Hopefully I will stop now discussing with the men, after all I had already talked about son, husband brother and all other things. The left out is the progenitor. Though it should be as per current practices a genderless term, but no one says parent’s girl or mummy’s girl. So I will stick here with the conventional, daddy’s girl.
Of the things that are worming in my mind, this should be the end of the light hearted take on her men, may be scandalous to some of her other adorers. After this I will have to search for a topic to go on with.
Here the Daddy isn’t Kumarsen or even the highly protective and, reportedly affectionate Motilal (though he wasn’t not so much always towards Sobhana, with whom he reportedly had regular fights). I will rather talk of the men (and women) who, like parents, like teachers, nurtured her and exposed to the world what she was. And those were the directors she had worked with.
While others use their strengths in the analysis, say on the artistic aspect of making, I will use my strength, which as I said is statistics, which anyway I had been doing, almost through the series.
The reason I wanted to look at this aspect is finally (at least – of the old school that I am, I can say) back in our days, the movies were director’s children and the actors were the clays with which he formed the family. Of course it mattered that the clays was right, so that the result was almost lifelike and the dried dolls didn’t seem misshapen or cracked. But it is also required that the potter/ doll maker knows his job and uses the correct clay for part and also able to give a perfect shape to the final statue, or else we would be left a statue, disfigured since the maker used the clay in the toes, which should have been used for the gross features, say bust, or vice versa.
I had to do quite a bit of research in this, in finding out the directors for each of her movie. With running around IMDb, Web, especially for the movies I don’t have, I could finally get a moderate count of it. And she had, just like extraordinarily large number of heroes, the heroes, or may be worse, worked with a staggering 83 directors in her 97 odd appearances. Of which one movie I couldn’t get even a trace in the cloud, a Gujarati movie, Kalapi. Even except that, she had traversed through the Latin alphabet, starting from A Bhim Singh to Zia Sarhadi.
Of these only a few wanted her again as the child in next life, led by A Bhim Singh (Khandan, Meharban, Gauri, Bhai Behan). Others that twice fathered her were Bimal Roy, Kishore Miskine, Madhusudan, Mehmood (Both Guest appearances), O P Dutta (father of current gen, J P Dutta), Raj Khosla, Sawan Kumar, Subhash Ghai, Umesh Mehra and of course her mother Sobhana Samarth.
How many of these parents could bring up the girl and present her to the world to love and appreciate her? Of course I could count the movies and then the corresponding directors, and then bad movies and their directors and so on, logical and simple.
But I don’t like simplicity in life and want it to be twisted, so I went around complicating the thing. And with a reason, she had so many good movies to chose from, that even this number would have been too large to make any meaning of. Secondly how to decide what is a good movie and what is bad?
I used as we say in statistics, the available data. In IMDb there is a ten point scale rating I noted that down, for each and every movie (of her) that was available in it. And while at it, I observed a few things,
The ratings, being user vote, had been not so logical, as one would expect, it was like our Filmfare or that matter any popularity based awards, where really good movies miss out due to low audience vote and bad ones win. Just for an example Maa Aur Mamata (Average one, in fact a horrible unwatchable one, but for Nutan) gets 7.9 and Sujata gets 7.4 , must be voted up by the lovers of, of all people in the world, Jeetender! Or say Lagan another much below par, and this time despite Nutan gets 7.3 (obviously people got confused between this one and Amir Khan’s Lagan, which the comment section too seem to imply.
Chhabili (5.0) and Soorat and Seerat (7.4) had been rated by more than 7-8 persons (the rating is displayed only after the fifth person had awarded stars to it). Does that mean they have those? Why don’t they share her with others? Or they have simply fired blank shots? I suspect this to be true.
So after more or less losing hope on IMDb (or rather on the people who award points on it), I thought of doing my own judgemental, though likely to be biased, take on it. Of course not to analyse her, there is no uncertainty or purpose in that, but the directors. Would I award more marks for a known director? May be, but I found no other method, so my analysis as usual, would be personal.
I started making matter complicated (or more) by awarding my grades to each movie, even integers up to 10. Being very considerate I didn’t give zero to any, though a few did deserve, but started from 2 (really bad) to 10 really good. I thought to do what we do in engineering signals, the signal isn’t kept zero at lowest. Our standard signal is 4 – 20 ma and not say 0 – 20 which would have been logical). There were many with 10, the ones I would recommend any Nutan lover to watch (despite low IMDb scores Kasturi-5.9, Grahan-which IMDb watchers didn’t even vote). There are in converse some high scorers, say Karma, that had my average score, 6. However here the ten pointers are not perfect, like Nadia Comaneci or Bandini, they are excellent and the flaws that exist don’t wound the sensibility of the watcher, by being too fantastic.
Another index I used is utilisation of Nutan. I know that despite my fondest wish, the movie won’t revolve around her like it did in Seema, Sujata, Bandini, Saraswati Chandra or in fact Aagosh. Even in a movie like Saudagar, she had been given less than one third space since it had younger couple, Padma and Amitabh to give the prime space. As she aged, the moviedom moved her to the secondary slot and the main screen space went to the young generation, and that is natural, mentality of bollywood, here you can’t have female actresses like Sarah Jessica Parkar, Julia Roberts, Aniston etc in or near fifties ruling the roost.
She had in her interview mentioned that she chose the movies where there was a significant role for her in it. She didn’t want to do a movie just to get a head count. After watching her movies (including the most horrible ones, like Sone Pe Suhaga, which should get negative marks), I accept that fact. But was the role well conceptualised and used by the director, during shooting and then while editing?
There is a movie Mera Munna– in which, when the child is lost she becomes insane (or even in Meri Jung) and is put into an asylum. Was her calibre shown in those movies or not, is the utilisation of Nutan. She is the one who should not be used in normal Masala histrionics, which was done, she should have been used in silent brooding action, which was her forte. For example an entirely silent episode of one minute or so in Sone Ki Chidia.. how much does it speak of?
Couldn’t this simple technique be used in these movies? While here, ecstasy is shown in the day dream, in those it could be opposite. But for that we need the Dad (may be younger than her) who understood her and her talent. None of these movies could use them. So in Nutan utilisation rating, they get mere 2 (talent simply wasted) and that is despite her getting best supporting actress award. In fact some forgettable masala movies (say Rishta Kagaz ka or Pyari Bhabhi) has used up to certain extent her unspoken speech and they rank far above these in Nutan Index (though less in movie ranking). But then in most of her later movies including Naam (10 point on movie but 4 points on Nutan) she had rarely been utilised.
The points the directors got is on how and whether they could use her speech without word, or used her for the loud “Rona Dhona” which any even non-actress could do. Again I do accept that in real life these situations, the death of beloved (including son, who too is beloved, isn’t it?) the scene is loud, but there are the non-loud grieving families too.
Not to the extent of Tennyson though – “Home they brought her warrior dead; She nor swooned nor uttered cry; All her maidens, watching, said; She must weep or she will die” type.
But they maintain their reserve, even in unbearable grief, in public. That has much more effect on the audience than the loud ones, and the effect is what they want isn’t it? Or did they?
The last two snaps are from a 1985- Melodrama- Pyari Bhabhi– only bearable due to her-
A child dies in an accident, in which she was one of the main player. Obviously she has to replace the child (his brother in law’s who had, no marks for guessing, married an heiress). But the doctor had told (even when she was young and had a miscarriage) that even trying to bear a child would be fatal- (Didn’t we know that).
Obviously she has to have it, sacrificing her life, to replace the one, who she finds herself to be responsible for. Of course her brother in law, whom she had brought up as a mother too isn’t too kind any more on her. The sister in law of course I can’ blame, she had become insane, and would be cured if she gets back the child. Why not an orphan one would ask. But then the script writer told so. Only one still sympathetic and understanding, consoling ‘It wasn’t your fault even remotely’ is of course is her husband. But there are a few additional twists. The doctor who told her not to, had gone out on a short assignment, enough for her to have the child, is now back. She has to escape from the ICU, which would remove even the slim chance of survival, that she would have had, had she stayed in the hospital. But that escape is necessary (some twisted logic).
This is the few minutes of speechless preparation for a pure suicide, Cutting the bond from a beloved, late middle aged and that too handicapped husband, who really at that time of life needs her, and also leaving the just born infant isn’t easy, and rare ones can say that silently, what can’t be translated to spoken words. This concept of scrificing- she isn’t only doing it to herself, but she is really sacrificing her husband too, scores a low point from the movie index (of me).
Still an entirely useless movie got an average (6 points) from me due to her performance in a role that one could predict as soon as first quarter of the movie is finished. But that isn’t what would de-rate a movie, even Romeo Juliet or Laila Majnu, we know as we enter the hall how it would end, but we go to see the treatment of a known theme. This treatment of the subject/ story, that I have used, to mark or un-mark (!) it. Of course there was another extremely good actor in this forgettable movie, Girish Karnad, the about to be bereaved husband.
The points came due to these speechless episodes. Due to the speeches and laments that weren’t necessary, it being her, Meri Jung lost points on Nutan Utilisation Index, and if she is made to cry like the formula index, the movie loses point heavily on Nutan index, though the movie by itself won’t. But reverse isn’t true, if there is a good Nutan Index, movie gained by it, like this 2 or 4 point movie became 6 pointed.
Of course it still doesn’t solve my problem or makes it analysable, so I use another concept (In statistics we call stratification). It is nothing extraordinary, a common sense which I am just writing in English. The man (or) woman is the result of his/her upbringing. Which I am extrapolating to, since we have our country in four zones (assuming the central India we share), with just that bit of difference in cultures, the movies would be affected by the region the director is from. The same story, directors from different areas would view and present in different manner.
So went back to the drawing board, each of these 80 odd fellows place of birth and area of upbringing noted, and then allocated North, East, South and West to them. The North I divided into two parts (but looks that wasn’t necessary). Those that were from, what is now Pakistan, or from the Punjab, which shared a bit different outlook than say other northern zones, were made a different group.
The result is predictable (of course there is a likely bias from my zone?)
Let me again stress, this is a judgement on daddy, not the girl. Nutan would do what is possible for her, but if the director orders that a hysterical weeping is what is called for, well she really can’t help. She was, as her statements mention, too disciplined, not one to override the directors, and in her case, unfortunately (I am not going into complete statistics- test of significance etc… but even minus that some obvious indications are here)
Two movies I couldn’t trace out the director’s home- Mera Munna and Saanjh Ki Bela (the director’s name is Madhusudan), though I suspect he is from Western region, likely Gujarat, form the initial screens.
I had tried to restrict my local affinity as far as possible, but which of these you would give less than ten points – Seema, Anari, Sujata, Bandini, Anurag, Kasturi, Grahan , Saudagar – are all eastern directors. In fact, since I didn’t watch it after I had been fanned by her aura and now unable to get the DVD of it, (though I wrote to the production house but they are silent), and so didn’t count TV Serial Mujrim Hazir or as per (at least reports) another interesting movie Mayuri (IMDb lists it, but some media article I was reading mentions it to be an unreleased movie).
The only area who couldn’t get any ten pointers, again no marks from guessing, are South. Let me list the movies- Sone Pe Suhaga, Yadgaar, Lagan, Hamara Sansar, Kanoon Apna Apna, Rishte Naate, Meharbaan, Gauri, Bhai Bahen, Devi, Khandan, Chhota Bhai, Milan– any ten pointers? A few did get 8 in Nutan Index, none even that in movies index due to hackneyed treatment. Even highly acclaimed Khandaan, Milan etc have too many manufacturing errors, the actors par excellence, Sunil and Nutan, pulled these movies up from abyss. In fact nearest to come, in Nutan index was Chhota Bhai, I had just a dilemma whether to give 8 or 10 on her index, but a few unnecessary melodramas made me to cut it down to 8.
Unfortunate was the west, her own area. It didn’t fare well due to the wide variation, very good and very bad. We have exceptional high in Nutan Index – Chhalia, SaraswatiChandra, Anjaam etc and equally exceptionally bad in Nutan Index (Naseebwala, Insaniyat, etc). But the blame goes to the actors, the producers and directors in these movies were, I suspect from the quality of the treatment, the personal body guard, housekeeper or make-up men of say Mithun, or Amitabh. What would you honestly expect from these movies? This same question I would have asked Nutan, had she been here.
There is some variation between mine and IMDB score since I have used discrete, whereas by averaging, IMDb could get more continuous nature of ranking. But significant difference is in West where surprisingly has given more than 7 points to movies like Guru, Mujrim, which with lot of misgivings, I could give only 4.
So the Dads except one area (and that too not all, for example we have a quite a few bad/average movies (e.g. Mangetar from East) couldn’t use her natural shine to light up the world.
But what did they think about her? Did they think that she couldn’t or it was that they know that she could but they couldn’t?
For that I will use another hypothesis. If I consider her to be the star of the movie (couldn’t is my failure) then she would get the pride of the place isn’t it? In the posters she would feature prominently. And in the rolling star cast, which in Bollywood is in the beginning, she would be featuring towards the beginning, if the Daddy Dearest thinks the daughter isn’t that good, her name would move back in pecking order.
What the data say?
I am a bit handicapped because
- I don’t have all,
- ‘A few don’t show me the title screens- for some they were in the end (Hollywood style) and a few may be because the print (disc) I have might be partial. However what I have itself gives the mind of the dad,
Of the 75 I have (in fact 63, since the last twelve I shouldn’t consider) almost half the cases she had been owning the movie (even when not like Naam, i.e. the first screen had been her alone) and in all, around 90% cases, the first screen with rolling names would have her, alone or with the male protagonist. I wonder how many heroines can boast of this feat? Except probably Nargis? So the Daddy’s did know the place the girl had in the heart of others (or at least where it matters, the cash counter).
- In Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand starrers it would be like “Raj Kapoor and Nutan” or she would be in second screen.
- The second and third screens are for Madras movies, even when her role is on which the movie is named after (Gauri)- not unexpected observing her score with those parents.
- She took pride of place even in the twilight to her life- a maker like Mahesh Bhatt gave her first title in Naam.
- Amitabh I think didn’t want the controversy with his ex-wife/current mother and Insaniyat might have had end rolling titles, I couldn’t see it in Dileep’s Karma either.
Does it further strengthen the theory that the insecurity of the male stars, forced them to avoid Nutan? Which they could, from the time they started being the de-facto ruler of the roost, though as smoke screen a director was placed on the chair. This seat they are yet to abdicate of course. Who can really, with those large egos, bear with equanimity that the audience wait for the last less than a minute of,
Despite churning out a series of superbs and super hits, after 1963, none of the top rung heroes dared to work with her, except Sunil Dutt. Shammi had one, but he was already getting eclipsed by then by Joy Mukherjee. She had to work against heroes that were wither wannabes (Manish, Subhash Ghai, Parikshit Sahni) or strugglers (Sanjeev, Dharmendra, Amitabh)?
The major loss due to this is that, the lack of mass appeal of the hero resulted in poor marketing of the movies. Nutan even at her prime wasn’t one who could draw the whistling front bench audience to cinema halls. She relied on her sweetness and the acting prowess to rule. The audience have to accept the one she was showering her affections on was worth it. Sunil had aged by then, not only in years, but also visibly. Also by then it was already the hero’s reign. Movies sold by the name of Rajendra Kumar and then the mantle was given to the other RK, Rajesh Khanna, followed by Amitabh, the name of the heroines were not important.
Only heroines then or later, that were counted, were those who exuded sexuality, Asha parekh a bit suppressed, but Sharmila and Rekha openly and then we have the Zenat era starting and continuing to Sridevi or Madhuri, where no holds were barred to openly invite. Nutan stood no chance against it; the type of insinuating moves, that back then Helen, Cuckoo or the notorious Begum Para never did.
The directors in the movies disappeared, except a handful being seen here and there. Even a top notch like Manmohan Desai won’t have confidence on his own, he would rather make movies to suit the hero, usually Amitabh, and hence for practical purposes he too didn’t exist. A few like Shyam Benegal remained but they have to search for movie halls who would agree to screen his movies. In that state who would work with her? We lost 15 years of her prime time, just because of this state of affairs.
But that’s all past tense, being bitter doesn’t bring back the time, or her.
Only I wish that her Daddys hadn’t forgotten that Nutan was not a Dumb Blonde but was a Completely Dumb Brunette..
For around 15 minutes she didn’t utter a single sound – from the humming “Sun Mere Bandhu re” and then asking “And Rama?” her next sound was “No I am not laughing” and in that hiatus our dumb brunette spoke a whole chapter of a novel. Is it the only case? It happened again and again, but the people on the chair forgot that. Misusing her, making her to speak or especially weep with sound, made me drastically reduce the marks from otherwise correctly answered question.