The Rosebud

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This was a very dangerous period in her career, even more than her first stint (before first retirement).

Now I am in 1957 with her two movies both with the top actor of that time, the heartthrob, Dev AnandBaarish and Paying Guest. Now she had entered top league. Earlier she had been with the top class actor, Balraj Sahni. But now she is with top draw, after a partial work with Dileep Kumar (Shikwa) and refusing another (Mughal-e-Azam) now she has Pradeep Kumar and Dev Anand in her list. And in this stage itself she will have Kishore Kumar and more importantly Ashok Kumar to work with with whom she would have a very long association. The top of the heap, Raj Kapoor will only enter the next stage of her career. May be planned, by Raj Kapoor, since she is too young and he? Well he is almost born old.

Also the final nail in the coffin of Nargis affair wasn’t put still, and it has come to end just then (1956 was their last movie together) and at that time, surprisingly Raj Kapoor was with Mala Sinha, another kid of the block (Phir Subah Hogi and Main Nashe Mein hoon).

And another interesting part – I wasn’t aware of it, till I started reading of Nargis- her break up with Raj Kapoor was due to two reasons, his refusal to marry her and his refusal to leave his womanizing habits. Of course the second is unsubstantiated and none of the women he was linked with ever agreed to it, not likely either, all now are married and in a stable one. That explains his behaviour with Nutan and her obvious discomfort.

Even more funny, one of the leading actresses of him some times back gave an interview saying she didn’t have any affair with RK and it was only media hype and that also created by RK (as publicity gimmick) . And of all, his son Rishi Kapoor came to media in defense of his (dead) father, refuting her charge, saying not only affair, she had a torrid affair with his father, so much so that his mother moved to a hotel with children!

I would have expected role reversal. 

In Baarish she was very clearly in this category (young woman) in Paying Guest however except some portion she was not so obviously childish. As I look at it, towards the end of this stage, Nutan basically changed from a child to a woman, physically and mentally too.

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She had looked her age (or even younger) in most of the movie, except on serious parts, where she had suddenly aged (or looked aged), because of the serious demeanour?

This year’s the other movie was Paying Guest, again with Dev Anand. Both these movies were out and out Hero movies. The heroine of course was needed, since Dev was the romantic star of the time, specialized in wooing heroines, most of the time by not so straight means, but the target girls fell for these tricks (at least in movies). This methodology introduced by him is now called eve-teasing, and often to the extent of stalking (may be stealthily entering their bedroom uninvited and unwanted too) and is frowned upon if others do, in the movies of course heroes still continue and succeed in wooing the girls.

Both these movies were what appealed the masses, the right kind of syrupy love stories, with strong and romantic heroes, wooing and winning over the intransigent heroines, who would be first averse but then fall for his continuous hounding (stalking?) in one case and the indifference in other. Of course being the hero oriented he would be over protective to the heroine, almost in fatherly ways, and then after a lot of troubles, trials and tribulations (of course of the heroine), finally they would settle down in domestic bliss. Syrup with the right quantity of ginger mixed to tickle the connoisseur’s (read common mass’) palate. Of course they were meant to bring sweet jingling sounds to the producers too, and they did. But in these out and out hero movies the heroine was noticed and though had only a decorative role, by sheer acting prowess grabbed the credit of the success. Though it is a fan speaking, but I am not so sure that the movies would have been such hits with another heroine, with one of the other two of her vintage, or even with the reigning divas of those times.

These movies, in the plot or execution, were not even worth talking about. These were absolutely impossible kind of movie, but the audience obviously loved that impossibility. Whenever I watch them my logical portion of the brain just gets overloaded to the point of jamming, but is overruled, by the sheer presence of the heroine.

The spectrum of her talent continued and there is not many more new additions take place. Now onwards it would be only the polishing and sharpening of the existing weapons and perfecting them further and further. The gem has been already formed and sparkled overshadowing the other stones around, in Seema, now it is only how much more that can. And what could be more proof of the worth than being able to make forgettable movies remembered?

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Paying guest was of course also remembered for the lilting romantic music composed by S D Burman, and Kishore Kumar excelled as the voice of Dev Anand. And here there was an attempt by Nutan, to berak her image of a good girl by doing- of all a number reserved for Helen (or Cuckoo, Edwina etc back then) a Semi cabaret number which in today’s movies this would be an item song.

If we for a moment imagine this song and change her to Madhubala and the playback singer from Lata to Geeta Dutt or at least Asha, what it would have been?

It might be one of her first attempts at this type and failed completely. However I don’t mind, since even in that attempt, she couldn’t really try to do something against her character. An could have been sexy song ended up being a sweet song but not an eyesore, which so many become due to an affected and artificial behaviour.

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So it had put her at her own place and should have told her not to try something not fit for her, but of course she didn’t learn and tried a few times more till finally giving that up as hopeless.

To put things at proper perspective, Madhubala displayed a subtle but very strong sexuality. She didn’t have to display any of her assets other than the acting and with that she could enchant the males (and make women jealous? Maybe,). In those times none, even the original cabaret dancers would dare stripping as today’s heroines do, practically gate crashing into the bolly- Moulin Rouge without appointment, and start dancing. The heroines, except few rare cases where the role itself required it, wouldn’t anyway even try their luck in cabaret. SO stripping even partially wasn’t natural, and often it would be quite well dressed scenes where Madhu would be able to draw whistles out.

However this clearly brought out the difference between the two and why our Nutan shouldn’t try to enter the arena where the Goddess existed and not ready to vacate the throne in a hurry.

1958 had been her most prolific year ever with seven movies released during this, and one of the worst year too, since most of them were flops, and to an extent that they aren’t even heard of. This year is topped by only 1952 where she had 4 movies without a single hit. However this is a year with a few important movies, one of that I strongly suspect to be very important, though really can’t say since it is in the list of untraceable and others definitely.

She had in this year three movies with Kishore, her only three with him, Chandan, Dilli Ka Thug and Kabhie Andhera Kabhie Ujala. I assume after this Kishore had his new wife, and didn’t need any outside heroine to pay to, or even recommend for. Anyway he was supposed to be one with quite tight purse strings. Of the three “Dilli Ka Thug” was a hit and is the only available one around. The other two seems to be sunk without trace. One of the symbol of a movie availability is, by my experience, the songs in video format would be available in Youtube. People may not load the movies, especially the people who would like to do business. But just to show the potential, they would upload the songs like fishing lines to attract the fishes. In these movies it isn’t done, at least till date.

Dilli Ka Thug is the first movie of note here since this is the one she again attempted, after Paying Guest Catastrophe (Personally for her, not for producers or others) to once more try to do other type of role, and move into the glamour, the other kind of.

If someone says she wasn’t glamorous, I have to pity him/her. But her glamour and beauty was of soothing kind. As I personally feel and tried to prove in my way, she had a surplus of maternal instinct and that displayed when she was wooing the hero or getting wooed. In addition to this was the virginal quality which kept on with her almost till the end. So obviously however she might try, the glamour would be soothing and lovely but never one to put the viewer (male) on fire. I really wonder how she did it to the Frenchman. We know that the Frenchmen are legendary romantic, but this much?

She did all that was possible by her to look sexy, and for a change she even left the ever present chest covering (not fully of course, only the Chunri) in this song. Of course she again came back with it later (in Sari). And as a last and desperate effort she even threw a flying kiss,

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First two snaps are taken just to show some of the naturalism, even in the mad song. She is looking amused at his face- not at book or elsewhere while he struggles to pronounce. (the next moment she looks down at the page). And then she looks through corner of eyes to see whether he is obedient or not.

This was one of her rarest occasions when she attempted to this level. But as any man would tell, it was all with no effect on the testosterone. Though it remained in the list of one of her lovely songs (but the list is unfortunately too large, so it is one of many).

I wonder how many have noticed that the song starts with “C A T cat, Cat mane Chooha” i.e. “Cat means mouse” and not “Cat mane Billi” ???

First I thought it to be the error of the disk, in the old movies often there would be these portions missing and in editing they join. But I checked the youtube of other companies, till I was sure.

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It was an out and out fun movie, and senseless, which isn’t strange since it was Kishore Kumar movies. However the importance comes since here Nutan, unexpectedly could more or less match step even with Kishore. Till then, and it includes her movies of grand old days, she had been doing serious roles, nothing even nearby to it. And also here was her most desperate attempt to bring “Whistles” in the auditorium. 

The second important movie in this year was Aaakhri Daon. The lead actor opposite her was Sekhar. It was another male protagonist oriented movie, with the heroine in the decoration department. The importance of this movie, in my view comes from the fact that first time, in this movie, she had shown that she could pull the movie by herself alone. Even when the movie wasn’t revolving against her and the protagonist was just a mannequin. Sekhar if one observes was not much more above that, if his acting capability is concerned.He doesn’t even know what to do with his hand while wooing his lady love.

And despite all his act, or lack of it, and singing (of course melodious Rafi here) we can see Nutan talking.

She is first confused and non-plussed at his open declaration of love in public, “Why are you doing it to me?” She smiles almost apologetically at her friends, “I don’t know” ..to their suggestive glances you could see she is embarrassed almost to the point of weeping, at least as it looks as if to me. Slowly the mood takes over and her heart, which was already lost, as per story, takes control, the eyes lock, first searchingly, at least her, to ensure what he is saying is from his heart and then assured, finally they speak to him whatever he wanted to hear, and we too are privy to those words. When her friends silently move off, it simply doesn’t seem odd that she didn’t notice the movement, if not the rustle.

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Once again she had tried to shed her good girl image and one might have a rare glimpse on her bare shoulders. But again she messed it up by every time she had shown that by modestly trying to cover that up. And the action looked natural not as if she had deliberately shown it to us and then with exaggerated display of modesty quickly covering it. One may also observe her slightly stooping forward rather to hide, than arching back, which the other heroines, Sharmila onwards did, with the obvious intention.

If I let my imagination run free (anyway I had been doing that all around) it would be like the director explained the scene, explaining she has to show her shoulders. Obviously happy at the opportunity she accepted with enthusiasm and no misgiving (at the moment., it was exactly what she wanted). But when it came to do it, her nature took over. We can see the slight embarrassed demeanor as she tried to quickly cover up the piece of sheet slipped off her shoulder. (This scene is captured with quite a bit of difficulty, since it lasted less than a second and freezing at the moment with my amateur player was difficult). 

She was psychologically too not made up to be anywhere near it. Did mothering her siblings brought her mothering instinct, than the lover instinct, to fore?

She had had already heroine oriented movies (Seema) to show that she can carry the movie on her delicate but strong shoulders. But that had Balraj Sahni to accompany her. This was another in the series of entirely forgettable movies, but for her, proving for the first time the mannequin theory. It also has another glorious (Nutan) song with the same (non) actor hero, 

Watching this song had always made me wonder why the car didn’t crash into/ crush people on footpath (pavement) as it did with our one of the current superstar’s. Just watch into the extent the driver is turning the steering.

But as I said, an absurd movie, made almost watchable by her. Of course the availability of the digital CDs around shows it is a watched movie, by others too.

The other three movies also seem to be officially flop. At least they are red lettered in the list of ’58.

Zindagi Ya Toofan was with Pradeep Kumar again, and the partnership is more or less jinxed. This movie I am not sure was released or not. Since some reports say it was released only in Pakistan and not in India, that is quite possible, considering the Pakistani link the producers/ director, Nakshab Jarchavi had migrated to Pakistan in early sixties. It was his last Indian movie and net movies were in Pakistan. However I don’t mind it, I have a print, very bad, but still I can recognise the actors, sometimes very clearly. In fact the songs in Youtube has more clarity than my full video.

It was based on Umrao Jaan story, modified heavily of course, with happy ending. It has a few important aspects, may be for the first time Nutan’s singing (Though in a mushaira- the poets meet – and sans music) is heard.

In this movie Nutan has a Mujra too. In fact there supposed to be another one too, at least. However it isn’t there in my copy. Interestingly it could have been her third attempt on image changeover at least from the wording of the Mujra.

“Angdai bhi who lene nap aye uthake Haath,  Dekha jo Mujh ko rok liya Muskara Ke haath”
“She couldn’t even stretch raising the hands, finding me watching her, she immediately stopped the hands, smiling”

The playback is by Asha (for Nutan I assume) and Shamshad (For Minu Mumtaj?), so both are probably present on scene. The song on Youtube, has stills showing Nutan on action and not Minu. There is of course another possibility, the Madam of the house is being played back by Shamshad, who knows. And as usual it too would have failed to convert her.

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The movie frankly isn’t at all well made and has too many loopholes. Of course my copy has gaps, but still it could be made out that even the full version might not be in order and is in fact even worse than say Basant. But despite not acting in this movie (at least much) Nutan was quite glorious with the puppy fat (As someone said) in her cheeks. This is one of the rare movies where she had acted just average. Even in Basant she was better. I can’t explain why? Wasn’t she comfortable with the story and setting? Hero, Pradeep Kumar, of course cannot be the cause, since she had just had Heer with him, and as on date I haven’t come across any story about his ‘ways’ and is always talked about as, as much gentleman as he portrayed on screen. . It has to be the basic set up, if the director is confused and unplanned, the actors too would be a bit off the target.

Another thing I wonder- various bridal faces of Nutan (for example in the biography) are they from this movie? The age as well as the jewellary and get up shows likely.

Sone Ki Chidia- this was her last association with Balraj Sahni. This being a widely watched movie, I don’t think I should go into much details. It is the story of an orphan girl, shunted from one family to other, obviously, who wants an additional mouth to feed, like a tennis ball. If it stops in a court, you lose points. However due to some circumstances she is suddenly brought to limelight accidentally and becomes a cine-star. Now the position changes and she becomes like a rugby ball, possession to be retained in the team (family) at any cost, broken jaws or bones immaterial in this effort. Obviously no one bothers of the ball, which is going tatters in the fight for possession. Finally she elopes with her idol (a poor but famed poet), leaving everything, fame, fortune and the greedy family behind.

I won’t comment now onwards of her acting unless there is something extraordinary taking place, since till end it went on improving gradually, and hence now onwards her expressions weren’t something to talk about.

However it brought out with stress her motherly feelings, which we have seen while romancing the heroes here it was at complete display, though with a set of not so cute and mechanical children, I assume from the producers/ director’s family? Even here, she had been quite protective and motherly with both the heroes, Talat as well as Balraj. She did look of the period (not yet fully bloomed, and a bit youngish) but the way she put her hand on Talat while he said “And I don’t get the support of your soft hands

I read two things, first the motherly support and confidence to the child and secondly she is fooling herself. She isn’t in love with him. In fact she wasn’t, she was using him as her chance to escape the prison and settle down, fooling herself that she was in love. Here she expresses that with her face, unspoken, not many actresses do that, in a love song. And I don’t think she would be told to look passive? Would the director tell? I doubt. But she was in the role and she knew, so she expressed what she would naturally had she been her?

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Another interesting feature of this movie is that it had similarity with quite a few heroine’s lives (Meena Kumari being prominent, may be say even Suraiyya too? The opposition to Dev might be even due to this? Who knows?).

In the initial stage it looks to be not to be having too much with Nutan though. Since she was not brought up under hardships like Meena etc. But then the frequency of movies as she was put into harness (1952) or became a star (1957 to 1959) shows a bit of putting too much load on a very young woman/girl. Why was it necessary? I don’t suppose at that age she would be signing the movies, on her behalf the more experienced member of the family would read the script and do the necessary act, like in Sone Ki Chidiya?

It really looks very odd that in this time, 1957, she had, after her come back, two hit movies, Seema and Heer. Both those movies were dominated by her, despite presence of a superb actor (Balraj) and another ‘A’ Grade actor (Pradeep) against her in these, and both of them became ‘Heroine’s movie with the hero moved to secondary role, despite the script giving both equal opportunities. 

In this back ground it looks strange that she signed two movies in 1957 with Dev Anand where she was to be a purely decorative as per script. I will over look this transgression since Dev was after all Dev, and at that time one couldn’t expect Dev to act in a movie where even a fraction of screen space is left for others. The same goes to Raj Kapoor (who of course to be fair made a concession, though only for Nargis, not for other women of future) and of course Dilip Kumar till today, if he condescends to take a movie. So I assume Nutan took the role knowingly, just for the opportunity to work with the then top star.

But what happened then? Both the movies Paying Guest and Barish had been success, the first one a super hit. That had boosted her box-value even further. And I don’t suppose people haven’t noticed that in the scenes that were given to her, she had scored head and shoulders above.

What did she do now? She signed a string of movies all with pure hero dominated script, as in the previous. Only the problem was it was with an actor who was never treated on the top rung (Kishore Kumar) and that too three movies, in the same year. An even more career threatening risk in it was that Kishore Kumar, due to his loud antics would dominate screen, which a good actor or actress, due to the sublime action can’t match. So what she could with Dev wasn’t going to work here. To top it, it was not one but back to back three movies. It could have been a pure suicide move.

And then movie with a known mannequin. Why in the name of Lord above? Sekhar wasn’t really an unknown actor, but a known C grade actor, not only in box-office, but also in acting prowess. I don’t recall his any movie becoming a hit. Yes she had acted with a few B Grade actors, but that was in early/ struggling period, not when she herself has become a star. Yes she could act with ‘New Comers‘ with promise, but not old-timers, with known track-record (or absence of it). Of the few B graders she had acted with, a few like Nasir Khan could act. Of course she had had one Top level actor this year in Pradeep Kumar (though their association was bound to be a bit jinxed) and another two Top Caliber but middle in box-office, Balraj Sahni, and Ashok Kumar (who was past his prime by then).

It just makes me wonder was she being made real life Sone Ki Chidia? Trying to make hay while the sun shone, and sacrificing the child once again?

In real life interestingly she followed the script, and practically eloped with Rajnish. Like this movie there was a strong opposition from the family, including, at least as media says, trying to get even the Union Defence Minister to intervene. At least the on screen-family wasn’t that powerful. Was the compromise reached when she agreed to give the eggs to them at least a significant number of it? Who knows, but this count, the movies selected and the number just doesn’t look right. At that age having seven movies in a year on floor?

The last movie, which I said might have a very important significance, but is untraceable is Light House, with Ashok Kumar. Her first movie with him, after this he would be her lover again (Bandini) and father in law in various movies (Bhai Behen, Anurag, Mehrban,…) In my Oedipus I have missed this (marrying lover’s son).

This movie had some very lovely songs, however the video of it isn’t available.

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Why I think this movie could be significant is, Nutan we know had married after some stiff opposition from her family which included some detailed background check on Rajnish. And she had clearly said ‘don’t ask me about it’ and never told, nor did Rajnish.  Obviously no one else would be aware of this highly private matter, not even Mohnish I guess. I can’t imagine parents sharing their love story with their children, at least in Indian society.

But for a 1959 end marriage the affair must have started in early ‘59 or 58? Was there a connection of this film? The movie, at least as per name is shot in a light house, which is obviously under jurisdiction of Indian Navy/ Coast Guard, in which Rajnish was in then. In that case of course it would be very interesting one, maybe we could get a shot of Rajnish too somewhere, in the extras? The other naval (and equally unavailable but by the poster seems to be) was Chhabili but that was of 1960, may be post marriage.

May be some research could bring out what she hid so carefully. It might not be impossible, logically, but then we must respect her feelings, which even the otherwise snoopy media has done. 

The highlight of this era is that in this period Nutan had tried her level best to get rid of the sweet image and try to display sexuality. But the annals unequivocally tell that she had failed in it. She did that even in the movies that were hit, but I don’t think it got her even a single wolf whistle, which would have been music to her desperate ears. 

We really can’t blame her in this attempt can we? She was a young and extremely beautiful girl. She didn’t look like an ice maiden, nor any of the reports tell that. Of course she would be a bit away from the ‘boys’ in the sets, but not girls.

The story of Tarun and Sunil friendship was due to this. Reportedly during filming of Sujata, the three girls Sashikala, Nutan and Sulochana would gang up and chat/ gossip. The boys of course couldn’t know which it was, chat or gossip, or even whether it was making fun of them, since it was in their common mother tongue, Marathi. So the neglected Would be Father In Law (on screen) and Son In Law (ditto) formed company and left the bride, sister in law and mother in law alone. Anyway they were same age. Father In Law(1928) was only 6 months older than the would be son in law (1929). The three women were of course with three- four years gap. Mother (1928), younger sister (1933) and elder sister, the bride to be (this we of course know 4th June 1936). So it additionally negates her being anything near to ice maiden (in addition her mooning at the Locarno does endorse hotness, which ice can’t be).  

Definitely she would desperately like to be ‘wanted’ by the bevy of males swarming around her. She would obviously try her level best to do that and isn’t that any girl in her position would?.

May be she dreamed of the attention and the wants that were showered on her in,

And missed it. We can’t fault her for that. 

This was to summarise, one of the Lows of her career, but fortunately didn’t blight her prospects, due to her sheer brilliance in all these ‘decorative piece’ roles, converting them into the feature these movies are still remembered for. We still remember Paying Guest for the glorious songs, especially the “O Nigahein Mastana” and “Chhod Do Aanchal” and “Chaand Phir Nikla” and definitely not for the hero who is wooing her

3 thoughts on “The Rosebud”

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    1. You(She) can call it innocence in a way – she could never be “Seductive”, and was a bit, I won’t say childish, the better term will be ‘extremely vulnerable’, which she brought in her roles on screen. Her type was one whom the viewers would try to cherish and protect.
      Even in a few later movies when she had shed a bit of clothes, she couldn’t bring whistles. In a few movies where she had a negative role (say Sajan Ki Saheli or Main Tulsi…) – she really didn’t get the ‘hate’ of the audience, and went away with quite a bit of sympathy: “The circumstances forced her…”.

      These roles are, when done by some exceptionals of the other end, say Nadira, won’t have garnered sympathy. Look at Dil Apna Aur Preet parayii… there Nadira was wronged woman but she didn’t get a single audience tear, may be audience sighed relief. There are quite a few by her or say Bindu.
      Why? She lived the role completely on screen and by subtle nuances put it in the mind of the audience. In fact I haven’t seen many actors who would act through the movie, (including the songs) almost to perfections, as if it is not a character but a real person.
      This includes the famed Hollywood too. Almost all, including greats like Katharine Hepburn, I have seen going out of character and that too in their most famed movies.
      Nutan, I don’t know could be called classical beauty or not. Beauty, I believe, is not only the face or figure. One obviously has to be easy on eyes, and then the persona is what makes one beautiful. This is what probably proven by Nutan. Of the two greatest actors of that time, Nutan and Nargis, probably Nutan scored by being easier on the eyes. In acting capabilities they both matched

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