If these sordid revelations shock you, do not think too badly of Dev Anand. For all this did not happen in real life, but in reel life, in the social romantic comedy “Kala Bazaar” (1960), which has several distinctions to its credit but chiefly stands out for being the only film in which all the three Anand brothers acted together.
While Chetan Anand had directed the early Dev Anand films, he had sought to branch out on his own after “Taxi Driver” (1954) to indulge in his own creativity, and Vijay Anand stepped into his shoes as director and story-writer – and occasional co-star – of several subsequent Dev Anand films. However, they united for this film – one of the half-dozen odd Chetan Anand acted in.
“Kala Bazaar” is the tale of Raghuvir (Dev Anand), who loses his job as a bus conductor after an argument with a passenger, and is forced to find a way to earn money to support his mother and siblings (including Nanda, who would soon act as his romantic partner in “Hum Dono” and “Teen Deviyan”), turns to black marketing cinema tickets.
However, he needs capital and accomplishes this by swindling Advocate Desai (Chetan Anand). Soon he is running a gang of touts and amasses good money. However, then comes love, and he gets smitten by Alka (Waheeda Rehman) but finds this to be a difficult task – for one, she already has an existing beau, Nand Kumar Chattopadhyay (Vijay Anand).
While the song “Khoya Khoya Chand”, where an impeccably-dressed Dev Anand gambols and frisks on a mountain meadow while serenading his lady love shows that he ultimately succeeds, it was a hard journey as the earlier song “Apni to har aah ek toofan hai” showcases. This is an overlooked gem from the movie – a plaintive love song rendered in the garb of a religious prayer — “Kya karen oopar wala jaan ke anjaan hai” is actually directed at Waheeda Rehman in the upper berth. It’s only Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman’s histrionic capabilities, Rafi’s sublime voice, Shailendra’s adaptive lyrics, and S.D. Burman’s music, encompassing the sounds of the train given the setting is a train compartment, that pulls this off.
However, Raghu is soon well set in life and love – with the heroine having fallen for him and calmly discussing it with Chattopadhyay and both decide that their relationship was mere childishness and bid each other farewell. But, meanwhile, Raghuvir has been arrested for black marketing and the Public Prosecutor (Kishore Sahu – another regular in Dev Anand films, eg “Guide” and “Gambler”) is determined to make an example of him.
Coming to our hero’s aid is Advocate Desai – what stratagem will he use to help Raghuvir escape the rigours of law? That is the crux of the film and you will have to see it to find out.
This film, whose underlying theme was the Indians’ uncontrollable urge to watch films even by supporting an illegal act – had several distinctions other than the appearance of all three Anand brothers. It also had the rather unprecedented device of the hero first beating up a noted villain (Madan Puri) and making him work for him! Then, Dev Anand’s gang of ticket touts includes Jagdish Raj, who, along with Iftekhar, was more known as a sort of honorary policeman for Hindi films.
Above all, “Kala Bazaar” began the phenomenon of including brief guest appearances of a host of noted film personalities as themselves – in this case, it is the premiere of “Mother India” and Dilip Kumar, Geeta Dutt, Guru Dutt, Kishore Kumar, Raaj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Sohrab Modi, Mohammed Rafi, Nargis, Nadira, Nimmi, Mukri and a few others are shown alighting from cars and walking in, with an autograph or two for lucky fans! Meanwhile, Dev Anand and his gang are making a fast buck, selling Rs 2 tickets for Rs 10, then Rs 15, Rs 20, Rs 50, till the last one goes for Rs 100!
(Vikas Datta can be contacted at email@example.com)