India 1969
Directed by Brij.

Dharmendra stars as Rajesh, working on a top secret formula for the Indian government. He cons a month leave after the experiment blows a fuse, and spends his time wooing lovely Rite (Sharmila Tagore). He's determined to get married but Dr. Sharma, the head of the project, forbids it. They argue, and suddenly the Doctor winds up dead, and Rajesh framed. Other nations want the "secret formula." But what is the formula? For Kentucky Fried Chicken? Coke? Maybe it's a formula they only think is secret, but is widely available on the Internet.

After Rajesh is thrown in jail for the murder, he must be convicted and escape, in order to work undercover to discover what agents want the formula. And of course, he can't tell Rita, so his reputation is ruined and his fiancee mistrusts him, even though he is doing all for Mother India. The plan is a screw up from the beginning, and before you know it he is kidnapped by an international, multcultural group of evildoers in Mozambique, and replaced by "Garcon", a red-haired, blue-eyed lookalike (also, of course, played by Dharmendra), who can retrieve the formula in his place. No one asks at this point if the formula is really worth the bother, so the job goes forward.

YAKEEN is an espionage thriller obviously inspired by the Bond films. Dharmendra has fun in his double-role, really the only way some of these superstars ever got the chance to play a villain in a film. The music, by Shankar-Jankishen, is good, and for a moment it even achieves greatness with one showstopping musical number, when evil Rajesh visits the Club Ago Ago and the dancer Helen comes out and sings, "How will you escape?" In a sensuous, fantastic, ridiculous dance number filled with fez-wearing drummers, a half-dozen guitarists and saxophonists, and Helen, the greatest item-number dancer of Bollywood cinema, once again demonstrating why there is no one else quite like her. Oh yes, and Sharmila Tagore is in the film, too, as the love interest. She's OK, too, and everything, but I'm just saying - Helen. Rocks.

[The Yashraj Entertainment DVD opens with this message: "Reproduced from vintage source for the sake of nostalgic appeal, hence possibly compromising on quality." Nice way to spin not restoring a movie, as if somehow nostalgia for a film makes you want to see a crappy print of it. What this message means to me is that Yashraj is too cheap to restore the films they are releasing, and on top of that, they are bad liars. Still, it's a vibrantly colorful film, only slightly faded, wear mostly visible in lines and splotches that make regular appearances.]

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on May 19, 2007.

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