(Potential plot spoilers ahead)
I am becoming quite the Zee TV watcher these days. Perhaps it is the lack of anything else to see, the fact that I am a closet masochist, or simply that I miss good old desh and watching Zee makes me feel warm and fuzzy and oh-so-desi. Yeah, all that mush. The other night however, Zee couldn’t find their regular print of Love In Goa (1983), starring Anuradha Patel and Master Mayur. Yes, the same pimply-faced adolescent who often played Amitabh junior, most famously in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978). So they mended their ways, atoned for their sins, and blessed us with — Jewel Thief (1967).
Now before we proceed to babble, a word of caution. As some of you know, the movie has some awesome plot twists. So if you haven’t yet watched it and intend to, you may want to stop reading after this paragraph. How can someone have NOT watched Jewel Thief, you say? Here’s why. You see .. people make movies like Sholay (1975) and Golmaal (1979). You, me and Patel uncle have all heard of them and, very likely, seen them. But people also make movies like Sindoor Aur Bandook (1989) and Meera Ka Mohan (1992). After all, the Hemant Birjes and Avinash Wadhawans of the world also need to justify their existence. The producers of these movies also have kids who need food, clothes and pocket money for Diamond comics. <cue song — Chunnu padhta Daaymond kaamix, Munni padhti Daaymond kaamix, mazedaar ye Daaymond kaaamix, Daaymond kaaamix!> So, for the sake of those Diamond Kaamix distributors and their kids, these movies should also be seen. So one might, since time is a precious commodity, overlook a Jewel Thief or two for the sake of a Bomb Blast (1993) and one should be forgiven for it. Thankoo.
The movie begins in style — A mannequin adorned with jewellery. An unknown man passes by. As he moves away, the mannequin’s neck is bare. Music builds up to a crescendo with an evil laugh permeating the background! And there onwards begins a thrilling ride. Who is the jewel thief? Is it Vinay (Dev), the commissioner’s son and a jewellery store employee? Or his look-alike Amar? As Vinay tries to find Amar and prove his innocence he finds himself falling in love with Shalini (Vyjayantimala), who says she is Amar’s fiancee. As he searches for his clone, the boss’s daughter Anjali (Tanuja), takes a liking for him, while Shalini’s brother (Ashok Kumar) doubts his every move, leaving one wondering if Vinay is taking everyone, including the audience, for a ride. The climax, set in Gangtok, culminates in the jewel thief’s grandest heist of all — the king’s jewels. The stage is set for a thrilling finish, with an elaborate song and dance number in ‘honton pe aisi baat‘.
Jewel Thief remains one of my all-time favorites from Bollywood, a masala potpourri of sorts. Crime caper plus film-noir plus musical from a master storyteller — Vijay Anand. A man, who along with Guru Dutt (Baazi (1951), Jaal (1952)) and Raj Khosla (CID (1956), Bambai Ka Babu (1960)) gave Dev some of his most memorable and atypical roles. The man’s output was varied yet consistent — be it his directorial debut, the road film Nau Do Gyarah (1957), a romantic Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), a philosophical Guide (1965), a slick thrilling Teesri Manzil (1966), or a masala mix like Johny Mera Naam (1970) — each movie is a complete entertainer, with excellent music to boot.
Which comes to another of his traits — song picturizations. Think aaj phir jeene ke tamanna hai and you’ll see Waheeda and Dev amidst bales of hay in the back of a truck. Sing pal bhar ke liye koi humein pyaar kar le and you’ll think of Dev romancing Hema through an unending series of windows. Think vaada to nibhaaya, O mere raaja and you’ll remember Dev and Hema pretending to romance as they dupe the cops. Listen to dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar and you’ll flashback to Dev and Nutan inside of the Qutub Minar. Or hum maine kasam li and you’ll think of Dev and Mumtaz sharing a bicycle. Each song memorable, but the scene on the screen just as unforgettable. That’s Vijay Anand for you!
So here I am sitting with my packet of Marie biscuits, watching Jewel Thief. Two of mankind’s great creations. *chomp chomp* The doll-like Tanuja is singing raat akeli hai to Dev Anand in Asha Bhosle’s heavenly voice. And suddenly, I have this major hankering for some nice adrak chai. So we have to pause for a short commercial break. When we return, we shall dissect the scene on the screen. And since no amount of talk about Jewel Thief is complete without gushing effusively about its soundtrack, we’ll do some of that as well.
Did I mention that I love to talk about movies?
ps .. Peoples, pliss to be patient. Part two of this post is coming soon to a blog near you. Songs and their picturizations will be discussed. And Tanuja. And her seduction routine. And The Return of Jewel Thief. And anything else your little heart desireth.