Billing on film promos and billboards as well as posters tell a story about the pecking order in the movie.
Usually the first two names are the lead pair. Either of the two who happens to have the more important role or is more famous (a bigger brand that draws more ticket paying fans into the theaters) gets top billing. In a male dominated testosterone driven film industry, this usually means the male lead. The leading lady of the film does get primacy sometimes.
I would have to say this is pretty much the norm in almost all the movies I’ve seen in multiple languages and genres over the last six decades.
This poster is a huge surprise. I think the movie released in the year of the BD liberation, 1971.
The credit line lists the star cast. And what does one notice? The male lead is missing altogether from the poster both from the mug shots as well as the list of stars. This actually happened and the (unfortunate) male at the receiving end was the actor son of a famous music director, the master of qawwalis, Rakesh Roshan.
The movie was shot mostly around Kulu Manali. Hema Malini being labelled as the ultimate ‘Dream Girl’ is abundantly justified in this Rajendra Bhatia-directed movie, Paraya Dhan, released shortly after her flop debut in which she was rather disastrously (mis)cast with the Raj Kapoor. In “Paraya Dhan” she looks refreshingly comely as the pristine natural beauty of Kulu-Manali. The cinematographer KH Kapadia does full justice to the vistas and produces breathtaking visuals that are satiating. Hema shows amazing grace, nimbleness and glow on the face that make her screen presence striking and memorable.
A gang of dacoits led by Ajit looting the car of a rich man, Abhi Bhattacharya. In the ensuing gun battle with the police, the rich man’s wife gets killed, leaving her small daughter and a King’s ransom by way of jewellery in the hands of a sidekick of the chief of dacoits. Balraj Sahni who is in the sidekick’s role shines with radically different personas as a bandit, then as a caring and toiling father of a girl and finally the village patriarch in search for a suitable groom for his daughter. He escapes with the child and booty, and is transformed by the beseeching looks of the dying mother (Achala Sachdev, I think). He brings up the girl as his own, never telling her about his gory and violent past. Only a Balraj Sahni could’ve pulled this one off successfully.
The inevitable twist in the film occurs after the girl’s wedding is finalised with Rakesh Roshan, the horse rider son of a local landowner. Ajit escapes from jail and now wants the booty, and blackmails Balraj Sahni with spilling the beans about Hema Malini. In the ensuing fight, Balraj Sahni is murdered, and the grief stricken Hema Malini is led to believe that Ajit is her long lost uncle. A final dénouement results in which Hema Malini comes face to face with her biological father, Abhi Bhattacharya and the entire story is disclosed to her. In true Bollywood style, after Ajit is killed, she requests her father to keep her foster dad’s past a secret & he agrees.
The film has superb music by the genius Pancham to lyrics penned by Anand Bakshi. I love two the most “Aao Jhoomein Gaayein” (Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar), “Aaj Unse Pehli Mulaqat Hogi” (Kishore Kumar). I was amused at the way this song is shot. Although they haven’t used a body double for the riding sequences, the close ups for Rakesh Roshan clearly don’t have him horseback. Amazingly despite the vigorous riding, not a single strand of hair gets out of place from the hero’s coiffured hair piece…
Enjoy this anxious anticipation of meeting the loved one. I will go around with my routine.
Have fun, stay healthy and happy. Stay safe from the Chinese virus while the Yanks try to get the ton of mud off their faces with a rather hurried, bumbling tragicomic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Reminds me of the scene where Jack Lemmon raids the brothel in Irma La Douce..