Strictly average and now badly dated fare by Mehboob Khan, the film, looking at lost and found childhood sweethearts caught up in a quadrangle, was memorable and noted in its time chiefly for its casting coup of getting together 3 top singing stars of the day – Noor Jehan, then India’s numero uno female star, Surendra and Suraiya and proved to be a huge success at the box office. The film also sees Mehboob teaming up with music maestro Naushad for the first time, a partnership that was to go on right till Mehboob’s last film, the extremely lack-lustre follow up to Mother India (1957), Son of India (1962).
While viewing the film today, one has to say it has, sadly, not held up well in time. The creaky story, poor writing, the corny stagy dialogues and the stilted acting of the 1940s all tell on the film and its viewing experience. In particular, Surendra’s characterisation of the weak and wimpy hero, Chander, who in the name of doing nothing and moaning about his all-consuming love for Lata, mistreats his mother who has struggled to bring him up and educate him. She is never a factor in his decision making, which is all to do with how can he find Lata. What’s more surprising is that, the people around him like his mother and his friend, Prakash, calmly bear up with all this. Prakash even goes out of his way to help him out.
So is there a silver lining? Yes, indeed! Concentrate on the film’s extremely memorable and melodic music, which fortunately gives all the three stars more than enough scope to shine. But even amongst them, it is primarily (and expectedly) a Noor Jehan show above all. She has the maximum songs in the film and each of her songs is beautifully composed by Naushad and proved to be extremely popular and these numbers are hummed and remembered by old-timers even today. Noor Jehan, at her vocal best, glides skilfully through some of the best and most popular songs she has ever sung – the solos Mere Bachpan Ke Saathi, Kya Mil Gaya Bhagwan, Aaja Meri Barbad Mohabbat ke Sahare, Jawaan Hai Mohabbat Haseen Hai Zamana as well as the sublime duet with Surendra – Awaaz De Kahan Hai. Suraiya lends her own vocal impress with Socha Tha Kya Kya Ho Gaya, Man Leta Hai Angdai and Main Dil Mein Dard Basa Layi while Surendra makes his presence felt with his solos Ab Kaun Hai Mera and Kyon Yaad Aa Rahen Hain Guzare Hue Zamane. Mohammed Rafi chips in with an early solo, the ambient Tera Khilona Toota Balak while Shamshad Begum and Zohra Ambala render Udan Khatole Pe Ud Jaoon efficiently enough. In fact, my rating for the film is up a notch thanks to the wonderful songs alone!
I don’t know what Vashu Bhagnani saw in the old fashioned tale that he remade the film disastrously in 2002 as Jeena Sirf Merre Liye with Tusshar Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Mallika Sherawat easily giving the worst performances of their careers, not to mention the totally insipid musical score by Nadeem-Shravan. At least Anmol Ghadi had the songs. And Noor Jehan!
Hindi, Drama, Black & White