FIFTY-FIFTY

Roopnager Limited (1956)

Director/Producer: Roshanlal Malhotra

Music: Madan Mohan

Choreography: Vinod Chopra

Cast: Nalini Jaywant, M. Rajan, Om Prakash, David, Manmohan Krishna, Lalita Kumari, Amar, Sunder, Gope, Tun Tun, Helen, Mumtaz, Rajen Kapoor, Khatana, Dube, Lalit Kapoor.

Guest Artists: Randhir, Jayant, Jeevan.

Plot: Wealthy young Ramesh (M. Rajan) had gone off to war and is now listed as missing in action. Bhagwandas, the trustee of Ramesh’s millions, meets Raju (also played by M. Rajan), a homeless youth who bears a striking resemblance to the presumed dead Ramesh. Bhagwandas devises a plan to use the look-a-like to help him gain control of the fortune and he presents Raju as the man returned from war.

All goes as planned until Raju meets Nishi (Nalini Jawant), Ramesh’s childhood playmate. She never suspects his real identity and they began to grow close to each other. But when the trusting Nishi looks into Raju’s eyes, pain pierces his heart and awakens his conscience and he realizes that he can no longer deceive her.

Raju decides to confess all to his sweetheart, whatever the consequences, but just then the real Ramesh returns, turning an already dicey situation into an explosive one!

Manmohan Krishna and M. Rajan in 50-50

Brahma Vishnu Mahesh

Nitin Pictures (1971)

Director: Babubhai Mistry

Music: S.N. Tripathi

Choreography: Badri Prasad, Chetan

Special Effects: Dhayabhai Patel

Cast: Mahipal, Uma, Trilok Kapoor, Sulochana, Jeevan, Rajkumar, Sulochana Chatterjee, Anant Tiwari, Dulari, Manhar Desai, Padma Rani, B.M. Vyas, Kavita, Neelam ,Johnny Whiskey, Madhumati, Dilip Dutt, Shefali, Sujakant, Radheyshyam, Lakhani, Master Rajesh, Habib, Mahesh Bhatt.

Narad goes to the three Goddesses, Brahmani, Laxmi, and Parvati and tells them that they are nothing compared to Mahasati Ansuya, whose allegiance to her husband is greater than theirs.

The Goddesses send their husbands to Anasuya to test her loyalty and end up repenting for this miscalculation when they find their respective partners to have been reduced to crying babies in their cribs. They beg for the return of their spouses, which Anasuya agrees to, but she insists on keeping the babies, the avatars of the three Gods, which mix together to become the deity Dattatreya.

King Aayu of Kanchanpuri is a great devotee of Dattatreya, and with the God’s blessing the king gets a son, named Nahush. Elsewhere, Hund, the King of Danavas, is led to believe that Nahush (Master Rajesh) will grow up to kill him, so he attacks Kanchanpuri and has the child thrown into the sea. Nahush is saved by Narad Muni (Jeevan) and is raised by the sage Visishtha who brings him up in an ashram.

Nahush grows into a young man and meets Ashok Sundari, the daughter of Shiva and Parvati, and they fall in love. But Hund kidnaps Sundari and plans to make her his bride.

CHANDRASENA

Basant Pictures (1959)

Director: Babubhai Mistry

Music: Kalyanji Anandji

Choreography: Chetan

Cast: Girija, Mahipal, Paul Sharma, B.M. Vyas, Krishna Kumari, Ratnamala, Samar Roy, Kanchanmala, Habib, Dalpat, Uma Dutt, Adib, Shri Bhagwan, Kalla, Bhomiya, Abdulla, Julian, Korega, Yadav, Geeta, Ratan, Sadhna, Sunder.

Plot: Chandrasena, the princess of Naga, is kidnapped and forced to marry the demon Ahiravan, but she does not allow herself to be a victim of his evil desires and she remains a faithful devotee of Lord Ram, whom she loves.

Meanwhile, Hanuman (Paul Sharma), went to the demon land of Lanka in search of Sita, who is being held against her will by Ahiravan’s brother, Ravan. Along the way he meets Makari, the daughter-of-the-sea, who falls in love with the monkey god. Hanuman, a confirmed bachelor, has no interest in Makari, but after he sets fire to Lanka, his sweat is greedily taken by the love-mad Makari and with it she then gives birth to Makardhwaj, the son of Hanuman.

There happens a great war between Ram and Ravan, with Ram coming out the victor. Angered, Ravan sends for Ahiravan and asks him to kill Ram and Ram’s brother Laxman. Learning of this, Hanuman uses his tail to make a fort around the sleeping duo, to keep them from harm. But Ahiravan comes disguised as the peace-loving Vibhishan and takes Ram and Lakshman prisoner in his underwater kingdom of Paatel where Chandrasena learns of their arrival.

Hanuman makes his way to Paatel and comes face to face with Makardhwaj, his son, who refuses to let him enter as he does not want to betray the demons. A fight between the two ensues and Hanuman resumes his search for Ram and Lakshman, who he rescues.

Another war begins, and although Ahiravan and his brother Mahiravan are killed, they are duplicated over and over and multiply into hundreds of look-alike soldiers. Hanuman discovers that Chandrasena knows the secret to stopping the clones and she agrees to help, on the condition that afterwards she can meet Ram, alone.

RAMBHAKTA HANUMAN

Adarshlock (1969)

Director: Shantilal Soni

Producer: Adarsh

Music: S.N. Tripathi

Action: Azim Bhai

Choreography: Kamal

Cast: Abhi Bhattachary, Jaymala, Jayshree Gadkar, B.M. Vyas, Rajkumar, Dhanraj, Leela Chitnis, Madhumati, Praveen Paul, Uma Dutt, Paul Sharma, Anant Tiwari, Mahesh Bhatt, Shyam Kumar, Ajit Soni, Lakhani, Bina, Mona, Master Rajesh, Radheshyam, Shekhar Purohit, Shrikant Soni, Dalpat.

Plot: Shiva gives a child to Devi Anjali (Jayshree Gadkar). The child, Hanuman (played by Master Rajesh as a youngster and later by Dhanraj Pahelwan), half-monkey/half boy, becomes a devotee of Lord Ram (Abhi Bhattachary).

Meanwhile, Ram, his wife Sita (Jaymala), and Lakshman (Rajkumar), Ram’s brother, have been banished and have taken up shelter in a forest. The demon Ravan (B.M. Vyas) tricks Ram and Lakshman into leaving Sita alone and he abducts her, spiriting the woman off to his kingdom of Lanka.

The rest of the story follows Hanuman meeting his idol and helping to locate Sita so that she can be rescued from the clutches of Ravan, and how Ravan’s brother, Ahiravan (Uma Dutt), carries Ram and Lakshman to the underwater city of Paatel where Hanuman again saves the day.

Abhi Battachary and Jaymala in RAMBHAKTA HANUMAN (1969)

Magazine advertisement for the 1947 stunt film BHATAKTI MAINA starring newcomer Suraiya Zulfi, who became Suriaya Shamshi for the release of this film.

Born in 1919, Suraiya Zulfi/Shamshi (rn: Jamila Begum) had taken on small roles in films (billed simply as Suraiya, and not to be confused with the soon to be A-list star of the same name) before trying her hand at producing a “magic” picture titled KANGOO (1946) for R.S. Productions.

She was again bitten by the acting bug, and this time set her sights on playing the heroine. She must have found an antidote, however, as BHATAKTI MAINA appears to be both her debut and swan song as a leading lady.

The film also starred stunt film stalwarts Sardar Mansoor and (Atish) Sayani of Wadia Brothers fame.

Chandra Art’s CRIMINAL (1939) starring Chandrarao Kadam, Hansa Wadkar, Bhagwan, and Vasant Pehalwan, is an early directorial effort by Bhagwan who, as well as becoming a top film comedian, had a good run directing stunt-films and comedies though the 1940s and 50s.

Chandra Art was a production company run by actor/director Chandrarao Kadam who made a number of films in the 1930s under that banner, several of which starred future character actress Lalita Pawar back when she was playing stunt roles.

Indra Movietone was a fly-by-night studio that made just a few stunt films in the late 1930s. IMPERIAL MAIL, starring the popular hero Baburao Pahelwan, was one of them.

It seems the film went through some cast changes once production started, as the film’s booklet indicates that Pushpa Rani was replaced by Gulzar, while direction was handed over to S.Mirza (R.N. Vaidya is listed with the task of “Supervision”).

Others in the cast include Gulab, Baby Noor Jahan, Baby Ramesh, and Shajahan.

As a bonus, here is a still showing a domestic side of the plot.

Magazine advertisement for the A.R. Kardar’s silent adventure film SAFDAR JUNG (1930) starring Hiralal, Miss Mumtaz, and S.F. Shah.

Although the majority of Indian films from the silent era are lost or missing, we can still get a feel for them through old movie magazines. Below are a handful of film stills published in the March 1930 issue of The Movie Show which covered both Indian and “foreign” films.

Royal Pictures Corporation released EMPEROR ASHOKA in 1928. It starred Udwadia, Zubeida, and Jillo.

DIVINE DOWRY (1929) [aka DEHAN DAN] Ranjit Movietone
Putli and Inamdar in DIVINE DOWRY (1929) – Ranjit Movietone

Sagar Movietone’s 1930 adventure film CONQUEROR (aka VEER NA VER) starred popular action star Master Vithal.

Vaze and Nurjehan in Kohinoor Film Company’s 1930 release GULENAR (or GUL-E-NAR)

Baburao Apte and Miss Heera in Kohinoor Film Company’s GAMBLER (1930) aka JUGAL JUGARI.

Zebunissa and Nandram in WRONGED WIFE (1930) [aka RAJPUT RAMANI] Sharda Films

Gohar and D. Billimoria in MY DARLING (1930) [aka DIWANI DILAR] from Ranjit Movietone

Sagar Movietone’s 1930 thriller DEV PECH [aka THE WEB] featuring Master Vithal and Gohar Jr.

Sulochana and Jal Merchant in FATHER INDIA (1930) from Imperial Film Company

LANKA DAHAN [aka RAM DOOTA] was a mythological produced by General Pictures Corporation, a film company based in Madras. The film starred T.S. Mani, Devika, and M.V. Raju.

Zebunissa delivers a dramatic pose in this still from Sharda Film Company’s THE WRONGED WIFE (1930) aka RAJPUT RAMANI

Enakshi Rama Rau and J.K. Nanda in a scene from Indian Art Productions’ VASANTSENA (1930) directed by M.D. Bhavnani

Another fun photo caption courtesy of Filmindia magazine. From DIWALI (1940) starring Motilal and Madhuri.

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