Haathi Mere Saathi (1971 film)

Haathi Mere Saathi (lit.Elephants Are My Companions) is a 1971 Indian Hindi-language film, directed by M. A. Thirumugam, with screenplay written by Salim-Javed and dialogues by Inder Raj Anand. The movie has a Disneyesque appeal with an Indian twist. Haathi Mere Saathi was the biggest hit of 1971 going by box office collections, and was also critically acclaimed. The film stars Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja.[1] The film at that point in time was the biggest hit ever made by a South Indian producer in Hindi.[2]

Haathi Mere Saathi
Directed byM. A. Thirumugam
Produced bySandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar
Screenplay bySalim-Javed
Story bySandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar
StarringRajesh Khanna
K. N. Singh
Madan Puri
Mehmood Junior
Music byLaxmikant-Pyarelal
CinematographyK. S. Prasad
Edited byM. A. Thirumugam
M. G. Balu Rao
Devar Films
Distributed byDevar Films
Release date
  • 1 May 1971 (1971-05-01)
Box officeest. 16.35 crore (est. 470.88 crore as of 2019)

The story was written by producer Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar who is of Tamil origin and owned Devar Films in Tamil Nadu. Thevar also played a small cameo in the film. Directed and edited by Thevar's brother M.A.Thirumugham, it had music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and lyrics by Anand Bakshi. The film was also the first collaboration of Salim-Javed (Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar), who were officially credited as screenplay writers.[3] The film was based on Sandow M. M. A. Chinnappa Thevar's 1967 Tamil movie Deiva Cheyal.After the success of this movie,Thevar remade it in Tamil again in 1972 as Nalla Neram.[4] This film is counted among the 17 consecutive hit films of Rajesh Khanna between 1969 and 1971, by adding the two-hero films Marayada and Andaz to the 15 consecutive solo hits he gave from 1969 to 1971.[5][6]


Orphaned Raju (Rajesh Khanna), in the company of four elephants, has to perform with them at street corners, in order to survive. The back-story is that as an orphan, they have saved his life from a leopard. In time, he makes it big, and starts Pyar Ki Duniya (The World of Love), a zoo in which various wild animals reside along with his elephants, among whom Ramu is closest to him. Slowly he amasses a fortune, and is able to build his own private zoo, housing tigers, lions, bears, and of course the four elephants. He treats all the animals as his friends. He meets with Tanu (Tanuja), and both fall in love. Tanu's rich dad, Ratanlal (Madan Puri), is opposed to this alliance, but subsequently relents, and permits the young couple to get married. However, trouble looms soon after as Tanu feels neglected. Things worsen when their child is born, and Tanu, fearing physical harm to her child from the elephants, tells Raju to choose between the elephants and his family. When Raju chooses his lifelong friends over wife and son, Ramu decides to bring the estranged couple together, but thanks to the villainous Sarwan Kumar (K.N. Singh), he has to sacrifice his life.



1 "Chal Chal Chal Mere Saathi" Kishore Kumar
2 "Dilbar Jani Chali Hawa Mastani" Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar
3 "Meherbano Qadardano" Kishore Kumar
4 "Sunja Aa Thandi Hawa" Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar
5 "Nafrat Ki Duniya Ko Chhod Ke" Mohammed Rafi
6 "Dhak Dhak Kaise Chalti Hai Gaadi" Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar


Javed Akhtar on being questioned as to how the film came about, said "One day, he Rajesh Khanna went to Salimsaab and said that Mr. Devar had given him a huge signing amount with which he could complete the payment for his bungalow Aashirwad. But the film was a remake [of Deiva Cheyal] and the script of the original was far from being satisfactory. He told us that if we could set right the script, he would make sure we got both money and credit. "I can't do such a terrible script," he said. "And I can't leave it because I need the money!'".[7]

Box office

Haathi Mere Saathi was the highest-grossing Indian film of 1971. In India, its net income was 35 million and its total domestic gross was ₹70 million[8] (US$9.34 million), equivalent to US$58 million (₹3.65 billion) with inflation.[lower-alpha 2] in 1971 (equivalent to US$58 million or ₹3.65 billion[9] in 2017)


The film was an overseas blockbuster in the Soviet Union, where it sold 34.8 million tickets in 1974.[10] The film's overseas Soviet gross was 8.7 million руб (US$11.54 million, or ₹93.5 million), equivalent to US$59 million (₹3.72 billion) with inflation. The film's total worldwide gross (including India and the Soviet Union) was ₹16.35 crore (US$20.88 million), equivalent to US$113 million (₹737 crore) in 2017.[lower-alpha 2]


Earlier titled Pyar Ki Duniya, the film also won a special award from the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for lyricist Anand Bakshi. Its music on HMV (as Saregama was known then) won a Silver Disc for its sales, making it the first-ever Indian gramophone record to do so.[15]


Times of India noted that 40 years down the line, Haathi Mere Saathi remains unmatched in its enduring magic, and Hindi cinema has yet to make another children's feature to match its stature and success.

Quotes on the film

Tanuja said in an interview, "I showed them the film when Kajol was six and Tanishaa around three years old, and for two weeks Kajol did not speak to me!! "Mummy, you killed the elephant! Because of you, he had to die!" screamed Kajol! "And Tanishaa was annoyed too!" Tanuja loved working with the elephants after some initial apprehensions. "They really began to like me, especially the she-elephant who played Ramu. There is a sequence where he had to push me through a door and fight a snake that was about to bite the baby, but the elephant had got so fond of me that he refused to do so! Finally, they had to shoot separate close-ups of the elephant and my back and of me falling down!"[16]

On its 40th anniversary on 5 May 2011, Pyarelal recalled: "Laxmi (Laxmikant) and Devar got along fabulously well! Devar had an innate music sense and a feel for rhythm, and he loved our title-track. But the tussle came up over the sad song, "Nafrat Ki Duniya", which was the only song sung by (Mohammed) Rafisaab in the film. I recall voicing my doubts. But Laxmi, the director and Rajesh Khanna were staunchly in favour of keeping that song. And the audience cried with the song and Anand Bakshisaab's lyrics."[17]

The film was remade in Tamil in 1972 as Nalla Neram (Good Time or Auspicious time) under same production banner 'Devar Films', directed by M.A. Thirumugam and with M. G. Ramachandran in the lead.


  1. 7.4919 Indian rupees per US dollar in 1971<ref name='sauder'>"Pacific Exchange Rate Service" (PDF). UBC Sauder School of Business. University of British Columbia. p. 3. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  2. Haathi Mere Saathi:
  3. 34.8 million Soviet tickets sold,[10] average Soviet ticket price of 25 kopecks)[11][12]
  4. 0.7536 Soviet rubles per US dollar in 1974[13]
  5. 8.1016 Indian rupees per US dollar in 1974[14]


  1. Rachel Dwyer; British Film Institute (2005). One hundred Bollywood films (reprint, illustrated ed.). Michigan: BFI. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-84457-098-0. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  2. "the closest Hindi film to Disney". Screen India. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  3. Rajiv, Vijayakar (13 May 2011). "The story was written in relevant way". The Indian Express. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  4. "Sandow and superstars". The Hindu. 24 July 2012. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  5. m.imdb.com/name/nm0004435/trivia
  6. http://www.hindustantimes.com/chandigarh/eight-lesser-known-facts-about-rajesh-khanna-on-his-death-anniversary/story-eMKmVMlFkKlbSLqAFAf7qI.html
  7. Rajiv, Vijayakar (13 May 2011). "Thanks to Rajesh Khanna". The Indian Express. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  8. "Box Office 1971". Box Office India. 20 October 2013. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013.
  9. "Yearly Average Rates (65.11 INR per USD)". OFX. 31 December 2017.
  10. Sergey Kudryavtsev (3 August 2008). "Зарубежные популярные фильмы в советском кинопрокате (Индия)".
  11. Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 48, Cornell University Press, 2011
  12. The Routledge Handbook of the Cold War, page 357, Routledge, 2014
  13. "Archive". Central Bank of Russia. 1992.
  14. Kobita Sarkar (1975). Indian cinema to-day: an analysis. Michigan: Sterling Publishers. p. 167. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  15. Rajiv, Vijayakar (13 May 2011). "The Elephantine hit". The Indian Express. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  16. Rajiv, Vijayakar (13 May 2011). "The elephants after some initial apprehensions". The Indian Express. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
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