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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Making of a superstar (Tumsa Nahin Dekha)

Shammi Kapoor and struggle. Sounds jarring, right? Not when you witness his flamboyance on screen. The way he smoothtalks his way into the heroine's heart, grooves with attitude and beats the villain into a pulp. And, uses his elastic face and impeccable comic timing to ensure the splits. Shammi Kapoor, it seems to me, had always been a winner.
But, I stood corrected six years ago when my father told me about Nasir Husain's Tumsa Nahin Dekha. Struggling to get a toehold in the film industry (he had to his credit some lacklustre films such as Mirza Sahiba, Ujaala and so on), Kapoor tasted sweet success with this 1957 frothy musical. Husain's directorial debut catapulted him into instant stardom and established as an actor who could carry off those youthfully romantic personas with elan. The film gave him a fresh image--entertaining, charming and spontaneous. His carefree personality as Shankar floored the audience and his quick one-liners drew plenty of wolf whistles. Girls went bonkers over his attractive face, his wavy hair, his stylish swagger and his athletic frame. They started weaving mushy dreams surrounding this flamboyant Kapoor. And, after watching the film I gauged why...
Kapoor in Tumsa Nahin Dekha is drop-dead gorgeous.
His chiselled features, his light eyes, his charismatic demeanour, his easy manoeverings, his lean body, his intense passion, his backbrushed hair willowing in the wind, his magical smile, his cocky nods, his persistant pursuing of Meena...where do I stop? It's easy to lose your heart to Shankar. His angry expression enhanced his sex appeal. And, his husky baritone...sigh...
Tumsa Nahin Dekha belongs to Kapoor all the way. Even though the film was primarily made to promote Ameeta as a sensational find, the script slants towards Shankar and his actions. After a few supporting roles in her earlier films, this film, the makers thought, would make her an overnite star. Sadly, nothing of that sort happened. Ameeta, faded from public memory (though she played the leading lady in Goonj Uthi Shehnai, a 1959 musical) while Kapoor, the then struggling actor, went on to rule hearts.
The story revolves Shankar who is brought up by his mother Kamla. He hates his father, a murderer and a gambler, who deserted his wife and son, to save his skin. This man, Sardar Rajpal, after absconding from the police, settles down in Assam. He toils hard to win back his lost money and honour. He dotes on his adopted daughter, Meena (a very pretty Ameeta). After many years, he decides to search for his wife and son and puts an advertisement in the newspaper. Two young men, both named Shankar, lands up at his estate. Now, it's up to Sardar Rajpal, and Meena, to fish out the truth about these two. Amidst all the suspense, action and drama, love blooms between one of the Shankars (Kapoor, obviously) and Meena. Pran, as usual is up to his devious tricks to bring in the twists.
Apart from the few glitches in the plot, for instance, what takes Sardar Rajpal so long to look for his estranged family, the numerous meanderings regarding the letters and the tedious subplot of the tribals, Tumsa Nahin Dekha is immensely enjoyable. (And, Sardar Rajpal could definitely have done without that hideous beard!) Especially, the portions where Shankar flirts with and teases Meena.
Husain always showed the hero relentlessly wooing the damsel with a sack of clever tricks, rather than depicting the sweethearts already in love. This, he said, hieghtened the excitement. He goes on to do the same in his other blockbusters, Dil Deke Dekho, Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hain, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Teesri Manzil and so on. He also followed the lost and found formula. Members of the same family get separated due to unforseen circumstances or the nasty ploys of a scheming rogue, only to get back together in the end. So, his films always had a happy ending!
OP Nayyar composes a memorable score for this film. The introducing song, Jawaniyaan yeh mast mast reminds me of Lakhon hain nigaahon mein from Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon. A similar mood here. Shankar is shown appreciating the bevy of beauties around him, in the expectation that some day he will also enjoy blissful love from a fair maiden. Doesn't Joy Mukherjee do the same, too?
Kapoor's immaculate expressions are best exploited in the title track, picturised on the hero, Ameeta and a fat tonga driver with a bushy moustache. The song's feet-tapping, teasing and fabulous. The prologue to the song is hilarious. Shankar teases Meena throughout the train journey. And then, as she hurries to catch the tonga to escape more harrassment, Shankar mischievously throws his luggage on the vehicle so that Meena is forced to travel with him again. Ohhhh!! Without an alternative, she reluctantly gets onto the tonga. Already seething with anger, Shankar exasperates her further with this jolly-good number to appreciate her beauty and takes a dig at her vanity. This 'lover of beauty' as Shankar calls himself, is so smitten that he sings, "Piye bin aaj mujhey chara hain nasha..." Wonderful!
We enjoy some more gags at the colonel's house where the two are forced to put up due to increment weather. Shankar greets Meena with a jovial "Hello Miss Shut Up" while Meena's eyes brighten with rage. Ha ha. (Perhaps, Kapoor was yet to hit upon his signature 'Memsaab' to address the beautiful ladies).
Kapoor is up to his naughty tricks in Aayen hain door se. This song is a playful number.
Aware that Meena is gradually falling in love with him, Shankar frustrates her even more by feigning love with Seema, a tribal girl. He sings a lilting Chhupne wale saamne aa while Meena, all jealous, watches from behind a bush. This man knows to make the ladies drool!
Differences sorted, Meena professes her love with Dekho kasam se, a catchy ditty that reminds me of O mere sona re from Teesri Manzil due to its context. Ameeta looks ravishing here. Her bright eyes, her rosebud lips, her plump frame, everything is adorable. Though she looks a tad uncomfortable in westerns, she is eye-catching in easterns. Her short curly tresses accentuate her photogenic face. God knows why success evaded her?
The last song is Sar par topi lal hath, a folk number superbly rendered by Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. Picturised on the lovely Meena and handsome Shankar, this song is a chart topper. And when, Kapoor tilts that topi with a swift move, his lips laced with a striking smirk, all that escapes my lips are, "Tumsa nahin dekha!"


  1. One of my favourite Shammi Kapoor films - along with Dil Deke Dekho, Professor, Junglee and Teesri Manzil. I love this one, primarily for Shammi Kapoor himself! He's so dazzlingly! :-)

    By the way, the song from Phir wohi dil laya hoon is Lakhon hain nigaah mein.

  2. @Dustedoff: Yes, yes that's a silly fauxpas. How could I do write baharon instead of nigaahon...Apologies :(
    You, know I just feel that Shammi Kapoor looks so much like Elvis Presley in the film. His wardrobe is so stylish and modern. Well cut t-shirts, kid boots et all. Lovely film with lovely music. And, Kapoor just steals your heart :)

  3. @Sharmi: Excellent, again. It shines forth that you are a Shammi Kapoor fan. Well done :)

  4. @Dwaipayan: Yes, that I cent percent am :) Thank you :)

  5. And who am I to point out typos? I just realised I've written 'He's so dazzlingly!' in my comment. Hah!!!

    I did hear that Shammi Kapoor had based his style on Elvis. My father - who's a Shammi Kapoor fan - was telling me that after Shammi Kapoor became a star with the success of Tumsa Nahin Dekha, he said in an interview something along the lines of "I owe my success to having shaved off my moustache!"

  6. @Dustedoff: Great decision right! I don't think he would have looked as stylish and sleek with a moustache! :)

  7. This movie has been on my must-watch list for such a long time but havent got a DVD yet. I'm dying to see this. Have heard so much about it from dustedoff,and now your review.

  8. @sunheriyaadein: You just must watch this for Shammi Kapoor alone. It is a film where he floors you with panache and ease. And the songs are superb. God, that Kapoor was so bloody good looking and had such a good comic timing. Enjoy the film :)

  9. This film was like a bombshell. Shammi Kapoor's style was unique and quite westernised. I do not believe that he copied Elvis Presley, I would say he was more James Dean with terrific good looks.
    I was just a kid when I first watched this movie and I was so excited. The music was tremendous,still sound great. It is pleasing to know that there is a new generation of Shammi Kapoor fans.

  10. @Mike Guddoy: James Dean, huh!! Okay that also sounds so good. Actually Shammi Kapoor is so rocking that I can just go on hearing his praise. I just love him. Yes, this film is so darn entertaining. I can keep watching it. And Shammiiii..sigh..Gosh they don't make men like that anymore!!
    Thanks for the comment :)

  11. I watched Tumsa Nahin Dekha last night, yet again, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I never get tired of this movie since it is one of my all time favourites. Superb songs, awesome Shammi Kapoor, fabulous direction, hero wooing heroine relentlessly -- what more do you need? Hats off to Shammi Kapoor, Nasir Hussain, O.P.Nayyar, Rafi and Asha Bhosle. Ameeta was so pretty and fresh too. I like so many sequences in the film but some that come to my mind immediately are:

    - The way Shammi Kapoor calls himself aashiq and lover of beauty with his fingers in the air

    - The way Shammi Kapoor introduces Ameeta as his wife to colonel and takes advantage calling her darling :)

    - Ameeta imagining Shammi Kapoor while seeing the cowboy picture while Pran plays on Piano. And Pran thinks it’s all about him. This is even before she begins to like Shammi. So romantic and hilarious at the same time!

    - Shammi Kapoor goes to rescue Ameeta from Bhola and declares her as his mangetar. The romantic glances Ameeta throws at a confused Shammi.. You can see Ameeta melting. So nice.

    - Ameeta overhears Shammi talking to the tribal girl. All her doubts are cleared and you see her melting some more. Again very touching and romantic.

    - Shammi is carrying Ameeta in his arms as per the tribal leader’s directive but drops her as soon as he is out. The way Ameeta keeps asking Shammi “kasam se?” and how it leads to the song “Dekho kasam se” -- So romantic. This has to be one of the best heroine-teasing-hero songs

    - When Shammi tells Ameeta about his background and reveals he is the son of a gambler and murderer, Ameeta jumps up in joy and says to a confused Shammi “I love bad guys”. Only Nasir Hussain can think of such a sequence.

    Coming to Sardar Rajpal having a bearded look through out the film, I guess it was justified since he was supposed to be in hiding. Moreover, Shammi Kapoor has already seen his father’s picture so the director doesn’t want him to recognize his father. Except may be ten minutes toward the end of the film, there is no dull moment in the film. I am sure I will be ready for Tumsa Nahin Dekha few months from now :)

  12. @Sreenath: HEy I see you are as smitten by the film as I was when I saw it a few months back. Reminds me, I have to watch it again very soon just for Shammi. He looks breathtakingly handsome here and I love how he says, " hello, Miss Shutup" :)

  13. Trying to find this DVD. Wish me luck :)

  14. @Roshmi: Wish you all the luck. YOu have to see this one.


    The movie is now on youtube! :):)