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Thursday, 29 July 2010

Asian fiesta (Love in Tokyo)

When you have Asha Parekh in a film, no matter how far-fetched the plot is and how irksome the melodrama, just sit tight. For, this spunky actress guarantees fun. Disguised as a young Sardar, she entertains to the hilt and when the charade is over, she enthralls as Ashok's pretty sweetheart. Dancing like a deer and a crackshot with emotions she makes Pramod Chakraborty's Love in Tokyo a delight. Not to mention her sparkling chemistry with the dashing Joy Mukherjee...
1966's Love in Tokyo is a wonderful romance, replete with action and comedy. While the love-shmuv is taken care of by Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh, the comedy is handled by the superb trio of Mehmood, Shubha Khote and Dhumal (they did the same in Ziddi). Shankar Jaikishan gives us a veritable lot of scintillating songs and yes, Pran works up his usual spicy magic as the scheming villain. 
Gayatridevi (Lalita Pawar) sends her younger son Ashok (Mukherjee) to Tokyo to fetch her grandson Chickoo, an orphan. Ashok is engaged to marry Sarita (Lata Bose) but he is not really interested in her. In Tokyo, when he meets Chickoo, he is surprised to find that the young boy is quite an enfant terrible and is least bothered to go to India with him. But Ashok is hell bent on doing his duty. While roaming about in a shopping mall with his nephew, Ashok's attention is diverted towards a TV show airing a dance programme. He is mesmerised by Asha, the dancer (and who can blame him!). In Koi matwala aya mere dwaarey, Parekh is almost like an apsara, fluid in her classical moves and beautiful in her resplendant garb. Ashok sets his eyes on this ravishing damsel. But, while he is weaving halcyon dreams of Asha, Chickoo escapes from Ashok's grip into the lit-up streets of Tokyo.
Back in Asha's home, her uncle (Madan Puri) wants her to marry Pran (Pran), as he would benefit from the allaince. But, Asha detests the sight of him and feeling grossly cornered, runs away from home. Asha and Chickoo bombard against each other. The two become fast friends and promise that both will save each other from becoming captives. Asha disguises herself as a Sikh young man from a garments shop owned by Dhumal and dresses her young friend as a little girl. And, the adventure starts...
Very soon Parekh, as the Sikh, would be meeting the hassled Ashok and fooling him with frenzy. Then she would dress up as Chickoo's Japanese aunt and wreak havoc on Ashok's heart. The fun would continue till Ashok calls her bluff and the two forgive each other to embark on their lovely romantic trip. Full of song, dance and mush (and lovely costumes worn by Asha Parekh), their pair is awesome. Mukherjee is tall and robust, Parekh is delicate and pretty. She is quick and smart as the sardar, attractive and clever as Chickoo's aunt and charming as Asha. I love her fitting black outfit when she comes to meet Ashok near the harbour. Very chic. Prattling off in her Japanese-accented Hindi (that's kind of tame, though!) she is a pleasure to watch. Can't imagine anyone else in Sayonara sayonara. What a wonderful composition sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Peppy and cute, this is a golden classic. And Parekh truly looks like a Japanese doll...
Ashok and Asha's love story is full of twists and turns, mostly instrumented by the devious Pran. He abducts her when she is enjoying herself with Ashok in the title track (Mohd Rafi's energy level in this song knows no bounds) only to be rescued by Mahesh (Mehmood) and Sheela ( Shobha Khote). Comical to the core, when you see the scene you'll know why Mehmood is so important to the film. When everything seems rosy Asha again has to bear the brunt of Gayatridevi's (sad that Lalita Pawar has such a short role) wrath. Ashok's mother will not brook Asha in Ashok's life as he is already engaged to Sarita. But, a very dramatic accident and the resultant blindness of Ashok saves the situation... Didn't I say melodrama? But, I can still gulp it down... Just for Parekh, Mukherjee and the songs.
There is a sizzling rain song in Love in Tokyo. It's called Aaja re aa zara. With Parekh in a wet green saree, Mukherjee can barely keep his hands off her. Smitten by her beauty and charm, Ashok almost consumes Asha with his passion. The sensuous number is pleasurably teasing. Courtesy Rafi's top rendition... Sheer magic, I tell you...
Then there's the melodious Ae mere shahen khubaan. It's beautiful and breathtaking. Bringing together two lovers, it's a marvel. That's all I can say...
My favourite song in the film is Mujhey tum mil gaye humdum, not just for its mellifluous quality, but also for the dramatic picturisation. Asha, shining in her crimson party saree, has to make a tough choice. She has been blackmailed by Pran to be party to his odious plots. Though she is smiling, her eyes belie the pain and fear she feels in her heart. She dances with Pran in front of Ashok so that he is stabbed by jealousy. Ashok is hurt and angry but he keeps playing the piano. Amidst all this turmoil, Asha continues singing this awesome number... Great execution!
Now we come to the ribtickling subplot. Mahesh is in love with Sheela but her father opposes the match. But, Mahesh is a tough nut and he has loads of funny tricks up his sleeves to outwit Dhumal. Watch him in the scenes where he dresses up like a geisha, where he fools Dhumal as Chatterjee and where he is the Sadhu! Uproarious!! I love his pairing with Shobha Khote. Their crackling chemistry is evident in Manna Dey's Main tere pyar mein bimaar hoon... Just marvellous!
The only glitch is the length. Wish we could delete the inane flying scene of Mehmood (ridiculous) and tighten the melodrama bit. They kind of eat into this memorable romance that is otherwise so very adorable...


  1. Indeed mehmood and Shobha Khote are often the downsides of many such films particularly in the 60's, they always have fab songs though. I just love Joy in the aaja re aa zara plus Asha is definitely one of the reigning queens of 60's bollywood fashion she needs to be inducted into my bollywood fashion icon hall of fame

  2. @Bollywooddeewana: Yes, Asha Parekh happens to one of my favourites. She leaves her mark in every film. Just induct her into that hall of fame, fast! :) And that Aaja re aa zara song is just sizzling!! Thanks for the comment :)

  3. Yes, that flying scene IS inane! Such a dumb bit in a film that's otherwise lots of fun and entertainment. This is one of my favourite films. Not great cinema, but so utterly entertaining.

    (My mother's family had, in their home in Calcutta, a servant boy who used to sing "Le gayi dil budhiya Japan ki")... quite a compliment to the ladies of Japan!

  4. @Dustedoff: Ha ha ha ha....Budhiya Japan ki!!! Killing ma'am!!! I love this film too, just for Asha Parekh, Mukherjee, the songs and all the fun. I can watch it so many times!!!

  5. I haven't seen this since my childhood days when we used to religiously watch DoorDarshan, so my memories of the film are very faint. I remember Asha's disguises (the next day at school everybody was going "sayonara"!) but not Mehmood's. (My brain's probably good at tuning out traumatic memories? ;D)

    Your synopsis makes this sound like a sort-of-adaptation of It Started in Naples where American Michael Hamilton (Clark Gable) comes to settle his brother's estate in Naples and discovers a nephew living with his aunt (Sophia Loren).

  6. @Bollyviewer: Oh realyy? Was that film good? Then I must see it. Mehmood's flying scene was ridiculous but otherwise he was fun. Watch this again, just for Asha and the songs!

  7. Hmmm....I think songs are the best part of these oldies...we dont get these classics now-a-days...well written....

  8. @Jude: here??? welcome, welcome!! Yes, the songs are just too good to forget...thanks for the comment and keep reading!

  9. I too had seen this film as a kid on Doordarshan so don't remember much of Mehmood-Shubha story. I had loved Joy and Asha in it. And the songs.... Mujhe tum mil gaye is among my all time favourites. Love the other songs too, esp Aaja re a azara and Oh mere shahen khubaan
    Media makes such a big thing about Amitabh being named Vijay in so many movies. Look at Mehmood, majority of the films I have seen, his name is Mahesh and Shubha is usually Sheela. Same with Asrani, I find him named Chandu in most of the movies.
    You know what....initially when I started watching old movies in the late 90's(I had seen few recent Hindi movies in the early 90's), I felt Joy Mukherjee looked so much like Mohnish Bhel!

  10. @Sunheriyaadein: Yes Mehmood is Mahesh in Ziddi, too. And Shubha is Sheela again. What were they called in Bharosa, do you remember? That film also paired them romantically. You are also right about Chandu.
    Mukherjee like Mohnish Behl...have to watch him closely next time. But sometimes I do feel he copied Shammi Kapoor's mannerisms!

  11. I haven't seen Bharosa, so not sure. But IMDB says Mehmood is Platform M.P.P.S. and Shubha is Double Roti. Now these are interesting names! :-)
    Oh I found some really wierd similarities...I felt Sunil Dutt looked a lot like Ajay Devgan, Vyjanthimala as Madhu and Joy as Mohnish :-)
    True...Joy does try copying Shammi Darling but we all know Shammi is inimitable!

  12. @Sunheriyaadein: I have to now closely see Sunil Dutt to catch the resemblance. But Madhu does look a bit like Vyajyanthimala.
    Watch Bharosa, it's quite a good social drama :)
    P.S. Shammi is a magician :)

  13. Hee hee....Nasir, Bollywooddeewana and I were discussing on my blog how similar Vyjayanthimala, Saroja Devi and Padmini look!
    I like Aaj ki mulaquat bas itni, Yeh jhuki jhuki naina, Woh dil kahan se laaun and it has Asha in it! Enough reason to watch it and to top it all I have your recommendation now. Let me look out for it.

  14. @Sunheriyaadein: Yes ekdum. They all had such biiigggg eyes.
    Yes, I quite like Bharosa because it is a pleasing social drama where complications arise just to be sorted out in the end. I think you will like it :)

  15. Nice review! If I remember correctly, Pran's name in the movie was Pran itself.A watchable 60s flick, with great locales and a wonderful soundtrack by SJ. With such a good musical score, who cares if the movie has excessive melodrama? (Is it an unwritten rule of sorts that movies with great music are not always great to watch?)

    PS: Sayonara was by Lata Mangeshkar..the high-pitched vocals are sure indicators of her voice.

  16. @JSK: Ya the film did have some great music and the awesome Asha Parekh. Thanks for the correction :)