Dhan Daulat, 1980

Directed by: Harish Shah

When I watched this film, I really liked it. I thought it was cute, a little unconventional, and I was finally going to get to a person I was trying to avoid in Neetu Week:

It’s not that I don’t have my own intense pyaar for Rishi, but I wanted this week to be squarely about our girl. In the end, I couldn’t avoid him, but that was OK too.

As I sit down to write up this film, as I have countless times this week, I find I’m uninspired and intimidated by this film. It was enjoyable, yes, but it just left me blank.

I dislike this feeling!

Just now I walked away for about 30 minutes and kept thinking “Was I doing something?”. TWICE.

Dhan Daulat, you are going to be the death of me.

Lucky (Rishi Kapoor) is found in the back of a cargo truck (Horn OK Please) as an infant. His mother had stashed him there while going to get milk for him.

This is the Maa running after the truck and screaming. 
And Kishore.
With whom my children will share DNA.

In true bad parenting style, the truck drove away. The baby is found by the two truck drivers Mangat (Prem Nath) and Bajirao (Pran). The two decide to “rear” him (that’s the word they kept using) and name the baby Lucky, since he was found and then they were given a large trucking job soon after.

We watch Lucky grow up, becoming somewhat of a rascal; stealing chickens from his neighbor and escaping with them to rooftops where the owner can’t reach them. His dads somewhat gloss over the habit, and joke with him about his antics. When Lucky is sent to University his dads praise his opportunity and are happy that he will not become a truck driver like they are. Lucky responds by being swiftly kicked out of school before classes even start by getting into a fight. Shamefully brought home his dads lock Lucky into the house as they go away on a job.

Never having been punished, Lucky suffers a terrible shock to his psyche and takes to harassing to people outside of his window. Then, as they are prone to in such situations, our heroine, Shanti (Neetu Singh) shows up. She firmly rejects the advances of a man-child hollering at her while locked inside his own house. Good for you, Shanti.

The next day, however, when Shanti walks by she is curious about the fate of the marooned moron.

When his fathers return home, Lucky is sprung from jail and goes on a hunt for Shanti, determined to win her over. He does this by spraying her down with a hose and hoisting her up in construction equipment. Filmi wooing is serious business, people.

Finally, our Shanti gets fed up and asks Lucky what he’s about.

Lucky spouts off about pyaar and shaadis and the like. Being a wise little thing, Shanti dares him to tell her “brother” who is walking down the street. He does so, is taken to what he thinks is her house and is matched up with the guy’s sister… who isn’t Shanti. Drama ensuses with offenses being taken by the brother and his sister but Lucky is not daunted by this joke.
She looks rather pleased with herself, doesn’t she?
Good girl. 
Our Shanti still needs convincing, so Lucky arranges for a dramatic suicide attempt by laying on the train tracks outside of her house until she will admit that she loves him. The locals take Lucky’s side (of course) and a song and dance on the tracks ensues. Shanti is still not swayed and it takes until seconds before the train to come, that she agrees to be Lucky’s gal. But she has serious reservations. And given her criteria, I’m soundly with her.
Inspired for the first time to do something besides being a lump, Lucky goes to work building his own match company. His business is successful and all looks good for our lovers until the ruling match monopoly decides to play dirty to ensure that they will be the king of matches forever. They ruin all of Lucky’s stock and when the matches are returned by customers Lucky’s business goes under. To compound his problems, Lucky’s proposal to Shanti is refused by her father who calls into question his lack of money and lack of parentage.
Broken, and upset Lucky falls into bad company who convince him that if he were to accumulate large sums of money no one would question his parentage and he could have whatever he wants. The next time we see our Lucky on screen he is wearing a powder blue leisure suit and he is in a den. Evil, bad, villain Lucky has emerged.
Evil Lucky spends his time ruining other companies the way his was ruined. He pulls the rug from under his competitors in order to stay on top. Driving a flashy new car, rocking expensive Aviator glasses and carrying a suitcase of rupees Lucky returns to his village in hopes of giving back the money the community gave him to start his own business. Disgusted, the townspeople throw his money to the ground and his dads even refuse his repayment.
In a last ditch effort to prove to himself that money buys happiness, Lucky wanders over to Shanti’s house and gives her a fancy salwaar suit and bids her to come to a party with him. She agrees but is disgusted by Lucky’s new swagger and publicly shames him when he asks her to sing, and she sings about how disappointed she is in him. She runs from the party.
I forget how and why and through what means it is explained that Lucky’s parents are actually a lowly fruit seller and the Don that Lucky has been trying to undo through unseemly means, but Lucky’s parents are presented to him at the climax, after Lucky comes crawling back to his dads and accepted finally by Shanti’s father. In the end, Lucky ends up with four dads, he’s redeemed in the eyes of his parents and Shanti and they hug it out, hasty Masala film ending ishtyle.
Clearly I’m forgetting some major plot points, but as I mentioned, I tried to write this up a million time, and I watched it a while back… it has been a struggle. I wasn’t really excited by the film, but it wasn’t like I was totally disgusted by it either. I remember being vaguely unhappy with all the talk about money only brings happiness and it doesn’t matter how you get it, just that you do.
I found Neetu’s character admirable. She stuck up for herself, and didn’t fall for Lucky’s charms after he found money and became a powerful person. Rather, she only took him once he had seen the error of his ways and was humbled.

2 thoughts on “Dhan Daulat, 1980

  1. Yeah, you're not missing anything. I had trouble writing about it too – so heavy-handed and unenjoyable and no sparkle at all (and not just actual sparkle – like, no livelines).

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