Jailor Te Qaidi (1975)
Cast: Neelo, Sultan Rahi, Iqbal Hassan, Mustafa Qureshi, Ilyas Kashmiri, Saba
Director: Daud Butt
Music Director: Wajahat Attre
Nutshell: Masala laden, vengeance based pot-boiler has all the ingredients
Things get underway with boisterous Ilyas Kashmiri turning on his wife for being a prostitute and informing her that a Kothaywali can never become a Kothaywali before roughing her up a little. Poor Hapless Saba, all she ever wanted to do was to leave the kotha for a “respectable” life and enough money to get her a much-needed nose-job. Snout bearing Saba’s disarray is noticed by her “ghairatmand” brother Khanoo (Sultan Rahi) who flies into a rage at the deceit of his once friend Kashmiri and proceeds to take his revenge by carving up a bunch of his (Kashmiri’s) goons but Kashmiri is saved by the timely intervention of the cops and Khanoo is sent packing to a jail known for its fanatical disciplinarian Superintendent Mustafa Qureshi.
When Khanoo is summoned by Qureshi he mocks the jails discipline and promises to escape forthwith. They proceed to exchange a few typical rhyming dialogues before Qureshi accepts Rahi’s words as a challenge and so the game of Jailor te Qaidee is set to begin! Meanwhile dastardly, wife-beating Kashmiri has problems of his own as his brother is on death row and so he shows up at Jailor Qureshi’s residence and attempts to administer a bribe. However, little does he know that Jailor Sher Bahadur is not a man to be trifled with.
Meanwhile back at the jail and true to his word Rahi escapes, leaping over huge walls with the slightest of effort. However, when he leaps over one final barrier he finds the Jailor waiting for him, twirling his moustaches like the fat cat who just caught its dinner! Again, the exchange deeply meaningful rhyming couplets before a fearsome fight erupts between the two ending with Rahi back in his cell. Then fate intervenes in a manner exclusive to Lollywood potboilers of the era. One rather tranquil evening the jailor receives a call from his loving wife Seema asking him when she should expect him home – just at that moment the call is interrupted as Seema is attacked by 3 hoodlums who have broken into her home. The jailor flees homewards after a few electrifying impact shots and arrives as the men are about to “quench their animal lust” on poor old Seema. After admonishing and lecturing the rapists in typical jailorly manner Qureshi is finally compelled to open fire upon the scumbags as his words appear to be falling on deaf ears. The cops show up and the poor upright jailor is dragged away – now in shackles to serve his sentence for murder at the very jail he lorded over.
The other inmates turn on the ex-jailor and torture him by singing him an excruciating moralistic qawwali that seems to go on forever. Later when Qureshi (the ex-jailor) stops Khanoo from fleeing the jail once again, a fuming Rahi is about to fly into an almighty strop when the ex-jailor whips out another of his sanctimonious moralizing lectures and tells Rahi that he only stopped him from escaping for his own good blah blah blah. Suddenly Rahi and the jailor leap into each other’s arms and profess undying brotherly love!
Time passes…. a lot of time evidently because Snouty Saba’s daughter has now blossomed into a curvaceous beauty albeit the wrong side of 40 still struggling through high school. This being the pig tailed oomph girl Neelo. She is being courted by none other than the jailors now grown son, the robust and rotund and always exuberant Iqbal Hassan – who coincidentally like the dad he has never met is training to become a jailor…little does he know that destiny is going to assign him to take charge of the very jail his father is serving his sentence! Then just when the wedding of Neelo and Iqbal Hassan is on the news of Neelo’s mums past as a “tawaif” leaks and all sorts of mayhem follows as the marriage is called off. Matters come to a head when Saba’s nasty ex-husband Kashmiri re-enters the fray and when Rahi and the jailor finally break free – Khanoo (Rahi) still burning for revenge for Saba ‘s humiliation by Kashmiri.
Jailor te Qaidee is a pretty typical pot-boiler from the 70’s containing the usual masala and revenge based storyline that was so much the norm. There is a heap of melodrama, naturally the mandatory song and dance stuff, fights, rape scenes, intrigue and incredible coincidence as the story winds its meandering and convoluted way to the showdown conclusion. Strangely the film is unusually talky for a typical pulpy genre film but though the dialogues are ultra-melodramatic and totally OTT, Sultan Rahi and Mustafa Qureshi perform them with admirable earnestness and manage to infuse a sense of drama and energy whenever they are on screen. Clearly these two performers complement one another when cast in appropriate roles. A point never better illustrated than in the legendary Maula Jat that was to follow this film four years on.
A big weakness of the movie is the music which lacks even one “masaledar” dance or sleazy song that is worth mentioning. The dances are nowhere near vulgar enough to be of particular interest and the songs are all pretty horrid. Neelo and Hassan make a pretty hefty couple as the former was beginning to balloon by the mid 70’s and the latter always was a fine “healthy” specimen. Direction is decent with the action flowing thick and fast and some of the camerawork is fun.
A highlight of the film is Ali Ejaz’s brief appearance in a totally unrelated to the main story duo of comedy sequences where he clearly demonstrates his brilliance very much in the mold of Munawar Zareef, yet arguably even funnier. For the first time, ever one wishes that the comic stretches were more prominent as Ali Ejaz is a riot as he does his send up of typically moronic Lahori – Delicious stuff yet frustratingly there is so little of it.
Jailor te Qaidee is a staple masala flick and quite unexceptional. However, the chemistry between Rahi and Qureshi is undeniable and their performances lift the film from mediocrity even if the awful music is a huge letdown. The film could have done with a club dance or two to spice things up a bit – none the less, we’ve seen far worse Lollywood Punjabi films than this.