Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, 1958

Directed by: Satyen Bose

I am so charmed by this film. Enchanted. Spellbound.

Has there ever been a film ever made that is cuter than this one?

The answer is “no”, by the way.

Not only does the film boast the two actors I have no ability to refuse, Madhubala and Kishore Kumar, but it also sparkles with comedy, the most realistic dialogue I’ve ever heard in any film, a few murderers and jewelry thieves for good measure, adorable songs and a whole lot of heart.

Chalti Ka Naam Gadi tells the story of three brothers, Brijmohan (Ashok Kumar), Jaggu (Anoop Kumar) and Mannu (Kishore Kumar) who run a car mechanic shop and exist under one rule: girls are bad. This philosophy is challenged when Mannu helps Renu (Madhubala) one rainy night when her car has broken down. As men and women are prone to doing, Mannu falls in love with Renu and must save her from a marriage to a murderer. In the process Brijmohan reclaims his long-lost love and Jaggu finds his own girl to woo.

Do you know how hard it is to think about this film seriously and not just type: “Gahhhh this is so precious I want to dieeee!”? It’s impossible and only my love for you keeps my head on my shoulders and my brain inside my head*.

Kishore Kumar.

How can anyone not fall in love with this man? He always seems so jolly. Every role I’ve seen him in is just an extension of himself; frolicking about, crab walking down stairs, dancing, humming and singing and laughing. He comes across so fun loving and vibrant he just melts your heart. You don’t even have to factor in what his voice does to me to understand my undying, eternal love for him.** In this film he is absolutely adorable, I just want to pinch him and hug him and pat him on the head simultaneously. Plus, he yodels. Enough said.

Madhubala.

If I had to pick between who I thought was more adoreable, Madhubala or Kishoreji I’d probably rather die. They do not make them like Mads anymore. At all. Today’s heroines can just lay down and die because they have NOTHING on her. They aren’t even in the same arena as her. She’s so lovely and classy, refined with such an aura of glee about her. Plus, those eyes, that face, that laugh, that voice… Sigh. It’s unfair that all women are not made in her image.

The Madhubala-Kishore Jodi.

This film was made the same year that Kishore’s first marriage ended and he started his relationship (at least formally) with Madhubala. You can so tell that these two people are in that blissful, new love stage of their relationship. The way they look at each other, the way they move around each other… Usually such overt and sweet love turns my stomach but with these two you just want them to go on and make goo-goo eyes at each other.

Lest I forget the other Kumar brothers, it must be said that they’re also as equally adorable as Kishore bhai. The trio play off of each other so well it make the comedy of the film so seamless and endearing.

The language of this film was so real and true to life. As I read the subtitles I just thought, “jee, I’ve said that before!”. It is nice to see characters acting like real people, saying logical and real lines. The language isn’t flowery or overworked, it is just natural. Perhaps this is most obvious when after dropping a lot of hints Renu says to Mannu “You haven’t understood a thing.” and in the “girl talk” that Renu shares with her best friend.

Speaking of girlfriends I must take a moment and also swoon over the roles our ladies had in this film. They not only had substance and depth but they were saucy, flirty and smart. They knew how to fix a car and knew what they wanted from their men and they got it. Hooray!

The songs in this film are just cho chweet you want to die. Look them up, watch them, and smile. Once again my favorite, Burman, composed the songs. Perhaps the best song of the bunch, however, is Ek Ladki Bheehi Bhaagi Si. 

This film also boasts an infant Helen! Blink and you’ll miss her (I didn’t even get any good screen-caps of her!) but she is there flaunting her moves and dancing alongside the equally fabulous Cukoo.

Please, people, just watch this film. Bas.

*Yes, because that sounds sane.
**Ok, and the whole Sumit thing… because, I know the allure of thathair:

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Barsaat ki Raat, 1960

For me, watching Madhubala is like watching a very finely and perfectly choreographed dance. Every movement, look and thing she does is so perfectly timed and planned that I always end up watching more of her rather than what is going on in the film.  

She’s marvelous

Thankfully this film followed the classic and beloved Love Triangle story line, so apart from keeping faces in context I could sit back and enjoy Madhubala as much as I wanted to. And I did.

The story tells of a poet Aman (Bharat Bhushan) and his neighbors, the “singing girls” Shama (Shyama) and Shabab (Ratna). Shama is obviously in love with her crooning neighbor who moves to secure a post on the radio singing his poems, as he as only sold one copy of his collections and needs money.

On the way to the city he meets with a terrifying* rainstorm and runs into a girl who seeks shelter under the same bridge that Aman is standing under. He does not get a good look at the girl, but falls in love with her.

The next night we see Shabnam (Madhubala) hugging a collection of poems by Aman and listening to him on the radio. He sings of a stormy night and a girl that he met that he will never be able to forget. It does not take her long to figure out that the girl is her and that some how she must be introduced to Aman. Conveniently her father needs a tutor for her little sister and who else would he hire BUT the new poet in town? No one, that is for certain.

Of course she’s the only one with the copy of his poems! 
Of course!

I feel some love happening…..

Aman tries to tutor the little girl but gets distracted every three seconds when Shabnam walks by their schoolroom and they engage in passionate moments of silent staring.

Shabnam’s father makes an announcement that she should be married and says he knows just the man (we know where this is going, don’t we?). Her father invites Aman over for dinner and then accuses him of leading on his daughter and making a fool out of her. Aman is ordered from the house and Shabnam runs away with him to Lucknow.

The only option after being scorned in love.

There he tries to make a living out of singing but his voice on the radio gives away his identify.  Shabnam is taken back into her father’s house and is engaged to Aftab (Peace Kanwal).

Shama and Shabab are in Lucknow for a qawali competition and after loosing a few rounds are in desperate need of a poet. Luckily they run into the distraught and scorned-in-love Aman who agrees to write poetry for their songs.

Back in the palatial mansion Shabnam has fallen ill of heartbreak and will not agree to the marriage her father has set-up between her and Aftab. In a twist Shama becomes her nurse and takes care of her. Shama says she knows how to console a broken heart, since hers was only just recently mended. Eventually Shama finds out that Shabnam is the woman that broke Aman’s heart and Aman is the man for whom Shabnam pines.  Shama steps out of the picture and lets Aman and Shabnam reunite and rekindle their relationship. The two are allowed to wed only after Shabnam’s father receives consent from Aftab, who says he would not want to destroy the “love-match”.

Please notice the gun he is pointing at his wife. Class.

Once you get the permission from the fiancée, I guess you’re good-to-go.

I really enjoyed this film, all of the characters (and the females especially) were strong, independent and motivated. There was some pitter-pattering about life not going on after Aman and Shabnam were split up but they both moved on and almost got on with other people but of course they were reunited.
The picture quality was a little fuzzy and blury, but I suppose that’s just due to the age of the film. The sound was in excellent condition, thank goodness, since the music was fantastic!  Especially with the qawali scenes. The music is so integral to the plot and never distracts or takes away from the story line, but rather is built into the plot and is effective in the movement of the drama.
Now, some leftover Madhubala pretties:

*The scary “if you’re alone in a hotel room in Jackson, WY” kind of scary.