Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sazaa - 1951

The movie starts on a dark and a stormy night.  The credits roll as the clouds thunder in the background.  Nimmi gets the top billing, Dev Anand follows.  From IMDB, I find that he had been working for 6 years and made about 17 films prior to this one.  On the other hand, Nimmi had worked for two years and made 5 films prior to this one.   I am guessing she became very popular very soon.  Either that, or it was merely a case of 'ladies first'.

More on the credits, the movie is produced by G.P. Sippy, the direction is by Fali Mistry.  His brother, Jal Mistry is the cinematographer.  The sound direction is by Robin Chatterji (I think he was a minor music director as well).  The lyricist was Rajinder Krishan and the music director was SD Burman.  Quite an interesting credits line up, I feel.

Well, to return to the movie, on this dark and stormy night a scream rings out.  Ashok (Dev Anand) runs out of a house.  He is walking along when he is mowed down by a pretty woman in a car.  Kamini (Shyama) is horrified and takes Ashok to the hospital.  She visits him often while he recovers.  She even fixes up a job for him when she finds out that he is destitute.  He starts working for her father's company as a manager.

Kamini, who is obviously attracted to Ashok, invites him over to her house often.  That is when Kamini's maid, Asha (Nimmi) spots Ashok and has a very emotional reaction.  She runs off home and seems all happy and overwrought.  Her mother (Lalita Pawar) is happy to see her happy.  She cannot figure out why her daughter is happy because the girl is dumb.

After a while, Ashok turns up at Asha's house to get her treated by a doctor. The doctor examines her and pronounces her fit and fine.  He surmises that there was something in her past that shocked her into losing her voice.  At this point Asha's mother relates her past story.  As a child, Asha was very pally with a boy of a rich household.  They loved each other very much.  But the boy's father, the cruel Major Durjan Singh (K N Singh) did not like it.  He slapped the girl and forbid her to meet the boy.  The girl was clearly traumatised by this event, and stopped speaking thereafter.

Upon hearing this story, Ashok is moved.  This was his own story.  He had lost Asha when he was young, and is overjoyed to find her.  He is able to coerce her (that is the word I feel I should use for the way he emotionally blackmails Asha) into speaking again.  The young lovers are happy.  They go off to sing a song that has survived 5 decades and sounds as beautiful and fresh as the day it was composed first.

But before they get to sing it, Asha describes what love means to her.  There are a lot of beautiful shots of trees swaying, birds flying, water rippling, clouds scurrying across the sky etc, while Asha goes over the top with her descriptions.  This sequence goes on for 5 minutes, just a montage of pretty shots.  It is an emotional confession of their love for each other.  This is followed by the song I spoke about.  Aa gupchup gupchup pyar karen.

Alas, their love is doomed!  Kamini is unhappy and sacks Ashok.  This forces him to sell the expensive ring he is wearing to defray his expenses.  This sale allows his father to trace him and he commands Ashok to return home and locks him up.  In addition to this, a grim, aristocratic looking Durga Khote makes an appearance. She seems to have a say in Ashok's life as well.

Poor Asha is bereft once again.  She sings one gorgeous song to convey how sad she is at this.  This lovely Lata number tells us why Lata was the queen of playback singing for so many decades.  Here goes, tum na jaane kis jahan me kho gaye.

A few more twists and turns in the story follow.  There is a lot of emotional drama at the end.  It was hard for me to say whether the story would end tragically or happily.  So I was wavering between "Looks like they will live happily ever after" or "Oh no, they will die". 

It is not a great film.  But it is engrossing enough if you can swallow the high drama that often crops up in the movies of that era.

It was the two gorgeous songs that drew me to watch the film.  Nimmi put in the highly emotional performance that she was famed for.  It was Dev that surprised me.  He was devoid of his trademark style, the exaggerated mannerisms and fast dialogue delivery that he was famous for.  He was muted and natural.  Not as charming as he was a few films later, but incredibly good looking as he was from the start of his career till almost the 70s.  It was a treat to watch him.