What do I say about this 1964 romance? It stars some of my favourite actors. Meena Kumari may be bloated and nearing her 'downward' phase, but she delivers a sweetly naughty performance. Sunil is dapper and dashing as the atheist poet. Rehman is cunning and opportunistic, like always, Prithviraj Kapoor hollers but is otherwise a flamboyant old nawab. Nazima is chirpy and cute. And interestingly, Rajindernath dons a likeable and matured role of a doctor, devoid of his usual nonsensical histrionics. In terms of casting I must give credit to the makers.
Though the story is a tad slow and jumpy in parts, every blooper is balanced with the help of the splendid ghazals set to tune by Madan Mohan. The story by Agha Jani Kashmiri however, should have had more meat.
One day while on a sojourn he overhears a ghazal rendition by the most sweetest voice he has ever heard and is struck by the mellifluous quality of the voice. Seriously, Naghma o sehar ki saughaat kise pesh karoon pierces the soul with its ethereal charm. The beautiful poetry by Sahir Ludhianvi is brought to live my Madan Mohan's music and Lata Mangeshkar's rendition. And to top that you have the gorgeous Meena Kumari brightening up the screen lip-syncing the song. Like us, Ejaz is also affected by the song and its singer. He launches a hunt to learn whoever is the singer and publishes the couplets in his pamphlet to grab the attention of the singer.
Initially incensed at her poetry being published in Inquilaab, Naaz plans to teach Ejaz a lesson. She plays a naughty trick on him, he is hurt but keeps quiet and vows to love her forever. Naaz is touched by his sensitivity and falls in love with him in turn. In the meantime we have some stunning ghazals like Dil khush hain aaj unse (Mohd Rafi's romantic interludes are tingling for sure) and Unse nazrein mili (Asha Bhonsle's rendition is so frothy and bright). But the best one is Mujhey yeh phool na de (a killer duet by Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur). It's sensitive, emotional, picturesque and excruciatingly romantic. Meena Kumari and Sunil Dutt look so much in love with each other here. They are acknowledging their love for each other. When they look into each other's eyes, you know that this is true love. This ghazal is top class sweet seduction.
After a funny deciding round that features the old, somewhat eccentric, nawab, Ejaz, and Akhtar Nawab (Naaz's cousin who wants to get hitched to her), Bakar Ali decides that Ejaz is the best bet for his darling daughter. But lo! Now Naaz doesn't want to marry Ejaz. She does not want to be a subject of pity for Ejaz and most importantly doesn't want to marry him as a mute woman because she believes it was her voice that first pulled him towards her. Wonder whether they ever heard of medical practitioners!!
Naaz writes a letter to her devastated father that such attacks have been happening to her since childhood but she just kept mum about it. WHY??? If she has reported it, such a deplorable situation would not have arrived today, I say.
Ejaz is crushed when he learns that Naaz doesn't want to marry him and a twisted move convinces him that she wants to marry Akhtar Nawab. On the day of the said marriage, Ejaz cries out his sorrows with a lyrical Rang aur noor ki baarat and as expected Naaz gets her voice back!! So, you can guess now what happens...
I wonder why Agha Jani Kashmiri twisted the story to such a melodramatic level. Wonder why he didn't use the wicked wizardry of Rehman to give the plot a more convincing twist? I guess instead of taking Naaz's voice away, if he would have toyed with the idea of Rehman playing dirty tricks to get the woman it would have been more plausible. However, laurels to him for giving us a movie where chaste Urdu is glorified. What a gorgeous language! Anyways, watch Gazal. This is one film that demands celebration for its sublime music, its heart-stopping songs. And do have a splendid New Year...