Naresh Saigal’s ‘Night Club’

is a dark den of iniquity controlled by Pran (Mubarak).

The den in question is made of cheap plywood and its secrets which take Inspector Kishor (Ashok Kumar) all of 2 hours of film time to unearth, include a phone hidden inside a wall,

an alarm button on a step,

and a door that leads into a corridor and is supposed to be used as an entrance and exit by Pran, but which we never really see him use. And yes, there is also a switch which can put off all the lights, whenever anyone is in trouble. Ofcourse, someone has to press the switch, it is not intelligent enough to sense trouble.

Vijay, one of Mubarak’s men is a police informer. After a foiled robbery attempt by Pran, Vijay calls his childhood friend from the den, addressing him as Inspector Kishor, and spends some time castigating him for failing to apprehend Pran and his henchmen in the act. Of course, he is overheard by Pran who proceeds to kill him.

The audience of course, has known from the first scene that Vijay would die since he has already told Kishor to look after his sister Bindu (Kamini Kaushal) in case anything happens to him. Besides, he has brought up Bindu after their parents’ death and Bindu and he have a very loving relationship,

thereby making his imminent death certain.

The violence in the film is quite gory, with Pran’s favorite weapon being a hammer. In a scene closer to the climax, he also flings Bindu around,

when he finds out that she is Vijay’s sister, and also a police informer.

Later we see, Inspector Kishor and Pran in fisticuffs, and both emerging with bloody faces, the hammer in Pran’s hands.

Bindu after Vijay’s death, decides to infiltrate Pran’s gang, and revenge her brother. She comes to this conclusion over a very confusing montage of Victoria Terminus station and Bombay roads dissolved over her face.

Anyway, she learns how to pickpocket, disguises as a boy, and soon becomes a gang member by trying to pick Pran’s pocket, who likes her feistiness, though he sees through her disguise instantly. Bindu proves her worth by stealing an expensive necklace from a movie show, and agreeing to deliver cocaine to a dealer in Nagpada.

Through most of the film, Pran is trying to get the key to Rajesh’s (S Nazir) safe. Rajesh is a gold smuggler and his safe is full of gold bricks. S Nazir looks nothing like a smuggler,

and is in fact, a quiet, reclusive man who doesn’t like going out. Rita (Nishi) looking very glamourous,

does her best to woo Rajesh into giving the key to her, but he does not get conned, and in the end, she has to pick his pocket, while he watches Helen dance. Helen is youthfully plump,

and one cannot blame Rajesh for being so engrossed in her performance that he misses the key being taken out and put back into his pocket.

(from amitajai’s youtube page)

Pran’s henchmen make a wax impression, and for some reason, Bindu thinks that if Inspector Kishor follows the henchmen on their way to getting a duplicate key made, he will be able to figure out where the robbery is supposed to take place.Β  A long, tedious, supposedly funny scene between a passerby (Murari) and Pasha (Gope Kamlani) follows

as Pasha tries to recover the wax impression from Murari’s pocket, where he has slipped it to escape a police search. There is another violent death of a henchman here, with Kishor shooting his leg, and the man getting hit by a tram, and having his leg cut off, and then dying with convulsions.

Like her brother, Bindu believes in calling Inspector Kishor from the secret phone, and when she does not get him on the line, strolling over to the police station to tell him of the robbery rather than calling him from somewhere. So of course, she is caught out by Pran.

All these connivances around the nightclub does mean some good songs by Madan Mohan, sung by Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt.

Kamini Kaushal is one of my favorite actors, but here she is hampered by an ugly boy outfit,

and 2 ponytails with absurd ribbons under her hat.

She does do a wonderful drunken song,

(from amitajai’s youtube page)

and the love scenes between Ashok Kumar and her are a pleasure to watch – the eyes, the smiles, the sidling up to each other, and taking all the opportunities they can to touch each other.

She tends to overact in her role as the gangster’s moll, but any good girl would, given a chance.

The film doesn’t quite make it to film noir standards, the production value is very low, though it’s difficult to judge Krishan Saigal’s cinematography from a bad quality VCD. But it’s fun to see Bombay in the 50s, some good cabaret numbers and an ensemble of fine character actors,

including Ifthekar.

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