Parijata

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Parijata is a mythological flower of Gods, only found in heaven. Sometimes it is brought to the earth by sages who visited there, to enchant the earth with its serene beauty and fragrance. Tend it with the love and reverence it deserves, and it will stay with you un-withered forever. Don’t and it will disappear and go back to the heaven, like the things divine.

This is the time when the teenager (at least in looks) fully bloomed into a lovely (am I understating?) young woman, shedding the girl skin. I think it must have been somewhere down the way, the man came in her life, transforming her. The effect on her acting is very clear on at least one movie of her and I suspect it would have been one of the movies signed before marriage, but shot after it, that she completed part of her ethics before her second retirement from film dom. Alternately it could have been shot when she was deeply attached, but still not married, to the man in her life.

Naturally she would be gradually transforming from a girl to woman, and the girlish look is still visible (even at the age of 23) due to behavior? May be. Interesting thought how the presence of the man in life changes a girl into a woman.

This was her best period whether we consider the box-office, products (movies) or her looks. Of course there are certain controversies on the last part, even within me. Did she look better in 1957-58 period or now? Seema, Heer, Paying Guest… she was glorious to say the least and in Anari, Chhalia, Manzil she was divine. I can’t give verdict, even to me, on that.

After the mass production of forgettable movies of 1958, it looks she (or her mother) had been a bit careful and she didn’t go for too many. That doesn’t for a moment say that the movies she had chosen were like the peak of 55. They weren’t, and except Sujata, they were still hero dominated, at least script wise. She had however in terms of number of films, now moderated to 3 movies in 1959 and 4 in 1960. The 1960 movies most likely were post marriage (1959), at least part of these.

1959 – Anari , Kanhaiya ,Sujata,
1960 – Basant, Chhabili , Chhalia, Manzil.

Now she was in clear big league. The list of the heroes that worked against her, spoke of the fact. The till then elusive Raj Kapoor was suddenly in three of them, Anari, Kanhaiya and Chhalia, the old sweetheart Shammi tried his luck again with her in Basant, and then she had one with other old partner Dev Anand (Manzil).

She had the beginning of her relationship, with Sunil Dutt, which would be the one of the only two stable relation she would have with a co-star, who would, like the proverbial best friend, never ditch her even when the world, at least the movie world, did. The movie of course was the one listed amongst the greats to grace the screen, Sujata. Nothing strange, since it was the product of the two of the greatest Bollywood has ever seen, Bimal Roy and Nutan, with another few of exceptional, though not in their league, actors Tarun Bose and Sunil Dutt completing the family.

Only one of her movie in this period was with an unknown hero, Kaysee Mehra. I wondered who was he and where did he disappeared after this one flop movie. All heroes, even after a few flopped movies try their luck for some time. But this person simply vanished from radar like MH370.

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A lot of search brought out some probability – however let me be silent on that lest he comes out and puts a case on me. He is now a really very big man. May be he wants to forget about his childhood follies and failures and keep quiet on this? I will try to make a contact and see.

Interestingly the data says that he had acted in two movies, both with Tanuja (Chhabili and Mem Didi– the shots are from it, this movie is available in you as well as DVD format) before he left the industry. I wonder in that case, who was the hero against Nutan? I hope it wasn’t K.N.Singh or a love triangle between two sisters?

Out of these seven movies there was a super hit in Anari, big hits in Sujata and Chhalia and hits Manzil, Kanhaiya and Basant and only one flop unfortunately a milestones for her fans, Chhabili. So this was the period of Nutan with a success of 6/7. I wonder how many actresses or even actors could boast of this record. With the additional fact that each of these movies were known and remembered due to her, and even more considering that except Sujata, all were ‘Hero’s movie.

Each of these movies were love stories, I assume the unknown to me Chhabili too is, but each with different treatments. All being love stories isn’t something out of the ordinary though considering a very few social movies sans romance had been made in bolly-wood (Do Bigha Zameen type) and the presence of romance at least boosted the chance of success. The social messages in those movies were woven around romance. The examples are the travails of rape victims (Patita), exploitation of orphan (Seema, Sone Ki Chidia), caste division (obviously Sujata and earlier Achhut Kanya), oppression of the slum dwellers (Neecha Nagar) then we have Roti(1942 on famine),etc. The romance ensured that the movies were not too Noir to be limited to the connoisseurs and would reach the mass and the social message of course would be noted through not a scholarly dialogues but through simple statement of facts,

Did you think that the bloods of high caste are different from that of low caste?” a single statement before Sunil walks out to find and comfort his lady. No long theatrical and moral harangue, the hall mark of the great, and the way statement was given, casually, in a matter of fact way, marked the greatness of the actor.

Sunil is another actor in my favorite list, on the male side. The most natural actor, and simple, rarely “acting” on the screen, a lot of similarity exist between his and Nutan’s styles. Only unfortunately he aged a bit fast, which is not too common for the males in Bollywood. In the mid-late sixties movies, he looked distinctly older than Nutan, whereas biologically, he would be looking older in say Sujata (the X/2+7 compatibility principle). It should be even more so then, considering that Nutan was a late bloomer, as if the birth certificate was wrong by quite few years, and she remained under(certified)age till at least late eighties, that is whenever she appeared without dyed hairs. May be the marriage to Nargis? With a happy home cooked meals and wifely care, Nargis broadened the relatively slimmer Sunil. The aging- is it due to our Sanju? Was he like what he is now, back then as child too?

Of course this was towards the end of the golden era, but still firmly ensconced in it, and the ‘Family Drama’ or the ‘Action’ masala movies were yet to raise their tentacles and strangle the art, so the movies were predominantly love stories some with, some without message.

Anari was skeletally similar to Dilli Ka Thug. The same rich and a bit not too straight Industrialist, having the heroine as his orphaned but dearly loved niece. Interestingly this screen relation was almost real life too. Motilal was her very dear uncle (on paper, off paper he was de-facto, again very dear, step-father). We have another loud and affected, though a bit less than the previous, actor as hero (With apologies to Raj Kapoor fans). Heroine as per script was the semi-decorative, to keep the hero interested in life (and the audience in the movie), and also the catalyst thorough which the hero would make inroads into the villain’s camp. The weepy mother of DKT was replaced with a similar but a surprising choice for a benevolent God-mather, Lalita Pawar. To be fair to her, she was benevolent even in Heer.

The movie was script-wise nothing new, except it was directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who was an understudy of one of the greatest in Bollywood, Bimal Roy. He would go on to become, by himself, one of the great director.

We can see the effect, of Bimal or may be the Eastern India influence, in the treatment of the heroine. She is not a purely dumb beauty. Though obedient to an extent, but she has the steel inside her and is ready to rebel when she finds it necessary. She had much more of steel inside than in DKT. She was ready to forego love (which is a personal gain) for her duty and another type of love, to her uncle. But when she found something else, she rebelled (as she did in Dilli Ka Thug too). Any mention of the glorious beauty of Nutan in this movie would be just repetitive, as will be her capability to act out situations. There are everywhere the pictures of her scattered around from this movie.

Of course I can’t avoid venting my feelings. Whenever there would be a movie of her with the biggies, the cameras would be more on them. Even Hrishikesh though tried to be fair, sometimes did that, or was it due to ‘pressure’ form the camp? The camera should be on the actor, where we would see the incidence speak, not on the ‘Ego’, to promote him. Raj Kapoor of course was a relatively good actor, though a bit linear in his acting. To add to this, his acting was spoilt by his loud and over-affected style. Even Dev Anand like most of the Heroes, was linear actor, with limited resources to act out ‘naturally’ under all circumstances.

Of course the exceptions are there in the males, Amitabh, Naseer, Amir Khan maybe counted among few who could essay diverse situations (roles) with equal ease, and look natural in each. Of the oldies, the nearest might be Sunil, Dharmendra could have been if he had not tried to be ‘He Man’ and sharpened his brain (talent) and not the brawn. I am not saying that these preferred could essay ‘All’ type of roles, but then how many diverse kinds of roles, is the factor I am relying upon. The condition being that in these they have to be identifiable to the ‘roles’ on screen and not ‘roles’ to the actors.

For example in Sholay, no one talks of Hema, who though is a bad actress in general, immortalized herself as Basanti. Namak Haram the person to play the role to perfection was Raza Murad, even pushing Amitabh to second position, in living the role.

The effect of these ‘Ego’ is as, say in this song, where at least I didn’t want to see the protagonist throughout the entire ending song of the Tere Ghar Ke Saamne with nil exposure of one of the protagonists, who is under equal stress. Frankly the hero is singing the song is OK. But what we want to see how the words are affecting the other five (the two pair of parents and the girl). 

But then it was his home production, obviously he would try to grab the screen. Finally whether he succeeded on making the movie his or not is the question. Of course he tried to do the same with Guide too, having the whole of the ending sequence to himself. Interestingly after this he made only one more movie Prem Pujari with Waheeda Rehman, and then did a Nutan with her too and preferred to have mediocre or non-actors (Hema Malini, Zeenat,…) as heroine, rather than taking the risk of losing the movie to the heroines. And that he did despite not losing either of these movies completely to Waheeda.

Why only blame him, it had been the strategy of each of the ‘Superstars’ or those who think themselves to be, whether male or female.

Sometimes I see this more like the tennis tournaments. Rarely we see Federer, Nadal (at least when he was on top) and Djovic in the same ATP (non slam) tournament together. If one plays in Basel, the other in Stuttgart and third may be Rome, to prepare for the Roland Garos. None want a direct confrontation. They at least do that in Grand Slams, here in movies there are no grand slam, so the face-off of them is avoided, and the decision of the complete draw, including which players to play, is done by a single person, the top-seed, who like in tennis is the main crowd-puller. 

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Next we have the mentor himself now, in Sujata, her first association with Bimal Roy as well as with Sunil Dutt. Again nothing to speak in this, so much is spoken of it already, except the heavenly beauty of Anari suddenly had looked here like the girl next door. Of course it wasn’t always possible and once in a while the beauty sparkled. But it underscored the capability of her, how she was able to look like two entirely different persons. May be that’s how she was able to go out and do her shopping unrecognized by the passerby. This is so well known movie, talking of it or her acting in it would be travesty. So I will just keep a few token snaps.

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The last snap, that shy peeping from behind a tree, I remember having seen quite a few times attempted by several actresses. But that cute childish blushing face is naturally non-repeatable. I really don’t know why they do it. It unnecessarily draws comparisons and that with someone they can’t even, as we say, reach her toe level. Same misadventure was repeated by SRK in Don and then the South Superstar in Zanjeer. Were they perchance convinced by their yes-men to think that they were better than the original actors? (Why all these things are gendered? No one would demand for a rename into Yes-woman or gender-neutral yes-persons?)

The third movie of this year was again with Raj Kapoor. As usual it was again woven around the hero (whose name is Kanhaiya). The village girl, a bit off the hook, Nutan is a devotee of Lord Krishna (Kanhaiya) and shown to be the type of Meera in a way. She is the only one who could hear His flute, even feel His presence, and goes to the wilderness to listen to it and be near Him. Obviously our Kanhaiya thinks he is her Kanhaiya. And we have for a change the docile Om Prakash in the role hereby essayed by Pran, the ‘by hook or by crook’ type along with of course Madan Puri ‘If she isn’t mine, she won’t be anyone else’s either’.

Another senseless movie, but still a hit one. Once again unexplainable behavior of the audience, probably made hit due to the over-religious fervor, to the extent of being unnatural and superstition inducing. The copy I have with me is extremely hazy so I can’t comment on her acting in this. The quality is almost what is available in the youtube songs and the movie itself isn’t better than the print.

There is nothing to talk about in this another hit but worst of them all, may be even worse than Basant movie, but then elder brother must score above the younger one isn’t it? Nothing in the movie except our lovely Nutan and even for the sake of her, I doubt whether it is worth to see such a bad print, official version, marketed by Shemaroo as it says under exclusive license, and adds, picture quality is as available in the original. Whether to market a proper quality of product or not is not their concern. The pictures could have been easily improved. But ethics don’t count when it is business and that too when the customer is gullible.

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Now I come to her post (extra) marital affairs after her marriage (11th October 1959).

The 1960 was remembered for a box office clean-up by Mughal-e-Azam, which as far as I recall opened in the beginning of the year and then automatically it was lucky that other movies could stand its onslaught (as happened later with Sholay).

The first movie, in this year was with the heart throb of the time, Shammi Kapoor in Basant. A complete mess by the Director, by trying to cram too much into the movie. However as I said the younger brother tried to emulate the elder, Raj Kapoor, by making a mess of a movie, but being younger he made less of a mess. The director tried to make a movie out of two scripts by joining them. It isn’t that these double stories couldn’t have been fitted in a single movie, even larger stories had been fit, but that would have needed a better planning of the flow of the movie. This movie lacked the basic plan, and the scenes/ sequences simply were crammed into to make a movie. But really who minds when we had Nutan. She as usual did her part more than what she was given. And IMDb tells me it was a more money earner than the other two Chhalia and Manzil, who knows, maybe, after all ‘Yeh Public Hai’ and more of them went to watch the worse of the three?

However even in it, she had an excellent tribal like dance in,

Where her hourglass figure had been quite prominent. For a change she had put on quite figure revealing (not skin revealing) clothes in this song.

Not much to talk about in this movie since in the type of the cut and paste done in the movie to cram the story in, none of the actors got much chance to display their talents. In the limited scope given in the jet speed movie, of course she tried her bit. But I think she too knew that the movie was a nonsense and didn’t try the extra bit she usually did in other movies. However despite all these bad things about the movies, some of the small sequences stand up nicely (may be I am romantic?) like the deep dark forest, where she had to sleep in a hay bed on ground while he would be in a nice safe scaffold, I wonder why those were ready for them in that wilderness. However that is one of the many flaws in the movie so I won’t talk of them.

This is a snap from that sequence

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I don’t know how did Shammi form the theory that one can’t be afraid as well as hungry. But may be true? Can’t comment since never had a chance to experience the twin together. However she looked sweet and almost childish in supplication, and she looks sweet in

Anyway this movie could only be seen by the fans of the two clubs, either Nutan or Shammi, and none else, which I can’t say of Kanhaiya though. That isn’t even for Nutan fans at least with the quality of prints. Strangely, it has a North Indian Director, Om Prakash (yes he seems to have directed a few) who directed Kanhaiya. I would have sworn from the subject and the way it was made, that it is by one of the Southies.

Chhabili of course I can’t talk of, with a regret, since it is completely untraceable. Though for fans it has a very high significance, the first movie where she had played back for herself.

Of the other two movies, both were more than good, again from movie angle as well as from Nutan angle.

Chhalia was the partition based love story. The wife is left behind in Pakistan and the husband as well as rest of her family comes to India. Before she could be taken away, the subcontinent is in fire.

I won’t talk of logical error of course. Put yourself in the husband’s shoes. The entire subcontinent is in fire. Do you leave your newlywed wife behind, who you are deeply in love with, under those circumstances alone, may be with servants of course, when the riots have already started? And alone means entirely alone, not a single family member is left behind. He with his parents are in Delhi, her parents and brother too are in Delhi, then a young bride of a month was left there with whom? Why? Along with the gang she too could have been brought. It isn’t that the women didn’t travel, the two mothers were in the caravan which deserted her. But let us not talk of the logical errors, else most of the movies won’t have stories to built up on.

She is pregnant (which of course he doesn’t know). She is on the run in the roads, where before the mobs get hold of her, she is rescued by the local dreaded gangster (Pran) who for a change isn’t Pran like and has a heart of gold. He not only protects her from the mob, but makes her a god sister, replacement for his own sister, who was left behind in India.

After she has the child, he even arranges for her to be transported to India along the refugees. Obviously (though strangely, as far as her own parents are concerned) she isn’t accepted by either families, even the husband, Rehman, doubts the parentage of her child (of course he would be the first, may be lacking the self confidence?). She obviously goes on to commit suicide. This was her first visit to Qutub Minar (Is it after this suicide attempt they closed the Qutub to public?), she would again visit after a few years in Tere Ghar Ke..”

She is saved, by being stopped before she jumps (of course, once she jumps from top, no one is strong enough to catch below and survive) by our hero, the local gangster Chhalia (Raj Kapoor) the sworn enemy of the Pathan (Pran), while both were together, in Amritsar. He doesn’t know she is married and a mother and she too doesn’t tell (flimsy excuse) so obviously he falls in love, and she (Sati Savitri and that too a mother) obviously doesn’t reciprocate even a bit, but doesn’t even distance herself clearly to his open overtures. Accepted she doesn’t play coy or tries to encourage him, but, her avoidance when it was clearly not succeeding the intent, of quenching his fire, should have been vocal.

Despite all the weaknesses it again became her movie. She looked beautiful, though looked too young to be the mother of a five year or so old child. But I won’t mind that, better young than with the dyed hair. And anyway she looked divine in the movie and so was her acting, in the role of a wronged woman, the screen space Raj Kapoor deigned to give her.

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The third movie of this period was Manzil, another love story. The boy (Dev Anand) is sent to study Business administration and comes back after studying music. The parents, at least the mother, think that childhood sweet heart (Nutan) could make him responsible enough to take care of father’s business. Of course she did it first, at least half heartedly, but then she joined the enemy (Dev Anand) league. The boy leaves home and goes to Bombay to become Music Director and the girl goes back to her home in another city. There is some misunderstanding, and the girl is married to someone else.

Such an old story? We have seen it with this gender combination as well as genders reversed and going to see again and again (Sangam, Dhool Ka Phool,..) ?

But there is still some twist and doesn’t end up simply like other movies with the lovers pining away (Do Badan) or having extra marital (Gumrah) or anything like that.

The movie has some lovely songs the director of course is the Anand group favourite, Sachin da. The director of the movie Mandi Burman is he/she related? This is one movie wonder and nowhere traceable. Why? After all this was a hit movie and he/she had been directing under Navketan banners. It is too strange, to underscore the fact. But I don’t get anywhere any mention of Mandi Burman except this movie. This is the second unexplainable occurrence of this era. Have these two disappearances, Kaysee Mehra and Mandi Burman something to do with Alien Abductions? This looks to be most plausible explanations. May be their cases would be X-Files or at least the equivalent of it in Indian system.
I love quite a few of the songs in the movie, for the music as well as the situation,

Due to the chemistry between the two actors, and the same chemistry exist even in the other songs,

and

Nutan as usual is glorious. This movie I consider very interesting from two angles. First of course is that this was her last movie before the second retirement.

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But it isn’t only glorious Nutan here. I wonder whether the glory has something to do with her personal life then?

It is my firm belief that she wasn’t able to act out a role until she felt the emotions inside herself.

Under the same conditions I find the difference, between same actors set-ups and situations. In all the cases the protagonists are in love, in fact in the first case they are already in love, whereas in the last case it has come as a shocked realisation just now, as per script. But the face and especially the eyes are talking loudly.

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And in the second case, the heroine in all the cases wants to be kissed. The feeling of raw want she could only bring out in second case and not earlier.

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These subtle changes in Manzil, I might be wrong since I don’t know when the shooting started and ended, and my be over-reading it, but to my untrained eyes it shows some significance. It can’t be Dev’s effect completely. She had been with him at least twice earlier, and none of the time this spark could be seen, which was quite often seen in this movie.

My hypothesis says it was external factor, the comfort she felt in Dev’s company, made her to recreate her feeling by abandoning the natural reserve, which she would have felt with RK. It could be easy, just replaced Dev with someone else. In real life one does do it, though in reverse?

So I am now at the end of one glorious period of Bollywood. Since it not only had Nutan, but also her opposite pole, Madhubala was at her prime now. Nutan meanwhile had already announced to the world that she doesn’t want to be anymore in this field and want to settle down with her man, even though she is at her prime, and the most sought after actress.

This as I consider was her golden era, since she single handedly dominated screen, script in her favour or not. Even when the hero was the industry’s biggest and the heartthrob of countless girls and backed by the script.

And that too despite being the dumure girl and not inviting the carnal desires of the males (she did try to, but failed miserably). This is not in terms of her talent or histrionics; she is still learning and improving on it. My thoughts are simply based on her beauty, talent and dominance all combined together in this era.

The movies weren’t best technically and left a lot to be desired. But one person’s presence made others not to delve into technicalities. 

Going back to the starting of this musing, she was the Parijata, flower from heaven, revered and loved by the audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Parijata”

    1. Thanks. She had an exceptionally expressive face.I haven’t come across another who could so perfectly display so many emotions just by a minor facial change. It is really unfortunate that she, due to the circumstances, could never been used on the screen that she deserved to have been.

  1. Generally I don’t read post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article.

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