It’s Hitchcokian beginning for Hindi film! A man gazing from window a planned car accident killing a man on street, for a moment shows wry smile on his face and starts calling several of his syndicate members that the job has done. We don’t see the faces of his associates though, in the very next scene we witness the gun down of that man. Run the titles and we are thrown into a hotel where eight sophisticated man of society win lucky tickets for a tour. Now we see the faces of the cast- quite an assortment mixing suspicious with surprise! The next day a private plane land them to a strange cut off territory surrounded by sea, forest and an old mansion like building. They received a butler in the house waiting for guests. As soon as they finished their dinner, they come across a diary explaining that they’re all trapped together and one by one all of them get eliminated as they all are responsible for one man’s death. Needless to say that the rest of the film follows series of murders, tension of whodunit and suspicion shifting from one member to another!
Amid all the assembled cast of baddies like Pran, Madan Puri, Manmohan, Hiralal; a comedian like Dhumal and brilliant Mehmood; a fine character artist Tarun Bose and Hindi cinema's an eternal vamp- Helen; it also has company of Dilip Kumar aping Manoj Kumar with Nanda but none of them manage to score attention as much as the talented Mehmood used as relaxing comic agent in this noir like entertainer. With his Hyderabadi accent, mannerisms and attire (loongi with striped T-shirt) he’s the only man to look forward.
For all those nostalgic Hindi film music lovers, the film has some worth to mention tracks from versatile duo- Shanker-Jaikishan. Along with Lata’s haunting ‘Gumnaam hai Koi’ or light melody like ‘Is Duniya mein Jina Ho’ to Rafi’s sensuous rendering ‘Jaane Chaman Shola badan’ or mass favorite ‘Hum Kale hai to Kya Hua’; but my favorite track would go to that foot tapping night club Rock & Roll Rafi track came in the beginning ‘Jaan Pehchan Ho’.
Gumnaam is indeed a fine mystery if you’re watching it for the first time and surely a nostalgic revisit, the only disappointment is my expectation of watching an equally engaging screen adaptation!