Vinod Mehra passed away in February 1990 at a young age of 45 years. His daughter Sonya Mehra made an unsuccessful debut in the remake of Victoria No 203 while his son Rohan Mehra was seen in Saif Ali Khan’s Bazaar.
Here is a look at a mega hit of 1979 that starred Vinod Mehra.
In the late 70s when I was pursuing my graduation in Chennai, I had the good fortune of visiting Mumbai, then Bombay, a couple of times. My uncle was then working in the Sion branch of Indian Bank and lived with his family in a two-room apartment in Matunga. These yearly sojourns to Mumbai turned me into a fan of Bollywood, an enchantment I retained even after I got married and settled down in Mysore later.
I recollect that the songs – “Dil ke Tukde Tukde Kar Ke” and “Allah Tu Raham Karna” were quite a rage and these songs were from the film Dada that released to packed houses in 1979. Produced and directed by Jugal Kishore, the film had music by Usha Khanna. It was one of the last few films that had Suman Kalyanpur giving the playback. Actress Vijaya Chowdhury (she had played the lead opposite Manoj Kumar in Banarasi Thug) had quit films by the early 70’s – Dada was one of those rare appearances where she played a cameo as Kariman Aaapa.
All the songs of Dada became hits. “Gaddi Jaangi Ye” (sung by Rafi, Shailendra Singh, Dilraj Kaur, and Hemalatha) was a foot-tapping dance number with a Punjabi bhangra twang. Jaishree T grooved to a famous dance number “Hamne Maana Hampe Saajan Jobanva Bharpoor hai” (sung by Suman Kalyanpur).
Dada is typical 80s stuff that was churned out by Bollywood then. Vinod Mehra and Shashi Puri keep flaunting their bare chests by keeping their shirt buttons open. Rajendranath as Alibhai Motorwala hams as usual. Dada was released at a time when the Vinod Mehra – Bindiya Goswami romance was at its peak and they subsequently entered into a secret matrimonial alliance. Mehra was already married to Meena Broca at that time and Meena’s brothers were reportedly so enraged that they were hunting for Mehra and his love interest. Bindiya couldn’t adjust to the Mehra household and the marriage ended in a divorce a few years later.
Vinod Mehra began his career as a child artiste in the 1957 release Sharada and in the 1958 Kishore Kumar starrer Ragini. His first film as a hero Ek Thi Reeta (with Tanuja) was a thumping success. Hits like Lal Patthar, Elaan, Anurag, Amar Premand Pardey Ke Peechey ensured that Vinod Mehra had a successful inning as a Bollywood hero from the early 70s till the mid 80s. During later years, he played supporting roles before death snatched him away at a young age. He was a chain smoker. His sister Sharda Mehra was an actress too. He joined the film industry after being spotted by Roop K Shorey at Mumbai’s Gaylord restaurant.
Dada tells the story of Fazlu (Amjad Khan), a contract-killer who is forced to reform himself when he is drawn to a young, blind girl Munni (Pallavi Joshi). Munni’s father Pyarelal (Ramesh Deo) is killed by Fazlu. Seth Dharamdas (Satyendra Kappu) drives away his wife Tara (Seema Deo) and son Jeetu (Vinod Mehra) thanks to the wicked plot hatched by Bihari (Jeevan). The mother and son duo are saved by the sidekick Raghu (Raza Murad). Years later, Raghu is butchered by Fazlu but Raghu warns Fazlu not to kill anyone who has dependents. Pyarelal is a government employee who lives with his wife (Indrani Mukherjee) and sister Kamini (Bindiya Goswami). Bihari’s daughter Bobby (Madhumalini) treats Seth Dharamdas as her father.
Jeetu grows up and becomes a car mechanic working in the garage of Alibhai (Rajendranath). His colleague Bashi (Shashi Puri) is in love with Bobby while Jeetu falls for Ragini’s charms. When Pyarelal is killed by Fazlu, Jeetu who is walking along tries to save him but instead, he gets framed. Mrs. Pyarelal gives him refuge when the police chase him but when she learns that it is her husband who has been murdered she is both devastated and enraged. Kamini and Jeetu get separated when Mrs. Pyarelal tells Kamini that it is Jeetu who has killed the former’s brother.
A repentant Fazlu develops a bond with Munni who often visits Kariman Aapa (Vijaya Choudhury). Aapa is a Muslim woman who teaches children the importance of good values in life. Slowly, Fazlu is drawn to what Aapa teaches and realizes that he can reform himself and turn a new leaf. Kariman Aapa blesses him.
Meanwhile, Jeetu gets arrested. Seth Dharamdas realizes that his wife is alive and that Bihari was cheating him all the while.
Is Fazlu brought to book for the crimes that he committed? How does Jeetu absolve himself from the charge of homicide heaped on him? Is Seth Dharamdas reunited with his family?
The film has a predictable climax with a bit of action thrown in towards the end. Despite certain vapid moments in-between the film manages to hold your attention most of the time. The screenplay is taut but the film suffers from too many characters who do not have much to do. Music is the saving grace and was one of the factors responsible for the success of Dada. Even though Amjad Khan played the leading role and contributed to the slick pace of the film, he was given the award as the best supporting actor by Filmfare. Yesudas won the award for the best male playback singer for “Dil Ke Tukde”.
Vinod Mehra passes muster while Bindiya Goswami doesn’t have much to do except cavort with Mehra most of the time. Madhumalini has a brief role that is eminently forgettable.
Madhumalini was a Muslim girl who had her few moments of fame in Bollywood. She tried her hand in regional films (Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam). She married her boyfriend against her family’s wishes and vanished from Bollywood without a trace. The supporting cast comprising veterans Ramesh Deo, Seema Deo, Indrani Mukherjee, Jagdeep, Jeevan and Satyendra Kappu have done a commendable job. Shashi Puri has his moments of charm. Jeevan passed away in 1987 while Satyen Kappu passed away 20 years later.
It is rather unfortunate that the director Jugal Kishore did not live long enough to enjoy the success of his film. He belonged to Palampur near Himachal Pradesh. Dada was his biggest success.
(After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80’s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.)