|Cast||Navin Nischol, Vinod Mehra, Kajal Kiran, Prem Chopra, Om Shivpuri, Vidya Sinha, Narendra Nath, Paintal, Rajendra Nathm Padma Khanna, Trilok Kapoor|
|Director||Tulsi Ramsay, Shyam Ramsay|
|Associate Director||Arjun Ramsay|
|Producers||Raaj Baweja and GH Navani|
Saboot is a Bollywood mystery movie that hit theaters in the eighties. The movie is a murder mystery with some horror elements. Its not an out and out Bollywood horror movie, though. Once you have watched it, you are sure to have a strong opinion of the movie. So, without further ado, here’s my opinion of the Ramsay movie, Saboot.
A young couple, Aakash and Asha are preparing to lead a happy married life. However, fate has other plans. Asha’s father, Dharamdas is a rich businessman and a kindly man. Aakash dies in a fatal plane crash. Dharamdas, who had decided to sell one of his mills to Dhanraj changes his mind. Dhanraj and Dharamdas’ employees, who are hand in glove, kill Dharam Das. Asha picks up the pieces of her life and starts life anew with her sister, Kaajal.
But life has still other plans for Asha. One by one, her father’s killers die. The investigating officer is none other than Anand, who also falls in love with her sister, Kaajal. Together, the three have to counter a web of deceit, betrayal and most possibly, death.
Saboot is a well made murder mystery that if made with some modern film making sensibilities,would make for a blockbuster today. The story, by the dependable J K Ahuja, is a classic. The Ramsays had found their calling by 1980 – that’s visible from the horror-ish deaths that we see. Today the serial killer fiction genre is a sub-genre of crime/psychological horror. Granted, the Bollywood requirements wouldn’t allow any director in the 1980s to make a clear-cut psychological thriller, but Saboot is one of the closest to make that list.
Saboot has a lot going for it. The movie released in the eighties, and Bollywood audiences were still conversant with the laser straight type of story telling. I am guessing the audience would have a collective ‘hooh’ when they find out the identity of the person responsible for the actions that end up killing someone. Why didn’t I just use the word killer, well, you’ll need to watch the movie to know that.
Story and concept wise, Saboot is a very strong Bollywood murder mystery. But the movie could have done with tighter editing, especially in the scenes where the people die. The dying scenes are quite elaborate. This is one of those movies that don’t have the zombie just come about and kill the person. The cause of death is always something natural. So, the directors needed to come up with some rich ideas – and the old duo of Tulsi and Shyam Ramsay deliver. The script itself is intelligent, with at least two probables and then some more definites, Saboot keeps the audience guessing who the murderer is, until the very end.
Making a murder mystery is always a risk in India. That’s because Indian producers want the audiences to watch the movie, again, and again. In a romantic movie, people go to watch the scenic song picturisations. In an action movie, audiences make a beeline to watch the action sequences. A murder mystery has low budgets, so with all these gone, they have little to rely on. So, the very fact that a murder mystery makes it to the screens in India is laudable.
Saboot had a good starcast going for it. Vinod Mehra, Navin Nischol and Vidya Sinha had nothing to prove when Saboot hit theaters, and neither did Prem Chopra and Kaajal Kiran. This is another of those movies where the Ramsays cast Om Shivpuri in a negative role. Om Shivpuri has routinely done roles of the passive villain – like a tyrant landlord of a village or the positive roles of a doting father and a father-in-law. That the Ramsays cast him in negative roles in not one but a few more is an interesting anecdote for Bollywood historians.
Most Bollywood directors are unsuccessful in retaining the drama and the epic-ness of the reveal of the murderer in a Bollywood murder mystery movie. The very few, like Khiladi and Gupt, have already achieved iconic status. The Ramsays succeed in keeping the mystery and the drama right until the accused’s identity is revealed. In fact, they go two steps ahead and also add in a typical heroes beating up the villain in their den climax.
You can now watch Saboot on Amazon Prime as well.
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