Ram Aur Shyam (1967) and the Dramatic Birthday Party!


Let me start off by announcing it is my birthday today so it’s fitting to share with you my favorite birthday scene (so far) in a Bollywood movie.

Ram Aur Shyam (1967) stars Dilip Kumar in a double role-playing identical twins separated at birth who know not of each other until they unwittingly switch parts and their worlds collide. Kumar’s Ram is  a  timid dimwit, reminding me a lot Anil Kapoor’s  parts in Beta (1992), and  Yuvvraaj (2008); and Shah Rukh Khan’s part in Koyla (1997). Here’s Dilip playing his special needs Ram part.  Can you tell he’s slow here?

Ah, they’re all confused by Shayam acting so much unlike Ram, and we all know the cure for this, the tight slap, as suggested by Mumtaz here:

OK, let’s get the synopsis out of the way so I can get to the good stuff.

 Ram Aur Shyam is a 1967 Indian Hindi feature film, directed by Tapi Chanakya. Its producer B. Nagi Reddy previously produced Ramudu Bheemudu, a Telugu film starring N.T. Rama Rao, in 1964; Ram Aur Shyam is Nagi Reddi’s Hindi version. Ram Aur Shyam has music by Naushad and lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, it stars Dilip Kumar (in his first dual role), Pran, Waheeda Rehman, and Mumtaz. The theme owes its origins to Alexandre Dumas, père’s story The Corsican Brothers: twins separated at birth who grow up with very different temperaments and then exchange places, leading to the villain being taught a lesson. Like The Corsican Brothers, which has been adapted into several feature films, Ram Aur Shyam has inspired remakes in Hindi movies too, with Seeta Aur Geeta (featuring female twins, played by Hema Malini) in 1972; Chaalbaaz (starring Sridevi) in 1989; and Kishen Kanhaiya (starring Anil Kapoor) in 1990. (source)

I have a filmi friend who jokes about Hindi movies saying, “and there was a wedding,” which is funny because isn’t there a wedding in 75% or more of all Indian films?  The Indian social system is glued together by marriage,  from the joint family system, to the industries that profit from the actual wedding functions themselves, so of course weddings are part of the movies because they’re so much a part of the culture. Yet nearly as often as the weddings are part of the films, I’ve noticed there are a lot of parties in general, and in particular birthday parties, the singing of  huppy burdhay tew ewe, and birthday cakes!  I love a good birthday cake!  Since it’s my birthday today, please indulge me and allow me to focus on the birthday section of this film, complete with some Bollywood balloons.

The Dramatic Birthday Party of Ram Aur Shyam go like this: The party for Shyam’s  niece, Kuku (Baby Farinda) begins, (except it’s Ram pretending to be Shyam): giant birthday card, huge cake, many guests…

Enter deliciously evil daddy of birthday girl, Pran, demanding silence. Khamosh!

Cute daughter approaches him and offers him some of her birthday cake:

It’s Pran, so you can guess what he does, right?  He slaps that plate right out of her hand on her birthday, in front of everyone! Look at her cry!

Oh no he didn’t!  Oh yes he DID!  Enter fake docile Shyam, lekin it’s really badass Ram:

Ram/Shyam picks up the cake from the floor…



then shoves it in Pran’s mouth! Can it get anymore dramatic and filmy than that? YES IT CAN! Because DEKH!  In this photo there is a Bollywood hat trick of:

  • a chandelier
  • grand central staircase
  • Bollywood balloons

Technically it’s even better than the hat trick, since it’s also a birthday party, with Pran, and a cake. Start watching at the 6 minute mark in order to see this wild scene take place.

Is the birthday ruined from this drama? Nahin!!! Enter Ram/Shyam with some more balloons and a happy song.

All is saved by a fantastic song and all the kids dancing to Aaye Hain Baharen Mite Zulmo Sitam by Mohammed Rafi.

Here’s one more Bollywood chandelier from the film for chandelier specialist, Shweta at Apni East India Company:

OK, the party is over, so I’ll just add that all the wacky mix ups and drama end with a double wedding ceremony for Ram aur Shyam, but this isn’t quite a spoiler alert, because I bet you can’t tell Ram from Shyam in these photos.

Wandering around the web, I found this great blog review of the film at Ranranbolly as well as one by the intellectual gold standard of all things filmy HERE at Philip’sfilums.

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41 thoughts on “Ram Aur Shyam (1967) and the Dramatic Birthday Party!

  1. Happy birthday Sita-ji! I saw Ram Aur Shyam a very long time ago (probably when I was somewhere between 10-15 years old), and I just recently bought the DVD, so I’ll definitely stop by here again. Talk to you soon, and have a great birthday / Super Bowl bash!

    • theBollywoodFan-ji,
      Do see it again and then get back to me on your impressions, thought I’ve taken one of the best scenes of all and spoiled it a bit for you. Thanks and Go Vikings! ;) Talk to you soon.

    • Anarchivist-ji,
      I know, right? The chandelier’s stand alone beauty is augmented by the streamers and balloons, hai na? In the land of Bharat they sure know how to gild the lily.

    • shellie-ji,
      Dammit shellie if I didn’t go out and buy my very own sheet cake for my birthday! Indeed the balloons did resurrect the function. No balloons for me, but they weren’t really needed because Dilip didn’t slap Pran and bring my birthday down. Wait, I would have loved than, now I’m sad so have to go get some balloons. ;)

  2. Happy Birthday Sita-ji.
    LOL @ the hat-trick, just missed the JW.
    Loved all the extra links provided, especially the link to Philip Lutgendorf’s reviews.
    This song is my favorite from the film, as also is Dilip Kumar’s performance. Incidentally, when I was probably the age of some of those children in the song, Dilip Kumar himself played soccer with a bunch of us.
    Pran as a villain is priceless. Pran as anything is priceless.
    In honor of your birthday, I hope David Letterman does a Top Ten Bollywoodism’s List”. It would probably go something like :-
    10) Mind your cleavage
    9) Grand Staircases
    8 ) Balloons
    7) “Male Tensions”
    6) Chandeliers
    5) Business Tycoons
    4) Orphans
    3) Spinster
    2) TS
    1) JW
    As always, highly entertained by your posts.

    • Samir-ji!
      Kya list hai! Shabash! LOL! I wonder if that mind your cleavage has ever appearred again? I’ve dreamed of starting an excel list where I could list such things in the movies, and I’ve only done the Johnnie Walker and the tight slaps, but surely you know there’s so much more since your list is perfect! I also like when I see the Indian-English terms not used in the USA, such as “chew my brains,” “do the needful,” and “mention not” to name a few.

      WOW, Played soccer (hey you can say football with me) with Dilip Kumar! So cool! What was your connection? Confess! Is he your uncle, I mean literally your uncle, in the non-Indian way of using uncle?!

      Pran was great in this, as usual. Glad you liked the links. Did you catch the Pran one: http://www.pransikand.com/
      Check out the awesome (and I use that word only when required) sent of painting of him:
      http://www.pransikand.com/paintings.html

      Also, speaking of the links in the post, I actually ran into Philip Lutgendorf on my plane to Delhi last year. I over heard bits of his conversation “Iowa…professor…Hindi…” So I said, you aren’t Philip of Philip’sfil-ums are you? It was him. What are the odds of that? Bollywood style coincidence hai! Thanks for your thoughtful comments and kind words sahib.

  3. HAPPPPY BURDAY TOO YOUUUUUU” (Sings like the shrill children in the film!) i love Ram aur Shyam, such a dynamic role for Dilip especially as the badass Ram and his hilarious scene when he does his acting hamming when he’s locked up in his room! But the birthday scene is hilariously dramatic when Pran enters, espeicially when he’s shot from such a low foreboding angle! I love the cake shoving scene because it reminds me of the many Punjabi birthday parties i had to suffer and watch through as the bday person gets cake fed to them by all the important family members lol! Thankfully i didnt get fed too much and enjoyed it coz it was always a chocolate cake!

    • Rum-ji,
      Sat Sri Akal! Dhanyavaad. So glad you know of and remember this scene, and I loved those camera angles which added to the dramatic impact of the scene too. Lucky those cake feeding sessions weren’t done in an aggressive manner and you still are fond of cake. Thanks for your comment. :)

  4. Happy Birthday Sitaji ! Hope u had a fun day with lots of balloons and cakes!

    The little girl in the movie is Baby Farida.

    Ram Aur Shyam is famous for its songs. I have seen the songs but not the movie as yet

  5. Belated happy burrday tew ewe!! I hope you had a fabulous day, and here’s wishing you many many great movies all through the year! May you see many more Ram aur Shyams and Bootpolishes, and may you manage to miss all the Black Cats and Badi Behens!

  6. Happy birthday Sitaji (i made it just in time too!)
    thank you for the shout out- must put up those lights :)

    I have never been much of a Dilip Kumar fan, tho I have seen thiis- I did enjoy the shoving-cake-in-ran’s-mouth scene a lot, and mumtaz was very fun, as she always is :)

    • shweta-ji,
      Glad you got the chandelier pix I linked you to. I can’t see one with out screen capping it for you now. Yeah, I liked Dilip in this. So far my favorite performances of Dilip for me are Naya Daur, Madhumati, and the more jerky, a-hole type characters he plays in Devdas and Mughal-E-Azam, and especially the freak he played in Andaz. Yeah, Mumtaz was a lot of fun in this one, and out of all the scenes the cake one takes the cake. :)

  7. A (slightly belated) happy birthday to you, Sita-ji!

    This film looks amusing. You know, my favorite twins-separated-at-birth movie was Uthama Puthiran (1958) ( http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5411928700223238404&ei=SepwS5ifKZaClgfh9fyeCQ&q=uthama+puthiran&hl=en# ), which was based on another Alexandre Dumas story, The Man In the Iron Mask. (That, as you might know, is what you see as my avatar – the iron mask from Uthama Puthiran.) I don’t know much about the original Dumas stories (and it’s taking too long to search them :) ), so I was wondgering, did Dumas write a few stories about twins separated at birth, or did Uthama Puthiran just combine a couple of Dumas stories, or are The Corsican Brothers and The Man in the Iron Mask part of, or variations of, the same story? (Yes, I’m getting rather confused…)

    • RIchard-ji,
      Thanks for that link and the birthday wishes. Uthama Puthiran looks fantastic. Is that Rekha’s dad in that? I did no know that was your avatar. I will enjoy seeing this one. The bit of the music I heard sounds great. And you’re supposed to be confused over the twins separated at birth stories, so too their origins. I think we may be brother and sister separated at birth. ;)

      • Sita-ji, here’s a place where you can watch Uthama Puthiran with English subtitles:

        http://www.rajshritamil.com/Movie/Uthama-Puthran-with-English-subtitles

        And here’s a separate copy of that great song, with that great dance by Padmini and Ragini:

        The star whom you see is Savaji Ganesan, who did a fine job portraying both twins. Rekha’s dad is Gemini Ganesan (no relation, I don’t think).

        Yes, I guess separated-at-birth stories are supposed to be confusing in all ways.

        Could we be brother and sister separated at birth? Well, I look forward to the explanation of how that might have happened. :)

      • RIchard-ji, Yes, the comment placement for wordpress isn’t consistent and sometimes misplaced from where it’s intended to go, but I know what you meant. No question that Padmini and Shobana were related to our father. :)

    • Richard-ji, Thanks for the film link! I hope to get to this one soon. Yes we were totally separated at birth. Bilkul! I shall begin the story and you can fill in some, return back to me for more, and so on… It started in India, Kerala, to be precise, Chochin to be exact. Our mother was a Malabar Jew, who fell in love with a gold smuggler, much against the wishes of her parents, so….(you take over the story)

      • Sita-ji, glad you are enjoying Uthama Puthiran (or hopefully have enjoyed it by the time you read this). I also love that long hand-clapping rockabilly romp in the 18th century(?) Tamil court. By the way, one section of that is also one of my favorite Helen dances!

        Yes, Sivaji Ganesan was great! And that’s a very nice gallery…

        Regarding our separated at birth story, I will have to consult some sources before I can add to that. A little while ago, while looking at stuff in the library, I read a bunch about the Jews of Kerala in a book by Dr. Nathan Katz. Hmm, maybe he visited our family.

        I like to think that our Kerala family knows this woman. Or maybe her

    • Richard-ji,
      I’m watching Uthama Puthiran (1958) using your link above, and so far love it! I like the beginning more than Ram aur Shyam because it makes the separation and how they were raised differently clear, which Ram aur Shyam does not flesh out until near the end of the film, making it more confusing. I’ve fallen in love with Sivaji Ganesan, and thought you’d like this gallery of him:
      http://www.sivajiprabhu.com/gallery.html
      I haven’t even gotten to the song you gave the additional link to since I’m still processing the first number of the film, (about 25 minutes in) a seemingly endless, delightfully disjointed romp where they’re doing some more “modern” grooving with lots of hand clapping. Love it! See this is my fear, that Tamil and Telugu can pull me from Hindi films. :)

      • Oops. I put my answer to this comment up as a response to your last comment. Also slightly screwed up the placement of a link. WordPress doesn’t make it eas to post complicated comments. :) Feel free to fix.

      • Richard-ji, Yes, the comment placement for wordpress isn’t consistent and sometimes misplaced from where it’s intended to go, but I know what you meant. No question that Padmini and Shobana were related to our father. :)

  8. Very happy (belated) birthday wishes to you, Sita-ji, and I hope you had a lovely birthday. I’m delighted to see you’ve featured one of my favourite films, and I have to agree that the birthday party shenanigans in it are so much fun! I really enjoyed Dilip Kumar’s comedic performance in ‘Ram Aur Shyam’ and Mumtaz and Waheeda were great fun too (especially Mumu, whose role was meatier than Waheeda-ji’s). And of course… PRAN!! Really good times!

    • DG-ji,
      Thanks dost. Glad you like this one too. It dragged a bit in the end, but then again what can follow that stellar birthday party scene. Pran was fantastic, as usual! Nirupa Roy was great as Pran’s wife/Ram’s brother, but her part was too small. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Oooh, happy belated birthday!!! What a lovely way to celebrate your special day, with a happy post. I especially liked your phonetic spelling of Indian Happy Birthday. :-D

  10. Happy Birrday Sitaji!! Sorry I am so late in wishing you :( but wishes are warm, heartfelt and dil se :)

    Also: apparently, the lil girl in the frilly frock dancing on the piano- the one Dilip Kumar twirls around, is Rekha. Yes, THE Rekha. Her dad Gemini Ganesan was shooting next door and they pulled her in for the song, or so I’ve heard!

    • pitu-ji,
      Thanks! What a little gem of knowledge you’ve provided. I thought Gemini sort of ignored her as a child and that they were estranged. I think it looks possible though, how about you? Also, how’s the arm/wrist doing?

  11. A big Lol at this post so much enthusiasm, i have to admit i was in no hurry to see this film despite reading quite a lot about it around the web, now I HAVE TO SEE IT and a happy belated birthday from me to you. here’s a belated birthday song for you with loads of cute filmi bachas

    • bollywooddeewana-ji,
      Shooo schweet! Shukriya! Love the video. I look forward to hearing your impressions to Ram Aur Shyam, I went in not expecting too much and really loved it. It gets a bit convoluted and the end, but it’s a solid film with plenty of slaps, confusion, and shock value to keep you interested. Report back hai!

    • bollywooddeewana-ji!

      Thanks for the wishes and excuse by belated reply! I loovk forward to reading a post you do on the film after you see it. I’ll be looking for that. :)

  12. Sitaji,

    This review had me in splits. It’s one of the best I have read (funniness-wise) in Bollywood blogland. My birthday is a week later than yours but since it is May, it is too late to wish us.

    • sophy-ji,
      Thanks friend, my job is done if you laugh. :) Happy late birthday to you and many happy returns of the day. Thanks for taking the time to comment and I look forward to seeing you here again.

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