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01 August 2021

Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963)

Directed by: Nasir Hussain
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Starring: Joy Mukherjee, Asha Parekh,
Veena, Wasti, Tabassum,
Rajendranath, Pran
Nasir Hussain’s films, even if predictable (he famously said that he came to Bombay with one story in his pocket) are fairly entertaining. Good looking leads, hill stations aplenty, and good music. In other words, just what you need to spend a couple of hours, destressing. So I sat down to watch Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon – which could have been titled Dil Deke Dekho, or Tumsa Nahin Dekha. If it weren’t for the fact that this stars Joy Mukherjee (guitar in tow) and not Shammi Kapoor, you may not even realise the difference.

Colonel Mahindranath (Wasti) has wrongly accused  his wife Jamuna (Veena) of infidelity and kicked her out, refusing to let her take their son with him. And even though their common friend, Dr Prem (?) excoriates the Colonel, pointing out that the Colonel knew his wife was innocent, the latter still hasn’t brought his wife back. Meanwhile, Jamuna hires Kapoor (Krishan Dhawan) to abduct the child, who’s now two (or three) years old. 
The Colonel and Dr Prem chase Kapoor and the good doctor dies in an accident on the way, but not before handing over the responsibility of his motherless daughter to the Colonel. Kapoor hands the toddler to Jamuna, who gives him her jewellery as payment. But Kapoor also grabs the child’s locket as part of his remuneration. [Long-time viewers of Hindi films will know why this is so important.] 

The Colonel brings up Mohana while Mohan grows up in Kashmir. ‘Mona’ (Asha Parekh) is now a very pretty, young woman. The Colonel has therefore arranged a suitable (he thinks) bridegroom for her – Deefu, the London-returned son of an aristocratic family.

Mona takes one look at Deefu (Rajendranath) and is not at all interested. [Can anyone blame her?] She makes an excuse of dance practice (they are taking part in a dance competition) and hurries away to complain to her friends.

Meanwhile, in Kashmir, Mohan, who has found his mother gazing at a newspaper photograph of the Colonel, Mona, Deefu and his parents at the airport, is curious – she hates his father, why does she buy every single scrap of paper which has an item about, or a photograph of him?

[Both hero and heroine get an ‘intro’ song each. Me: Dil khush ho gaya.]

Just then, Kamaala (Ram Avtar), Mohan’s friend and a cab driver, comes to say that he has been hired by some Colonel in Delhi to pick his daughter and her friends up and drive them to Kashmir. Kamaala invites Mohan to come along, and Mohan agrees. 

[Incidentally, he’s just given his mother his first salary; I wonder how he can just get up and leave his job for a jaunt to Delhi!]

In any case, at Delhi, Mohan first recognises Deefu, who’s hurrying off to meet Mona at a Coffee House (his mother has set up the meeting). Then, when his father comes out, his attitude so irritates the Colonel that he forbids Kamaala to take Mohan on the journey.

Mohan, meanwhile, makes his way to the Coffee House, where accosting Deefu, he pretends he is Mona’s secretary. He informs him that Mona has had an ‘episode’ and has been taken to Agra for treatment. 

Then, he proceeds to inform Mona that he is Deefu’s friend who has just arrived that very day from London. Deefu, unfortunately, says he, has had another of his periodic ‘episodes’ and has been taken by his parents in an ambulance to Agra so he can be treated.

But that leaves him, Mohan, at a loose end. He has no one to show him around Delhi. Mona offers to show him around, provided he comes with her to Agra as well. Mohan agrees, and the duo go traipsing around Delhi and thence to Agra. On the way, they are intercepted by Mona’s friends (Tabassum and gang) and Mona pretends that she and Mohan have nothing to do with each other.

[But we are treated to Aji qibla mohatarma, so I’m not complaining.}

Finally, Mona and Deefu run into each other at the mental hospital in Agra, and much to Mohan’s amusement, are both convinced the other is nuts. Mona drives Mohan back to Delhi [but not before they sing a couple of other songs] where he tells her he’s returning to London that night. Mona desperately asks him when he’ll return. 

When he says he may never since there’s no one to wait for him, she promises she will wait. Forever. It’s a quiet moment of understanding and acceptance.

Meanwhile, in a seedy hotel room, Kapoor (remember him?) is plotting. He intends Ramesh (Pran) to take the place of the Colonel’s missing son. Ramesh is not very interested, but Kapoor has an ace in the hole – evidence that Ramesh is a murderer. He fills Ramesh in on the characters and background, and hands him Mohan’s locket. [See? I told you it was important.]

The next morning, Kamaala picks up Mona, Deefu [Why is he going along?], her friends and unbeknownst to them, Mohan (sitting on top of the cab). Irritating slapstick ‘comedy’ follows [Was there any other kind with Rajendranath?] but Mona gets to sing Aankhon se jo utri hai dil mein.

But. learning the truth (some part of it), she is also upset with Mohan, who now sings Banda parvar thaam lo jigar to manaao-fy her, but just when they have kissed and made up (in a manner of speaking), the Colonel arrives – he has had some excellent news!

His long-lost son has been found! A Dr 'Subodh Mukherjee' [Nasir Hussain's nod to his friend; IMDB identifies the actor as ‘Amar’] had come to meet him; his wife, Jamuna is dead, and his son, Mohan has lost his senses. He takes Mona with him to meet Ramesh. [Why would you take a young woman to meet a deranged person?] There, they find Ramesh both violent as well as crazy, though Mona succeeds in ‘calming’ him down. 

Dr Mukherjee now informs the Colonel that it was Jamuna’s dying wish that Mohan marry Mona. Before you know it, the Colonel is promising Mona’s hand in marriage to Ramesh; offering him Rs10 lakh to build an orphanage in his late mother’s name, and riding roughshod over everyone, especially Mona.

The plot follows the general tenor of the earlier films I mentioned – the film is filled with the usual suspects, playing similar roles. It winds down to a predictable end, but I wasn’t bored.


The music by OP Nayyar was excellent (apart from the songs I mentioned, there's Nazneen bada rangeen hai va'ada tera, Aanchal mein sajaa lena kaliyaa.n, Humdum mere khel na jaano, Zulf ki chaao.n mein, and the lesser-known but beautiful Mujhe pyaar mein tum na ilzaam dete) Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh are very easy on the eye, and have such chemistry with each other. Tabassum, though not named in the film, is delightful as the heroine’s friend – and very pretty to boot.

Pran was wasted – there were so many ‘villains’ already that he didn’t have much to do. Rajendranath – why, oh why, do they always have him in drag? – is decidedly unfunny here. 

And the ‘comedy’ such as it is, doesn’t work, not even as slapstick. And I am of the firm opinion that Eastman Colour did no favours to anyone. The sets were garish, the makeup looked caked, and everything was as loud as it could possibly be. 

Despite it all, however, if you want to spend time with some pretty people, very good songs and a plot where you know what will happen next so you can grab some food or chop vegetables or do other sundry chores while also watching, have a watch.

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