Classic, Film, Hindi, India, Review

Tumsa Nahin Dekha

Gopal kills his partner and has to go on the run abandoning his wife and baby son. Twenty years later safely hidden as a reclusive landlord in Assam, he betrays his whereabouts to his wife via a job advertisement. His grown up son, Shankar (Shammi Kapoor), who hates his father for having abandoned his family, applies for the job carrying a letter of introduction from his mother. Meanwhile, he also woos Meena (Ameeta), Gopal’s adopted daughter. However the villainous Sohan (Pran), who covets Gopal’s property, intercepts the letter and also lands up at Gopal’s doorstep claiming to be his son…

Tumsa Nahin Dekha was one of the most popular films of 1957, coming from Filmistan’s stable. Interestingly, its title was determined after a competition was held among the staff of Filmistan! The film marked the debut of Nasir Hussain as a film director and bears a lot of the trademark elements that one has come to associate with Nasir Hussain particularly the lost-and-found formula. Husain had already made quite a mark for himself as a writer when he took on the directorial reins of Tumsa Nahin Dekha. Having briefly worked with the great AR Kardar in the 1940s, he had joined Filmistan as scenarist in 1948 and had written enjoyably entertaining films like the Dev Anand starrers Munimji (1955) and Paying Guest (1957) for them.

Tumsa Nahin Dekha is a frothy, easy-on-the eyes-and-mind film so typical of most Filmistan films. Filmistan, the breakaway studio from Bombay Talkies was known as ‘the film factory’ and had revolutionized distribution with mid-budget genre productions selling mainly on their star value and music, plots being secondary. Filmistan’s style launched the ‘Bollywood idiom’ as we know it today. Their films clearly indicated Filmistan’s growing consciousness of genre production and their awareness of the ‘Hollywood mode.’ Filmistan’s policies really paved the way for present day commercial film making in India as we know it today and was a major influence on the cinema of Manmohan Desai, who has always acknowledged his gratitude to Nasir Hussain.

With this film, Hussain reveals a natural fun loving streak and flair for the medium as he confidently makes this complex story of lost-and-found intrigue move briskly forward with witty dialogue and repartee. Nasir Hussain always maintained that it was more interesting to show the process of falling in love rather than have the hero and heroine in love and that is what makes his films special as he made romance and the process of boy chasing girl a most enjoyable affair. In fact, if anyone could say he had a hit formula on hand, it was Nasir Hussain. He practically re-made the same film over and over again but the new product always found flavour with the audience. In fact, he had a set of ‘items’ that were repeated in film after film albeit in different combinations and permutations. For eg, the clash in train sequence between Shammi Kapoor and Ameeta in Tumsa Nahin Dekha was repeated in Teesri Manzil (1966) with Shammi Kapoor again and Asha Parekh, beating up the drummer Rocky from Dil Deke Dekho (1959) was repeated in Teesri Manzil, imposters coming to claim the missing son’s place was repeated in Tumsa Nahin Dekha and Manzil Manzil (1984). The intoxicated song of Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961) was repeated in Hum Kissi Se Kam Nahin (1977) and Manzil Manzil, while maintaining the central lost-and-found track throughout.

Tumsa Nahin Dekha finally, finally made a star out of Shammi Kapoor. Up to then though he had worked with most of the major actresses of the day, his career hadn’t taken off at all. Oscillating between cheap Errol Flynn swashbucklers (a phase he described as playing a male starlet) or so called soulful romances that sank at the box-office, he was all but written off. To top it all, he was a married man and a father. It was wife Geeta Bali who felt that Shammi needed ‘to open up’ his personality to succeed. The soft romantic image was going nowhere. So when the opportunity came his way with Tumsa Nahin Dekha, he shaved off his pencil moustache and cut his hair in the famous ducktail style of the 50s and started evoking James Dean and Elvis Presly while following the more freewheeling approach elaborated by Dev Anand. He also wore leather jackets and T shirts at a time when T shirts were not part of Bollywood’s vocabulary. Thankfully for him, it worked and how! With the film he became known as ‘The Rebel Star’ rebelling against the reigning trio – Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand! Despite Shammi’s overt maleness and aggressive courtship style, he was perhaps the only star who almost never manhandled his heroines. He could melt their resistance by merely looking at them. This image was further re-inforced in Dil Deke Dekho and Junglee (1961) and saw Shammi Kapoor become the definitive icon of the swinging 60s!

Ameeta makes for an adequate heroine at best while the rest of the cast including Pran really just act as perfect foils to Shammi Kapoor as Tumsa Nahin Dekha is Kapoor’s film all the way. Following the success of the film, when he bought his second jeep, he named it ‘Yahoo’ as he had used this expression first in Tumsa Nahin Dekha and it was his first superhit film even though the expression is more synonymous with Junglee!

Filmistan played a great emphasis on the music of their films and in this regard Tumsa Nahin Dekha is no exception. In fact, a major reason for the success of Tumsa Nahin Dekha was its hip free-wheeling musical score by OP Nayyar. OP Nayyar composed some extremely special hip Mohammed Rafi solos on Shammi Kapoor – Jawaniyan Yeh Mast Mast Bin Piye, Yoon Toh Humne Lakh Haseen Dekhen Hain, Chupnewale Saamne Aa, not forgetting those evergreen Asha-Rafi duets – Aaye Hain Door Se Milne Huzoor Se, Sarpe Topi Lal Haath Mein Resham Ka Rumaal O Tera Kya Kehna and Dekho Kasam Se. While 1957 proved to be a golden year for OP Nayyar, who also had a huge success with Naya Daur for which he won the Filmfare Award, it was also Asha Bhosle’s breakthrough year. With OP Nayyar using her to sing the heroine’s songs in Naya Daur and Tumsa Nahin Dekha and SD Burman also choosing to groom her after his rift with Lata Mangeshkar, Asha finally arrived after years of singing the vamp’s song, the saqi’s song or some cheap B-grade heroine’s song and subsequently went on to dominate the playback scenario with elder sister Lata!

The success of Tumsa Nahin Dekha proved to be a genesis of a great career for Nasir Hussain who after directing Dil Deke Dekho following Tumsa Nahin Dekha, formed his own production house, Nasir Hussain Films, making some of the most popular musical romances in Hindi Cinema like Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), Yaadon ki Baraat (1973) and Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin!

Hindi, Romance, Black & White

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