Ram Aur Shyam (1967)

April 18, 2009 at 7:30 pm 3 comments

Directed by: Tapi Chanakya (generally known as just ‘Chanakya’)

Starring: Dilip Kumar, Pran, Waheeda Rehman, Mumtaz


This is a good Dilip Kumar film to start with, and is certainly one of his more popular flicks. With enough comic moments to keep the pace going, and some really sappy melodrama in between…from beginning to end, you won’t have time to get bored. It’s also a good Pran reference if you want to see one of the best villains in Indian cinema history. It’s not the particular character, but the way Pran’s sunken eyes bore into your soul.

The credits are cast in a soft yellow over fake leather. Unlike the last film (Don) they are gentle on the eyes, and easy to read. They tell you that this was Dilip Kumar’s first dual role and it’s also apparently in Eastman color. You see a lot of Eastman color in the 60’s, at least in Bollywood.

It begins with Ram (Dilip Kumar), his sister (Mumtaz) his niece Munni, and a loyal servant paying tribute to a portrait of his parents. Suddenly, we hear footsteps, and Ram rushes away. It is none other than Ram’s brother-in-law, Gajendra (Pran) who has arrived to inform him that the workers want to put forth requests to him at that evening’s function, which Gajendra already rejected. Ram is told to stay inside that day, so they do not meet him because Gajendra has been taking care of the mills and factories since Ram’s parents died, and knows that Ram is mentally and physically weak. Of course this is utter nonsense, Ram’s just a coward…but he agrees, because he’s deathly afraid of Gajendra. Munni isn’t too happy about this, her friend is going to be performing a dance there! It just isn’t fair. She wants Ram to take her.

Cut to a wonderful dance scene at the function with men and women tossing rose petals into the air, whilst Gajendra watches. Then we see Ram and his niece sneaking in. While Ram, Gajendra, and Munni watch the dance…we find that the song is a thinly veiled insult on Gajendra’s part, calling him rich and corrupt. The song ends, and Gajendra walks to the stage. The people are sad that the real owner of the factories, Ram, could not show up. So they ask for Gajendra to pay attention to their growing problems. He tears up the plea, and that’s when people notice Ram in the audience. They garland him and cheer…but Gajendra isn’t to happy…

When Ram flees home, Gajendra beats the living daylights out of him with a whip. Ram’s sister and Munni beg for Gajendra to stop, saying it was their fault that he went. Now remember: This house, the factories, and the mill all legally belong to Ram. But poor Ram is so afraid of Gajendra that he doesn’t lift a finger to defend himself. That night Ram decides to kill himself because he can’t handle living like an animal any longer. But before he can do so, his sister and Munni stop him. He agrees not to jump after they threaten to do so as well.

Enough melodrama, we’re ready for some comedy! Luckily…right when you think you just can’t handle more tragedy and misery…we meet Shyam (Dilip Kumar) sitting on his tractor and watching a girl in the field struggle with a goat. It’s none other than Shanta, a girl he absolutely despises. He demands that she leave, and Shanta just waves a thumb at him. Shyam gives chase to Shanta on his tractor. She falls and gets hurt, so she throws rocks at him. They argue and she runs off. Just in time, Shyam’s friend runs up to him to let him know of filming nearby. Shyam has always wanted to be an actor…and not just any actor…a Hero. Now he’s got his chance. Apparently the hero of the movie had to go to Delhi, so Shyam is going to be a stand-in…all he has to do is climb up a tree, and save the heroine from some thugs…right?

Garbed in red plaid, a Zorro mask, and a black cowboy hat…as well as a cape (a lot of themes going on in this costume) Shyam ends up literally beating the actors. How was he supposed to know he wasn’t supposed to really beat them up? Too caught up in the fight, Shyam ends up beating crew members who try to stop him. Shyam gets kicked out, and just in time Shanta arrives with Shyam’s mother. She isn’t pleased, and doesn’t want him working on movies! She wants him taking care of the fields and working. So what can his mother do but beat Shyam all the way back home and ground her 30-something-year-old son. To amuse himself, Shyam pretends he’s a dancer and a hero…etc…etc…and basically acts like a big baby. Then he pretends a piece of rope is a snake and screams for his mom. When she unlocks the door, Shyam runs away to become a film hero.


Back with Ram, he finally explains why he is so afraid of his brother-in-law. When they were kids, flying kites…Gajendra’s kite got cut. Ram laughed and clapped, making fun of him…so Gajendra beat him with a whip and threw him down the stairs and nearly killed Ram. (Don’t ask me how a kid got hold of a whip in the first place.) Ever since then, Ram has been deathly afraid of him. Ram’s decide the only cure is to get Ram married…2d1l2ft

Apparently Gajendra already chose a wife for Ram too…but when Ram meets her, he acts cowardly and foolish. Her name is Anjana, and she refuses to marry him.


Gajendra finds out that according to Ram’s parents’ will, on March 31st, everything will go to Ram and Gajendra will lose control…BUT if Ram signs some papers handing everything over to Gajendra…everything will be fine. He intends to kill poor Ram after all is said and done. Ram overhears Gajendra’s evil plan, and runs away.

Meanwhile, Shyam has arrived in the big city with a big appetite. He goes to a restaurant and orders 2 of everything. He then splits without paying the bill. Just in time, Ram enters and sits down at Shyam’s table. The waiter arrives with Shyam’s bill. But poor Ram hasn’t eaten anything! He tries to order food, but the angry waiter yells at him and demands to be paid. All Ram has is 20 rupees! So everyone in the restaurant gangs up on him, stealing his vest and throwing him out.

Outside we see Anjana getting into her car…but before she can, some thieves take her purse. Shyam sees this and runs after them. He returns the purse to Anjana and goes to her house with her. Anjana rushes to her father to tell him the story of how ‘Ram’ is actually very heroic, and not the coward she thought he was when they first met. So it’s decided…Anjana is going to marry Shyam…er…’Ram’. They go downstairs to talk to Shyam. Anjana’s father asked why he didn’t call to say he’d been in town…Shyam is a bit confused (considering he doesn’t know these people) but pretends to know them. Anjana and her father invite Shyam to go to Kaidankal with them on a trip. Shyam agrees.confused


And who should we see again but Gajendra yelling at workers? He has no pity on them, and is tired of their pleas. Gajendra and his cronies have been searching all over for Ram, and what should he find but a telegram from his soon-to-be in-laws saying that Ram is staying with them?


Back to Shyam living the high-life, watering plants, singing, and romancing. He doesn’t know why these people think he knows them, but he’s enjoying it while he can. He tries explaining that he’s poor and doesn’t have a cent to his name, but Anjana thinks he’s joking. While they enjoy their stay together, Anjana and Shyam fall in love. raminhatAnd as we all know, when a boy and a girl fall in love in India…they have to have a musical number. Flowers, fields, waterfalls. The works…including a very lovely scene where Anjana crosses a stone bridge and Shyam stands on a large rock nearby watching her…this in itself is enough to make me want to go to Kaidankal…(Hmmm…subliminal messaging, anyone?)

Immediately after this number, is perhaps the funniest part in the movie…

Back to Ram, you find out that he has become a rather devout Pandit. While he sings his little out-of-tune heart out, Shanta appears out of the blue. Of course she thinks Ram is Shyam, and decides to play along with his little game. After a short conversation, Shanta attacks him and demands why he ran away, nearly breaking his mother’s heart. Poor Ram doesn’t know what she’s talking about (his mother’s been dead for 15 years.) Shanta calls the villagers and they all gang up on Ram to drag him back home with them. Now I don’t know about you, but if I was being chased by a bunch of angry Indian villagers, I’d be pretty scared.

Ram denies that he is Shyam…and the only conclusion they can come to is that he must be possessed. So an exorcism is performed, wherein they beat poor Ram until he agrees that he is Shyam so they’ll stop hitting him.

Back with Shyam, Gajendra has arrived to take him home. Well, Shyam isn’t easily intimidated…and this startles Gajendra. Since when did his brother-in-law grow a spine? He’ll teach him a lesson when they get home. Gajendra decides to beat Shyam, but Ram’s sister interferes and begs for him to leave her brother be. Gajendra agrees, only if Shyam will sign the papers. Shyam is quiet throughout, unsure of what he should do…but when Gajendra leaves, Munni runs downstairs to meet him. She apparently hasn’t eaten since Ram ran away, so she faints and Shyam carries her upstairs. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s not a coward, or a quickly developed affection for Ram’s sister and niece, but Shyam stays and takes over Ram’s affairs. Eventually he throws a birthday party for Munni, and Gajendra…angry that all of his power has been taken away from him…loses his temper.

That’s when Shyam beats him up, and his sister begs him to stop. After all, even if Gajendra physically abused the entire family for several years, and would kill Ram if he got the chance…he’s still Munni’s father, so all must be forgiven…right? Yes, the logic doesn’t really work…but bear with it.

Back in the village, Ram is happy…nobody beats him, they’re all nice. Life is simple, and he finds himself developing affections for Shanta. So they get engaged. Shanta always liked Shyam, so now that she has…’him’…she’s overjoyed. There is a wonderful song number at this point with Ram and Shanta, and in my opinion even better than the romance between Shyam and Anjuna. Possibly because this one has back-up dancers…

Eventually the jig is up, and Gajendra finds out who Shyam is…he also finds Ram. Hatching a scheme, he decides to have Shyam sent to jail for Ram’s murder (don’t worry, Ram isn’t really dead) and then…well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Final rating…7/10 Bindis. Fun movie, but not the best out there.


Entry filed under: 5 and more Bindis, Film Reviews, Hindi, Languages. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. faiza  |  September 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    i like this site.and i like old bollywood movies like dilipkumar,dev anand,asha parekh waheeda rehman,saroja devi movies my request is please add more pics of movie ram aur shyam,phir wohi dil laya hun,teesri manzil,college girl please add more and more pics of old bollywood movies.thakyou.

    • 2. ranranami  |  September 16, 2009 at 8:56 pm

      I’ll add them whenever I can. I would have added more for Ram Aur Shyam, but this was when I just started reviewing films, and could not take screen caps on my old media player.

  • […] around the web, I found this great blog review of the film at Ranranbolly as well as one by the intellectual gold standard of all things filmy HERE […]


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