Kaali Ghata (1980) is a suspense-thriller starring Rekha (in double role), Shashi Kapoor and Danny Dengjongpa. I had watched it on the big screen in my hometown - Sambhar Lake (Rajasthan) around 28 years ago where Sambhar Salts Limited, a govt. of India undertaking used to exhibit movies for its employees at a place called - King's Square from time to time. Just some time back, I watched this movie again on the internet and I got the same entertainment from the movie that I had got years back sans the suspense value because this time I knew beforehand who's the culprit.
Kaali Ghata (black cloud) starts with the murder of Raibahadur Satpal Singh (Nazir Hussain) in his timber estate at some place in Himachal Pradesh. Now his elder daughter, Rekha (Rekha) is taking care of the business with the help of Deewaan or the chief estate manager (A.K. Hangal) as well as his son, Kishore (Danny Denjongpa) who is the manager of the factory. Kishore loves Rekha's look-alike younger sister, Rashmi (Rekha's double role) but Rekha does not like their love and sends Rashmi abroad to do a painting course.
Rekha is unwilling to marry herself but the twist in the tale (and Rekha's life also) arrives with the entry of the hero, Prem (Shashi Kapoor) whose real identity is not known but he appears to be a mechanical engineer knowing about vehicles and machines, apart from being an amateur photographer. Rekha immediately falls for him and abruptly decides to get herself engaged with him. However, Prem's activities make him suspicious in the eyes of Kishore. After the engagement function when Prem and Rekha are spending quality time in a houseboat at their private lake, somebody pushes Rekha down into the lake in the middle of the night. She fortunately survives but now decides to find out the person after her life by keeping herself dead in the eyes of the world. She seeks the help of her friend, Pinky (Aruna Irani) and they tell the truth to Rashmi who has come back to India after knowing about the mishap with her sister. Now Rashmi lives clandestinely with Pinky and Rekha re-enters her house by presenting herself as Rashmi (because they are look-alike).
Now the quest of the murderer goes three-way (other than the regular police investigation) - on one hand, Rekha is finding who's interested in her death; one the other, Prem himself is doing this job and thirdly, Kishore is also interested in unmasking the murderer. Quite interestingly, both Prem and Kishore suspect each other to be the culprit. Besides, the cook deputed in the home (Jagdeep) as well as the new estate manager (I don't know the name of the actor) are also not who they appears to be. Rekha's suspicion is on Prem also and she wants to confirm it through Prem's advancements to her as Rashmi. Hence, as the story moves ahead, the mutual suspicion in the hearts of all these three main characters darkens and darkens. The real culprit behind the attempt on Rekha's life as well as the murder of her father, is revealed in the climax.
Kaali Ghata is a traditional suspense-thriller made in the Bollywoodish style of the seventies. It is an entertaining movie in which good songs intertwined with the mystery-filled narrative set in the misty mountains and valleys of Himachal Pradesh keep the viewer engrossed. The beauty of the mystery and its resolution is that the two male protagonists - Shashi Kapoor and Danny Denjongpa suspect each other to be the culprit and the viewer can understand that none of them is going to be turning out as the culprit. Still the curiosity and suspense keep him glued to the screen till the very end. Though I feel, some clues should be left in a mystery for the viewer / reader to apply his mind towards the resolution of the whodunit, even by not doing so, the director - Ved Raahi has done his job well and presented a good masala flick for the regular audience of the Hindi movies.
Laxmikant Pyarelal have composed good music for the movie. Mainly it's the title track (Kaali Ghata Chhaai, Prem Ruut Aai) in the voices of Lata and Rafi which remains in the memory after the movie is over. However the others songs are also pretty good to listen (and to watch as well). Since most of the songs are situational, Anand Bakshi's lyrics appear to be quite meaningful.
I have always considered Shashi Kapoor as the most under-rated actor of the Kapoor clan of Bollywood. He is a good performer but seldom got his due accolades (with the sole exception of Deewaar - 1975). Rekha has done well in the twin roles, getting the maximum screen presence. Danny Denjongpa is definitely a class actor who never fails to deliver. Aruna Irani has not only acted well but also performed marvellously on the dance numbers in Asha's voice.
Cinematographer has ably captured the beauty of the misty mountains, valleys and similar scenes in the locations of Himachal Pradesh and therefore, this movie is an eye-soothing experience too. Technically the movie is good.
On the flip side, the narrative is marred by regular Bollywood potholes, inconsistencies and continuity jerks. To enjoy the movie, such things are to be ignored.
Overall, this movie is a nice timepass which the audience of suspense movies will definitely like.
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