, on the big screen. I spent most of my time gushing over Hrithik. :-)

          • That is a good choice, I like Hrithik Roshan.
            I am amazed at the amount of reading you have done, I have barely heard of most of the detectives you have mentioned.
            We are indeed fortunate to have someone like you who spends so much time and effort.

            • Thank you, Samir!

              I actually have my brother-in-law to thank for introducing me to all these detectives. I had read Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries – a couple of them – before my sister got married, but after I got to know my brother-in-law’s tastes a bit better, I’ve gone absolutely berserk. :-)) He has a huge collection of historical detective novels – I’ve still not mentioned, in the list I’ve given, people like C J Sansom or Peter Tremayne or Boris Akunin, who also write amazingly good historical detective fiction. I’ve borrowed all my brother-in-law’s books, have acquired some of my own, and whenever either of us gets something ‘new’, we lend it to the other.

              I guess what really appeals to me about the genre is that while there’s a mystery and its unravelling happening, you’re also getting an experience of a different era and a different lifestyle. For instance, discovering that a polite Roman would use the toe of his sandal to knock on a door – now that was something new for me!

              • well,hrithik roshan is definately a good choice or the choice to play mj.But ,i would like to question you about one thing.Since you are such an addict for old hindi films,whom would you have liked to play the role of MUZAFFAR JUNG ,had a film on him was made during those good old days of bollywood that is during the 50′s and 60′s.

                • That is a very interesting question, Raunak! I had never thought about it. Let me think… maybe a very early Ajit (you know, the type in Dholak or Nastik? Actually, even the pre-mannerisms + puff Dev Anand (of, for example, CID). Both quite young men, good-looking, but capable of projecting both earnestness and being mischievous/good humoured at the same time. A very good actor for the role would have been Ashok Kumar, but somehow he seems to me to have always looked rather middle-aged! ;-)

  8. I have seen this movie, maybe on doordarshan. But I have conveniently, unlike poor Harvey, forgotten the ending. But I do remember why the song plays .. Kahin deep jale kahin dil.

    What beautiful songs this movie had. Reminds me of the lovely songs + spooky movie combo of Kohraa, Yeh Raat phir na aayegi etc. All starring Biswajeet btw.

    • Yes, both Kohraa and Yeh Raat Phir na Aayegi had fabulous music. Yehi woh jagah hai gives me gooseflesh, as do Yeh nayan dare-dare and Jhoom-jhoom dhalti raat: all wonderful songs.

      Thank your lucky stars you’ve forgotten the ending! :-)

  9. Nice movie, lovely songs by Hemant Kumar. If ever you get to do top 10 haunting melodies, this should get the top spot. Btw, I wonder if Lata had the monopoly when it came to haunting melodies.
    Waheeda Rehman for me personifies what an idea Bollywood lead heroine should be-extremely beautiful, great acting,great dancing and versatile.

    • Well said about Waheeda. She is the perfect Hindi film heroine. What’s more, she has a certain dignity and grace about her that endures through all her films.

      I had been meaning to do a ‘top 10 most haunting songs’, but bollyviewer beat me to it:

      http://bollyviewer-oldisgold.blogspot.com/2011/02/haunting-my-10-favourite-ghost-songs.html

      But I would interpret ‘haunting melodies’ a little differently, perhaps – not literally songs sung by ghosts or people pretending to be ghosts or whatever. I’d say it would extend to songs that have the ability, by the sheer power of the lyrics, music and/or singer’s voice – in the top cases, all three – to haunt you and embed themselves in your memory.

      Okay, better done than said. Will definitely do that sometime! :-)

  10. Agree with you about there being several ‘spooky’ moments. It was really and truly an atmospheric film with the first scene itself setting the stage for what was to come – the small deserted (almost) station, the fog, the monotonous uttering of the station official announcing ‘chaaandaaaangaaaarh’.

    Agree again about the contrast between night and day scenes. Very well brought about with the heroine ‘going about singing’ :-D and the hero singing, ‘now’ and ‘then’ :-D

    I found the film very entertaining, and saw Biswajeet for the first time in this, and haven’t minded him since then in most of his films.

    Now I’m racking my brain to come up with some guesses about your next post. :)
    Can’t really think of any other angle to this. If it’s the same with you, then perhaps we’ll get a ’10 favourite’ post and a link going on from there, or a 10 favourite post with a link to this post, about ‘raat ka andhera’ stuff. LOL!
    You can see I’m taking your praise of being a good detective very very seriously. LOL!!

    • When I was a kid, I didn’t really mind Biswajit too much – I’d seen him in films like Kismat, Kohraa and Mere Sanam, and thought he was fine. He ended up doing some pretty rotten films too, like Shehnai, Sagaai and the awful Kahin Din Kahin Raat, all of which contributed to putting me off him a good bit. But yes, there are several films, especially some of his early films, where I liked him. A little too boyish-looking perhaps, but otherwise not much different in acting or whatever from most of his contemporaries.

      “You can see I’m taking your praise of being a good detective very very seriously.”

      And, my goodness – you are succeeding at it! Very well indeed. :-) Yes, we do think along the same lines, I think – because I was going to do a top ten favourites list after this. Wait and see what it is!

      • you know,i have always liked biswajit.I think in this movie he not only looked very handsome but also acted really well too.and i don’t quite agree with you that he had nothing to do in this movie except to look spooked [it's altogether different matter that he along with manoj kumar were best at looking spooked and that's was the reason that these two acted in most thriller cum horror films of 60's.].I think that biswajit very convincingly portrayed the role of the young thakur who is smart and suave but at the same time is vulnerable and knows that there is a lurking danger to his life.

        I know many people who do not like biswajit and they have valid reasons for doing so.After such a terrific debut,Biswajit either did films that did not suit his style[in which they would put huge makeup,mainly lipstick on his face] or did some very average [ SHEHNAI,SAGAAI] to pathetic films like KISMET,KDKR,MEHMAN ETC.

        But these are not the films to judge biswajit as an actor.Infact,to judge biswajit as an actor one should watch films like Bees saal baad , Kohraa , Do Dil,Biwi Aur Makan and above all Rahgeer.I do not know how many of you have even heard of this film let alone watch it.It’s a very difficult film to find but i firmly recommend you to watch it if you find it.

        Also, i think his bangla films are much better and he is really good in them.watch films like kuheli,maya mrigo,seshporjonto and especially Godhuli Belaye and Dada Thakur [for which he won a national award as best supporting actor.For the same film great Chhabi Biswas won the best actor award too].If one watches these films,one’s perception about him change rapidly.

        p.s: not many people know that biswajit was a very good and popular singer in bengal and a trained tabla player also.He even sang for the maestro salli chowdhury .Here i am posting some links-

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCAFsBelKjB

        [IN THIS VERY POPULAR BANGLA SONG,BISWAJIT IS PLAYING THE TABLA,WHICH HE PLAYED FOR REAL WHILE UTTAM KUMAR IS SINGING.He played uttam kumar's younger brother in this film and the movie was such a huge hit that many people thought biswajit to be uttam kumar's real brother although it was not like that in reality.]

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVkGS5lSOAE&feature=related

        [this song sung by biswajit was quite popular in those good old days]

        note-If The links do not work as i am not very good at posting links,you can get the songs by typing TARE BOLE DIO FOR LINK 1 AND TOMAR CHOKHER KAJOLE FOR LINK 2 IN YOUTUBE.

        sorry,for my irritatingly long comment.

        • Not an irritatingly long comment at all, Raunak! I don’t mind long comments, as long as the person who’s making that comment has something interesting to say (I have seen people copy-pasting reviews from IMDB, and giving the entire crew of a film I’ve reviewed – and not adding anything more). You always have something to say of substance.

          Yes, you are right about Raahgeer – I don’t think too many people have even heard of it. I hadn’t till some time back, and I still haven’t been able to get hold of it. I’ve seen a bit of Biwi aur Makaan, but part 2 of the VCD just wouldn’t play. :-(

          I would not say I dislike Biswajit; not really. In fact, I do like him in films like Bees Saal Baad, Kohraa, Mere Sanam and Yeh Raat Phir na Aayegi. But yes, he did act in some awful films (Kismet was pathetic, as you rightly point out, but but I always tend to forgive that because its music was good).

          Thank you also for telling me about Biswajit’s prowess as a singer and player of the tabla. I’ve just been watching Taare bole dio – that came as a revelation. he’s really good! (BTW, here’s another link to that song):

          And here’s a link to Tomar chokher kajole:

          I think the second one is the one sung by Biswajit, no? The voice definitely sounds like Biswajit’s.

        • P.S. Thank you for the Bangla film recommendations, too. The DVD rental service I hire DVDs from have a fairly good collection of Bangla films (duly subtitled!) so I’ll look for these there.

          • yes,the second song-TOMAR CHOKHER KAJOLE is sung by biswajeet.There are few more songs sung by biswajeet that are available on youtube,although the ones that he sang for salilda are’nt available yet,including my favourite Jhir jhir jhir jhare.By the way,you should surely look out for Chowringhee and Monihar in which Biswajit co-starred with Uttam kumar and Soumitra Chatterjee respectively.While Chowringhee is a great movie with a great storyline,Monihar has great songs and one of the greatest actors ever to adorn Indian Cinema -THE GREAT SOUMITRA CHATTERJEE.Anyways,even if you miss Monihar,don’t miss Chowringhee at any cost.AND THANKS FOR YOUR APPRECIATION,OTHERWISE THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO DO FIND ME AND MY COMMENTS IRRITATING AND LONG.

            • I have heard about Chowringhee, though I haven’t taken the trouble to look for the film yet (in fact, I must admit that the only Soumitra Chatterjee film I’ve seen so far is Sonar Kella). I will certainly put it on my to-watch list ASAP. Unfortunately, seventymm (that’s the DVD/VCD rental company I subscribe to) only have two of Biswajit’s Bangla films available: Karunamoyee and Ek Tukro Agoon. I didn’t know how they were (you hadn’t recommended them, anyway), so I haven’t put them on my wishlist… will see if they have Chowringhee on offer.

              • yes,do look out for chowringhee-it has Uttam Kumar!As far as Soumitra is concerned,you can watch all of his films with Satyajit Ray[Soumitra was Ray's favourite actor and acted in 14 of Ray's films].Other than that some really good Soumitra films are Khudito Pashan,Teen Bhubaner Pare,Baghini,Akash Kusum,Atanka,Prothom Kadam Phool,Basanta Bilap,Jibon Saikate etc.There are many more but it would take a whole page to write about all of them.But for first timers like you ,I would recommend Aparichita,Jhinder Bondi,Stree[These three are double delights as they star both uttam kumar and soumitra.]you should surely watch these to see what happens when two of the biggest stars of bengali cinema collide.Anyways you can watch Ray’s Abhijan-which stars Soumitra and Waheeda Rehman! It’s a great movie [although many don't say so,because they suffer from a disease called 'THE COMPARISON SYNDROME'] WATCH IT FOR SURE.I JUST WATCHED IT SECOND TIME IN A ROW.

                • That is high praise indeed! Yes, I have heard of Abhijan, and have been meaning to watch it whenever I get the opportunity.

                  (BTW, I discovered that Seventymm do have a Chowringhee DVD, so I’m hoping the next time I want to order a DVD, they have this one available, so I can watch it!)

  11. The ‘killer’s’ identity was quite shocking indeed. I watched khel khel mein around the same time as well so the killer there was another surprise .
    I know films which have Asrani and ….A K Hungal as the main villain along the same lines.
    BTW,Kohraa is a (credited?) remake of ‘Rebecca” and also produced by Hemant and DVD is released in India.

    • Yes, I know Kohraa was a remake of Rebecca – though it’s been a long time since I saw it, so I don’t remember whether it was credited or not. May not have been, if what Raunak says is correct. Coincidentally (or not?) that too starred Biswajit and Waheeda Rehman.

      Have you seen the Rajendra Kumar-Jamuna starrer Humraahi? That has an unexpected killer too.

  12. I have both Kohra and Bees saal Baad. I had such high expectations of Kohra but it was a bit of a let down. BSB is much better though the part with Asit Sen (Gopichand Jasoos) grates on my nerves. Otherwise, i quite love Asit Sen. His acting is one of a kind really.

    • Asit Sen’s role in BSB reminded me of a character from books written by my favourite girlhood author Enid Blyton.

      There is this series starting with The Mystery of…….., and the mental image I have of the policeman called Mr Goon fits Gopichand Jasoos of BSB.

      • I have absolutely no recollection of a Mr Goon, though I’ve read more than my fair share of Enid Blytons as a girl! (I must admit, a lot of those were limited to the St Clare’s and Mallory Towers series, the Famous Fives, and a series that went ‘The … of Adventure’ and so on.

        But yes, Asit Sen tends to get in the way in this film – I think the dark suspense would’ve been better maintained if it hadn’t been for his forced comic presence.

    • Simplegal, could you please tell me which video company released your copy of Kohraa? I’ve been wanting to rewatch that film, but am not being able to get hold of it! Even if it’s not as good as I remember it…

      I agree with you: Gopichand Jasoos got on my nerves too. Frankly, I didn’t see any necessity for his character in the film. He didn’t really contribute much, except possibly to the Hindi film-’necessity’ of a comic character.

  13. There were innumerable series written by her for younger readers (the faraway tree series, wishing chair series etc) and for the older. Among them were ‘the five find outers and dog’ of “The Mystery” series. They are not the same as the ‘famous five’.
    oh for those days of my childhood/girlhood. I used to be completely lost in her world. *sigh* I must have read over a 100 (could it be 200?)of her books. Some very rare ones like Mr Meddle series and Mr Pinkwhistle series :) and Tales of Toyland, and those colour series (red story book, green story book etc)

    Before I get too carried away, here’s a link for some information about the characters of this series. Mr Goon is mentioned in the third para.
    If you scroll down you’ll see the complete list of this series.

    http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk/five-find-outers.php

    • Pacifist, as soon as you mentioned that “The Mystery…” stories were the ones featuring the ‘five find outers’, I wondered if those were the series with Fatty in them. :-) And when I had a look at that link of yours – of course!

      I even remember watching the ‘Famous Five’ TV series on DD, years ago. It used to be aired on Sunday mornings.

      I remember, it came as quite a shock to discover that Enid Blyton, in her real life, was a rather neglectful mum. I’d thought, in my childish innocence, that anybody who wrote such fantastic stories must be an awesome mother!

      • >Enid Blyton, in her real life, was a rather neglectful mum.

        You know, almost every famous author has had people writing negative things about them or ‘exposing’ some sort of secret in their lives, starting from Shakespeare, to Jane Austen (just recently) through to Enid Blyton. Bringing down icons seems to be in vogue. I’m not sure if I should believe this about EB. She may have just been involved with her books to be an ordinary mother for sure, but people like to exaggerate especially those who are jealous.
        One will never know for sure, and I’m glad :)

        • Yes… you have a point there. Not just famous authors, famous anybody – as you say, ‘bringing down icons seem to be in vogue’. Jealousy, perhaps? Who knows.

          And yes, I’m glad we will never know for sure!

          On a cheerier note, I didn’t know this about Arthur Conan Doyle, until my sister told me about it:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Edalji

          It gives me a very happy feeling to know that someone whose writing I like so much was more than just a good writer. :-)

  14. I’ve been wanting to do this review for a long time but sometimes got put off a bit by Biswajit. Now i’ll be happy reading your review only :)

      • Thanks for checking my blog out. I was going through yours- and it seems like you do reviews for movies pre-1970. While though I don’t have any such time period set- but most of the movies I write about are post 1970-

        • Yes, I guessed as much. Somehow, I just can’t summon up as deep a fondness for post 1970 films as I can for cinema from before that period. Yes, some films from the 70s appeal to me – and every now and then, even later films – but it’s the older films that generally have much more that charms me.

  15. Finally got to watch this yesterday, and I agree with your review, mostly. “there are plenty of forehead-crinkling “Huh? What’s happening?” moments,” and your comments on the differences between this and the Baskervilles. Especially the comic side character, more like a clownish Watson.
    I picked the surprise well before the end – his eyes gave it away in the scenes just before Radha starts fasting. I had the connection wrong, though.
    I really enjoyed this film, but except in a couple of scenes did not feel any tension or thrills. I blame Waheeda – she looked so beautiful that I was distracted away from being ‘scared’. I really liked her spunky character, too, innocent but not demure, and certainly Kumar’s equal. A really enjoyable film with lovely songs, and the line नज़र भर के जिसे तुम देख लो वो खुद ही मर जाए seemed like nothing more than a simple statement of fact

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, Stuart! Yes, it’s not fantastic thrills, but it’s a pleasant film, and Waheeda and the music more than make up for whatever shortcomings it may otherwise have. And I love that line you’ve quoted. :-) So true of her, especially in this particular song (incidentally, it’s the one song in the film of which I think the picturisation is also, along with the music and the lyrics, really topnotch.

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