Dhund (1973): A Gripping Thriller
28th July is the death anniversary of well-known character actor Jagdish Raj Khurana. Jagdish Raj played the role of a police inspector in numerous Bollywood films. Dhund is one such film where he had a slightly extended role as an inspector who supports police inspector Madan Puri who is investigating the murder. Dhund was adapted from Dame Agatha Christie’s novel The Unexpected Guest.
 
The most remarkable aspect of B R Chopra’s directorial abilities is that he could make a thriller with the same panache as he could a socially relevant film (like Sadhana, Gumraah, Nikaah). I think some of the credit has to go to his editor Pran Mehta who edited most of Chopra’s films. 
 
Dhund has memorable music by the redoubtable Ravi. It also has Chopra favorites Nana Palshikar and Ashok Kumar in pivotal roles. Zeenat Aman has been presented well too and Sanjay Khan looks handsome even though he was 32 when the film released.  Zeenat Aman’s sartorial sense deserves special mention – whether it is a saree or a night dress, she carries it off so well. Very few actresses have had such an excellent fashion sense in Bollywood. It is a mystery how the veteran actress managed to style herself so well in film after film. She deserves credit for her innovative styling.
 
Veteran actor Danny Denzongpa recalled how he had to persuade Dharam Chopra, the cinematographer, to allow him to throw a plate the way he wanted to.
That particular scene had a powerful impact when the movie released.
 
But the most tragic aspect of viewing Dhund is to recall the acrimonious association between Sanjay Khan and Zeenat Aman in real life. Sanjay Khan, who has also released his autobiography, was born as Abbas in Bangalore in 1941 and studied in St Germaine’s High School near Ulsoor lake. He grew up in Cox town before shifting to Bombay in the early 60s to try his luck in Bollywood. In Dhund, Khan plays the knight in armour who comes to the rescue of a young woman Rani Ranjit Singh (Zeenat Aman). Khan enacted reasonably well the role of Suresh, a lawyer who is contesting the elections in Mahabaleshwar. Rani is mentally and physically tortured by a boorish husband Ranjit Singh (Danny Denzongpa in the role of a lifetime).  In real life, Khan and Aman were married for a brief while before they separated. Khan was already married to a Parsi woman called Zarine Katrak in the mid 60’s.
 
During the shooting of BR Chopra’s Insaaf Ka Tarazu in Pune, Aman was shuffling between Pune and Mumbai. Sanjay Khan was holding a party in a well-known five star hotel in Bombay and he allegedly forced Zeenat to travel from Pune to Bombay to attend the party.
 
According to insiders in Bollywood, he had become suspicious of Zeenat Aman and wanted her to give more preference to his home production Abdullah. Reports say that he took out his shoes (with pointed heels) and hit Zeenat with such a force that it damaged one part of her eye. Perhaps they had had a nasty argument. But it appears that he kept hitting her even as his guests who had graced the party cheered him on. Aman and Khan separated soon after but Aman had to be hospitalized and till today the ravages of the violent attack can be seen on her beautiful face. I was pained to read about the violence that Aman had to undergo under the hands of her lover. I don’t think any woman deserves this kind of treatment!
 
On a misty night in Mahabaleshwar, a car meets with a freak accident and the man driving the car Chandrashekhar (Navin Nischol) enters the house of Ranjit Singh (Danny) to make a telephone call. Instead he finds Ranjit Singh dead and a woman (Zeenat) standing in front of the dead body and holding a gun. The woman says that she has killed her husband and says that her husband was violent and animal-like in his behaviour. They had had an argument. Ranjit had taken the revolver to shoot at her and in the physical tussle that ensured, the bullet had accidentally hit Ranjit Singh. Chandrashekhar stages a ploy to save Rani from the gallows.
 
 
The police are called and events are narrated in such a fashion as to create the impression that robbery was the motive behind the murder. Chandrashekar’s creativity comes handy but he lies to the police that he saw a man in a black or dark blue overcoat rushing out of the house. Rani is thankful to Chandrashekar for saving her.
 
But as the police team (Madan Puri and Jagdish Raj) start investigating the murder, skeletons start tumbling out of the cupboard one by one. Ranjit Singh was a maniac who lost both his limbs during a hunting expedition when a tiger had attacked him.
 
Ranjit Singh treats his family members (mother Urmila Bhatt, a younger brother and his wife Rani) so badly that they are all fed up of him. He keeps using his revolver to shoot at birds, dogs and cats. Even the servants in the households (Deven Varma and Ashoo) are petrified of their master.
 
Ranjit, who leads an insular life in his bungalow near the jungle, never loses an opportunity to fire a volley of abuses at his hapless wife. He is frustrated to the core due to his physical handicap and that he has to be wheel chair bound forever.His hectoring has assumed gigantic proportions causing intense discomfort to his family members.
 
 
When Rani attempts suicide, Suresh (Sanjay Khan) saves her in the nick of the time. He escorts her back home and assures Rani that he would visit her daily.
 
Slowly a bond develops between Rani and Suresh (we can’t really blame Rani, can we?) which eventually blossoms as love. Suresh assures Rani that he can get her a divorce from the wily and vituperative Ranjit. Ranjit has no hold on his tongue as he abuses his wife in front of Suresh.
 
Things take a turn for the worse when there is a major argument between Rani and Ranjit and the latter threatens to either kill her lover or spill the beans about their affair in front of the media gathering at Savoy Hotel. Rani calls up Suresh at the hotel and informs him about Ranjith’s nefarious plans.
 
 
What happens next? Who murdered Ranjith Singh? Who is the real culprit? How are things resolved towards the end? Do Rani and Suresh get united? For answers to these questions, you have to watch the movie. The courtroom scenes are interesting to watch and Ashok Kumar as the public prosecutor Mr Mehta manages to charm you with his arguments laced with sarcasm and humour. Nana Palshikar as the judge has his moments too. Palshikar’s dialog delivery is amazing.
 
When Dhund was released in 1973, it was only an average grosser. May be the film was ahead of its time. Songs like Jubna Se Chunariya Kisak Gayi Re, Sansar Ki Har Kshay Ka , Uljhan Suljhe Na are eminently hummable and these compositions are proof of the wonderful synergy that composer Ravi had with the legendary lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi.
 
Performances are avant-garde, be it Danny, Sanjay Khan, Zeenat, Palshikar or Ashok Kumar. Deven Verma as the Nepali servant provides the comic relief in an otherwise intense plot. Nivedita (Libi Rana) has a brief role (guest appearance) and strangely her name is not featured on the credit rolls.  Rana had debuted with the Kamaljeet-Waheeda Rehman starrer “Shagun” but despite her beauty and charm, she couldn’t make it in Bollywood. You could easily call her the Katrina Kaif of the 60s. She is now settled in South Mumbai. It is a bit ludicrous to see the posse of policemen (Puri, Jagdish Raj etc) who are bulky and obese. However, they have played their parts with perfection.
 
Dhund is a fast-paced thriller that is a must-watch. It also has repeat value mainly because of the way the screenplay has been treated. Cinematography by Dharam Chopra is brilliant and so is the editing. Chopra has captured the beauty of the picturesque Mahabaleswar in the most aesthetic fashion.  The background music adds to the suspense quotient of the film.
 
Dhund is a must-watch….Don’t miss it and do not reveal the end to anyone! 
 
Dhund was remade years later in Tamil as Puriyadha Pudhir (1991) and the film starred Raghuvaran, Rehman, Rekha and Sithara. It was a moderate success at the box office.
 
(After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam 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 80s, 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.)
 
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Poapt

    5 months ago

    nivedita had arole in 'djarti kahe pukarke' with sanjeev kumar, a good
    song picturised on her, 'diye jalaye aaj hum, chalo isi khushime'
    she was heroine in one more black n white movie with again
    sanjiv kumar as hero. story was about believing in God or not.

    REPLY

    Vydehi

    In Reply to Ramesh Poapt 5 months ago

    I recall having seen this movie. It was called "Jyoti". Sarika was a child artist then and had a screen name called as "Master Suraj". Sanjeev Kumar and Nivedita played the lead in this film that had a memorable number "Soch Ke Ye Gagan Jhoome" that was sung by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar. This was a 1971 release.

    Anil Kumar

    5 months ago

    Great review and background information. Thanks

    R Balakrishnan

    5 months ago

    Nice review. Had seen this movie in its first week of release. And then seen it another time. Thanks

    Opportunity Knocks for Moonlighters
    AVM Rajan and Pushpalatha were one of the popular star couples in Tamil cinema. Pushpalatha was a Christian while AVM Rajan was a fervent Hindu devoted to Lord Muruga. There came a time when Rajan decided to convert to Christianity and became a pastor. He also quit films even when there was enough bandwidth for him to transition to character roles.
     
    Rajan had the opportunity to play some wonderful roles (though he mostly played second fiddle to the hero) in movies like Mannippu, Major Chandrakant and Thunaivan. Many of his movies were remade in Hindi.  In Major Chandrakant, his role had shades of grey as he played a lover boy who ditches his girlfriend (played by Jayalalitha, perhaps the only movie that she acted in under the direction of K Balachander).  Major Chandrakant was made in Hindi where Feroze Khan reprised Rajan's role and KR Vijaya, a popular South Indian actress, debuted in this movie. Sadly, this was Vijaya's first and last role in Bollywood. 
     
     
    For an actor who was so much in the limelight, how was it possible to give it all up and switch over to spirituality? It was life's bitter experiences perhaps. Rajan's daughter Sri debuted in the Tamil movie Ranitheni [Queen Bee] with well-known playback singer Deepan Chakraborthy. But the movie tanked at the box office. Sri switched over to Kannada movies with a new name - Mahalakshmi but then, later on, she too had to call it quits. 
     
    Rajan's spirituality helped him immensely in moonlighting as a pastor. Mahalakshmi had to undergo plastic surgery after an accident and understandably film offers dried up.
     
    Jayalalitha had a brief career span for 13 years (1966 to 1979).  Even in these thirteen years, Jayalalitha was at the top only for four years (1966-1970). When things soured between her and MGR, she turned to Sivaji Ganesan. Between1971 and 1975, Jayalalitha did many films but she fell seriously ill in 1976. By the time Jayalalitha acted in her last movie - Nadiyai Thedi Vandha Kadal with Sarath Babu, her acting career had dipped to abysmal levels. But Jayalalitha had already moonlighted as a writer having written novels like Uravin Qaidigal, Nenjile Oru Kanal etc and her oratorical skills were being talked about in Tamil Nadu's political circles. By 1980, MGR and Jayalalitha had chosen to bury their hatchet. Jaya also put her brief affair with Telugu actor Shoban Babu on the back burner.
     
     
    Jayalalitha was a voracious reader and had a well-stocked library. Thus the end of her glorious acting career signalled the beginning of her political career. In reality, Jayalalitha is a great actress who unfortunately never got her due. She reprised Sadhna's role in Woh Kaun Thi (remade as Yaar Nee in Tamil) and her role as a courtesan in the Tamil movie - Engiruntho Vandhal is one of her most brilliant performances in Tamil cinema. This movie was a remake of the 1970 blockbuster Khilona that starred Sanjeev Kumar and Mumtaz.
     
    Sadly, until the end of her career, Jayalalitha remained an underrated actress. However, she moonlighted as a writer and a political orator without realizing what the future had in store. The rest as we know is history.
     
    Thus, when you start moonlighting an alternative career [Plan B] life can throw an unexpected surprise at you. There are many individuals who are writing stories, teaching, getting associated with non-government organisation (NGOs) and spiritual organizations like AOL & Isha Yoga. One thing is for sure. Most of them reach their true calling when they start moonlighting as a career option.
     
    Advertising professionals often escape a burnout by taking a break and writing novels. Ravi Subramaniam is a banker, who discovered his true calling in novel writing. 
     
     
    Arjun Rampal, the Bollywood actor, has a flourishing hotel business. Acting is a part-time profession for Suneil Shetty with his hotel business flourishing. Former Tamil actresses Radha and Vichitra have flourishing restaurant businesses.
     
    Even Dimple Kapadia started candle making as a pastime and it became a serious vocation for her. Her daughter Twinkle Khanna became an interior designer. Now she is a best-selling author. 
     
    Marathi actor Ravindra Mahajani became a builder of repute after he realized that cinematic fame is ephemeral and audience tastes can be fickle. Suchitra Krishnamoorthy turned to singing and painting after a failed marriage with the maverick Shekhar Kapur and a disastrous Bollywood debut opposite Shahrukh Khan. Shabana Azmi is a social activist. Girish Karnad was more a playwright than an actor. 
     
    Rangarajan who worked in BEL Ltd in Bangalore started moonlighting as a writer of Tamil fiction and voila! He became so famous that he is remembered more as a writer than as an employee of BEL. There are college professors who do content writing, do real estate and insurance brokerage, legal consultancy services and what not... 
     
    Look at actresses like Hema Malini and Vyjayanthimala for whom dancing is not an art, but a passion. Sharman Joshi (famous for his role as Raju in Three Idiots) is an accomplished theatre artist.
     
    Mansoor Khan, the director of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak turned to farming and is blissfully settled in Coonoor. 
     
     
    Lucky Ali, actor Mahmood's son, crooned for Hrithik Roshan in Kaho Na Pyar Hai but his main interest is in organic farming. He lives life on his own terms and is a connoisseur of art. He has admitted that he is a foodie and a gourmet.
     
    The classic example of moonlighting success is that of Chetan Bhagat. As a banker he would not have achieved even a fraction of the fame that he has achieved as a writer of pulp fiction. Even when he was working in a bank, Chetan moonlighted as a writer and today he is being invited to speak in colleges and is an accomplished columnist of repute.
     
    Actress Kamini Kaushal who recently played Shahrukh's grandmother in Chennai Express and is seen in the "Sprite Ad" (O, O, dear...) is an expert in making dolls.
     
    What started as a hobby eventually became a passion. She has directed movies for children and has even written short stories for children. 
     
    Neelam had a short career in Bollywood but by the time her career reached a moribund stage, Neelam who was already moonlighting as a jewellery designer, turned to jewellery designing as a full-time vocation. 
     
     
    Mandira Bedi moonlighted as a cricket commentator and when there were no film offers, she took to cricket commentating as a full-time vocation.
     
    In another inspiring example, L Vijaylakshmi who grew up in Pune and Chennai and for whom dancing was a passion became an actress in Tamil and Malayalam cinema and an odd movie in Hindi (Shabnam). Her comic timing was perfect in her swan song - Ooty varai Uravu (1969). Lovers of Tamil cinema can never forget the song that she danced with MGR (Adaludan Padalai Chernthu Racipathile Dhaan Sugam Sugam). Legend has it that MGR was so scared of dancing with her that he rehearsed many times before the actual shot was taken.
     
     
    When she quit movies in 1969 to settle down to matrimonial bliss with a Bengali scientist in the Philippines, it was dance that came to her rescue. In her spare time, Vijayalakshmi chose to study further instead of leading a humdrum and monotonous life as a housewife. She pursued studies to become a chartered financial analyst and when the family migrated to the US, opportunity as a professor beckoned her. 
     
    Thus there are innumerable examples where moonlighting efforts have led to great success. It is important to have a Plan B in your career. You never know what the future has in store for you. Rather than cribbing about what you cannot achieve with your current job, why not find out something that you can do at leisure? For all you know, this may open doors of opportunities in the future. 
     
    (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.
     
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    Revisiting Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957)
    Filmistan Studios in Mumbai has been in the news for some years now.  The property value has escalated and even real estate developers are eyeing it. Here we review one of the earliest successful films that was produced by Filmistan Studios.
     
    Sometimes you wonder what is so great about some of the super hit films of the past. This is the feeling that overtook me when I watched Tumsa Nahin Dekha, 62 years after its release. Mostly shot in studios and in the verdant landscape near Thane’s Ghodbunder Road, if the film is fairly engaging it is mainly because of its super hit songs.
     
    The film was produced by Filmistan Studios, which is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. In 2011, there was a talk of Filmistan Studios being sold for Rs600 crore; in 2015, film maker Sajid Nadiadwala expressed his desire to buy the studio from its owner Anil Jalan. Anil is the son of film financier Tolaram Jalan.
     
     Tolaram was known for his fiery temper and crude behaviour but he was soft on some of the girls who wished to try their luck in Bollywood. Ameeta was one such actress who became the beneficiary of the benevolent glance of the super-rich Marwari businessman from Kolkata. In fact, comedian Mehmood made a film Sabse Bada Rupaiyya (1976) where he based his character on Tolaram Jalan who often remarked – “The whole thing is that ke bhaiya… sabse bada rupaiya”.
     
    The decrepit Filmistan studio got a facelift in 1976 thanks to the efforts of Tolaram’s girlfriend Neena who married him after his first wife passed away.
     
    Neena acted in movies like Nanhi Kali, Jalte Badan and Shagun. The youngest daughter of a barrister, Neena was defiant about making a name for herself in Bollywood but once Jalan started fancying her, Neena did not flinch before quitting films to marry the money bag. Neena also owned a major share in Filmistan studios. Unconfirmed reports say that she passed away a few years ago.
     
    So here we take a brief look at a film that was made by Mumbai’s oldest and iconic studio Filmsistan that was founded in 1943 by Ashok Kumar and his brother-in-law S Mukherjee. Later Filmistan was sold off to the Marwari businessman Tolaram. Nasir Hussain had joined Filmistan in 1948 as a writer (Munimji, Paying Guest) and Tumsa Nahin Dekha was his directorial debut.
     
    Aamir Khan recalled in an interview that his uncle Nasir Hussain was given a tight budget by the fastidious Tolaram Jalan and the shoot of the film was completed after overcoming many challenges that looked insurmountable initially.
     
    Jalan had paid Shammi Kapoor Rs32,000 as salary for Ham Sab Chor Hain (1956). He shocked Kapoor by paying him Rs20,000 for Tumsa Nahin Dekha and when Kapoor protested, Jalan told him cryptically, “Take it or leave it; get out.” Kapoor remembered that Jalan was a crude man.
     
    When Jalan passed away in 2001, there were hardly any encomiums or obituaries for the film financier who had often rubbed people the wrong way. Interestingly, Tumsa Nahin Dekha was a launch pad for Ameeta, a Muslim girl from Kolkata, whom the dark, stodgy and crude Jalan had taken a liking to. Sadly, Ameeta could never capitalize on the success of the film and instead Kapoor walked away with all the credit. After the torture that he experienced at the hands of Jalan (he was such a micro manager), Nasir Hussain made Dil Dekhe Dekho in 1959 (Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh) with support from S Mukherjee. Then there was no looking back for Hussain and his protégé-cum-girl friend Asha Parekh.
     
    Great care was taken with Ameeta’s make-up, wardrobe and lighting, to present her in the most flattering way possible.  The film’s publicity focused on Ameeta and sidelined Kapoor who was the hero of the film. Ameeta played the lead in Goonj Uthi Shehanai (1959) which was a major hit – it was a role that was originally written for Meena Kumari. Despite both these successes, Ameeta got typecast with supporting characters in films like Around the World and Mere Mehboob.
     
    She quit films in the early 70’s. She had a daughter Sabeeha who acted in films like Anokha Rishta and Khiladi before vanishing from the scene altogether. In the mid 80’s, Ameeta had a major spat with Rajesh Khanna accusing him of molesting her daughter.
     
    Tumsa Nahin Dekha begins with a man Gopal (BM Vyas) who commits a murder after he is cheated of his wealth and becomes a fugitive. He changes his name and adopts a girl Meena (Ameeta) but life’s bitter experiences have made him cantankerous and grumpy. He misses his wife and son and lives in an area that is surrounded by the forest. In response to an ad, two men approach him for a job and both call themselves Shankar. Gopal (who is now known by his new identity Sardar Rajpal) now wants to know who his real son Shankar is.
     
     
    The plot then meanders through by introducing a set of unruly adivasis who later become friends with the hero Shankar (Kapoor). Pran is the archetypal villain. After a narrative which flounders now and then, Gopal gets killed. The lead actor is reunited with his sweetheart and the villain falls to his death from a cliff. The buxom dancer Sheila Vaz (who hailed from Goa) gets to play a character role in this movie as the sister of the tribal chief. It is remarkable that Vaz who quit films to get married way back in 1960 shunned all media attention thereafter. It was only recently discovered that she is very much in Mumbai but chose to maintain an extremely low profile.
     
     
    The mellifluous music by OP Nayyar is the only saving grace. “Yun to hum ne lakh haseen”, “Chupnewale samne aa”, “Jawaaniyan yeh mast mast”, ”Dekho kasam se”, “Aye hai door se” and “Sar par topi” continue to be chart busters even today. Kapoor delivers a stellar performance and his lean avatar is a pleasant surprise (he began putting on weight as we can see from his later films).
     
    Ameeta is fresh faced, looks charming and has been photographed well. It is a pity that she never got any major roles in Bollywood in her later years. She also scores on the acting side. Kapoor and Ameeta don’t share great screen chemistry in the film mainly because Kapoor (as per his own admission) was intimidated by the fact that the leading lady was his producer’s girl-friend.
     
    Character actor BM Vyas played the role of Gopal and as per reports he lived till the age of 92 years in his Kalyan residence. He was the brother of poet and lyricist Bharat Vyas. Raj Mehra and Pran as the villains are passable.
     
    Tumsa Nahin Dekha deserves to be watched at least once … you can only look at and sigh at the beautiful forests in Thane (where the film’s outdoors have been shot) that have now been replaced by concrete roads and buildings. The songs add to the film’s allure and the credit for this has to go to the legendary OP Nayyar.
     
    (After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam 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 80s, 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.)
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Poapt

    5 months ago

    vow! bahut khub!! kya baat hai!!!

    We are listening!

    Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
      Loading...
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email

    BUY NOW

    online financial advisory
    Pathbreakers
    Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
    online financia advisory
    The Scam
    24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
    Moneylife Online Magazine
    Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
    financial magazines online
    Stockletters in 3 Flavours
    Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
    financial magazines in india
    MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
    (Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)
    FREE: Your Complete Family Record Book
    Keep all the Personal and Financial Details of You & Your Family. In One Place So That`s Its Easy for Anyone to Find Anytime
    We promise not to share your email id with anyone