Raj Khosla (1925 – 1991) was one of the top directors, producers, and screenwriters in Hindi films from the 1950s to the 1980s. Khosla was known for bringing in ‘neo-noir’ and style in Indian cinema since black and white times. Regarded as a ‘women’s director’ because he showcased actresses at their best, Khosla brought out the very best in his heroines. His prolific career comprised some of the best Bollywood films with some of the biggest superstars featuring in them.
In the later part of his career, Khosla gave Bollywood some well-known mystery-thrillers. It was his Woh Kaun Thi (1964), which gave Sadhana, regarded as one of the greatest actresses in Indian cinema, gave her signature role of the ‘mystery girl’. The film’s tremendous success inspired Khosla to complete a trilogy of mystery films with Sadhana that included Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967).
The movie Woh Kaun Thi features Manoj Kumar and Sadhana in the lead roles, Mera Saaya has Sunil Dutt and Sadhana in it while Anita stars Manoj Kumar and Sadhana. Excellent camera work, mise-en-scène, song picturisation, dialogues, elements of mystery, incessant rain, dark nights, and mysterious figures roaming all-round form an integral part of Raj Khosla’s thrillers. The specialty of these three movies is that in all of them, the plot is based on the mysterious personality of a woman (Sadhana). One of the most striking features of these three movies is that Raj Khosla divulges all the details about the mystery girl in the very end, thus ending the movie with a twist. Khosla’s versatility lies because he explored a variety of styles. He made crime thrillers (C.I.D., Kala Pani), musicals (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina), suspense thrillers (Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saaya, Anita), melodramas (Do Badan, Do Raaste) and dacoit dramas (Mera Gaon Mera Desh). One can revisit these films repeatedly without getting bored. That was Raj Khosla, the only one of his kind.