Kali Topi Lal Rumal (1959)

Close followers of the blog know my fascination for the actress, Kumkum. She didn’t act in lead roles for big banners, but she was much popular for her dance numbers. She used to play supporting roles in most of the movies, with one or two dance numbers. Though I don’t know exactly, it is said that she was related to Sitara Devi. That perhaps explains her dancing talent, which she inherently had.

Her craze was so much so that she used to be credited last with the tag, ‘And’ Kumkum.

                                 In this movie as well

Only a few superstars got such an honour. In a few films like Ujala, her dance songs were equally or slightly more popular than the leading lady’s songs. She wasn’t conventionally very beautiful by the Bollywood standards. It wasn’t that she wasn’t a good actress. She could act, she could dance, her facial expressions used to be fabulous. She had a charisma that created magic on thousands of people among the audience. Her screen presence brings a wave of joy and happiness.


I haven’t watched a single movie, she acted in. So when I started my film review section, I decided to go for one of her films. I randomly selected the movie, ‘Kali Topi Lal Rumal’, as it has fabulous songs. I of course wasn’t expecting a great movie, but a film with entertainment. The film really has nothing extraordinary to recommend it. But the songs and Kumkum are good. And it’s entertaining as well.

Without a further ado, let me start with the review.


Kali Topi Lal Rumal

Cast –
Shakila, Chandrashekhar, Agha, K N Singh, Naina, Kamal Mehra, Ranjit Sood and Kumkum.

Music –

Lyrics –

Story, Screenplay and Producer –
Devi Sharma

Director –
Tara Harish

It’s a story about two friends, one of them wears a black cap (Kali Topi) and the other a red handkerchief (Lal Rumal) around his neck. They live in a small room in Mumbai. Shankar (Chandrashekhar) who wears a Kali Topi, is an honest man, and aspires to be a hero. He always pokes his friend, Raja (Agha) for gambling.


But the latter can’t get enough of it. Even after repeated warnings, Raja continues to gamble, albeit making sure of its secrecy.
One day Shankar catches Raja and slaps him. Raja gets very angry and leaves the room.


Shankar repents his action, and waits for him for dinner. He waits till the hotels are about to close. But Raja doesn’t turn up. Finally when he comes, he is completely drunk. He has an altercation with Shankar, and orders Shankar to call him ‘Raja Saab’ and he would beat anyone up who fails to obey.


In the morning however Raja, still hungover, tries to mollify Shankar. Shankar is hurt by Raja’s behaviour, but eventually he accepts Raja’s apologies. Finally the friendship is restored. Raja needs frequent punishments (emotional or physical) to keep himself honest. Not that the effects of punishment last long.

Shankar can play mouth organ very well. One day while he is playing, a girl praises his talent. She is Champa (Shakila), who sells toys.


She requests him to play more. But Shankar, though attracted to her, refuses.
One-day they meet again, when Shankar slips on the road, thanks to a banana peel. When Champa laughs at him, he makes her throw the peel into a waste bin. After a faux argument, she asks him, his name. He refuses. Both of them get attracted to each other.

What about Raja? One day on his way back home, he hears a girl’s angry voice. She is Rani (Kumkum), who also sells toys. She accuses a man of teasing her.


Raja offers help by fighting with him, and ultimately a mob of passersby takes the man away. In the process, Raja throws Rani’s toys at the man and the toys get damaged. She demands the money from Raja. Raja can’t promise her anything. Rani is worried about her father, who would ask her about the toys and the money. Raja has to promise her about the money. He falls in love at first sight.


Raja asks his friend, Chugli (?) for money, who bets on Nathu Kaka. Raja has to make Nathu Kaka remove his shirt and Raja will get twenty rupees. Raja being Raja, of course wins the bet and gives the money to Rani.
Rani happily returns home, there we meet her father (?), and Champa who also lives with them. Rani’s father cares a lot for Champa, who is an orphan. Champa’s father died in a car accident and since then she is with him. He treats Champa as his daughter. He asks Champa to buy a blanket from that day’s earnings for her for the approaching winter.


Meanwhile both the couples start dating and romantic relationships start budding.

Both the couples decide a place for rendezvous. Incidentally they finalize the same place.

But how can a story proceed without a villain. If you’re wondering about it, here he is.
Rani’s father receives a telegram that says, Rani’s elder brother, Jaggu (K N Singh), who is in prison will be released the next day and is expected back in the village. The villagers are horrified at the thought. The ladies now expect themselves to be home strictly before the evening sets in.


When Jaggu meets his father, the latter is amazed. He expects his son to be a well behaved young man now, but alas! Jaggu has not changed at all. Rani’s father’s anxiety is justified later when Jaggu shows his true colours.

Unaware of this impending doom, Rani and Champa meet their lovers at the decided venue. There four of them meet each other and promise to keep it a secret. (I was expecting a song sung by all four of them, but alas!)


When Jaggu tries to tease Champa, she complains about him to Rani’s father.


But the latter unexpectedly declares their marriage. He wants Champa to be married to Jaggu. He expects him to improve after their marriage. (oh! A usual story of Hindi films, the fathers expect their children to be better after marriage. “चार जिम्मेदारिया पडेंगी तो सुधर जाएगा”, the father would think!) Could you ever expect K N Singh to be a good guy? Anyways, let’s continue with the film.
Champa is completely heart broken. She feels obliged by Rani’s father, who treated her like his own daughter. She can’t defy him.


Meanwhile Raja goes to Rani’s house to discuss his marriage proposal. He lies about his gambling, and answers other things diplomatically. Rani’s father agrees to their marriage. Raja threatens Chugli not to expose him, else he would beat him. Chugli (justifying his name) tells the truth to Rani’s father and Rani overhears the conversation.


Soon Rani realizes the truth. But Raja takes her on a tour of reality check, where she comes across some dreadful facts. How everyone tries to earn their living by hook or crook. The circumstances drive a man to do whatever it takes to put food on the plate.


While they are still talking, Jaggu happens to visit Raja and ultimately their love story is revealed. Jaggu beats Raja very badly and drags Rani away.

When Shankar learns about it, he is furious with rage. He challenges Jaggu and offers him his due. Champa somehow controls him and tells him everything about Jaggu and Rani’s father. She makes him swear on her that he won’t batter Jaggu.


The latter however beats him and Jaggu’s father intervenes to clear the matter.He is still hopeful for Jaggu’s behaviour. He tries to console him.


Jaggu gets very angry with Raja and Shankar for their relationships with Rani and Champa. He decides on revenge. He locks Champa in her room.
She manages to run away and meets Shankar on a river bridge. But she is unaware of Jaggu, who reaches there and hits Shankar on his head and pushes him off the bridge into the river.


Bewildered, Champa wants to report to police, but Jaggu locks her again in her house. When she calls for help, Jaggu’s father comes to her rescue. Jaggu’s father is simple and scrupulous, he also wants to report police. But Jaggu blackmails him emotionally. When Raja tries to question him, he locks him in a room. All of them believe that Shankar is dead.

What next? Would Jaggu be hanged for Shankar’s murder? Or would he force Champa to marry him? How would Rani, Raja and Jaggu’s father react? Would they be able to help Champa? It would be better if you watch it. The second half is definitely more entertaining. And, to arouse more curiosity let me add a screenshot.


Highlights of the Film –
As I said in the introduction, it’s not a great movie. But it certainly entertains you. If you are a fan of Chitragupta, or Kumkum, watch it for sure. Others can also watch it once. It will appeal to masses surely, though critically minded would not particularly like it. In short, it’s a typical entertaining masala Bollywood movie with a Tadka of good songs.
I also want to highlight some interesting points, which I wasn’t expecting.
The medical producers and treatment are shown in the correct and logical way. The doctor doesn’t ask the relatives of an amnesia patient to hit on the same area as a cure to it. He gives instead a sensible solution.
The relationship between Raja and Champa is handled in a mature and adorable way. He takes care of her and continuously supports her like a brother. It highlights that even if Raja is a gambler and drinker, he has high moral values. Not typical black and white characters. He has respect for his friend and would do all possible to save him.
Rani’s character too has different shades. She is a bubbly, simple girl, who has no knowledge of English. But when required she stands against injustice. The stand she takes, when Jaggu tries to forcefully marry Champa, is really worth praising. She also helps Raja, who tries to find Shankar. Kumkum is lively and lovely. She acts well, she succeeds in portraying all the shades of her character. Agha also supports excellently. His presence brightens the screen with energy.

Negative points –
Though Shankar and Champa are the lead characters, their personalities do not come alive.
Chandrashekhar can’t leave any impact, he is average. Shakila though looks beautiful and a delight to watch, she has not much scope to highlight her presence. Shakila’s fans would be disappointed if they want to watch it particularly for her.
K N Singh’s Jaggu is very loud. His facial expressions appear very exaggerated, at least in this particular film. And I won’t talk about the coincidences. Every Hindi film is full of them. Of course without it, the story can’t move forwards.
Shankar’s look alike Shekhar is a popular film actor, but neither Shankar nor Raja or any other know about it, even if they stay in Mumbai. This seems unlikely. Afterwards when they see a film poster, they come to know about it. This seems to be a weak link.
The climax could have been edited more, to make it short and effective. We actually wait and wait for the fighting to get over.

The Music –
As usual for me, it’s one of the strongest departments of the film. Chitragupta delivers melodious songs one after the other. Though the film is primarily remembered for ‘Daga Daga Wai Wai Wai’ and ‘Lagi Chhutena Ab To Sanam’, other songs are good too. For peppy and crisp songs like, ‘O Kali Topiwale Zara Naam To Bata’ and ‘Yaaron Ka Pyar Liye Nakhare Hazaar Liye’, he calls for Asha Bhosle. In the former song, keeping in mind Shankar’s zeal for mouth organ, Chitragupt aptly uses it in the song. And in the latter song, Majrooh aptly uses the phrase, ‘Ulajhe Se Baal Wala, Lal Lal Rumal Wala’ to describe Agha. Otherwise, Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi are his clear choices. Though Chandrashekhar is the main lead, Agha takes away the only one male solo, ‘Deewana Aadmi Ko Banaati Hai Rotiyan’. The song portrays very effectively the ultimate truth of life. Everyone tries his own way to earn bread, let he have to adopt any means, good or bad. Shakila’s only solo, ‘Na To Dard Gaya’, has already appeared on one of my earlier lists. Majrooh does his job perfectly. Simple but good lyrics.

The Verdict –
If you want to watch a masala Bollywood movie, if you don’t want much headache, mainly in the lock down period, go for it. And like me, if you are a fan of Chitragupta’s or Kumkum’s, definitely go for it. You can certainly enjoy it once.

You can watch it here.

Disclaimer –
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

10 Replies to “Kali Topi Lal Rumal (1959)”

  1. “The doctor doesn’t ask the relatives of an amnesia patient to hit on the same area as a cure to it.

    LOL! You know, you should sometime do a post on all the crazy things Hindi cinema imagines medicine to be.

    I’d watch this film for the music alone, some really good songs there. Kumkum acted in lots of movies with fabulous music, and I like her as an actress too – she’s really good in CID, for instance.


    1. ” you should sometime do a post on all the crazy things Hindi cinema imagines medicine to be”

      Oh! Yes! It would be a very good idea. Let me think over it. But I will do it. It would be such a fun!
      A few years back, I requested you for a Kumkum song list, and You had agreed to it. I hope you would do it sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a co – incidence !!!
    22 nd April was Kumkum’s birthday nd U came up with a movie which had Kumkum in ( though side – role ) a powerful role with melodious songs .

    I liked the review , but I doubt if I wud like the film .
    Yes , from Ur narration , it seems 2 b a typical bollywood movie with good songs .
    Chitragupt at his good numbers.

    As usual , I liked all the screenshots , especially the credit to Kumkum nd the title of the movie .
    (Nd use of black nd red for mentioning काली nd लाल is praiseworthy. )

    I also njoyed Ur views in the segments of
    Highlights nd Negative points of the movie.

    I think ( nt sure ) … that is Parshuram in the role of Chugli . (Parshuram was there in मन सुद्ध तुजं गोठ हाए पृथिवी मोलाची in कुंकू )

    Overall , now it is clear that U r a very good reviewer Anup ji .
    Keep it up !!! 😊


    1. Thanks Pramod ji for appreciation.
      I didn’t adhere to Kumkum’s birthday as it’s not a confirmed date.
      It’s not a must watch movie, but will entertain you for sure.
      I think master parashuram’s name is there in the credits, so I will recheck and confirm .
      Thanks for encouraging me to write more film reviews.


  3. Lots of lovely songs there. Frankly speaking, I am not averse to any movie of those times if they have good songs, which they mostly did. I don’t think I will very much mind it. Besides I like both Kumkum & Agha.
    By the way have you watched any of those children’s movies on my list yet.


    1. Oh yes!
      I also won’t mind if the movie belonged to so called ‘B grade’. If it has good music, I can still enjoy it.
      Anyway, Kali Topi isn’t bad at all. as I said, it’s an entertaining masala Bollywood movie. You can certainly enjoy it. Do watch, kumkum is good in it.

      “By the way have you watched any of those children’s movies on my list yet”
      Oh yes!
      I watched, Lilkee and I explained my daughter the story, when she couldn’t understand it. I liked it, she liked it too.
      It’s a good movie.
      We have started watching ‘Katt Katt Kad Kaddu’, we are half way in between. Will continue tomorrow.
      Thanks for recommending the movies. I think even the parents will enjoy the movies.

      Have you completed Agatha Christie’s last part?
      If I’m right, Poirot is the remaining character. So many books to consider Aditi ji.
      Waiting for it.



  4. Compiling that list is becoming tough. I am going the Hamlet way- “What to choose, what not to choose?” But I am doing it soon. And I don’t think it will complete in 1 part. Besides there are many more thoughts in mind. So, I keep wavering. I will try to finish it ASAP.


    1. Oh Yes, Of course!
      Take Your time Aditiji.
      It would be very interesting to know which books you will choose. It’s going to be difficult really.
      All the best for all your future posts.


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