Ravi (Rajesh Khanna) is a well educated guy but hasn’t got a job yet. Unlike others, he doesn’t find any job big or small…he just takes up anything that comes his way. The movie opens showing him delivering Newspapers at people’s door – but the job is not permanent. He likes painting and usually makes paintings that depict village life…on being asked by his friend he says city life is very mechanical and he doesn’t like it.
When his Maa ji (Pratima Devi) sees one of his paintings she says that the house in his painting is so much like his dadaji’s house. But alas, his father had to leave it and come to the city because of sarkari naukari.
Saying that she leaves for post office to collect her husband’s pension but he stops her. He goes to the Post Office instead.
At the Post Office, Om Shivpuri is interviewing people for the post of a Post Man at Sitapur and gets so frustrated talking to people who come for the interview.
When Ravi comes to collect his father’s pension, he takes it for granted that he’s one of the interview candidates and starts asking him questions. He asks Ravi for his age and Ravi says : As per certificates, it’s 21 but that’s not correct.
Om : How can you say that?
Ravi : Because noone knows which year I was born in…Mom says there was a flood in the village the year I was born, as though I wouldn’t have been born had it not been for the floods. She also says, I was born after 2 years since she got married and there was a drought that year.
This part is very interesting. Ravi, unaware that he’s being interviewed answers with such carefree attitude. And Om Shivpuri, on the other hand is also pleasantly surprised and enjoys the conversation.
At the end of 5 minutes, Om Shivpuri offers him the job and Ravi gladly takes it up.
Now that he’s an official postman, he comes home in Postman’s uniform and says : Postman….money order. His mom comes to the door, checks the sheet:
Maa : Yeh kaisa moneyorder hai bhai? (What kind of money order is this, Bhai?)
Ravi : Bhai nahin maa, beta kaho beta! (Bhai nahin, call me Beta)
Maa tu toh aise ghabra gayi…daakiya bana, koi daaku thodi na bana…aur phir sarkari naukari hai – rehne ke liye kapda makaan muft aur rotiyaan Manoj Kumar se maang lenge. (You were so worried…I have become a daakia – a postman, not a Daaku. And it’s a government job, I’ll get accomodation and uniform for free…that leaves roti and I can always ask Manoj Kumar for that)
Maa : Woh kaun hai? (Who’s that?)
Ravi : Maa tu picturen nahin dekhti. (Maa, you don’t watch movies)
His mother is worried that he’s going for such a job when he’s so well educated. But he is happy to be employed. So he sets out for Sitapur. After getting down from the train, he boards Nattu’s (Amjad Khan) Tanga bound for Sitapur.
Existing Post Master explains his job to him…says his job would also include writing letters for others, reading out their letters etc apart from just delivering them…because not everybody in the village is literate.
Ravi is asked to share his quarters with Raghu Rampuri(Asrani), who’s a unique-piece item. The moment Ravi enters the house Raghu says : The only two things that are famous from Rampur are – me and chaku (wonder what Laxman had to say abt it ). And then introduces him as a poet. When Ravi says that he’s never heard his poems, Raghu says : it’s just that I am ahead of my poems – I became more famous than my poems
Parcel (Rajoo Shrestha) lives with Raghu. He cleans the house and cooks for him, in return Raghu teaches him how to read and write.
Ravi : Kiska ladka hai? (Whose child is he?)
Raghu : Daak khaane ka (Post Office’s…no wonder he’s named Parcel). He lives at the post office, noone knows who his parents are but he loves reading. Maybe he’ll also become a Postman like you when he grows up.
On his first day at work, he goes to the temple in the morning to deliver Panditji’s letter and sees Mohini (Hema Mailin) there.
There’s an old lady in the village, whose son, Rasulla, had joined the Army and gone away… and who never returned back. She’s gone insane waiting to hear from him. She sits guarding a mango tree from other kids in the village. She’s been dying to hear from her son for years and when Ravi comes there and chases the little boys troubling her away, she sees the letters on the carrier of Ravi’s cycle and takes them away saying all those are her son’s letters.
He has to coax her into giving those letters back to him. And then he pulls out a blank paper from the stack of letters and recites : Meri pyaari ammi….pretending to read the content from a letter. And at the end he asks her : Nani, what’s your son’s name? And after she says the name, he ends the letter saying : Tera beta Rasulla.
Then he goes about delivering letters…he goes to a house and knocks, Mohini opens the door and is delighted to see the Postman…he hands over a letter -
Ravi : I am new here, had I known this letter was for you, I would have given it at the temple itself.
Mohini : You are new, that’s why I didn’t ask you if there was any letter for me when I saw you in the temple.
But the letter is not for her, somebody showed him the wrong house and she’s very disappointed.
She, however, guides him to the correct address, Choudhary’s house. His daughter, Chhutki (Farida Jalal) opens the door and talks non-stop that her father is not home with lots of if-else conditions. Finally when she’s done, he gives her the letter and leaves.
Chhutki’s wedding has been fixed and the letter is from her sasural, she’s very excited to know what’s written in it…so she comes to call Mohini so that they both could go somewhere and read the letter. She takes permission from Mohini’s maa (Leela Mishra) and they both leave with an excuse of fetching water from the well.
She opens the letter, puts the envelope behind on a stone wall surrounding the well and starts reading the letter. But she can’t read properly and can’t figure out what’s written in it…she asks Mohini for help but she can’t read either. She says she would have gone and joined the army if she knew how to read and write.
There’s a beautiful song here – Allah megh de. The letter finally reaches the Chaudhary and he reads it but is perplexed thinking how the Daakiya could have brought the letter without an envelope, which means no address. Chhutki lies to him saying that the letter was delivered without the envelope. And as though her saying so would help she says : Good that the kept the envelope. Imagine if he had to keep the letter and just give the envelope to us. We would never get to know what’s in the letter.
When Daakiya comes the following morning, Chaudhary is still perplexed wondering about the missing envelope and he asks him if he has come to distribute just the envelopes today. Now, it’s Ravi’s turn to get confused. He’s accused of taking the envelope away. (What could he possible do with it even if he had to take it?) Finally Mohini comes to his rescues and spills the truth to Chaudhary.
Next, he goes searching for Aarti Sharma to give Money order….when he reaches her house, he sees her busy making quilts.She stops her work to chat with him for a while and says that it’s her husband’s pension.
Aazadi ke jung mein saheed hue the - She claims to be an army’s widow and yet she puts sindoor. He’s kind of confused. And finding his puzzled expression very natural, she goes on to explain that she’s Amar suhagan and all the others in the village call her Suhagi didi. She says she waits for this day not because she would get money but for her husband…she feels connected to him in some way and when she puts sindoor she feels that he’s still somewhere around.
Ravi takes her hand, and takes her thumb impression on the paper before giving her the Pension amount. But she doesn’t keep the money…she sends it for the welfare of other armies who are fighting day and night, protecting the country and ensuring everybody’s safety. At the end he realizes that she’s educated and can converse fluently in English as well. He leaves feeling embarrased for taking her thumb impression instead of asking her to sign.
Ravi sits under a Peepal tree infront of Mohini’s house and sorts his letters. And she awaits a letter herself quite desparately so keeps asking him if there’s a letter for her. Ravi replies to her and continues with his work.
Mohini (to her cow) : Do you want some water?
Ravi (assuming she’s asking him) : Yes, a glass of water, please.
Mohini : What will a glass of water do, I will have to get a bucket full of water for you.
And then she asks him if he would want some water…to this he replies -
Ravi : Yes, but not in a bucket.
She goes towards the house and then stops half way through to ask if buttermilk would do. He nods. And she comes with a glass of buttermilk for him.
Mohini : if I get any letters, do give it to me.
Ravi : Who else would I give it to?
Mohini: Oh I mean, dont give it to Maa.
Ravi : Once bitten twice shy, I would never make that mistake again. I have learnt a lot from Chaudhary saab’s letter episode (Dhoodh ka jala hoon na, dekho chhach ko bhi phook phook ke pee raha hoon).
She behaves pretty mysterious asking about letters so he asks her if she gets letters often.
Mohini : No, but just in case if I get any letters.
Ravi : You wait so much for them, you must have got them earlier too.
Mohini : No, not yet, but…
Ravi : Who is it that you expect to hear from so much?
Mohini : (Little uncomfortably) I am supposed to get a letter form my Mamaji.
And goes away saying she has to give buttermilk to her cow.
Ravi : Buttermilk? To cow?
Mohini : I mean water…don’t know what I am saying today
Ravi (jokingly) : You get so confused, has it ever happened that you kept your food plate infront of the cow and started eating the grass yourself?
She laughs and goes away.
Ravi sings Daakiya daak laaya as he goes about his work. He comes home from work very hungry and asks Parcel for food. Raghu gives him water and starts asking about Mohini. The entire village is talking about the two of them now. Ravi confides that he likes Mohini but has no idea how she feels for him. Just then Parcel comes with a sheet of paper and asks Raghu if it’s ok…Raghu after going through it approves of it and asks Parcel to post it. Ravi is confused as to what they both are upto. Raghu explains to him that nobody ever wrote him a letter in his life, so he’s making Parcel write one and post it. He would reply to it on receiving it.
One day on his way back home, Ravi sees Mohini sitting on a tree branch and staring.
He asks her what she’s looking at and she says she was thinking about the armies who were there few months ago for training. She would sit there and look at them for hours together.
Mohini : This area used to be so full of armies some time back and now…
Ravi : And now, let’s both go and do a parade.
Mohini : Who will distribute your letters then?
Ravi : We could ask anybody to do that…what’s the name of that liar friend of yours? Chhutki? Let her go around giving the letters and her father will go behind her with the envelopes
She asks him why he didn’t come and sit under the Peepal tree today to sort his letters and mentions she was actually waiting for him the whole day.
Ravi : You were waiting for me? or for your mamaji’s letter?
Mohini : Had made daliya today, you come everyday so had kept some for you too.
Ravi : Is it still there or did u give it to ur cow?
Mohini : I have kept some for you.
Ravi : Ok then, I have to go to Suhagi didi’s house now, I’ll come over after that (extremely delighted).
Suhagi has made some quilts and blankets and she gives them to Ravi to send them across to some regiment. Ravi comes to Mohini’s place to have daliya. He barely sits down when Mohini’s cow breaks free and runs away with the rope entangled with Ravi’s cycle. Mohini’s cow running away with Ravi’s cycle – this becomes such a big breaking news and the hottest gossip in the village.
Ravi goes behind the cow and finally brings both the cow and cycle home. But he gets hurt in the process. So Mohini tends to his wounds. She notices Suhagi’s parcel and asks Ravi about it.
Him : She has sent it for the armies.
Her : What if I want to send a parcel to somebody?
Him : You should have his name and regiment address and it will reach him. But…why? You know any fauji?
Her : No, I was just asking.
Rekha makes a special appearance in this dance – Surme wale sainyaan hamaro ji.
After a few days, she meets him by that tree again and takes his measurements for a sweater. He’s very happy and is now sure that she likes him too.
Another day she complains that he never brings a letter for her and then he promises to bring a letter for her the following day.
He goes home that night and sits awake the whole night writing a letter to her – putting down his feelings on paper. When he meets her, he gives her the letter and she’s extremely delighted. Then she shows him the sweater she has knit and asks him to try it. He’s happily trying it out when she looks at the letter and says – now that he has written to me and I have his address, I can send the sweater too.
He is shocked to find out that it’s not for him. All his dreams are shattered and he’s heart is broken…
She then tells him her story – She had met Ravi (Jeetendra), an army officer when his battalion was training near her village, fallen in love with him and had also quietly married him in a temple. But he had to go almost immediately after that and she has never heard of him since. However, she’s sure he’ll return back to her some day.
Now that he knows she’s already married, he decides to help her locate Ravi (Jeetendra). Heartbroken as he is, he cannot help himself from singing a song – Ladkhadane do mujhe. He goes to the town the following morning searching for Ravi (Jeetendra) but with no luck and finally comes back to Sitapur again.
He meets Rasulla’s mother at the station, she gives him a letter and asks him to read it. It has the news of Rasullah’s death and the letter is dated ten years back.
The very same day he receives a telegram saying that the Army Officer he was looking for has been killed in the war. With a heavy heart he goes to give the news to Mohini but there’s a huge crowd gathered there. Mohini tells him that Rasulla’s mother died of sorrow because somebody told her that her son is dead. Ravi feels guilty and tells her that he was the one who had read the letter out to her. At this she tells him he should have lied and hidden the truth from her. At least a lie would have saved her life. Everybody in the village knew of Rasulla’s death but nobody had dared to break the news to her because they were scared she would die of shock.
Now, Ravi (Rajesh) cannot bring himself to tell Mohini of Ravi’s (Jeetendra) death. And he goes back home with a heavier heart. He’s in a dilemma as to whether to tell Mohini the truth or to hide it from her.
Mohini, on the other hand, now aware that the war has come to an end starts waiting all the more eagerly for Ravi (Jeetendra) – Ghungta gira hai.
What will Ravi do now? Will he ever be able to tell Mohini the truth? Will she ever come to know that he was once in love with her? Will she misunderstand his intentions? Mohini’s Maa is pressurizing her to get married…how long will she be able to postpone it? Will she be able to voice out and explain about her marriage with Ravi (Jeetendra)? Is Ravi (Jeetendra) really dead? Or Ravi (Rajesh) has something else in mind?
What I liked about the movie : Everything! I loved this movie. The simplicity and the sensitivity with which the story is executed is simply amazing. It’s a slow paced movie that builds up with every scene, every frame. I like the way how the story and the characters grow together hand-in-hand.
It’s set in a small village where hardly anybody knows to read and write. The entire movie is about small hurdles and obstacles that they have to overcome in their day-today lives. Not everything is perfect but how the characters still find a reason to smile and be content with what they have in life. It’s about relationships – how one can confide in a stranger, how a mere gesture of affection could be mistaken for love. Again, having said that, it’s not just Rajesh Khanna’s fault that he falls in love with her. Admit that Hema Malini looks stunning in her deglam avataar but in addition to that she does lead him on, though unknowingly. Subtle performance, witty one-liners and lilting melodies, though not very popular, are the highlights of this film. Hats off to Gulzaar for writing such a beautiful story, Director Meraj for a wonderful job of executing and presenting the story, Laxmikant Pyarelal for beautiful music and all the actors for their great performance.
Daakiya daak laaya made me feel very nostalgic - my eyes were brimming with tears when the song got over. Less than a decade ago, I myself used to wait so eagerly for the postman to come. The moment I would spot him cycling towards the hostel gate, I would literally run out to ask him if there was a letter for me. The joy of recieving a letter is something that emails and chat messengers can never match up to. Even with the advent of internet, I didn’t have much access to e-mails back then. Laptops were very rare and not allowed in hostel. And with all the rules in missionary hostel, we would get an outing only once a month. So had to wait for one whole month to go to an Internet cafe. Letters were faster. Postman would usually come during our lunch break but sometimes he would get late and come only after we left hostel for afternoon class. If I was fortunate enough to catch him on the way, I would still collect my letter before rushing for the class…but having to sit in class and concentrate on lecture with an un-opened letter in hand seemed to be the most difficult thing to do in the world - 45 mins seemed like ages. But it used to be worth all that. And oh how I miss all those simple joys of life now!
What I didn’t like : Amjad Khan was wasted here…he hardly had 5 minutes role as the taangawaala. And even Jeetendra for that matter, though I am sure that except for bollywooddeewana and Nasir, nobody would actually mind that or miss him. He just has around 2 minutes time on screen. The end was a little too abrupt but other than than I foudn the movie very good.
I had bought this movie in December and wanted to review it as a part of Rajesh Khanna special post I was doing then for his birthday, but I couldn’t even watch it then. So, when Jeetendra’s birthday was around the corner I thought I would write about it then, I had an excuse to pull out this movie from my stack. I finally watched the movie, but was so occupied that I couldn’t post it till today. I had come back home today with my mind set that I wouldn’t go to sleep without completing this post. And finally I have succeeded.