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5 Hindi films that unfold over one night


As Akshat Verma's dark comedy Kaalakaandi is released this Friday in theatres, we take a look at five of the best films that centered their action over one long night.

Sonal Pandya

What could go wrong in one night? According to these films, apparently, a lot does go wrong! Five of the Hindi films we've featured below takes the film's central characters and puts them through the wringer. There are robberies, murders and even opportune meetings at lonely train stations that the characters have to endure. Here are five of the best films that centered their action over one long night.

1. Solva Saal (1958)

Directed by Raj Khosla, Solva Saal has faint echoes of Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934). An intrepid reporter Pran Nath Kashyap, played by Dev Anand, and his photographer run into an eloping couple on the train. The duo begin to suspect the young lovers after observing their suspicious conversations. Waheeda Rehman's Laaj has stolen a treasured necklace from home to start a new life with her boyfriend Shyam, played by Jagdev.

It turns out Shyam's only interested in the necklace, not Laaj, and leaves her behind on the train. Pran rushes to help Laaj when she goes after him. Initially hesitant, Laaj agrees to let Pran help her pursue Shyam to get back the necklace before 5am and before Laaj's father finds out anything is amiss. Before the sun rises, Pran and Laaj also slowly fall in love.

Anand and Rehman acted opposite each other again after the success of Khosla's earlier hit, C.I.D. (1956). Composer SD Burman arranged five numbers including the mischievous 'Hai Apna Dil Toh Awara' sung by Hemant Kumar for Anand. Director Khosla had a brief cameo in the film when the action moves to a film studio and Shyam's actress girlfriend gets a hold of Laaj's necklace.

2. Ittefaq (1969) 

Ittefaq was only director Yash Chopra's fifth feature film. Chopra made the film during a break in shooting for his previous film, Aadmi Aur Insaan (1969), for his elder brother, BR Chopra. He was inspired to make the movie after watching the Gujarati play, Dhummas, directed by the legendary Pravin Joshi and starring his brother Arvind and his wife, Sarita in the lead roles. The play itself was adapted by the English play Signpost to Murder (1965).

Ittefaq was filmed in a tight schedule of just 20 days. The film had no songs, no interval and featured a newcomer, Rajesh Khanna, who hadn't yet made it big in the industry.

Khanna played Dilip Roy, a painter accused of murdering his wife and labeled mentally unstable by the court. One night, he escapes the mental asylum and breaks into the home of Rekha, played by Nanda. Dilip and Rekha spend a tense and terse night together in which each one is second-guessing their motives and actions especially when a dead body is discovered in the house.

Ittefaq was a genuinely interesting thriller, a rarity in Hindi cinema, and led Chopra to pick up his second Filmfare Award for Best Director.

3. Kaun (1999)

Remember when Ram Gopal Varma actually made movies? You'll have to go back to the 1990s where he tried filmmaking with many different genres, including this deft spine-chiller set in a bungalow. With only three key players, Varma embarked upon his sixth Hindi film which arrived right on the heels of the critically acclaimed Satya (1998).

Assembling many of the same people involved with his earlier film, Varma worked off a taut script by Anurag Kashyap. Using his regular actors Manoj Bajpayee and Urmila Matondkar along with a pivotal role by Sushant Singh, Varma contained the action to a singular location where the events unfold over one night.

Matondkar played a young woman alone at home watching the news of a serial killer's escape. When a stranger (Manoj Bajpayee) knocks on the door that stormy night, she is hesitant to let him in. Eventually, after much wariness from both sides, they begin to trust each other. The arrival of the man (Sushant Singh) claiming to be a policeman throws everyone into further suspicion. At 90 minutes, with no songs, Kaun raises the paranoia levels until there only one survivor standing. And no, it's not who we've guessed at the beginning, not at all. That same year, Varma also directed Mast with Matondkar and produced the National Award-winning Shool with Bajpayee.

4. Ek Chalis Ki Last Local (2007)

A black comedy about a man who misses the last train from Kurla to Vikroli at 1.40am, Ek Chalis Ki Last Local reinforces the theory set forth by Ted Mosby in season one of the television series, How I Met Your Mother. As Josh Radnor's Mosby gravely informs his audience, "Nothing good ever happens after 2am", the characters in this film would probably have to agree.

Nilesh Rastogi, an call centre worker played by Abhay Deol, and Madhu, a prostitute played by Neha Dhupia, happen to find themselves in each other's company after being shooed off the platform by an over-zealous policeman. Their misadventures take them from a dance bar to gambling away their money and even meeting colourful characters like a gay underworld don. Somehow, the two manage to survive the night and board the next train home.

Directed by a first time filmmaker, Sanjay Khanduri, the film was a comfortable fit for its two leads, Deol and former Miss India Dhupia, who have a habit of choosing unconventional characters in their careers. The film emphasized how many different people from all walks of life come together in the melting pot that is the big city of Mumbai. Nawazuddin Siddiqui also had a small role in the film before his breakthrough in Anurag Kashyap's grand saga Gangs of Wasseypur (2012).

5. NH10 (2015) 

Navdeep Singh's follow-up to Manorama Six Feet Under (2007), NH10 showed the lawlessness and scenes of misplaced honour and revenge that is seen quite often in the news these days. Meera, played by Anushka Sharma, and her husband Arjun, played by Neil Bhoopalam, are on a road journey in Northern India at night to celebrate Meera's birthday. At a roadside stop, they are suddenly accosted by a wounded girl begging them to help her. She and another young man are being preyed upon a gang of men and it becomes evident to Meera that they've landed themselves in the middle of a honour killing.

From thereon, the young urban couple finds that the situation that they've stumbled into would be extremely hard to extricate themselves from, despite all their good intentions. It becomes even more difficult when they discover that no one is actually on their side. Sharma's Meera is a brave individual who, when it comes to down to staring down a gun barrel (literally!), picks herself up and faces the situation head-on. It's a role available to few female actors and Sharma makes the most of it. It is not a coincidence that Sharma is one of the producers of the film. Inspired by a 2008 British film, Eden Lake, starring Michael Fassbender, the violence in NH10 is not just for shock value (of which there is plenty) but exists, in a twisted way, to educate.