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15 August 2011

Kashmir ki Kali (1964)

Directed by: Shakti Samanta
Music: OP Nayyar
Starring: Shammi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Pran
I have been a Shammi Kapoor fan most of my life, from the time I saw Junglee when I was about five or six years old. And I must have watched his films over and over again - they have always been my films-of-choice when I needed something to cheer me up. It is ironical that I wrote two posts about him in quick succession: once, following Mohammed Rafi's death anniversary, and the other, just three days before Shammiji himself passed away.

Now, following my tribute to one of the most entertaining actors who ever graced the silver screen, I have spent my time watching the Shammi Kapoor movies in my collection one after another. It helps that I am off work at the moment. Rajkumar was one of the first movies that I watched after I heard of his demise. However, Madhulika has written such a wonderful review of this movie and I decided to move on to the next film on my list.

Kashmir ki Kali was vintage Shammi Kapoor. It had everything one expects of Shammi Kapoor - a beautiful heroine, beautiful locales, excellent music, an absolutely delightful madcap script, and above all, Shammi at his zaniest best. It is a mark of the director's deftness of touch that even when some scenes are over-the-top, one forgives it because you get so engrossed in the tale that you totally buy into its OTT-ness.

In any case, Shammi Kapoor's movies were never meant to be analysed; they were meant to be experienced, to be 'felt' because that is the only way to enjoy his movies. 

Rajiv Lal (Shammi Kapoor) is the pampered son of a wealthy family, who still have some empathy for those less fortunate. When he takes over his late father's mill on its 25th anniversary, he refers to the mill workers as his brothers and sisters, and announces a hefty bonus as reward for all their hard work. His mother and manager Shyamlal (Madan Puri) are dismayed.
However, his old nurse, Karuna has a different take on it. When he gets married and assumes the responsibility of his own household, he will understand how to handle money. His mother is not very sure, but decides that she needs to get him married off, anyway. She shakes off the nurse's opinion that Rajiv should marry where he choose. Her bahu will be one of her choice, she declares.
And soon, a veritable parade of girls troop in to their home. Rajiv, who has no intention whatsoever of marrying any of them, decides to end this farce once and for all. He pretends to be deaf, lame and a bit slow in the head. His mother, of course, is not amused.
Rajiv soon meets his friend Chander at the bar, and spills the trouble he is in. 
When Rajiv tells him to get serious, Chander (Anoop Kumar) tells him then he should find a girl of his own. Rajiv  is irritated - how on earth is he just going to 'find' the girl of his dreams? Chander  says something very profound - किसी न किसी से कभी न कभी कहीं न कहीं दिल लगाना पड़ेगा (Somewhere, sometime, you have to fall in love with someone!). He also has some good advice - it might be better for Rajiv's overall health if he went out of town for a bit. But where? Chander has another brilliant idea.
Rajiv agrees. I like the interaction between the two. Chander has just managed to get himself a job as an insurance agent. When Rajiv asks him to come to Kashmir with him, he wonders what he will do about his new job. Rajiv has no such qualms. 'Resign', he says, and Chander is quick to agree - after all, it is shameful, isn't it, that a friend of the wealthy Rajiv has to work?!

So Rajiv leaves for Kashmir without breathing a word to his mother. In fact, he borrows Chander's car for the trip. But the journey is not as uneventful as Rajiv thought it would be. Just before he reaches Srinagar, he is greeted with the news that the rains have washed the bridge away, and he is forced to stay the night in the hamlet. Unfortunately, all the bedrooms in the local inn have been occupied by a bevy of girls on their way to a fair. And so Rajiv, privileged scion of a wealthy family is forced to spend the night on a charpoy outside. To add insult to injury, he also finds himself being drenched by water thrown from the upstairs balcony.
Furious, he has an altercation with the culprit; she gives him as good as she gets...

but repenting of her actions, she goes down and covers his shivering form with a blanket. The next morning Rajiv hears singing and runs into the girl Champa (Sharmila Tagore) again; if she wasn't very impressed by him the previous evening, she is even less so now. She doesn't think much of rich men, it seems.
Rajiv is quick to demur - he is not rich! He is merely the chauffeur for a kind gentleman who keeps him well-provided. She leaves, and he is accosted by Mohan, who is driving the girls to Srinagar.
Soon, Rajiv has arrived at his holiday home, only to find that the property manager Bhola Ram (Dhumal) has been renting out rooms in the house for the season. They (three girls and their guardian) refuse to believe that he is the owner of the bungalow. Rajiv is furious.
He accosts Bhola Ram; the latter is not so perturbed. He has an ace up his sleeve. If Rajiv wants to keep his arrival secret from his mother, then he has to agree to let the guests continue to think that this is a hotel. Rajiv is forced to agree.
And Bhola Ram reassures the guests whom Rajiv has chastised  - he claims Rajiv is slightly mad, and thinks that he is the owner of the hotel. This keeps Rajiv's presence in the hotel a complete secret. 

This leaves Rajiv free to romance Champa - he buys her entire basket of flowers for an exorbitant sum, so she can spend the rest of the day with him. He also professes his love for her. Champa is frightened, but Rajiv reassures her.
When Champa gives her father Dinu (Nasir Hussain) the money, he is not quite so happy. He insists that she return the extra money because a man who pays more for what he can obtain for less, obviously has an ulterior motive. Wise man, the father.
The daughter is practical though; money is useful - why return it? But Dinu insists, and she gives in.

Rajiv, feeling the need for some backup, invites Chander over, and tells Bhola Ram to ensure that everyone in the 'hotel' know that Chander is the real Rajiv Lal. There is a flutter in the dovecote when the supposed owner of the 'hotel' arrives.

Champa has returned the excess money, and Rajiv sets off to track her down. She is embarrassed by his attentions in front of all of her friends and begs him to go away. Rajiv is not so pusillanimous. He treats her to:
Champa cannot help but be charmed. However, she is not above being amused when he falls into the cold waters of Dal Lake.

Back at the hotel, Chander is finding out that three girls chasing him is two girls too many. Rajiv douses his pretensions - they are only running after him because they think he is the wealthy Rajiv Lal.

In the morning, Rajiv sets off again in quest of his Champa; he buys her flowers again so that she can spend the day with him. She demurs, but Mohan makes an appearance, and Champa quickly decides between the lesser of the two evils. She tells him that her father owes Mohan money, and he comes home under that pretext. She is scared of him. Rajiv reassures her and they spend the day together. Come evening, and they are caught in a thunderstorm and seek shelter in a hospitable old woman's house.

The night passes and so does the storm - but not before leaving an emotional maelstrom in its wake.
But there are storm clouds ahead. Mohan, who has seen Champa go off with Rajiv is already jealous. He maligns Champa to her father; when Dinu is indignant, Mohan reminds him of a secret that Dinu wants to remain so.
Dinu is forced to acquiesce; he tells Champa that she must never meet Rajiv again. She agrees, reluctantly, but Rajiv is nothing if not persistent. On their way to the fair, Mohan and the girls are accosted by a Pathan and his strapping wife. The 'wife' is very tall, very pregnant, and heavily veiled. 'She' entertains them with...
Mohan enjoys the singing, manly though the Pathan's begum's voice is.

And Champa has a nice time too....
Soon, there is yet another disguise...
...and yet another song.
Furious at being tricked, Mohan goes to Dinu and threatens him - he will abduct Champa if Dinu does not wed her to him. He knows Dinu cannot go to the police. Dinu is frightened. Mohan goes to another of his debtors and asks him to find out who Champa's parents are. Dinu, not knowing that Mohan is eavesdropping, tells his friend (the debtor) that if anything happens to him, Dinu, then he should get Champa to her real parents. His sister used to work for them, and he had abducted her when she was a little baby. Before he divulges the name of Champa's parents, he feels the presence of someone else in the room, and refuses to talk any more. But this minor clue is enough for Mohan.
When Champa comes back, Dinu tells her that he wants her to marry Mohan. Champa is vehement - she will not  marry Mohan; she would prefer to die. And after all, Rajiv had told Champa that he would like to...
Dinu, who loves her to bits, gives in.
And Champa runs back to the hotel happily. Only, Chander has had enough of the three girls choosing him and has told them the truth. By the time Rajiv succeeds in getting rid of them, Champa, heartbroken, has left. And he has no chance to go after her; his mother calls asking that he return - Karuna is dying.

Her deathbed confession lets several cats out of their bags.
Rajiv is devastated. But he does not know that there is worse to follow. He does know that his father was responsible for destroying his mother's (or the women he has considered his mother) life. And that the real heir to the family wealth is alive - somewhere.

What will he do next? What can he do? And Champa? Will she agree to marry Mohan? What will her reaction be when she learns the truth?

And I cannot resist adding some eye candy shots - even though this post is long enough as it is:


Don't take my word for it. Watch it for yourself, and immerse yourself in the beautiful vales of Kashmir, and brace yourself for the emotional assault on your senses. 


  1. I died and went to heaven. And I also ate my heart out in jealousy at those screenshots of Sharmila Tagore - gosh she looks gorgeous. And is Shammi crying in that last shot? It made me want to hug him and say 'There, There...'

    Kashmir ki Kali is the next on my list.

  2. Shammi crying in that last shot? It made me want to hug him and say 'There, There...'

    I know! It broke my heart! I am (re)watching Junglee at the moment. And yes, Sharmila is so beautiful (that's an understatement!).

  3. I've been re-watching Shammi Kapoor films every other day since the past week (odd, isn't that? Almost like a premonition...), and this was one of the first in the list. So pretty! And the music is out of this world. I especially love Deewana hua baadal: it's so exquisitely romantic.

  4. I don't know about premonition, but ever since I wrote that post on Rafisaab's death anniversary, I have been doing pretty much the same thing. I have watched Professor, Brahmachari, Jaanwar, and Teesri Manzil these past two weeks preceding Shammi Kapoor's death.

    My favourite song in this one is Ishaaron ishaaron mein - it somehow makes me gulp. :)

  5. Wach out, your Shammi-love is showing through. :) Why haven't there been any posts on Amitabh Bachchan? I honestly didn't think you would have a blog where you wouldn't be singing praises of AB.

  6. Meanie! I just haven't gotten around to it, that's all. Besides, I didn't want to watch Deewar and start howling. Not in the mood, I guess. But I will. I will. Promise.


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