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16 March 2015

Khazanchi (1958)

Directed by PN Arora
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Starring: Balraj Sahni, Rajendra Kumar, 
Shyama, Chitra, SN Bannerjee, 
Manorama, Anwar Hussain, 
Rajan Haskar, Shammi
When I was browsing YouTube while researching Talat Mehmood's duets last week, the site decided that I could do with some entertainment. I wasn't too enthused about this film at first - it had Rajendra Kumar! But it also had Shyama, and I like Shyama. So I put it on - and got caught up completely in following the fortunes of an ordinary man and his family. It's a simple little film, rather sweet, and quite exciting with several twists and turns that I wouldn't have expected. Of course, some of the twists came thanks to the cuts in the film that the makers probably hadn't expected. Still...

The film begins by the riverside. Some girls are taking part in a canoe race while some young men strategically place their canoes right across the river, forcing the girls to capsize. One very pretty girl is saved by a dashing young man (and recovers consciousness with the time-honoured filmi ‘Main kahan hoon? Aap kaun hai?')  
And so he promptly answers: He is Harish (Rajendra Kumar), age 25, height 5’9”, and chest, 40 inches. (I wonder why he thought that would interest her.) He is smitten but she brushes him off quite well. (Even if he claims that he is wounded. So much for the sympathetic woman syndrome!) She flounces off leaving our hero and his friends rather amused.
Our heroine is Usha (Shyama), the only daughter of the highly respectable Rai Bahadur Saheb (SN Bannerjee). He, in turn, is the henpecked husband of the shrewish Ichchapuran Devi (Manorama). Turns out that she is his second wife, and is much younger than him to boot. “Main bhi toh inki umar ka hoon’ she tells him, when he points out that his daughter is hers as well. He does not have the wherewithal to stand up to her, but when she flounces off, he turns with affection to his daughter who, after her accident in the river, is not a little bedraggled.
Meanwhile, an equally bedraggled Harish is also sneaking into his house, but is caught in the act by his very mischievous sister, Geeta (Chitra). She gives him a very hard time (and the scene between them is very, very natural), but also rescues him from the wrath of his father Radhe Mohan (Balraj Sahni). He had been waiting for Harish to return from college and he's not too happy with his son – they had had an appointment two hours earlier.

But Harish manages to soothe his father and off they go – to fix Geeta’s marriage, a fact of which she is blissfully unaware. So when Harish comes back and teases her about shehnais sounding soon, she assumes that he is getting married. 
She is very thrilled with the idea – her brother, who’s been lording it over her, will now have to bow to his wife’s wishes. And she? She will be her bhabhi’s willing slave. Radhe Mohan, having caught Harish’s eye, keeps the pretence going.  

Radhe Mohan is a little annoyed the next day – it’s Bhai Dooj (the day after Diwali) and the bank has asked everyone to come in. Radhe Mohan is the titular Khazanchi (cashier) at the Northern India Bank. When he enters the premises, he is startled to be greeted with applause and seated with honour.
The bank manager is pleased to reward Radhe Mohan’s honesty and integrity – in the presence of all the bank employees, he presents Radhe Mohan with a gold watch. His children are very happy too, and Radhe Mohan takes the opportunity to tell them that wealth may provide life’s luxuries, but honour and integrity are infinitely more precious.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to a dissolute young  man, Loknath (Anwar Hussain), who’s making merry with the local tawaif, Najjo (Minu Mumtaz). It turns out that he’s not exactly above board in his dealings, and getting tawaifs home is not his only vice. He is also assiduously pursuing Usha, who is not very amenable to his flirtations. Loknath is Ichchapuran Devi’s nephew and he is plotting with her to marry Usha (he’s clever – he manipulates his aunt's greed very well).
Around this time, Rai Bahadur is involved in a runaway car incident. His driver steps out to buy some medicines and the car decides to take off on its own, carrying a gently nodding–off Rai Bahadur. By the time he wakes up, the car has picked up speed and it’s only Harish’s quick action that saves him from death. A visibly shaken Rai Bahadur thanks Harish and the latter drives him home.

Once there, the old man sends Harish off to freshen himself up while he arranges for tea. That leads to an amusing run-in with Usha, who is not too happy to see Harish there. (She even manages to get a good kick in.) 
But when she hears that he saved her father’s life, she is gracious enough to swallow her bile and thank him for it. (And since he’s learnt that Harish is soon to be a lawyer, having sat for his bar exams, Rai Bahadur is obviously doing some amateur matchmaking.) And on cue, comes a romantic song sung on the radio (by Geeta, who is a radio artiste) which Rai Bahadur has had Usha turn on. The result is all that he could have hoped for.

When Rai Bahadur returns from seeing Harish off, his wife talks to him about her nephew – he earns Rs10,000, he doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke... at that very moment Loknath walks in. He’s seen Harish leaving, and now he’s here pretending to have visited an orphanage, and reading the Gita. Usha is not very impressed -  neither is her father - and is quite snarky about him to her step mother, much to the latter’s displeasure.
Meanwhile Geeta’s prospective in-laws have come to ‘see the girl’. (Of course they claim it is to ‘show’ the boy off.) Harish informs them that his sister is under the misapprehension that he is the one getting married. They agree to the pretence, and Geeta waltzes in with the tea, eager to take a look at her bhabhi.
She comes in cheerfully, and since she has no clue that they have come to 'see' her, sits chatting merrily away to her new 'sister-in-law'. However, the pretence cannot last for long – the boy has ‘approved’ of her, and so has his sister, and it finally dawns on Geeta that it is she who is going to be the ‘bhabhi’.

The next morning, Radhe Mohan is asked by the bank manager to go to Bombay. The bank is lending a huge amount to a company, and they cannot trust anyone other than him to undertake the task. His seat has been booked on the Frontier Mail, and he has to leave the very next day. Once there, he has to cash the cheque for Rs 95,000, and hand it over to the ‘party’ – the company has five partners and the manager reminds him to take receipts from all of them.

Meanwhile, Usha, enamoured of the voice she'd heard over the radio the other day, has come in search of ‘Miss Geeta’. Harish, who sees her from the window of his house, rushes in to warn Geeta not to let Usha find out they are siblings. Not understanding her brother’s moods, Geeta nevertheless agrees to the drama. And after a bit of fun (helped along by the DVD company that decided to cut those scenes), Harish and Usha admit their growing attraction to each other.
Their romantic interlude is cut short by Radhe Mohan’s arrival. Geeta saves the day by pretending Usha is her friend, and Radhe Mohan, having greeted her, asks Geeta to pack his bag – he has to leave for Bombay on the Frontier Mail the very next day.(But he is not so dumb that he doesn't suspect.)
Back home, Usha is so caught up in her love that she gives into the temptation to sing – she’s overheard by her father to whom Usha eventually admits that she is in love with Harish. While telling him all about her visit, she also mentions that the khazanchi sahib is leaving for Bombay – he has a large cash payment to make to someone in Bombay. This is overheard by Loknath (who, as we all know, is a bad man).

The next day, Radhe Mohan is seen off at the station by his children. After exhorting Harish to cable him his bar exam results and Geeta to light the lamp near the tulsi plant, Radhe Mohan settles down in his seat. He is befriended by a young lady who introduces herself as Roma (Shammi). 
By the time they reach Bombay, she has managed to influence him to stay in a tiny hotel, where she says, both air, and food, are fresh. It is evident once they reach the hotel, that Roma is part of a gang run by the hotel owner.
Back in their little town, Usha and Harish are busy romancing each other. They are seen by Loknath, who promptly proceeds to fill his aunt’s ears with their ‘kaarnaame’. Back in their garden, Usha is praying that their happiness remains untainted. (Of course, being a regular watcher of Hindi films, you know what comes next!)

When Rai Bahadur enters his house, he is confronted by his furious wife. Will he throw the khazanchi’s son out for playing with his ‘honour’ or should she ask the servants to do the needful? For once, the Rai Bahadur stands up to her – her only grouse is that Harish is the khazanchi’s son? Well, the name that the khazanchi has earned in their town for his integrity is much more than his!

Matters rest there, though uneasily. Let’s move back to Bombay where Radhe Mohan has an unexpected visitor – Roma. She offers to accompany him to the bank; after all, this is Bombay! They reach the bank without incident, and Radhe Mohan, waiting for the money to be handed over to him (in lieu of the draft) asks to make a phone call. Roma offers to help him, and obviously, instead of calling the company that Radhe Mohan has to visit, calls her boss (Rajan Haskar) back at the hotel.
Radhe Mohan is told that the company lawyer has gone to Pune, so the meeting will have to be moved to late evening. After ascertaining where he is staying, they promise to meet him in his hotel room – at  9.30 p.m. (Now the film jumps to this:)
(Or perhaps the DVDwala decided to do some judicious editing.) The morning’s taaza khabar is that the khazanchi has murdered Roma and killed himself. Her corpse has been discovered in his room; his, on the railway tracks. Well, obviously, if he is standing around looking stunned, he is not dead! So then, who is?

Radhe Mohan, beleaguering under the weight of his ‘crime’, decides that he is a bhoj on this dharti, and a blot on the crusty old escutcheon and that his kids are better off without him. (Of course! He was only a thief and a murderer so far, now he'll be dead as well. Why wouldn’t his children be happy?)

And you know what they say about good intentions....

Back in his hometown, while Rai Bahadur and Usha are ecstatic at seeing Harish’s bar results (He has broken all records, and he’s topped the list; since he doesn’t have a mother, he cannot come back and say ‘Maa, main class mein first class first aaya hoon!’And there is no one to feed him 'apne haathon se banaya' halwa. Poor deprived lad!) Loknath gives them even more exciting news – that of Radhe Mohan’s doomed love affair and the murder-suicide.

While Harish and Geeta can hardly believe what they are reading, they are faced with the police and a search warrant – after all, the money, Rs95000, is still missing. All Harish can do is to console his sister and give the police his permission to search their house.

Weeks pass, and the unfortunate Radhe Mohan, presumed dead, wanders from place to place bereft of home and family. Misfortunes come quickly, one after the other, to his children as well – Geeta’s prospective in-laws make it very clear that they do not want an alliance with the family of a thief and a murderer.
But Geeta is not as inconsolable as Harish fears – in fact, she is glad they broke the alliance off; she wouldn’t have cared to leave her brother alone under such circumstances. She hopes he will bring her bhabhi home.

Unfortunately for Harish, even that is unlikely to happen. Especially if Ichchapuran Devi has her way – Rai Bahadur was so proud of the khazanchi’s good name, what does he have to say now? The poor man is forced to agree to an engagement between Loknath and Usha – for after all, who would marry Usha now? Harish, of course, is out of the question. And since Usha has been seen going around with him, her name is mud as well. Loknath would be doing them a favour by marrying her. (Now why Rai Bahadur has to go around breaking his daughter’s heart is beyond me!) No one asks poor Usha what she wants...

What will happen next? Will Radhe Mohan continue his wanderings as a nameless beggar? Will we ever find out who the real criminals are? (If the DVDwalas unbend, perhaps!) Will Harish and Geeta meet their father again? More importantly, will Harish and Usha’s love surmount this seemingly impossible obstacle? Will two (no, four) yearning hearts meet, or remain forever sundered?
Of course it will all sort out happily in the end. If you didn’t know that, you haven’t watched enough Hindi films of a certain vintage. But before that, there is the attempted murder of the public prosecutor, another murder, a court case, a hasty wedding, and sundry other exciting things.

Remade from the 1941 film of the same name (where Manorama played the loving sister!), Khazanchi is a reasonably sweet film, with a tiny dollop of melodrama towards the second half. Not unbearable; in fact, quite engaging.

The performances were uniformly excellent. Balraj Sahni, of course, was playing a role he could play with his eyes closed and one hand tied behind his back, but he was not diabetically sweet. 
I actually liked Rajendra Kumar for a change. (I never thought I would say that about Rajendra Kumar!) For one, his lower lip didn’t jut out as much as it usually does (that gives him the look of a particularly petulant, and repulsive, child); secondly, he looked rather dashing and boyishly handsome in this film. (Yes, I never thought I would say that about Rajendra Kumar either! You could've knocked me down with a feather!)
The heroine is the beautiful Shyama, for whom I have a definite soft spot, and she is really wonderful in this film. The chemistry between Rajendra Kumar and her was also sparkling, and their romance was lovely as well - a little bit of teasing, yes, but not the obnoxiously stalking behaviour that heroes usually display, and the romance, when it eventually happens is so comfortable, so natural, and so devoid of the usual coy simpering.

Chitra (who on earth is she?) plays the role of Geeta, and her chemistry with her brother, Harish, is also very natural. She has a decent-sized role here, and she does a good job of being a loving sister and a loyal one. Manorama plays a shrew, a role that she excelled in, in later years, but here, she is not shrill and shrieking. Anwar Hussain plays the duplicitous Loknath with just the right amount of sliminess.

The ending was rather humorous (and unexpected) and the twist quite sudden (though that could be thanks to the scissor happy DVD distributors). Can't say much about the music, though it is by Madan Mohan (quite obviously, our man wasn't making his brandy-laced mutton biryani). The score is pleasant, but it's definitely not one of his best.

This is what one would call a ‘time-pass’ film. The credits under the video on YouTube said Rajendra Kumar, Shyama and Helen (so does Wikipedia), but of course, there is no Helen in this movie. Even if it was directed by her one-time paramour PN Arora. Which is a shame, since I like watching Helen, but it doesn’t take away from the entertainment quotient of the film.  

There is a far better print of Khazanchi on Tom Daniel's YouTube channel.


  1. Isn't it interesting that I started watching this film last Thursday, got interrupted and haven't gone back to it yet. Perhaps I will finish watching and then read your review and compare notes OR first read the review and then watch ? Decisions, decisions.. Will decide later, right now some zzzzzzzzs !

  2. Hmm, interesting - I have stayed far from this movie, because of Rajendra Kumar, despite Shyama being there, But it sounds like a decent timepass. May just watch it - some day. Thanks, Anu :-)

  3. :) That is indeed a sweet coincidence, Neeru. Let me know what you thought of the movie.

  4. I hadn't even heard of this version, actually, Harini. I knew of the earlier one, having heard its songs. Saw it on the sidebar and was bored, so I just clicked on it. Was pleasantly surprised. :)

  5. This is such a coincidence. Just the other day, Akshay Manwani mentioned that he'd just seen Khazanchi (the earlier film, which you mention towards the end of this review) - and I was reminded of this film. I haven't seen it, but I love Tum saamne aakar jis dum jalwa sa dikha jaate ho. :-) Such a lovely song! And the story sounds pretty gripping too (and Rajendra Kumar, handsome? That I must see. Though Shyama is already enough reason for me to watch this... now, the question is, WDIGTT?!

    BTW, Chitra has appeared in a couple of other films I've seen. She's there in Chor Bazaar with Shammi Kapoor, if I remember correctly - and she's Feroz Khan's love interest in Reporter Raju.

  6. "Of course, some of the twists came thanks to the cuts in the film that the makers probably hadn't expected. Still... " That could be said of many films of a certain age :)
    As you know, I also have some Rajendra Kumar issues but sometimes he does OK. This sounds like it might be my cup of tea! (PS - trying to sign in to comment has been a bit of a palaver so I may be on the receiving end of comment limbo payback!)

  7. Our coincidences continue. :) And yes, Rajendra Kumar is rather handsome in this one. (And if I must say so, you know...*grin*) If you can get your hands on the complete film, it would be worth it - the print on YouTube judiciously cuts a few reels here and there, and you end up with more of a mystery than you started out.

    I had no clue who Chitra is (still don't, not having watched either of the films you mentioned), but I ended up seeing her again when I was researching the Talat Mahmood duets. Has to be a south Indian (she has such a typical south Indian face), but I haven't been able to find out anything about her. But she is a competent actress, and in this, she is rather delightful, and has more of a role than a filmi sister usually has.

  8. Hai-la. Disqus has been up to its tricks, huh? I'm sorry you had a problem, but glad that you managed to overcome it and post a comment!

    I must confess - rather to my own surprise that I found Rajendra Kumar quite palatable in this film.

  9. I did both, read part of your review and watched before finishing the review :) Best of both worlds. Oh yes, the movie is chopped up royally . Big loopholes in the story. Overall it wasn't a bad storyline, I wish they had treated it better.
    I loved your opening scene comment... Main kahan hoon ? She does recover rather quickly doesn't she ? I did not like the sister's (Chitra) remark about his brother coming across a new girl - kasmir ki hai ya madrasi ? Meaning gori ya kali ? Why on earth do they write dialogs like that ? There were also parts that made no sense. Rai Bahadur all knowing that Lokenath is upto no good, still carries on getting his daughter engaged to him. **Spoiler ahead**
    It was only a couple of months that the khazanchi was missing or declared dead, and yet his son does not recognize him standing right in front of him in court. It is not like they met "bees saal baad" . Just some disheveled hair and an overgrown beard and now no one knows who he is ... But then I reminded myself, if I was looking for logic, why am I watching a 50s hindi movie ;)
    It was a good time pass as you said. It was funny how Rajender Kumar chases a running car on a bike and yet manages to get in the car and save it.

    I usually watch old movies looking for good songs, the only one that was familiar , "aankhon aankhon mein, ho Gaye mast ishare". The other song that caught my attention was " tum saamne Askar jis din". That is a tune so similar to the stanza of "Papa, he loves mama, mama she loves papa" I am posting the link, do you agree ?

    Madan Mohan's music Brandy laced mutton biryani ? :) I like your description but I thought you were vegetarian....
    I like his music but obviously he is not consistent. He gave us "unko ye shikayat hai", "jaana tha humse door"from Adalat in the same year.

    Yes, Rajender Kumar is handsome, but then he was in the 50s movies. It was in the 60s when he was still being typecast as the perpetual college " main first class mein first " college student spoiled it for most.

    Frankly, your review is much more enjoyable with all it's funny asides than the movie. I probably would have like it it he print was intact.

  10. Why on earth do they write dialogs like that ?

    It was a not a politically correct world then, Neeru. I can forgive much from that period, but when people set out to offend today, not so much.

    Rai Bahadur all knowing that Lokenath is upto no good, still carries on getting his daughter engaged to him.

    I think he's so brow-beaten by that time that he just gives in.

    You forgot what your dad looks like so soon ?

    I don't think it is just a couple of months, Neeraj. Remember that song that goes on and on while Balraj Sahni's beard grows longer and longer? :) Besides, RK has just passed his bar exam when Balraj Sahni is pronounced a murderer, and dead. By the time the case comes up to trial, RK is the public prosecutor. Some years have to have gone by, no? (Of course that leaves us wondering why Usha hasn't married Loknath yet.)

    Madan Mohan's music Brandy laced mutton biryani ? :)
    One of the oft-repeated anecdotes about Madan Mohan is that when he was very happy with his compositions or with the way one of the singers sang his melody, he would invite everybody over to his house for his well-known mutton biryani. The tale goes that no one knew the secret to the great taste, until one day, when someone peeked into the kitchen when he was cooking it - there he stood, stirring the rice, taking deep swigs from a bottle of brandy and adding large splashes of it to the biryani. :)

    So my hypothesis is that he didn't make his biryani after composing this score - it wasn't anything out of the ordinary by his own standards.

    (I'm vegetarian alright.)

  11. You can tell I wasn't paying too much attention to the movie. Perhaps what appeared to be just a couple of months was due to missing footage. The other reason I thought it was just a couple months - the loot had not been distributed amongst the partners yet. Oh well.
    Interesting info about Madan Mohan's biryani. I just saw how much comment space I took. I guess I got carried away :(.

  12. The other reason I thought it was just a couple months - the loot had not been distributed amongst the partners yet. Oh well.

    As I said, there is no logic any which way you look at it. If it was only a couple of months, then RK should have recognised his father. If it was years, as it must have been, given that RK had become public prosecutor, then why wasn't Usha married off already? And why, as you so sapiently point out, wasn't the loot distributed? As Madhu put it once, 'Why the..?' 'What the...?' 'How the...?' are all questions that frequently pop up when we watch these films. The only way to enjoy them is to ignore the sheer illogic of it all. :)

    Don't worry about taking up comment space - it is not rationed. :)

  13. I found the missing song "talam tol" on youtube. Sounds like Helen must be dancing to it.

  14. I wonder; from all that I have read, there is absolutely no Helen in this film. Perhaps Roma/Shammi danced to it at the hotel before she got murdered? It would be interesting to see the missing parts of this film, but I fear that even if we get hold of a DVD, it will be the butchered version. :(

  15. You might like this. Chitra interview

  16. Thanks, Neeru. I haven't had time to watch it today, but I've bookmarked it for later.

  17. Reporter Raju was a fairly forgettable film, except for one thing that makes it stick in my mind - a large section of it was an unashamed copy of The 39 Steps. Man and woman handcuffed together, racing across the countryside, villain with one finger chopped off partly, etc.

  18. I remembered you had reviewed the film, so I went and read your review after I read your comment. :) Yes, I'm glad I haven't watched it.


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