Sundar (Raj Kapoor), Gopal (Rajendra Kumar) and Radha (Vyjayantimala) have been friends since childhood. As they grow into adults, Sundar develops an obsessive romantic attraction to Radha, but she prefers Gopal, who is also in love with her. Yet, as Sundar has confided his feelings for Radha to him, Gopal decides to sacrifice his love for his friends sake. Radha systematically resists Sundars overtures, but to no avail. For him, she is the only woman in the world.
Matching Sundars great love for Radha is his unswerving devotion to his friendship with Gopal.Eventually, Sundar enlists in the Indian Air Force and is assigned to a military mission in Kashmir. Before leaving, he extracts a promise from Gopal, whom he trusts implicitly, never to let any man come between Radha and himself while he is away. Subsequently, Sundars aircraft is shot down over Kashmir. He is listed as MIA and presumed dead.
This news saddens Radha and Gopal, but they are nonetheless now free to profess their love for one another. Among other expressions of love, Gopal writes her an unsigned prem patra (love letter) which touches her particularly and which she hides away. Just when they begin taking steps to be married, Sundar returns, safe and sound. The self-effacing Gopal sacrifices himself once more, stepping back into the shadows, watching as the reborn Sundar resumes his wooing of Radha. Inevitably, the two marry.
After the couple returns from an extended European honeymoon, Sundar is deliriously happy. His lifes dream has been realised. Radha is resolved to be faithful to her husband and to put Gopal out of her mind. She privately asks him to stay away from her and Sundar because of the torture his presence causes her. Sundars devotion to Gopal, however, is such that he constantly tries to draw him into their life, much to Radhas chagrin.
The perfection of their marital bliss is, however, shattered when Sundar accidentally discovers the unsigned love letter Gopal had written to Radha. Sundar is thunderstruck, and assumes that Radha has been unfaithful to him. Producing a pistol, he demands she divulge the name of the supposed lover and threatens to kill the man, but she refuses.In the days that follow, Sundar becomes obsessed with discovering the identity of the letters author and cannot return to normalcy. Radhas life becomes miserable, lived out against the incessant drama of Sundars jealousy, threats, anger and fixation with the letter.
Eventually unable to bear the wretchedness of her existence with Sundar any further, Radha flees to Gopal for help. Sundar takes the same route, unaware that Radha has gone to Gopals house. There, matters come to a head. The overwrought Gopal admits his authorship of the infamous letter to Radha, an admission which almost destroys his friend. Gopal, perceiving no exit from the impasse at which the three have arrived, kills himself with Sundars pistol.
Radha and Sundar are finally reunited in mourning.
Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala, Rajendra Kumar
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