Good Grief! Kaneez is one of those unendurable (at least today) films where all the men are cads and the women (barring vamp Kuldip Kaur of course) epitomes of virtue. So, of course, they must suffer through the film in order to make their men see the light and the heroine even more so. So yes, you have Munawar Sultana finally living as the ‘kaneez’ or servant in her husband’s own house after he has abandoned her for social butterfly Kuldip Kaur (called Darling no less!), humiliated her enough and still taking the bullet meant for him at the end. Of course, she tells him may he be her husband again for next several generations before she loses consciousness and yes, she survives for the happy ending and our repentant man comes begging for forgiveness.
For whatever it’s worth, the film looks at Sabira (Munawar Sultana), the daughter of millionaire Akbar who is cheated out of his fortune by his manager, Hamid (Khwaja Sabir), and forced into a mental home. Sabira marries Hamid’s son, Akhtar (Shyam). However, the marriage is destroyed by sexy socialite, Darling, who is after Akhtar for his money. Sabira is forced to become a servant in her own house but eventually recovers her place as mistress of the house as Darling is exposed and Akhtar realizes Sabira’s true worth.
The film, a ‘Muslim Social’, is quite archaic to say the least. The screenplay is cliché ridden and mediocre, the film is extremely weakly directed by Krishan Kumar and just about the only sequences which are bearable and relatively well worked out are those focusing on the developing romance between Akhtar and Sabira. Shyam succeeds in making Akhtar a likeable enough, charming rogue here making us understand why Sabira could fall for someone like him.
In spite of a thankless and unlikeable spoilt, rich man role, Shyam still comes off best in the film while Munawar Sultana’s sincere goody-two-shoes suffering act is insufferable, not so much in the performance but more because the character is way too noble and self-sacrificing. It is always fun to see Kuldip Kaur vamping it up on screen and she scores in an early role as the socialite Darling out to rook Shyam for his money. Tiwari is slimy enough as Darling’s lover. The actress playing Munawar Sultana’s friend, Hamida, ruins the best written role of the film of a practical but morally correct woman, who keeps reminding everyone, especially the heroine, that times have changed and people should smell the coffee for they are now in the 20th century. It is a totally inept 1930s – not even the 40s – style act that does no service to her character.
Even the songs, the saving grace of many an old film, are actually quite stilted. In fact, more than the great Master Ghulam Haider, the two Hansraj Behl compositions Jiya Mora and Pa Ke Nazron ka Ishara rendered by Geeta Dutt come off as the best compositions in the film. The other well tuned songs are the mad house songs Duniya Mein Ameeron Ko Aaram Nahin and Salaam-e-Mohabbat Ka Matlab. However, the less said about the picturisations the better. Not one deserves mention and even the Cuckoo item number is quite flat to say the least. OP Nayyar’s background score is just about adequate.
All in all, Kaneez is an exasperating and creaky film and one that even an ardent lover of old Hindi cinema would find extremely difficult to digest. Strangely, the film was actually quite a popular one in its times. Ah well – to each his own…
Hindi, Urdu, Drama, Black & White