Kala Pani is a cheap and cheerful masala movie, which at just over two hours is also somewhat on the short side.
After a luridly coloured title sequence with see-through dancers:
we meet a couple offering a golden crown to the gods as they have been blessed with a son. The father (Ajit) is rather distracted by the sight of all the gold in the temple. That night he plans to rob the temple, but unfortunately his expert lock opener has recently been reformed and is unwilling to rob a temple. After a fight in the rain which takes place to the sound of the temple bells, Banarasi manages to call the police anonymously and L.K., as the father is known, is arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment, not just for the robbery but also for teaching children from his orphanage to steal.
The happy family:
No, I won't let you steal here:
Reaping the rewards of his actions (or of not choosing his colleagues more wisely)
After L. K. has been taken to prison, Shanti is hounded by the public as a thief's wife, so she decides to leave the city. By coincidence she ends up on the same train as Banarasi, who is very friendly and takes an instant liking to her little boy though the two don't know each other.
However, more tragedy is about to strike, and in the movie's first offering of cheap special effects there is a tragic train accident.
Shanti is separated from her son, but is also entrusted with the care of a little girl by her dying mother, while Banarasi ends up with the little boy and brings him up, probably assuming that Shanit has died in the train crash. Years pass, and then L.K. is released from prison and bent on avenging himself on Banarasi and his son (not knowing, of course, that that boy is his son). He is also concerned that his wife and son seem tohave disappeared.
L.K. frames Banarasi for a murder and theft, and he is taken to prison. He tries to teach the son to steal, but he manages to run away. Of course, he is now branded (again) as a thief's son, but he still manages to become a police inspector and we finally learn that he is called Dharamveer (Shashi Kapoor):
As a dutiful son he is still close to his father, who is in prison:
and he is good friends with Abdul, who is a extremely useful source of information (honestly, he always has the right information at the right time):
Dharamveer is new in the area and he is determined to clean up all the illegal activities. As a first step, he arrest a man named Shetty who deals in adulterated alcohol. He also tries to bribe Dharamveer, so he gets a bribenig-charge as well:
An unexpected visitor:
L.K. is now sporting white hair, but has not mended his ways at all. He is now selling statues to foreigners (shock! horror!). As a front, he pretends to be an honest car salesman (well, maybe not the most convincing front). Dharamveer comes to see him to ask him to look out for stolen cars and they share a cigarette together.
Of course, L.K. knows only too well where the stolen cars are, as they are stolen by his associate and son-substitute Shera (Amjad Khan). Shera seems not to be the most accomplished thief ever, being easily stumped by various forms of car security devices:
I am not surprised the car owner left the door unlocked:
Shera is also interested in Geeta (Neetu Singh). Geeta is a very no-nonsense young lady, who stands up for the downtrodden in her neighbourhood, and who has not time for Shera at all; or for drunken husbands who insist that their wives live with them. She is friends with Abdul and she runs a refreshment stall. In her spare time she also manages to be a dutiful daughter.
You, mister, need to sort yourself out:
Is there anybody Abdul doesn't know?
Oh, look who Maa is! (I can't say it's entirely unexpected)
We then are taken to the beach, where we meet a corrupt Constable, who takes money and snacks from all the stall owners and is generally unpleasant. However, on stall owner is new and doesn't know the routine yet, so when he (not unreasonably) demands payment for a drink, he gets taken to the police station. Inspector Dharamveer, however, does not approve of the Constables behaviour and has him temporarily suspended.
Uh, I think he is angry:
Maa, on her way back from shopping, has her mangelsutra stolen, but of course, Inspector Dharamveer happens to be passing by and returns it to her. She briefly mentions a lost son, presumably for the benefit of viewers with short-term memory problems, but we swiftly move on to our first song, in which Geeta praises the advantages of having a cold drink in hot weather.
Required not yet re-united family meeting:
I am positive this isn't free from artificial colours:
While singing, Geeta notices a policeman who works as a pick-pocket. After the song finishes, she takes him to the police station, where we learn that she has already met Inspector Dharamveer, and that the two are terribly in love with each other, and have not yet managed to convey this to the other. There follows a lot of staring and interior dialogue, before the Inspector is called away on duty.
I am really rather distracted by that sign; Garlic therapy; do I even want to know?
not finding the words:
Abdul the extremely informative has found out that a consignment of drugs is going to be smuggled in a hospital van and after a car chase which swiftly takes us into the middle of nowhere, the driver of the van is arrested. He is then subjected to rather rough interviewing techniques but refuses to divulge his boss's name. However, enlisting the help of the not-so-corrupt anymore Constable, Inspector Dharamveer manages to let the suspect escape and follows him to his boss's lair (well actually more a shed) and of course he is Shera. It follows a fight which goes on ever so slightly longer than necessary (at least for my taste) though it does involve round glass pellets (now why would a group of drug-smuggling car thieves have sacks of the stuff in their lair?)
The two actually make a very cute couple:
Don't trust him:
This is rather fun:
Shera is arrested but not for long, and Inspector Dharamveer is getting a bit depressed about the distinct lack of progress. To take his mind of things and because L.K. requested his presence, he goes to the grand opening of a new hotel in town. which leads as to a dance number featuring Bindu and a very literal interpretation of that moth and flame theme so frequently found in song lyrics. Also, L.K. has come up with a cunning plan to get rid of the inspector by slipping him a lighter armed with a mini-bomb:
Pretty in pink:
People, seriously, what's with the wings:
More tobacco-related bonding:
Back at Geeta's place, Maa as fallen ill and is in need of expensive medication. However, there isn't much money around, and when Geeta asks the smarmy shop-owner for a loan he tries to rape her. Luckily she manages to fight him off (without any male assistance) and when not being able to pay for the medicine necessitates hiding somewhere, she ends up in Dharamveer's jeep. He is quite pleased to see her and offers her a lift home. Luckily (for him, less so for L.K.) Geeta disapproves of his smoking and he is so smitten by her that he is willing to give it up for her.
He then spends the night at her place, looking after Maa, who he recognizes from the mangelsutra incident. He leaves in the morning but not after Shera has planted a bomb in his jeep. Of course, Shera is seen doing this by Abdul the always present, who tries to warn the Inspector and manages to drag him out of the car just in time. The two bond and Abdul declares that he is willing to lay down his life for his friend (oh, that's generally not a good thing to say in the movies).
I am glad it is so clearly marked:
Back at Geeta's, Maa has recovered and is about to offer prayers when she notices that she is out of matches. Dharamveer has left behind is lighter, but luckily Maa isn't familiar with this piece of modern technology, and while she is still puzzling it out, Dharamveer appears, with matches. After the prayers, Maa goes to make some tea, and Dharamveer and Geeta use the opportunity to confess their love for each other, which of course is promptly celebrated with a song (and a very nice song it is):
and off we go:
Meanwhile, L.K. and Shera have not been idle. They are planning to rob the house of a rich merchant, whose servant are almost all out to attend a wedding. This requires high tech equipment. While they are at work, Inspector Dharamveer passes by and becomes suspicious. Unfortunately, L.K. manages to fob him off with a tale about his car regularly breaking down, and all the fish in the fishtank thrown over by the one servant who was still in the house, have sacrificed the lives in vain. Again, this goes on a bit longer than is strictly speaking necessary, unless you are a particular fan of watching people ring door-bells.
The owner also seems to rent out his house as film-set:
High-tech equipment indeed:
All in vain:
Shera has not forgotten Geeta and in fact brings a proposal to her mother, who is horrified at the prospect and throws him out. Unfortunately, Shera is unused to rejection and tries to abduct Geeta. This in turn leads to a shoot-out with Inspector Dharamveer. Shera manages to escape but not before the Inspector recognises L.K.'s car. L.K. manages to get out of the situation, but not without Inspector Dharamveer's suspicions having been roused.
L.K. sporting a questionable fashion choice:
What will happen next? What will L.K. come up with to get rid of the irritating Inspector? Will Abdul be there to help (and will he make it through the movie)? What happens when Banarasi is released from prison? Will the lost family be ever re-united and how? Whose blood is being splashed so liberally across the windscree?
And will there be even more awesome special effects than this:
Cheap and cheerful really describes this best. The story generally moves along at a decent pace (with one or two exceptions), and while not breaking any new ground presents the usual plot elements in a pleasing and fairly coherent fashion. Geeta is great, she is independent and strong, and doesn't loose all her fighting ability by putting on traditional clothes. Inspector Dharamveer is probably a tougher character than on is used to Shashi playing but he liked him in this more action-oriented part. He also has great chemistry with Neetu. The other's are fine, though we get to see surprisingly little of Maa, which is a shame as she is played by one of my favourite actresses. She is very cute when she is around, and seems surprisingly non-weepy given her lost family. Maybe having Geeta around counteracts all weepy tendencies.
And this post wouldn't be complete without:
Gratuitous Shashi pictures: