Wahan Ke Log (1967)
Film review #497
Director: Nisar Ahmad Ansari
SYNOPSIS: Martians are contacting and blackmailing various wealthy people to hand over their diamonds. Agent Rakesh is assigned to investigate these Martians and put a stop to them.
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Wahan Ke Log is a 1967 Indian sci-fi film. The film revolves around a case concerning Martians contacting various wealthy individuals to blackmail them into handing over their diamonds, in preparation of an invasion of Earth. When the head of the central intelligence services is killed by these Martians, agent Rakesh is assigned to the case along with Neelkanth, a private detective, and they travel to Bombay to commence their investigation. This film is an interesting mix of things: it has the fundamentals of a typical Bollywood film with the romance, drama and musical and dance interludes, but also intermixed with a plot reminiscent of the James Bond 007 parodies and imitations that emerged (predominantly in Europe) around the time. The sci-fi element concerning the aliens and spaceships has the feeling of a Hollywood b-movie too, so combining all of these different genres gives the film a bit of a unique feel. With all these different things going on though, the film feels a bit disjointed as it moves between the different aspects of the story, and there can be large gaps between certain elements don’t factor in. The central story is fairly robust though, and has some twists and turns that drive the plot and characters forward. The mystery surrounding the aliens is likewise one that maintains viewer interest, but is neglected over parts of the film.
The tone of the film moves between a more traditional Bollywood drama/romance and more of a comedy. As mentioned, it reminds me of the 007 parodies and imitations that came out in the late 1960s. Rakesh himself embodies both the romantic male lead, and also a comedic fool. However, Neelkanth usually takes up the comedic role as the jester-like sidekick for himself, leaving Rakesh to deal with situations like living with his overbearing Mum pressuring him to get married and such. Anita as the love interest is fairly passive and has a very traditional role as such. The villain Anil Chakravarty is a gangster who has kidnapped the scientists of the world to construct machines to prepare for the Martian invasion of Earth, and he is definitely presented as a typical Bond villain who has his own mystery about him.
The film has many of the lavish Bollywood song and dance numbers you would expect. I’m not an expert on Bollywood music and films, so I can’t really compare them to others, but they do the job. The sci-fi elements such as the aliens, UFO’s, and sets are all very reminiscent of the b-movie productions I have mentioned, and in that context, they are fairly well done. The UFO’s are decently detailed, and the sci-fi sets have plenty going on in them, so they are interesting enough for the purposes of the film. Overall, Wahan Ke Log is an interesting mix of genres with a capable story, but it’s really nothing more than a novel bit of history at this point.