Bollywood Saturday: Do You Know Dev Anand’s Jewel Thief Was Inspired by THIS Hitchcockian Thriller?

Bollywood Saturday: Dev Anand has been an institution in himself, when it comes to the cinematic renaissance of Hindi films. The actor-producer known for his charisma and flamboyance was often called India’s answer to Gregory Peck due to the resemblance between the two actors. A Dev Anand production from his home-banner Nav Ketan would be nothing without peppy musical numbers, intense romance, mystery, picturesque locations and humour. A Vijay Anand directorial starring the evergreen legend would always be high on the entertainment quotient. Vijay Anand hit the bull’s eye with one of his classic works, Jewel Thief (1967) which was ahead of its time in many ways. The film is said to be inspired by a Hitchcockian thriller due to its whodunnit and mistaken identity plot.


Vijay Anand’s Jewel Thief is said to be inspired by three American films produced and directed by the maverick Alfred Hitchcock. To Catch a Thief (1955), Vertigo (1958) and North by Northwest (1959) are the three films which have a similar plotline to Jewel Thief. However, the closest one is the Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason starrer North by Northwest. The film is a spy-thriller on mistaken identity where an innocent man is pursued by the United States agents under suspicion of his connection with a mysterious organization. Similarly, in the Dev Anand starrer spy-thriller-heist, the protagonist is being suspected to be a Jewel thief. The movie went on to become the sixth highest grossing film of the decade and thirty-fifth highest grossing film of 1967. Jewel Thief, made with a budget of Rs 75-80 Lakhs, collected around Rs 3.5 Crore worldwide, as per a Box Office India report.


Jewel Thief had all the swagger and how-on-earth-can Hollywood match up elements like any Nav Ketan production. Vijay Anand introduced the Indian audiences with four Bond-girl like female actors in his thriller. Tanuja, Helen, Faryal and Anju Mahendru gave a fresh perspective to screenwriters with their portrayal of bold and independent women. Although the leading lady is the poised Vyjayantimala, all female characters play a pivotal role and are not just treated as mere wallflowers. For the unversed, Saira Banu was offered to portray Vyjayantimala’s character earlier. But after her marriage with Dev Anand’s contemporary superstar Dilip Kumar, she turned down the offer. The film finally went to Vyjayantimala.

Jewel Thief is one of the most memorable Dev Anand-Vijay Anand classics that is still a must-watch for students of cinema for its craft and vision.

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