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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Spooky spin (Yeh Raat Phir Na Aaygi)

When you have to share screen space with Prithviraj Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Nana Palsikar and Mumtaz, you better be good in your job. But sadly, Biswajit's Suraj is so not up to the mark. The tale's spooky, the drama's spinechilling, the score's fantastic and the suspense is thrilling. But, Suraj looks lost (well, sometimes he is expected to!) all the time. He carries the same expressions throughout Yeh Raat Phir Na Aaygi, a brilliant 1966 thriller directed by Brij. When he is flummoxed to see the apparition, when he is flirting
with Mumtaz in Mohabbat cheez hain kya, when he is attracted to Sharmila Tagore's Kiran, when he is ill with concern, when he is angry, Biswajit's face betrays just one expression--a slight scowl with a faint smile (and he wears lipstick!!). The trick to enjoy this film is to ignore him and concentrate on the story and the other actors...
I had never heard about this film. Neither had I heard its songs before. But, it was really worth it. The film opens with a spinechilling classical background tune that pins you to your seat. A professor of archaeology is overlooking a series of excavations. Engrossed in his work, he forgets about receiving his ward (who is returning from abroad) from the airport. Just then, his daughter playfully scolds him and goes to the airport to receive her childhood pal, Suraj. While returning from the airport, Suraj and Rita (Mumtaz) stop over at an old haveli where Suraj used to play as a child. The audience gets the first glimpse of Kiran here. On their way home, Suraj is drawn to the resonating Har tukda mere dil ka. He follows the strains and reaches a forest where he sights a woman bedecked in traditional finery. Who is this woman, he wonders. But, Rita coaxes him to return home.
These sudden wafting songs don't stop. Soon, Suraj meets Kiran, who confuses him with her secretive behaviour and allures him with her beauty. Sharmila Tagore really looks breathtaking. In her Indian costume and heavy jewellery she resembles an apsara. And, her expressions are spot on. She suffuses a ghostly aura in Yehi woh jagaa hain and stuns everyone in the party with Main shayad tumhare liye ajnabi hoon. I have to say that OP Nayyar has melody on his fingertips, and Asha Bhonsle and Mohd Rafi have nectar in their voices. Aap se maine has the right dose of passion. Mohd Rafi is a magician and Sharmila looks charmingly seductive.
So, Kiran keeps confusing Suraj with her lofty talks about her sad life and fate playing havoc with their past love. Surely, Brij has some unique notions up his sleeves...
While Suraj is smitten by Kiran, the historian is hell bent on proving that this woman is none other than a wavering spirit, looking for an opportunity to drive Suraj to death. This is because a statue in the excavation sight is a carbon copy of Kiran. The figure's clothes match hers and its engraved jewellery are like hers too. He even corners her to admit the same but Kiran baffles everyone (even us) with her stark expressions and her defiance...
Some deep dark secrets are unravelled, some more songs are sung before the film rushes to a really taut and astonishing end. After the film is over, you actually sit and think how Brij played with your senses... Great job!
Prithviraj Kapoor is absolutely apt as the old professor. His eyes mirror his concern for his ward, Suraj, and this propels him to get into the heart of this spooky matter. He is angry and shocked at Kiran and tries to scare her away with his booming, gruff voice. But, why should a spirit be scared of an old man (who is quite handsome also even at this age!!!)?
Sharmila is really good. She looks very beautiful and acts sufficiently well. In Phir milogi kabhi and Mera pyaar woh hain ke she gives us that infectious and dazzling smile, revealing those deadly dimples. Though the latter song is sung by Mahendra Kapoor, it sounds so much like Mohd Rafi. But, it is superb nonetheless. Extremely enchanting!
I have already given my thoughts on Biswajit. Another thing, he wears a white shirt, black trousers and a black tie throughout. For God sake, why?? His expressions are not romantic or passionate enough in the love songs. But then, nobody's perfect, right???
I've heard Huzure wala, ever since I was in school. It is a great number picturised on Helen and another girl. I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover that this song belongs to this film. The dance is fabulous and so are the lyrics. Asha Bhonsle's just splendid...
One special mention to the spunky and glamorous Mumtaz. This actor always surprises with her performance. And, in this film too, she is a revelation. Full of layers, her character, Rita, keeps evolving with every passing minute in the film...
I don't have an affinity for ghost stories, I'm afraid. They are scary and sometimes gross. But, give me as fascinating a ghoul as Kiran, spice it up with OP Nayyar's songs and Prithviraj Kapoor's dynamism, and I think I can muster up the courage to sit through it. And, fall in love with it, I'm sure...


  1. I would bracket this film with Woh Kaun Thi as classic supernatural thrillers.
    The only blotch, as you said, is Biswajit. But ignoring him is not a problem because the taut script, the heightening mystery and an ethereal Sharmila play with your senses.
    The film appeared even more tantalising to me, because like i did while watching Woh Kaun Thi, i was down by two or three whiskies while trying to crack Brij’s code!

  2. @Netdhaba: Ohh, so that seems to be your trick!!! But, you have to admit that you were bamboozled too, by the ending!!
    And isn't OP Nayyar so different here? Very classical, without his signature hoof-beats !!!

  3. I have always liked the songs of this movie. The first one that I heard was Mera pyaar woh hai , on my favourite Vividh Bharati, of course (at times I feel like I am the Brand Ambassador for Vividh Bharati) and I instantly fell in love with it. All these years I thought it was only me who thought that Mera Pyaar woh hai sounded like Rafi. And oh how I wish it was really him. The song is so drop-dead romantic, I get a feeling that it was penned for Rafi.
    Saw Yehi woh jagah hai next on Rangoli and everything about it was so mysterious. As though this was not intriguing enough, I saw/heard Main shayad tumhare liye ajnabi hoon and Phir miloge kab . After hunting for a DVD for quite sometime, I finally found it last year and saw it. Like you said, loved everything about the movie except for Biswajeet. Sharmila looks heavenly and Mumtaz is a true revelation. Aur Papaji ka toh kya kehna!
    Asha, Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor's rendition is fantabulous and OP Nayyar is at his best here. I can listen to these songs non-stop.

  4. This reminded me a fair bit of Woh Kaun Thi and Anita in its basic premise. Other than Biswajit (whom I find effeminate and pheeka at the best of times!), it was a good, suspenseful film. And Yehi woh jagah hai has been a favourite song of mine for nearly all my life - my mother used to sing it to me when I was a baby, as a lullaby! :-)

  5. @Sunheriyaadein: Ha ha, we all are lambasting Biswajit so badly, that now I feel a bit bad for him.. ha ha, just joking!!!
    Really, Mera pyaar woh hain sounds so much like Rafi, especially when Kapoor hits the higher notes.
    Papaji is so so great when he is shocked by whatever is happening around him. His eyes become absolutely round!!!
    I also never used to miss Rangoli on Sunday mornings. After that we used to keep humming those songs while sitting with our books (how my mother chided us for that. She kept saying that this way we would never remember our lessons. ha ha)
    I really feel sad that those days will never return and the youngsters now are listening to music that is just cacophony. They will never get to know the beauty of such songs!!
    Thank you Archana for the comment :)

  6. @Dustedoff: Yes yes, the starting is very similar to Woh Kaun Thi. Have you seen Anita? If you haven't, then good. It is really Khosla's worst work (I feel). I have seen it and reviewed it also. Here is the link:
    Ha ha, I really laugh when Biswajit starts dancing. He looks so funnily stupid! And that lipstick! Eeeeeeppppsss!!!
    Gosh you really listened to a wonderful lullaby :)

  7. Thanks for telling me about your blog, i'm following you now. I'll be sure to add this on my next shopping cart as i'm a sucker for O.P Nayyar's music and despite his not so great acting, i'm very much a Biswajit fan

  8. please what's the meaning of Pheeka as used by dustedoff in her comment above

  9. @Bollywooddeewana: Hello, great to see you here. Pheeka means insipid.
    Yes, this film has a tight story and good suspense. And, the songs are lovely. I'm sure you will love it. Thanks for the comment :)