(Directed by T. Prakash Rao, music by C. Ramchandra, starring Dev Anand, Vyjayanthimala, Padmini, Pran, Johnny Walker, Ragini…)
I expected to love this movie, and I did. Although it might not be to everyone’s tastes. It does have some of the most absurd plot twists I’ve seen in any movie from this era (I guess it was ahead of its time). It is also nearly insanely melodramatic. But anyone who’s a fan of old Indian movies isn’t going to be too bothered by that. It is very moving in places, and it has a few of the best dance numbers that I’ve seen in any Hindi movie –which I completely expected, considering the cast, not to mention that I had already watched a few of these scenes on YouTube.
The central character in the movie is a somewhat troubled but somewhat lucky guy named Ashok, played by Dev Anand. Ashok is yet another character in an Indian movie that I’ve watched recently who has a college degree but can’t get a job for the longest time. When he finally does get a job, he becomes a champion for the rights of workers against the rich villain who runs the factory where he’s employed. How could I not like a guy like that? Except for being jealous of him sometimes, like a couple of other characters in this film. Because…
The biggest source of both drama and entertainment in this movie is Ashok’s two love affairs. The first woman who falls in love with him, who goes by the name of Aruna, is a very beautiful rich woman who also happens to be a great dancer. She’s played by Vyjayanthimala. The next woman who falls in love with him, whose name is Roopa, is even more beautiful and an even greater dancer, and she’s also a gypsy street performer. Of course, she’s played by Padmini.
(Mere Dil Ka Bavra Punchi)
The most unusual thing that happens to Ashok is that he gets injured in ways that cause him to lose his memory. I hope that this is not a spoiler, but I have to add – because this is quite remarkable – that it doesn’t just happen once, but twice. In different ways. So that he ends up forgetting his different love affairs at different times. And that is a major problem that haunts him – not only that he can’t remember his name at one point, but that at different times he can’t remember the great times that he had with each of these wonderful women. And that does seem frustrating – though it becomes even more frustrating for the women.
But they also seem to enjoy his vulnerability. Although he’s a dashing rebel type who really knows how to throw a punch when necessary, Ashok’s injuries also cause him to spend most of the movie walking around in an anguished daze, which means he does really need a woman to take care of him…
(Dekh Humen Aawaz Na Dena) (sad version)
Another major source of drama in this movie is the ill-tempered rich factory owner who is supposed to get married to Aruna because of a promise made to his father by Aruna’s father, but whom Aruna can’t stand. He’s also mean to workers and refuses to give them raises. His name is Pran, and he is played quite well by Pran.
All the lovers in this movie at one point or another leave behind someone who’s frustrated or jealous. So there’s the Johnny Walker character, a sort of gypsy clown, who’s also in love with Roopa. At times he’s a lot of fun to watch but at times he gets into this extremely splapstic humor that I found difficult to take. Those were the only times during the movie when I thought that maybe there was something in here to which I wasn’t culturally attuned.
But I was very attuned to everything else in the movie, especially because of my affinity for old Bollywood movies, so there are many other parts that I enjoyed thoroughly.
I have to admit that I was surprised by the big plot twist at the end, although I should have seen it coming, because it was telescoped early on. It is quite dramatic and also quite unbelievable but also fun.
Unfortunately, the very end was a bit upsetting to me because of what happens to whom, though it was a kind of sacrifice that I’d seen before in these movies, especially movies involving these two actresses. But I’ll stop there – once again, trying not to give too much away…
I’ve seen a few Indian movies recently from the incredible period between 1955 and 1960, all of which I greatly enjoyed. Some I would say are great movies by almost any standard. I wouldn’t say that about Amar Deep, exactly, but I found it to be satisfying, moving, and often beautiful to look at as well as listen to.