When Deven Verma was locked in a jewellery store

The 1989 film Prem Pratigyaa had a hilarious sequence of Verma's character hiding in a box to pull off a heist at jewellery store but it all goes awry

Mayur Lookhar

Deven Verma, a man known for his subtle sense of humour. He could leave you laughing out loudly with the most deadpan expression, Gulzar's Angoor is classic example.   Verma passed away on this day in 2014. 

In a career spanning over four decades, Verma’s worked with super stars of different generations. The last two generation gone by would remember him for films likes Ishq (1997),  Andaz Apna Apna (1994), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997). 

While these films had him in joyful roles, we wonder whether how many would recollect his histrionics in the 1989 film Prem Pratigyaa. The Mithun Chakraborty and Madhuri Dixit-starrer romantic drama was a remake of Tamil film Vandichakkaram. The film earned a Filmfare award for Madhuri Dixit. 

Verma was in his early fifties then. The seasoned actor played a petty thief who was commandeered by a con artist, played Aruna Irani.  A poor hair oil salesman, Verma is forced to work for Irani after she save him from a mob of unhappy customers.   Con artist Irani conjures a master plan to steal a jewellery. She tricks few jewellery store salesman into depositing her huge box at the store which she would return tomorrow to pick up.

Lying in the box is Verma, who needs to grab some valuable and lock it inside with himself in the box with Irani set to retrieve it next morning. 

Unfortunately for Verma, the workers of the store go on a strike next morning leave for the store to be closed till their demands is met. The few days turn into a week and then it takes a further 10 days   before the shutter of the shop is opened.  With no food, and water over over, poor Verma starts eating the cotton from the pillow dipping it in the few drops of water left. 

“Bahar hartal, andar bhook hartal, Cut glass kahunga toh ut ho jaunga, jewellery khaunga toh mar jaunga. Do boodn paani. Bas kya karun,”, these dialogues highlight poor Verma’s predicament  perfectly. Verma immaculately displayed the look of a paranoid man, one who is starving to death. The desi  Pink Panther  theme was a perfect background score for the sequence. 

It required the angry bald customers of Verma’s hair oil to force open the door.  Now, by the time the shutter reopen, Verma look almost dead.. And the sight of Irani sees him pass out. 

Shopoholics would often fancy the idea of being locked in a clothes or valuable store  The late director Bapu though has shown through Prem Pratigyaa just how this strategy can boomerang.

Watch the hilarious sequence below. The particular footage begins at 7 minute 15 second.