Sunday, April 26, 2020

Dil Hi to Hai (1963)

Perhaps the most enduring feature of 1960's Hindi Cinema is the music.  It is the one biggest single factor that makes us look up old movies again and again. I watched the movie mainly for the music, but more on that later.

1960's were when the big three- Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand were getting a bit long in the tooth. It never deterred Dev Anand. He stayed trim at the waist and was blessed with longevity where looks were concerned.  Dilip Kumar managed not to spread too alarmingly, but his face showed his age. Raj Kapoor lost his charming visage and slimness fast. The Kapoors were fond of their dinners and men were not metrosexual in those days. No facials or mud packs for them. Luckily the producers were not picky. For them, a few wrinkles here and there were no reason why these seasoned leading men couldn't continue to be so. Similarly, Hindi Film audiences turned a blind eye to a balding middle aged leading man pretending to be fresh out of college.

When the movie starts, we are quickly brought up to speed by Begam (Mumtaz Begum) as she converses with her husband Nawab Jallaludin (Hari Shivdasani). These two have lost many children. Fearing a similar fate for their only surviving son Yusuf, they sent him away to be reared by his uncle and aunt. He is expected back as a grown child the next day. That is when they are also expecting a nursemaid for the child. 
Farida (Manorama) with her own child Shekhoo
The scene switches to a railway station which reveals the other part of the story.  The Nanny (Leela Chitnis) and the caretakers (Manorama and Shivraj) are sharing a bench. The nanny can make out that these people care more for their own child and not a whit for the one they are supposed to be caring for. The mean couple abandon Yusuf sleeping beside the nanny and plan to dupe Nawab saheb into taking in their own child, Shekoo. When the nanny turns up with a child in tow, the Begam sacks her politely.  They didn't want a nanny with a child of her own.

The switch works well for Farida (Manorama).  Her son Shekhoo, now known as Yusuf, grows up as the heir of Nawab Saheb. He is also slated to marry the rich and beautiful Jamila (Nutan). The real Yusuf grows up as Chand, a poor Nanny's son. Like a true blue Nawab, he loves singing and sher-o-shairi. We are treated to Chand singing a Shri 420 kind of song, Dil jo bhi kahega...

Getting kicked away by a rich man and riding a donkey
Jamila is very fond of the new singer Chand who performs often on radio. She is looking forward to a chance to meet him at a friend's birthday party. 
Nutun, only 27 and pretty as a picture

On her way to the party, she encounters Chand and takes him for a ruffian and a stalker. As a result of which she makes some cutting remarks to him. Smitten by her beauty, he replies to these remarks by singing a lovely song, completely winning her over. 

Jamila is completely bowled over. As was ordained by her parents she has found the one she was meant to be with. As audience, we are privy to the fact and cheer the couple on. The Nakli Nawab, Yusuf, is not happy. He means to make himself richer by gobbling up Jamila's inheritance also, by and by, by marrying her. One day Chand is forced to disguise himself as an old man and sing a classical song at a function.
Laga, chunri me daag chhupaon kaise

He is made to take up the job of tutoring Jamila in singing by Yusuf to keep her away from Chand.
He has in fact, delivered her right into the arms of his rival. The couple meet and sing songs and are generally having fun duping Yusuf. Alas, All good things must come to an end. They are eventually caught and separated, but only after they have sung a good number of songs. 

The audience knows the couple is on a sure footing.  Yusuf has been seeing a dancing girl and has promised her marriage and made her pregnant. But still, the requisite drama has to be gone through. So we have the usual separation, tears, sad song, blackmail by father (marry Yusuf  or I will die). We also have a famous payoff scene by the girl's father (Let go of my girl, how much do you want - 5000, 10000, 15000?).

The movie is fairly well made. There is no clutter here, only a little comic side plot. The characters are kept to the minimum. Maximum time is contributed to singing gorgeous songs which keeps the audience soothed.  Pran is an unusual villain in this movie. He is not the mean-faced baddie. Rather he is a bit of a buffoon, being taken for a ride by the lead pair. It was quite refreshing to see him like this. Though he does get to do the standard baddie things like trying to kill his girlfriend and also the hero.

As mentioned earlier, Raj Kapoor quickly lost his youthful looks. He was only 39 at the time of this film's release. Yet he looks decidedly middle aged. His middle was spreading and face was lined. At 40 most young actors are only coming into their prime these days. But now, men take care of themselves. They work-out, diet and groom themselves. Yet, while dancing to a song, you can see that he has the rhythm in him. I have always maintained that Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar were good dancers You can see in the clip here that Raj Kapoor had moves. I love the way he dips to the floor and rises so gracefully. If you are older, you will know this is a hard thing to do. 

Nutan is beautiful, peppy and graceful in the film. Her emoting to the qawwali, Nigahen milane ko jee chahta hai, is faultless. She is like a breath of fresh air in this movie helmed by older actors.

The dialogues of the film were often good, at times rather high flown as if suffering from a hangover of Mughal-e-Azam.

Yet the best part of the film, which I have saved for the end, is the music. The music director of this film was Roshan. The lyricist was Sahir Ludhyanvi. Together they came up with a playlist of ten songs. These days we are lucky if the movie has one decent number. In those days there were at least seven or eight numbers and they had to be good. Here we have 9/10 number that you can listen to on loop. The movie came out in 1963, 57 years have passed, the music has been around for 57 years and is as alive and fresh as ever.

A special mention for the two gorgeous songs in this playlist. One is of course the Asha Bhonsle qawwali - Nigahen milane ko jee chahta hai. The lyrics are especially good. They bring out the joyousness of first love and longing the girl feels to keep looking at her beloved. Tum agar mujhko na chaho is another song which is in a league of it's own. It is a lighthearted dig at the girl who has just publicly rejected him. "Don't love me, if you can't. But please don't torture me by loving another." 

1. Dil jo bhi kahega, maanenge duniya me hamara dil hi to hai
2. Tum agar mujhko na chaho to koi baat nahi
3. Laaga chunri me daag chhupaon kaise
4. Gusse me jo nakhra hai
5. Nigahen milane ko jee chahta hai
6. Tumhari mast nazar gar idhar nahi hoti
7. Chura le na tumko ye mausam suhana
8. Bhoole se mohabbat kar baitha
9. Youn hi dil ne chaha tha rona rulana
10. Parda uthe salaam ho jaye

The link for the playlist is here.



  1. I'm so happy to see you review a film, Ava!

    The other day, I made dal makhani, following the recipe that RK liked for his dal makhani - except that I made the tadka with 50 gm of butter, rather than the 500 gm it called for! When we were eating, I mentioned it to Tarun, and we agreed that that dal was the sort of thing that got RK spreading and looking so old so early. ;-)

    I hadn't realized he was just 39 in this film - he definitely looks older.

    1. Ha Ha, 500 gms of butter! That is rich. Tch Tch! only 50 gm butter? Itna to hamare bartan me hi laga reh jata hai.

      I was also quite surprised that he was barely 40. But you know, those times! I bet he didn't even ever touch his toes.

      I liked seeing Pran as a buffoonish villain. It was fun. Especially as we were treated to a song every 10 minutes. RK was disguised as Khan Saheb for a major part of the film, that helped too.