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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thrill pill (Jewel Thief)

Chor bahut chalaak hain. But, even more clever are those who created this chor. The year was 1967. Navketan gifted filmlovers a movie whose magic is yet to be replicated. Dev Anand and his younger brother, Vijay outdid themselves. They made Jewel Thief, a rare suspense thriller that is sleek, stylish and engaging. In the same genre as Hitchcock, and maybe a little of Bond, this jewel of a film sends chills down my spine after every frame. I am yet to be done with it...

Vijay Anand (Goldie), the director knotted the story convincingly. If you haven't yet seen the film, don't be disheartened if you cannot make much of it in the first take. Go back to it again and again. Only then will you be able to solve the puzzle, loosening one knot at a time. Trust me, as you negotiate the turns every twist is exciting, every revelation tingling.
There is a jewel thief in this film who is giving the police sleepless nights. But the villain is an artful dodger. His moves baffle the law, his hiests bewilder them. He works with utmost precision, he fools with extreme dexterity. And there is one last job that he is waiting for, to call it a day...
Goldie's editing is razor sharp. Each scene languidly flows into the other. And when there is a jerk, it is edgy. This is one pacy film where you will clap and click your tongue after every sequence.
The dialogues (Goldie's job) are pregnant with innuendoes. Sample these: Yeh haar aapkey galey se lag kar jeet ban jayegi, Soney ki machli mil jaye to koi yeh nahin keh sakta ke mein parkhi nahin hu, Aaj kuwa khud pyasa ke paas aya hain...the list is endless. When Vishambhar Dass asks his daughter to return home early, a confident Vinay laps the opportunity up to say, "Ji zaroor." I can go on and on on such quick one-liners...
Discussing the story would be a spoiler. Because, very scene contributes to the denouement. Such is the weave of the script. Cheers to the marvellous nail-biting finish!!!
Dev Anand was pushing 45 when he did Jewel Thief. But his mischievous grin and suave gait belie that. He is oh-so-dashing as Vinay/ Amar. Though the front swirl of his hair is missing (from the 50s), he is dapper and attractive nevertheless. Man, and what energy!! He can anyday beat our current chocolate heroes to pulp. His carries his well cut clothes with elan, his expressions are perfect and his swagger killing. He plays to the gallery and keeps the audience on tenterhooks with psychological mindgames, sudden u-turns and top-notch performance. In the scene where he opens his boot to prove whether he has five, not six toes, he gives you the cramps (for the suspense of course!!). His look is effortlessly romantic in the haunting Rula ke gaya sapna song (the last work by lyricist Shailendra). I'm not even starting on his flirting skills...Considering that Amar is surrounded by bombshells, he better know how to multitask...
The ladies in the film are fine and fetching. Unlike Amar, Vinay has just two beauties vying for his attention. The exuberant Anju (a sparkling Tanuja) and a melancholic Shalini (a picture-perfect Vyajanthimala). While Anju sticks to him like a leech, Vinay is drawn towards the enigmatic Shalini. And you have a tender love story...
Dev Saab always preferred S.D.Burman. And, in this film, man, does he deliver!!! The songs are stupendous to say the least. But they also bear the mark of Pancham (he was assisting his father). When cabaret queen Helen jives to the feet-tapping Baithey hain kya uske paas, you get a very R.D. Burman feel. The song is great, the dance better. Helen was born to groove!! Sporting a glittering red number replete with plumes and an auburn wig, she makes western dance look easy...A yesteryear item number this...
Tanuja is the epitomy of innocent seduction in Raat Akeli Hain. She moves like a dream, looks a million bucks and emotes fabulously. Her sexy beige gown accentuates her curves. Thank god the world then was yet to discover the disgusting size zero trend...
While Kishore Kumar playbacks for most of the songs, the special piece is reserved for melody king Rafi... He makes the lilting Dil Pukare a sublime experience...
The best is left for the end...Hoton Mein Aisi Baat. If you sign Vyajanthimala for your film, you'd better make her dance. Here she goes free-style with frenzy, creating magic is her shimmery black and red ensemble. She shimmies her heart out, her eyes expressing the turmoil in her soul.
Vijay Anand, one of the most talented directors ever, is also perhaps the most stylish. His films are tastefully packaged. The look of Jewel Thief is so classy-the clothes, the sets, the cars and the accessories. Dev Anand carries his coats, jackets and berrets with aplomb. Tanuja's attires are cool. Vyajanthimala's sarees are chic (expecially the red one with white woollen polkas).
The most eyecatching effects are given to Amar's persona. He is a villain with superior tastes. He has a bevy of goodlooking women for company, wears expensive clothes, drinks costly spirits and indulges in customised accessories. Very evolved for a crook I must say...

If Teesri Manzil was a whoddunnit par excellence, Jewel Thief is an extraordinary cat-and-mouse chase. With superlative acting, great music, nerve wrecking twists, stylish execution and classy editing, this trendsetting film is a timeless classic. Another jewel is the mindblowing backgrond score. I say jewels because, "Jewels ke bagair Jewel Thief nahin sajega."


  1. I simply love your nuanced approach and next time when I watch The Jewel Thief, your words will ring in my ears, adding another dimension to my cinema viewing experience.

  2. The post is as nice as the film.
    Way to go, madam

  3. Thank you for the simple but sparkling appreciation :)

  4. do u knw dat dev anand was the initial choice for teesri manzil.....since vijay anand was the director!

  5. Oh that true??? My my I just can't imagine Dev Anand as Rocky!!!! Thank God...good sense prevailed!!! :)

  6. A jewel of a post :-) fantastic to say the've captured the very essence of this timeless masterpiece in this post of yours...wonderful analysis...Keep it up!!

  7. Thank you Dada...this comment means a lot to me :)

  8. Hey, u forgot to mention Dada Moni in this swashbuckler!!! The coolest villain I have ever seen in Hindi films. The story goes around that Dev Sahab wanted Asok Kumar ji to play the villain in the movie but was apprehensive of taking the proposal to him, fearing a backlash (Dada Moni was his screen idol). So, he asked Ahok ji's wife to do the needful for him. and when the veteran actor listened to the role, he jumped out of excitement as no one has ever offered him such a role before! Thank god for that, and Dev sahab too, or else jewel Thief would have lost out on something.

  9. @Punya: I did that on purpose Punya. ;) Did not want to spoil it for those who have not seen the film yet. Of course, the film would not be half as good without Ashok Kumar!! Thanks for the trivia :)

  10. @Sharmi - Oops!! I spoiled the fun! :( Sorry.. but cudn't resisit myself coz Ashok Kumar is such a star performer.. He was like wine.. old but heavenly!

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  12. @Punya: Well yes, Punya, I did not mention him purposely. I did not want to spoil the suspense for those who have not watched this film. :) Of course, Jewel Thief would not have been the same without Ashok Kumar. Thank you for the comment and keep reading :)