Yakeen (1969)

Country: India
Director:
Brij

Starring:
Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, David, Helen

Music:
Shanker Jaikishen

Most of the Bollywood spy films that I have looked at have ripped a page from the James Bond hand-book. Some have been quite blatant, in their appropriation of the formula and have recreated Bondian set-pieces almost scene for scene. Others have just taken the globetrotting spy formula and transposed it to India, adding a healthy dose of family drama to the mix. But Yakeen is a little bit different, but not so very surprising. It borrows from the Hitchcock school of spy films – those that feature an innocent character, who is not a spy, accidentally getting dragged into a world of espionage. Arguably, it was a style of film that was started with The 39 Steps, and continued through various films such as Saboteur, The Man Who Knew Too Much (56) till ultimately North By North West (Topaz and Torn Curtain are a different style). Following on, Hitchcock’s template was utilised by Stanely Donen who made Charade and Arabesque, and it is these two films that most directly have influenced Yakeen – right down to the theme music which bears more than a passing resemblance to Henry Mancini’s theme for Charade.

As the story opens, we are introduced to Rajesh (Dharmendra), who works as a scientist in a top-secret military facility in India. The location is never really specified, but I would suggest it’s near Bangalore. Rajesh works tirelessy for his hard-nosed boss, Dr. Sharma. So much so, that his girlfriend Rita (Sharmila Tagore) has grown tired of waiting to see him.

Out of desperation, Rajesh fakes at accident at the facility so he can have some time off to go and see Rita. Initially she is not thrilled to see him as he has let her down time and time again. But gradually he wears her defences down and she agrees to marry him.

But before Rajesh can get married, he needs the permission of Dr. Sharma. Sharma refuses to allow Rajesh to marry at this time. Their top-secret work is at a critical stage and Sharma needs Rajesh’s complete attention. Rajesh doesn’t take the refusal well, and threatens to ‘destroy’ anybody who stands between Rita and his happiness.

Later that evening, Rajesh is called back to Dr. Sharma’s office, but upon arrival finds Sharma dead, with a bullet hole in his forehead. Rajesh does the right thing and contacts the authorities, and is asked to give a statement.

After he returns home, he is confronted in his lounge-room by Mr Roy, the Chief of the Investigation Department, who has a tape recording of the confrontation that Rajesh and Sharma had earlier in the day. Rajesh’s assertion that he would ‘destroy’ anybody who stopped him from marrying Rita, now puts him at the top of the suspects list. Rajesh is arrested.

At the police station, Rajesh is lead to a room where once again he to be interrogated by Mr. Roy, but this time Roy has two other officials, D’mello and Sriwastava, on hand to hear Rajesh’s testimony. The interrogation isn’t as tough as Rajesh expected. Mr. Roy plays the rest of the tape recording from Sharma’s office which indicated that a third party that was after the facilities top secret formula, was responsible for Sharma’s death. Rajesh is in the clear. Well almost. The security chiefs have a favour to ask Rajesh. They want him to work undercover with them to draw out the real killers.

The plan is simple – they want Rajesh to go through with the criminal prosecution as if he is guilty. The they would arrange for him to escape from custody. Eventually the killers would contact Rajesh – because he knows about the secret formula – and he would be recruited by the bad guys. Rajesh reluctantly agrees, although there is one catch to the arrangement. He is not allowed to tell anyone, including Rita, that he is working for the Security chiefs.

The plan goes smoothly until Rajesh’s manufactured escape from custody. The bad guys must have an inside man, because as soon as Rajesh escapes from the transport van, he is captured by the bad guys. He is rendered unconscious and flown to Mozambique in Portugeese [SIC] Africa. At the villain’s lair, Rajesh meets Garson, who is a dead ringer for Rajesh (also played by Dharmendra). Well almost a dead ringer. Garson has red hair, blue eyes and a moustache, but apart from that, he could be a dead ringer for Rajesh. The villains, dye Garson’s hair, shave off his moustache and use contact lens to change the colour of his eyes. The last problem they have though is Garson’s voice, which doesn’t sound like Rajesh’s. They overcome this problem by scarring Garson’s neck. As he returns to India in Rajesh’s stead, it will be deduced that he was captured and tortured and can no longer speak.

And so it goes. Garson is sent back to India to blow-up the top-secret facility, posing as Rajesh. And in the meantime, Rajesh must escape from his captors in Africa and make his way back to India in time to save the military facility and, of course Rita, who can tell that Rajesh is not the same anymore. And as I intimated earlier, there is an inside man throwing a monkey wrench into the proceedings as well.

As with many Bollywood spy films, Yakeen spends a great deal of the first half building up the family drama, which drags the story out a bit. But the second half flies along with a pretty tight little spy story, with some groovy incidental music and a show-stopping number by Helen in the ‘Club Ago Ago’ nightclub. It amused me to see that the swinging backing band during this scene was billed as ‘The Monkees’.

After a slow start, Yakeen is an incredibly entertaining espionage adventure, and as someone who is still a novice at watching Bollywood films, I found it a refreshing change form the usual spy hijinx and tropes that I am used to seeing. (Meaning that there may be quite a few Hitchcock inspired Bollywood films out there, but I haven’t discovered them yet).


A big thanks to K.V.Ramesh who steered me towards this title.

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Yakeen (1969)

Yakeen (1969)

Country: India
Director:
Brij

Starring:
Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, David, Helen

Music:
Shanker Jaikishen

I trust that everyone had a safe and happy Christmas. I am not back on deck till mid-January, so posts will be a little light on. But please check out the other COBRAS member’s sites. It looks like many of them are blogging through, and can provide you with a good healthy dose of espionage related writing. In the meantime though, here’s a review of the Bollywood Spy Melodrama Yakeen. Have a Happy New Year.

Most of the Bollywood spy films that I have looked at have ripped a page from the James Bond hand-book. Some have been quite blatant, in their appropriation of the formula and have recreated Bondian set-pieces almost scene for scene. Others have just taken the globetrotting spy formula and transposed it to India, adding a healthy dose of family drama to the mix. But Yakeen is a little bit different, but not so very surprising. It borrows from the Hitchcock school of spy films – those that feature an innocent character, who is not a spy, accidentally getting dragged into a world of espionage. Arguably, it was a style of film that was started with The 39 Steps, and continued through various films such as Saboteur, The Man Who Knew Too Much (56) till ultimately North By North West (Topaz and Torn Curtain are a different style). Following on, Hitchcock’s template was utilised by Stanely Donen who made Charade and Arabesque, and it is these two films that most directly have influenced Yakeen – right down to the theme music which bears more than a passing resemblance to Henry Mancini’s theme for Charade.

As the story opens, we are introduced to Rajesh (Dharmendra), who works as a scientist in a top-secret military facility in India. The location is never really specified, but I would suggest it’s near Bangalore. Rajesh works tirelessy for his hard-nosed boss, Dr. Sharma. So much so, that his girlfriend Rita (Sharmila Tagore) has grown tired of waiting to see him.

Out of desperation, Rajesh fakes at accident at the facility so he can have some time off to go and see Rita. Initially she is not thrilled to see him as he has let her down time and time again. But gradually he wears her defences down and she agrees to marry him.

But before Rajesh can get married, he needs the permission of Dr. Sharma. Sharma refuses to allow Rajesh to marry at this time. Their top-secret work is at a critical stage and Sharma needs Rajesh’s complete attention. Rajesh doesn’t take the refusal well, and threatens to ‘destroy’ anybody who stands between Rita and his happiness.

Later that evening, Rajesh is called back to Dr. Sharma’s office, but upon arrival finds Sharma dead, with a bullet hole in his forehead. Rajesh does the right thing and contacts the authorities, and is asked to give a statement.

After he returns home, he is confronted in his lounge-room by Mr Roy, the Chief of the Investigation Department, who has a tape recording of the confrontation that Rajesh and Sharma had earlier in the day. Rajesh’s assertion that he would ‘destroy’ anybody who stopped him from marrying Rita, now puts him at the top of the suspects list. Rajesh is arrested.

At the police station, Rajesh is lead to a room where once again he to be interrogated by Mr. Roy, but this time Roy has two other officials, D’mello and Sriwastava, on hand to hear Rajesh’s testimony. The interrogation isn’t as tough as Rajesh expected. Mr. Roy plays the rest of the tape recording from Sharma’s office which indicated that a third party that was after the facilities top secret formula, was responsible for Sharma’s death. Rajesh is in the clear. Well almost. The security chiefs have a favour to ask Rajesh. They want him to work undercover with them to draw out the real killers.

The plan is simple – they want Rajesh to go through with the criminal prosecution as if he is guilty. The they would arrange for him to escape from custody. Eventually the killers would contact Rajesh – because he knows about the secret formula – and he would be recruited by the bad guys. Rajesh reluctantly agrees, although there is one catch to the
arrangement. He is not allowed to tell anyone, including Rita, that he is working for the Security chiefs.

The plan goes smoothly until Rajesh’s manufactured escape from custody. The bad guys must have an inside man, because as soon as Rajesh escapes from the transport van, he is captured by the bad guys. He is rendered unconscious and flown to Mozambique in Portugeese [SIC] Africa. At the villain’s lair, Rajesh meets Garson, who is a dead ringer for Rajesh (also played by Dharmendra). Well almost a dead ringer. Garson has red hair, blue eyes and a moustache, but apart from that, he could be a dead ringer for Rajesh. The villains, dye Garson’s hair, shave off his moustache and use contact lens to change the colour of his eyes. The last problem they have though is Garson’s voice, which doesn’t sound like Rajesh’s. They overcome this problem by scarring Garson’s neck. As he returns to India in Rajesh’s stead, it will be deduced that he was captured and tortured and can no longer speak.

And so it goes. Garson is sent back to India to blow-up the top-secret facility, posing as Rajesh. And in the meantime, Rajesh must escape from his captors in Africa and make his way back to India in time to save the military facility and, of course Rita, who can tell that Rajesh is not the same anymore. And as I intimated earlier, there is an inside man throwing a monkey wrench into the proceedings as well.

As with many Bollywood spy films, Yakeen spends a great deal of the first half building up the family drama, which drags the story out a bit. But the second half flies along with a pretty tight little spy story, with some groovy incidental music and a show-stopping number by Helen in the ‘Club Ago Ago’ nightclub. It amused me to see that the swinging backing band during this scene was billed as ‘The Monkees’.

After a slow start, Yakeen is an incredibly entertaining espionage adventure, and as someone who is still a novice at watching Bollywood films, I found it a refreshing change form the usual spy hijinx and tropes that I am used to seeing. (Meaning that there may be quite a few Hitchcock inspired Bollywood films out there, but I haven’t discovered them yet).

A big thanks to K.V.Ramesh who steered me towards this title.

Yakeen (1969)

The Falcon Steps In



I do not know too much about the Falcon, (I have never seen a film from the series – there was one – TheFalcon in Danger – on late night television this week, but being the ‘technical incompetant’ that I am, I botched the recording) but before I sign off of this series of posts about The Saint, I thought it was worth a brief introduction to the character. A snippet from the, Classic Film Guide.

After playing Simon Templar aka The Saint five times in an earlier RKO studio series, George Sanders played the similarly suave detective Gay Laurence (Americanized to Lawrence) in the first Falcon films before giving way to his older brother Tom Conway in the aptly titled fourth feature The Falcon’s Brother (1942). Conway then played Tom Lawrence a total of nine more times through 1946 to complete the original series, which actually had three “poverty row” additions that featured John Calvert as Michael Waring in the late 1940’s. Based on a story by Michael Arlen, the original entry in this “new” series titled The Gay Falcon (1941) not only featured Sanders but also actress Wendy Barrie, who’d appeared opposite the actor in three of the Templar mysteries including (Sanders’s last) The Saint in Palm Springs (1941). The Falcon character was so similar to RKO’s earlier B movie detective that The Saint’s creator Leslie Charteris sued the studio.

Wikipedia (yes, I know it’s not reliable) elaborates that Leslie Charteris even had a shot at reprehensible scallywag, The Falcon in the book, The Saint Steps In.

Sanders appeared in the first three Falcon films, which followed the Saint pattern so closely that author Charteris sued RKO for plagiarism. Charteris pokes fun at The Falcon in his 1943 novel, The Saint Steps In, with a character making a metafictional reference to the Falcon being “a bargain-basement imitation” of The Saint.

Wikipedia further goes on to suggest that The Falcon was created because the rights to The Saint character were too expensive.

The Gay Falcon is the first in a series of films about a suave detective nicknamed The Falcon. The 1941 B film was intended by RKO Radio Pictures to introduce a replacement for The Saint, after RKO decided that renewing the film rights to the latter character would be too expensive. George Sanders was cast in the title role; he had played The Saint in the prior RKO series.

So I would suggest that The Falcon is possibly The Saint in everything but name, and after all, the RKO Saint films weren’t following Charteris’ stories too faithfully to begin with.

After taking over from Sanders, Conway appeared in nine Falcon films, who was then followed by John Calvert for the last three films.

The Falcon films are:

• The Gay Falcon (1941)
• A Date with the Falcon (1941)
• The Falcon Takes Over (1942)
• The Falcon’s Brother (1942)
• The Falcon Strikes Back (1943)
• The Falcon in Danger (1943)
• The Falcon and the Co-eds (1943)
• The Falcon Out West (1944)
• The Falcon in Mexico (1944)
• The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
• The Falcon in San Francisco (1945)
• The Falcon’s Alibi (1946)
• Devil’s Cargo (1948)
• Appointment with Murder (1948)
• Search for Danger (1949)

The Falcon Steps In