Monday, 29 November 2010
review of this fabulous 1956 social satire piqued my interest in this Raj Kapoor starrer. I have to admit that since Kapoor looked hardly as fancy in this film as he did in Awaara and Shree 420, I've always avoided this one. Till I read Madhulika's review.
What a way to bring together a veritable cast of character actors from tinsel town. You have Pradeep Kumar, Pahari Sanyal, Iftekar, Sulochana, Nemo, Motilal, Rashid Khan, Daisy Irani, Nana Palsikar and even Nargis in this ensemble enterprise. Everybody performs stupendously making the film thoroughly exciting.
But what is more enthralling is the way that the dirt in society is depicted. On their vigilante, there are so many police chowkidaars who catch forty winks even though they are supposed to stand guard the entire night with their cry of jagte raho. And the one who is at all responsible punishes a poor villager who wants just a bit of water to quench his parched throat. When taps run dry, just like the cruel souls of city dwellers, this poor man has to sneak into the living quarters of the citizens to pacify his thirst. Accordingly, a shrill outcry of the chowkidaar labels him a thief and pandemonium ensues. All the dwellers in this quarters are up and awake. But, none is brave enough to search for the thief alone. It is their hollowness that prevents them to do so. For, they know very well that they themselves have dangerous secrets to hide...
The thirsty man is party to one secret after another. This is a place where proper educated men carry on clandestine affairs with women, but are not courageous enough to own up their love. Women are better off gulling their parents rather than sticking to the truth. What squalor is hidden under beauty and so called truth.
Isn't it awesome that though the film deals with very grave issues, the commentary is doled out in a somewhat comic fashion. The exchanges and action are funny, the lesson laced with humour. But somewhere in the laughs you realise the shallow existence of these city denizens. For instance, when the poor man tries to evade everyone by hiding under a drum, it is this very drum that attracts two traders, who are so miserly that they would even fight for a battered and damaged drum.
It is rather funny to see so many people after one man. Infact, it is funnier when these youngsters try to label their cause as a great one and become volunteers for something that is rather lame. They form a band with drums and trumpets. It almost becomes a picnic for them. A picnic that can be helpful to extract some easy money from the rich entrepreneurs living in the tenement.
Slowly the plot thickens and one gets to witness the deceitful persona of businessmen. Every single man here an illegal source of income and each one is most eager to pull his neighbour down. There is the old man who manufactures country liquor illegally in his house and the man who makes counterfeit notes. What won't they do to survive---they will lie, cheat and even kill. A doctor who is supposed to save lives, is most happy to forge death certificates and earn some quick bucks by partnering with an unscrupulous businessman. What is this doctor who can even become a demon and poison an innocent man?
An effective method of weaving in the role of the media increases the fun element in the film. Yes, they are shown to overhype every single incident. A mere thief is now called a band of dacoits and mountains are purposely made out of mole hills. But then the lust for money reigns supreme all the time...