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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Incorrectly titled (Nirala)

I should have steered clear of this one. But, how was I supposed to know? Dev Anand, in 1950, looked simply awesome, Madhubala was as usual ravishing, and the expectation of a breezing romance between these two attractive people surely looked enticing.
But, I was duped. For, the very title of Deben Mukherjee’s Nirala turned out to be stupendously misleading. Yes, it was different, as ‘nirala’ should be, but in a very negative way. What starts out as a fun romance disintegrates into a weird tragedy that is puerile and vague, with no plausible reason for becoming so.
Anand (Dev Anand) returns attaining a medical degree from abroad after 8 years. His father, a rather rich man, has distributed his vast property among all and sundry (for reasons both Anand and I are yet to decipher). What come into Anand’s kitty are Phoolnagar, a village, and a big house there. Since Anand wants to serve the poor in the village, he decides to move to Phoolnagar. On his way, his car (that is carrying all his belongings) breaks down. He is then surrounded by a group of giggling village girls, headed by the lovely Poonam. A funny stream of dialogues follow.
Poonam: Kya babu, lagta hain apki gadi pincture ho gayi hain!
Anand: Hmm... pincture nahin...puncture!
Poonam and the girls roll with laughter at their faux pas!
Poonam: Lagta hain dingine kharab ho gayi hain.
Anand: Dingine nahin...Engine...
The girls roll over with some more laughter.
With a start like this, I thought that the film was going to be all fun, love and games. But alas...
Anyway, so Poonam offers Anand help to reach Phoolnagar (the girls would push his car) on the condition that he would drop her home. She is really worried that her mother is unwell and had come so far to call the doctor (who is himself quite unwell!). Anand agrees to take her home and also cure her mother. Poonam is delighted and off they go singing Zor laga rey...
On reaching Phoolnagar, Anand realises that the house Poonam lives in with her ailing mother and brothers is actually his. But his conscience prevents him from telling them so. Though he has to turn them out, he is more than happy putting up in one of the rooms while the original tenants occupy the entire space. He also treats Poonam’s mother (Leela Mishra).
Poonam and her mother are extremely hospitable to their guest as he has been kind enough but the eldest son of the family, Tirche, is somewhat jealous and irked that this stranger is getting all the attention.
Soon, Anand moves out and sets up his own tent! Poonam is too smitten by this charmer to stay away. She keeps visiting him on some pretext or the other and through her behaviour makes it obvious to Anand that she has fallen for him. But Anand is noncommittal.
In the meantime, Tirche, has fixed up his sister’s marriage to Sangram Singh, a rich widower of Sangrampur, in exchange of some money. The greedy and petty man that he is, Tirche lies to his mother that Poonam will be very happy with this match. Ignorant of the fact that Sangram’s sister is merely buying a third wife for his brother, Poonam’s mother agrees to the match.
Poonam, fearing that her love will die a sudden death, runs to Anand to save her. But, what’s this. Anand, who so far, had behaved in a respectable fashion, disappoints me. He advises Poonam to get married to Sangram. I believe at this point that he is either a confused soul (he doesn’t know whether he loves this gorgeous woman) or he is too spineless!
Devastated by his careless behaviour, Poonam weeps her heart out. Aise mohabbat se hum baaz aa gaye (good music by C Ramchandra) reflects the state of her aching heart. Here is a helpless woman whose love is unrequited and she can but just sing a soulful dirge to express her grief.
The marriage takes place and we get to see that the lovely Madhubala is the wife of a bloated and ugly man, who has practically no role in the entire film. Poonam is shown around by this fat man’s domineering sister, who narrates the death tales of Sangram’s previous two wives. Her entire demeanour is spooky and unnerving. Poonam is shown the vial of poison which is to be consumed in order to prevent shame to the family. Poonam, and I, are baffled by the turn of events.
In a house that does not foster healthy relationships and events, Poonam stays morose all the time and her health suffers. When no doctor in Sangrampur is able to cure her, Anand is called for. Poonam is both happy and sad to see him. Happy thinking about the past times, and sad because of what could have been... And maybe because, he is any day better than her obese husband!
Under Anand’s care and supervision, Poonam recuperates. Anand, too realises suddenly that he loves this woman! But mister, I guess, you are too late. Sangram’s evil sister, smells something fishy between the two and instigates her brother to act against it. But, Sangram has had enough of his sister’s intrusion into his conjugal life. He promises to himself that he will not let any harm come to his darling wife (who is the best looking among the three he has had so far!).
Tirche comes to visit his sister and is annoyed by how the girl is being treated. He decides to take her away as she is far from happy here. What an incredible change of character. Tirche, now looks like an angel, compared to the opportunistic man that he was. Reason? Don’t ask me...
Too many things happen at the same time. Anand is busy owning up that he is in love with Poonam and will live the rest of his life cherishing her memories. Sangram decides to sacrifice his life to save Poonam. Sangram’s sister is hovering abuses at Poonam. And poor Poonam keeps crying hoarse that she is faithful to her husband. The script goes haywire and the execution is patchy (well, it had long become so...)
The end is plain bad. The director I believe wanted to wrap things up fast. But, this is not the way to do so Mr Mukherjee. Poonam commits suicide, drinking the vial of poison as both Anand and her husband cry over her lifeless body. Why God why?
The less said about the film the better. It was so disheartening. What could have been a freewheeling romantic musical degenerated into a stupid tragedy that did not even have a solid foundation. And the death of Madhubala was uncalled for. It was a silly decision on the part of the scriptwriter!
Dev Anand, I admit, was absolutely gorgeous to look at. But, I don’t think he was still too good at emoting. At least this movie does not show that. He was best with the intense expressions. And that was the only look he offered in the film. His romance with Poonam dies an untimely death and his later personality was hardly evolved. I’m yet to ascertain why he shied from admitting his love in the first place and what suddenly made him so strong that he voiced his love for Poonam after she was married. Or rather what takes him so long to realise that he actually loved her...
Madhubala was the only relief in this otherwise inane film. Her Poonam is playful, exuberant and refreshing. Not only is she a stunner in the looks department, she displays impeccable comic timing as well. I prefer her ebullient persona than witnessing her getting drowned in a sea of sorrows. Blame it on the erroneous script. For, even this adorable lady’s chirpy antics cannot save the ship from sinking...


  1. I loved those Dialogues with 'pincture' and 'dingine'.. lol! Well, I am in two minds.. whether to search for this one coz of Dev-Madhubala or just let it be, given the ending. I can sit through any haywire script and lame ending just to watch such beautiful lead cast. :)

  2. @Punya: I agree that the lead cast was fabulous. But, the film is really not worth it. Madhubala was very good but Dev Anand was yet to come into his real star skin. The start is really entertaining but then it just degenerates. If you really want to see it brace yourself up for the bad, bad execution :(

  3. Indeed i hate when deaths are uncalled for, its a reason baiju Bawra and many other classic where someone dies for no real good reason at the end doesn't sit right with me. I'd seen them Kala Pani weeks ago and that was nice i love them both in the 'Acha ji mein' song, its so cute

  4. @Bollywooddeewana: You won't believe how well the film started. I was absolutely hooked but I was so disheartened to see the way it went in the end. Kala Pani, in fact, is a much better film and both has seasoned really well as actors by then :)

  5. The plot sounds so ridiculous! I'm going to keep away from this one. Thanks for the word of caution. :-)

  6. @Sunheriyaadein: There is just no plot!!! Though it looked in the initial sequences that the plot was all fun and love, but soon I realised that I had expected too much. Stay away from this one Archana. :)

  7. What happened to my comment? Blogger swallowed it? :(

  8. @Bollyviewer: Oh dear, must be some technical glitch. By the way, what did you want to say?

  9. Just that I must have sixth sense/second sight because I've owned this film for over two years but never seen it yet, in spite of loving Madhubala and Dev Anand. I guess blogger took exception to my unusually err... gifted mind! ;D

  10. @Bollyviewer: I was actually attracted to this film because of the lead cast but was so disappointed :( Two years!! You sure have that acute sixth sense! :)