Woh Kaun Thi? (1964) – Simplicity of Thrills

housefullcoverco;pyDr. Anand (Manoj Kumar) finds himself on the romantic highway to a destination of beautiful communion, when he comes across an eerie vamp whose name resembles the figure of the striking white Saree she dawns. Heavens welcome these stumbles—with falling waters of deep enormity and the thundering punches of ether everywhere. The saga finds itself a perfect start—an expedition into the thrills, spills, and abundance of Indian Cinema captured by the genius Raj Khosla (C.I.D., Mera Saaya). Featuring in this grand thriller, the unmistakable Sadhana Shivdasani as Sandhya (Waqt, Mera Saaya, Anita), the bombshell of the lore Helen as Seema, the dynamic rogue KN Singh as Dr. SR Singh, the evil personified Prem Chopra as Ramesh, and the comedian Dhumal as Madhav—each actor known for their refined sheens. The movie possesses all the possessions in need to catapult itself to honor, positive appraisal, and a place into the classicism of cinema.

The era of the 50s, 60s and 70s until Sholay (1975) remains Indian Cinema’s most productive era—producing various social movies based on realism, social culture of India and around, and portraying reality in an entertaining and informative manner. In this context, Woh Kaun Thi brings a new approach of filmmaking, and during the time of the pleasant 60s, the movie, no doubt, must have raised the bar when it comes to innovation and technique. The movie utilizes on the noir genre of filmmaking, with usages of dark shots, obscure camera angles, mystical progression of story, and dark depiction of events. The movie isn’t a noir-specific movie, it’s a simple, gripping thriller with horror elements and an erratic flow, wonderful at times—slow at others.

Going along the beautiful trend of the 50s and 60s in Indian Cinema, Who Kaun Thi has a sublime plot, a special story, a nice take, and some exceptional portrayals from each member of the star cast. The popularity sometimes assures that the performances range from the bottom to the elite in many movies, but the case is special—as every actor triumphs their roles and expressions. The inclusion of some songs—a special idiosyncrasy of Indian Cinema—validate the cause of this movie as one of the finest movies from the era, while some slow it down and deduce the pace, and also the drama to much agony. The song Lag Ja Gale… remains one of the most melodious songs ever from India, and the more you listen—it draws you more towards it. Naina Barse Rhimjhim is another of those Lata Mangeshkar classics.

In the world of this mythical observation, Woh Kaun Thi has its flaws—the length being the primary one, as at times the movie feels too long and too much wasted on creating the drama for the penultimate sequences. With exception to these features, Woh Kaun Thi  is a beautiful movie—worthy of watch for every lover of cinema. The greatest triumph for the movie would be the sensational building of the drama, and the mysterious elements that left you undecided in a mare. The sporadic appearances of one character leave you amazed and startled if not for his already exhibit track record. The story is very fascinating, with absolute stunners from the lead pair, complimented as sugar to tea by the supporting crew. Take your time out, watch this movie; it has ups and downs, but it is a wonderful journey into the world of classic cinema, especially Indian Cinema.

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As most of the time, I tip my hat to Sadhana for evolving the Sadhana Cut and becoming the Icon she was to be—in the near future.

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