Night in London

Director: Brij
Music: Laxmikant- Pyarelal
Year: 1967
Running Time: 135 Minutes
Rating: 5.0

This 1960's spy film has a lot of the elements of a Bollywood movie that hit my sweet spot - glamorous women, twists and turns, a large set of nasty villains, a lot of shag carpet, geographical sightseeing, a score from Laxmikant- Pyarelal and Helen - but the film is such a mess from a script and continuity aspect that it felt like a draft print. Now back in the 60's perhaps most Indians did not know that London has no beach but it does here - also river rapids - imagine their surprise when visiting London and bringing their bathing suit. And there are so many scenes which jump from one location suddenly to another that they must have portals. For example, our hero jumps through a glass window onto a busy street in the middle of a city with the bad guys right behind him - and the next shot is of him driving a car in the middle of nowhere with two cars chasing him. Admittedly, in Bollywood films from this period you get this sort of thing and just overlook it - but this film is rampant with it from London to Hong Kong. It is like Jack the Ripper did the editing.

The plot itself is rather absurd but in spy films the more absurd often the better but this one made even less sense than usual. A formula for the destruction of the world has been somehow and for some reason written on a set of diamonds in a necklace that is being held by an English Lord in London. He has no idea of this and why anyone would put this formula in such a place is never explained. Ok - a MacGuffin - I get it. So one group of villains - there are three after these diamonds - who represent the Chinese - kidnap the son of the man who made these diamonds and force his daughter Renu (Mala Sinha) - after showing her that he is in a room where the walls close in with spikes attached - to impersonate a Princess and go get the diamonds. That goes smoothly but then everything gets nuts.

Helen shows up to dance - disappears for most of the film and then reappears to dance again and try to drug the hero and then disappears again. Renu has the diamonds stolen from her but they are not the real diamonds - but are magically tied to carrier pigeons - and on to the scene comes lover boy Jeevan (Biswajeet) who tells her he loves her within fifteen minutes after meeting her and who clearly has an agenda of his own. The action moves to Hong Kong where all the bad guys, Jeevan and Renu converge for more nonsense and lots of action. But in both London and Hong Kong we get one of those sightseeing songs in which they traverse the city and sing. I have to admit I enjoy these - a chance to see Hong Kong in the 60's.

Mala Sinha was an elegant beauty who was a big star during the 1960's in both the Hindi and Bengali film industries. Big lustrous eyes and a perfectly oval face makes her stand out. She gets to do no dancing in this film as all her musical numbers are pretty stationary or walking or drugged - Helen gets the two dance numbers. She looks great in an assortment of attire from Egyptian style to glam. This is my first contact with Biswajeet and I can't say I was impressed - kind of a bland chipmunk face and not much charisma - but he too was a star of both Bengali and Hindi films in the 1960's. Both of these leads are still alive. The director is Brij who I have to lay most of the blame on for this film for not being as good as it should have been - he had his share of hits and this may have been one of them - and I enjoyed his film Bombay 405 miles though it too suffered from a surfeit of coincidences. Later in life tragically he got drunk, killed his wife and daughter and then himself. Not a good ending.