Ittefaq – (The Coincidence) – 1969, Hindi

-Manjula Jonnalagadda

“He looked at the corner of the ceiling with an absent stare. I looked at him with a not so absent stare. He looked like a man who could be trusted with a secret—if it was his own secret.” ― Raymond Chandler, The High Window

          Ittefaq is a film made by Yash Chopra written by G.R. Kamat. The film is based on the American Film Signpost to Murder. Ittefaq ranks amongst the finest thrillers of Hindi Cinema. It won the Filmfare (Hindi popular cinema awards) Awards for the Best Director and the Best Sound. This article is short because I don’t want to give anything away.

          Yash Chopra was a legendary director of Bollywood. He started his career as an Assistant Director to I. S. Johar and B.R. Chopra. His first film as a director is Dhool Ka Phool, a progressive film of those days. His earlier films explored themes of adultery and pre-marital sex. While he is known mostly for romance films, he also made some family dramas. Every star of Bollywood acted in his films including Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachan, Shahrukh Khan, Rajendra Kumar.

          Ittefaq is one of those rare Bollywood films with no songs. This film is best watched when you don’t know anything about it.

          The film opens with Dilip Roy finding out that his wife was murdered. Dilip Roy is a famous painter and his wife is a wealthy socialite. Dilip is a workaholic and his wife wants to party; this causes marital discord. He is accused of murdering his wife after a row. Dilip loses his mind over this accusation. During the arraignment, he is ordered to be admitted to a psychiatric facility for an evaluation. During a session he escapes from the facility, and breaks into a house. A woman named Rekha is all by herself in the house. The rest of the film is about what happens next. 

          The film centers around the questions whether Dilip really murdered his wife, is his insanity just an act, does Rekha herself have any secrets. 

          The film is a taut Noir thriller which is part drama and part police procedural. The initial sequences feel like a drag, but once Dilip enters the house, the film gets very interesting. Giving anything else away would diminish the viewing experience.

          Rajesh Khanna was an upcoming actor at that time of release of the film, which was right after the huge success of his film Aradhana. He has great screen presence, does a decent job. However Nanda’s performance as Rekha is quite good. 

          Background score by Salil Chowdhury is excellent! Taut Screenplay keeps you engaged and keeps you guessing. It was very well directed by Yash Chopra.

          Watch this finest thriller as it still is one of the best in the genre. 


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