This is Nargis’ debut movie as heroine, a Mehboob Khan’s movie with Motilal as hero.
This looks to be the precursors of lost and found in Mela( fair) stories, of course with a difference. The lost are not exactly lost but interchanged.
What was wrong with the British back then? It is not only Kismet but even this movie has a provocative song didn’t their censor/ translator didn’t do their job well?
The movie starts with a song, in a theater in a fair, “Is mulk pe hum ko hai paidaishi haq haasil”- “We have the birth right on this nation!.. or “Is mulk ki jo shah hai, jagiir hamarii hai” Such dangerous statements at those times? The movie is of ’43 not that it depicts ’43!
The theater chief (Noor Mohammad Charlie)’s son is taken to the fair. We know that any child, if they go within a few kilometers of the “Kumbh Mela”, would be lost, and found only when he/she grows up to be a thief or similar, while the father becomes a police commissioner if not Judge.
This was one of the movies where acting wasn’t deemed necessary and it had more of theatrics than the expression (body expression not face). I shouldn’t try to compare this with Golden era where the subtlety was at its peak.
He isn’t alone, there is some big man (Chandra Mohan), who too had been equally careless and he has lost his daughter. Of course the father is very worried of his daughter, so he gives a picture to the police and asks them to find her out. He however has to go to Bombay immediately, if they by chance find his daughter, they should send her there- er- inform him, he would come and collect. Such a considerate father, they don’t grow on trees now.!
Father’s may be heartless and went back to Bombay, but the mother, who left the child with the heartless father has heart, and she can’t do anything other than faint, while the doctor and nurses, and of course the husband watch on. At least to his credit, he might not have bothered about his daughter but is worried about his wife. And he decides there is only way to keep her alive. He had to get her the lost child. Since the same is not traceable, any child would do.
Obviously, he reasoned, she won’t be able to make a difference between one child and other. His assistant finds a lost child and brings it; only unfortunately it is of wrong gender. But how does it matter, the mother won’t know, if he is dressed in frock. The actual father of the boy about to be turned into girl is however grieving and his theater company is on the verge of closing down.
The missing Shyama is however found by the assistant of him and being childless be declares her to be her daughter and thankfully at least he doesn’t change her gender. And since the extremely unhappy and finger chewing theater owner had somewhat resigned to his childless fate, the theater company comes out of red and the girl grows there as the would be future star attraction. Of his wife there is no mention, probably she wasn’t alive, fortunately for her and the director, else he too would be searching for the replacement.
In the meantime his assistant’s wife too is dead and the boss tells him “from today it’s my daughter and not your”, and he obviously agrees.
At least this is logical, after all it’s not his daughter and now the wife is dead, she would be only a baggage on him. While dancing in silhouette she grows up. Has the time travel started then? At the moment this is the first one for me. And obviously she would be the star, or ‘fairy’ attraction of the theater.
Don’t look at the dress or the actor and wonder, Motilal is actually a girl, Shyama. Of course her mother is worried, since she dresses like a boy, talks like a boy and moves around alone like a boy, not worried how dangerous it is for a girl, even if dressed like a boy. The actual girl (Nargis) of course looks a girl (She was around 14 then).
The daughter does know that she should be careful of boys and make friends with girls, and she tries, at least with a specific one,
She however doesn’t behave too ladylike while alone, looks like the mother didn’t bring her up properly and trained to behave, including topless frontal in camera (while bathing of course).
When she (Motilal) asks her mother to invite the stage girl for dinner, she doesn’t mind. Why should she, after all her daughter is inviting a girl, not a boy, and especially the stage girl’s name too is Shyama. She in fact takes it on her to convince her husband. Meanwhile both the fathers are mourning, even the heartless one, of their lost children. And at least one, the actual girl, is confused, why her father looks at a photograph and mourns, and who is that photo of. But her question remains unanswered and she doesn’t insist, else he might be forced to tell that she is actually adopted.
Meanwhile the Shayama #1 (Motilal)’s mother convinces her husband to invite Shyama #2, despite his arguments of not calling a Stage girl in a Judge’s home. We finally know now what he is. However our Shyama #2’s father, who knows that his one is actually of feminine gender, isn’t happy of the invitation at a hotel and he first refuses the invitation, despite all the possible troubles it could entails he is firm, and when it is settled that he won’t accept the invitation, he equally quickly changes his decision and accepts it. Not accepting was explained, the father of nubile daughter should be careful. But accepting isn’t explained.
In the party, of course #2 is aware of #1’s gender and assumes the mother to be insane; in fact I wonder how to everyone except her it was clear as distilled water, the mud was only in her eyes.
And when #2 calls #1’s mother as Mataji (people do call elderly women that), suddenly her motherly instinct rise. Of course our #1 becomes a regular visitor to #2’s stage shows, She naturally is an accomplished dancer, and for this one is a classical kathak treat (Only the first one, not in further stage shows the pure form). He is caught by his father and banned from going, he has to prepare for his ICS exam and he is neglecting studies. The father decides to sleep in his room to ensure he doesn’t go out to watch #2’s program, to her disappointment.
Her acting was just OK, if I call that, nothing to talk about, though the situation asked for a better act. But most of the actors were like that, those time.
Meanwhile the two are unhappy and both parents are happy at their separation and both parents are happy. But not for long the #1 escapes and climbs a tree beside #2’s window to console her. But when he returns his father is up and he is caught.
The judge takes his judgment and calls the Charlie for a serious discussion, which we know about what. So while the father’s talk, children play. Meanwhile our girl, who is boy manages to get the girl who is girl home to meet his mother. Who seems to be ever excited to hug her again, the old blood – blood attraction, which only happen in movies?
But there is some miscalculation, it always happens, and the dad (the judge) lands up in wrong time. The result is known. He fortunately at this time isn’t insulting, firm, and send the girl back home with driver and never meet him. The same approach is other side too, in the theater our duplicate girl isn’t permitted and is asked to leave.
Meanwhile a special show is arranged for a Maharaja who in his excitement at the excellent performance loses his mustache. How he gets out of the mess isn’t clear, however it is clear that he, with his friends are not thrown out unceremoniously which would have been normal, but they win the move and also the game.
The immediate next is the staging of Pritviraj Chauhan- Samyukta Swayamvar drama. Where suddenly two main actors Jay Chand and Prithviraj disappears. The manager Kayam Ali somehow gets on my nerves, he is shown from beginning as the opposite of Charlie. Not at all worried about anything, not even this. He could well be the most detached Yogi in the world. When the first missing (Jaychand is reported), Noor steps in. But even when the second missing (Pritviraj) is reported, still he is not moved. Of course we guessed and it would be right that it is managed by Motilal, and he comes in as Pritviraj, to the shock of Charlie. Thankfully however like us, he too is able to recognise the imposter.
Next morning the two father’s cross visit each other’s home to control other’s offspring. Clearly it means that none are able to handle their own or believe their own are being manipulated by the other’s or may be both. Obviously nothing could go through. The judge of course is rought and abusive and derisive of the ‘Stage Girls” who don’t fit in “society” the cliché statements, and the heroine tries to look indignant/ angry.
The girl’s father fortunately steps in during the insults and takes the judge head on, resulting in his storming away with a threat to close the theater down for-ever, for which at least our Kayam Ali is least worried.
Other one at least knows she isn’t his daughter (“had I been your actual daughter had you brought me in this trade?”) However it clashes with some scenes later where it is shown that she believed her to be actual daughter. But like myriads of other, that too I will take as inexplicably explained. And the similar clash is on at other place too (“Why she should suffer for the choice made by her father, not she”) and of course in the argument the judge makes a slip “Had you been my son”
The boy storms out least bothered of his adoptive mother who might die of the shock. He doesn’t have to know that, the judge says so much in plain English (or Hindi) while pleading. In most of the movies I see that the being biological parent is more important than the one who for all practical purposes is one or more than that. He may be happy for other reason, to be free of studies (else he had to study and pass ICS). He goes to the heroine, who too tells him that she is adopted.
Hence the equation is clear, as far as they tell “You are adopted, we are adopted, so we can simply walk out and marry.” Interesting way to look at that aspect.
Judge may be lenient, but not Charlie. He won’t let Shyama to be used by a boy and may be later made to suffer, daughter or not immaterial.
Meanwhile even though she doesn’t know that her daughter (Motilal) has walked out, his(her) mother suddenly goes into shock “Nahiiiiin” and obviously the doctor says when she comes out of the faint, her daughter (son) should be in front of her, and of course he (she) is untraceable. Why I don’t know, since in the scuffle to stop him, he is hit on head (and hence is bed ridden, attended by the heroine), even an idiot would first look at her home, in search of him. So can I conclude Judges of those times were worse than idiots? Most likely, since all the actions point to that, from the gender reversed replacement to this date.
Finally he does get sense and sends cops to get him. I don’t understand the equation. The cop says arrest warrant for both, but in the cell there is only one, to whom the heroine now repentant takes oath “Main aapki saugandh khatiii hoon” that I will never ever meet him.
Unfortunately he is waiting outside police station, so she may not talk, but does meet him. After the usual “Consider your Shyama is dead for you”, they walk in opposite directions.
The girl goes to judge, to plead for her father’s release, and the boy to Charlie, to give him company. He doesn’t have any power to do anything else. The judge somehow takes pity and takes the case back, which case I don’t know, but why to worry, so many things I didn’t know in this movie. However our Moti has some pity on her (his) mother and before she could die, he arrives to revive her.
Finally some sense is brought in the story. It seems in the shock of the lost child she had become mad, at least as far as gender differentiation was concerned. That doesn’t explain the gender-reversed child replacement. Since then she was still in faint and the conspirators didn’t know she would get out of faint with a specific delusion. But like of so many things, I will look other way.
In the second shock she is now able to differentiate, and wants a girl Shyama, not a boy. Of course now they have to get the other Shyama and then of course they would know the enemies (Children) were actually their own, and their own were enemies.
The plot (Story writer Ghulam Mohd as per credits and Agha Jaani Kashmiri – screenplay) is, in a single word absurd. Even a delusional mother can’t fail to recognize her own daughter and making a gender mix-up even at that age, even though delusional? There has to be a limit of delusion. And if she is mad, she didn’t act like one, except in some aspects (like when she meets Nargis).
The acting of Chandra Mohan (Judge) was restrained in that day’s standard and hence relatively OK.
Next in the line are Nargis the kid on the block and Motilal already veteran at that time. However I can’t say I am impressed, both had been over theatrical and not natural.
All the rest Charlie, Jillo (the delusional mother), Kayam Ali (I assume the assistant of Charlie) are atrocious to say it mildly.
This was as per record Nargis’ third movie, after a couple of child/ supporting actor roles, and the first as a lead heroine. So she wasn’t new to the camera, and I felt that she was quite comfortable to face it, no camera consciousness.
Interestingly this year was probably debut for Raj Kapoor too. He had two movies, Gauri and Hamaari Baat , both these movies had other major stars so I don’t think he was the lead protagonist . The first had his father with Monica Desai. The second had Devika Rain and Jairaj, definitely leading protagonist. Raj, I assume, must have been paired against Rajkumari in first and Suraiyya in the second movie. Would be interesting to see how he looked at 19, but unlike Taqdeer both these movies seem to be off the screen, despite both being count in the list of top ten grosser as per wiki and ranked above Taqdeer, the list headed by the biggest Bolly-hit (grosser), till date, Kismet.
If I compare it to Kismet, the difference become glaring. In that Ashok had been almost completely natural with just a hint here and there of the theatrics. Mumtaj Shanti was far better as an actor, she had a bit ‘over acted’ but still she could emote better, in the strained situations. I can’t say of the heroine here. I must note that Mumtaj too wasn’t a veteran then, this could be her 3rd or 4th movie. From some angles Mumtaj had a resemblance to Geeta Bali (or the opposite, based on seniority). Just an observation, nothing implied , the ages of the two obviously would stop any probable implication, interestingly both have entered the silver screen almost in the same year, one as adult star, the other child (not too child, at 12).
And this was Mahboob’s 12th movie or so. Still such a bad one?
Almost OK– Judge (Chandramohan)
Unbearable – Story, Jillo (Judge’s wife), Charlie (Motilal’s actual father), Kayam Ali (his assistant) and quite a few others, and in general the movie itself.
Positive: The print (Shemaroo DVD) is very clean. Of course that makes the mis-acting glaring. Hazy, grainy prints would have hidden that.