Door Ki Awaz (1969)
Cast: Deeba, Habib, Adeeb, Ajmal, Saqi, Zahoor Shah, Raj Multani
Director: Baqar Rizvi
Nutshell: Fear grips the Feudals of Kanganpur and the villagers believe a spate of related deaths is the result of something very sinister.
Baqar Rizvi’s name stands out among Lollywood directors of years gone by who frequently dared to push the envelope and dabble with genres other than the staple diet of romance, social drama and comedy. He may not have succeeded at the box office as much as he would have hoped but none the less his body of work makes for far more fascinating viewing than most. In Door Ki Awaz the setting is in a remote farming village community where powerful feudal landlords hold sway despite growing simmering resentment of their tyranny and injustices.
Habib, a dashing young man who has just returned from England as a polished brown sahib who wears only suits like a true angraiz. Members of his feudal family have mysteriously been murdered in recent times and Habib is determined to find out whether it is a plot to ruin his family or if it is as the villagers claim, a ghostly curse as revenge for dark deeds from the past. A third likelihood though remote but one that cannot be ruled out is that there is a People’s uprising against the feudal system.
Frequently at night Habib is disturbed by the ominous sounds of anklets and a distant song; the same sounds that normally preclude a new mysterious death.
The villagers have mixed feelings about Habib’s return to handle his family’s feudal affairs as they have grown to resent their callous treatment at the hands of his predecessors yet they welcome him, if with a slight grudge and yet hopeful that he may prove a better feudal lord than those before him.
Habib discusses the mysterious deaths with the locals and find some more sympathetic than others and some who dismiss the notion that it could be something supernatural.
The nights at the village of Kanganpur are shrouded in mystery with an ominous presence threatening to strike a deathly blow at any given moment. Everyone is a suspect including the sleazy doctor who has no patients and is taken to walking around at odd hours of the night. There is the resentful lame Saqi with his eyes on Deeba as well as some land and who carries around an anklet that makes a sound exactly like the one that signals a murderous strike.
As the plot thickens, there is the introduction of an investigator by the name of Jasoos who is an incompetent bungling buffoon but is also fairly amusing in the charming old school manner of the Johnny Walker years.
Habib and Deeba’s romance runs into hurdles while the murderer continues his killing spree with Habib soon to be targeted. The climax arrives with hideous freak like creature ambushing Habib and attempting to claw him to death with hits deadly sharp and curiously hairy talons. It is a fight to death…will Habib succeed in identifying the killer or will the murderous freak murder the last of the bloodline of the feudal family? Everything is revealed with a little bit of a shock ending that nobody saw coming.
Door Ki Awaz is a mildly entertaining murder thriller in a feudal setting and it keeps the viewer mildly engrossed with its mystery and some light romance and comedy with Deeba excelling and Habib as dapper and dashing as he usually was. As a thriller is far from edge of the seat stuff but at least it makes a change from the formula of the day. Baqar Rizvi was always toying with thrillers or Bond style escapism and though his efforts were often more miss than hit, they were still more entertaining than many. This earlier effort shows some style but not too much substance and yet it never flags and is short enough from becoming the usual predictable tedium that so many Lollywood movies end up as. On the whole, a film worth revisiting on a rainy Sunday afternoon.