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Upperstall Review


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Hindi, Drama, 1961, B/W

Raj(Raj Kapoor) and Vasanti (Vyjayanthimala) are college mates who clash when she complains to the college principal about a love letter he sent her.Later on realizing her mistake, Vasanti apologizes to him and the two fall in love.Vasanti's elder sister, Geeta (Usha Kiron), supports the family by stitching clothes.Raj rents the room upstairs in their house. He falls ill and in nursing him, Geeta falls in love with him. She confides her love to Vasanti, who decides to sacrifice her love for her the sake of her sister and convincesRaj to marry Geeta. Raj initially neglects Geeta. On finding out, Vasantiwrites to him that their sacrifice, made forGeeta's happiness, would mean nothing unless heis a good husband to Geeta.Raj relents and Geeta and he havea son. Vasanti joins them and Geeta suspects that there is something on between Raj and Vasanti and makes Vasanti leave the house. A few years later Geeta, having found out that Raj and Vasanti loved each other, dies in guilt leavingRaj alone to bring up their child making him promise that he will make Vasanti the child's mother. Raj learns of Vasanti's impanding marriage to her former boss (Gemini Ganesh).By the time he reaches there, Vasanti is already married. He hands over his child to Vasanti as a wedding gift and walks away...

CV Sridhar made his directorial debut with the super-hit Tamil film Kalyana Parisu (1959). Re-making the film, he makes his Hindi directorial debut here with Nazrana. Raj Kapoor takes on the Gemini Ganesh role, Vyjayanthimala plays the B Saroja Devi character and Usha Kiron plays elder sister, Geeta. Gemini Ganesh plays the small role of Vyjayanthimala's boss, played by A Nageshwara Rao in the original.

Nazrana works well enough as a typical melodrama that the South filmmakers made in Hindi. The film requires a high degree of suspension of disbelief as it opens with a 37 year old Raj Kapoor and a 25 year old Vyjayanthimala winning various events at the college sports day (yes, they are college goers)! However it settles down to watchable fare once the love triangle takes shape even if the film is full of sacrifrices being made by various characters throughout the film.

Talking of the love triangle itself, it has to be said that the falling in love of Vasanti and Raj is handled much too abruptly and quickly whereas the sequences of Geeta falling for Raj are well worked out, nicely built up and are credible right from the first time Geeta sees him to her nursing him when he is ill. Raj not relating to Geeta after marriage is well brought out and shows he is only human as he was forced to marry her. His changeover towards Geeta too works well enough as Vasanti makes a valid point when she tells Raj that their sacrifice is meaningless unless Geeta is happy.

Where the film really flounders are the lapses into high melodrama and obvious symbolism that the South filmmakers normally favoured. For example when Vasanti realizes that Geeta loves Raj too, the symbolism of the weighing scale superimposed on Vasanti's face with Geeta on one side and Raj on the other looks tacky and is unintentionally funny as the scales on either end go up and down. Some sequences simply belie logic. Like Geeta, in her maternal home for her delivery, asks Vasanti to dress up as a bride in front of her just so the director can have Raj walk in and be stunned seeing Vasanti in bridal finery as they both see what might have been. Or Vasanti on reading the newspaper advertisement by Geeta asking for forgiveness and to come back home decides the best way would be to go as a married woman so Geeta would have no reason to suspect her now and so agrees to marry Gemini Ganesh!

The climax takes the take. Geeta, after realizing that Vasanti and Raj loved each other, makes Raj promise that he will make Vasanti their child's new mother after she dies. Raj promises and Geeta dies thinking this will bing Raj and Vasanti together. But as Raj reaches Vasanti by the time she's married, he leaves his son with Vasanti with a note saying Geeta is no more and she wanted Vasanti to be Raja's new mother and having left Raja there, walks away! (Yes, yet another sacrifice!)

The South also has the habit of having some extremely wierd angles and shot taking passing off as technical virtuosity without realizing that shots need to be taken according to the story dictates. There is this extremely strange shot of tilting down to Gemini Ganesh and Vyjayanthimala's reflections on Gemini's desk when he confides his feelings to her!

All central performances are fine though it must be said that Raj Kapoor and Usha Kiron come off best with their comparitively restrained, sincere performances. Though it must be said here that Raj Kapoor's role is undemanding by and large. Vyjayanthimala, however, follows the old South dictum and gives a performance that has its high moments, as it is she who initiates events in the film, but her acting at times tends towards high melodrama like for intance the sequence where Geeta confides to Vasanti that she loves Raj and Vasanti 'reacts' to this. Achala Sachdev lends adequate support in her usual motherly role. Gemini Ganesh does whatever he has to, adequately.

Ravi's music is a definite asset with some sweetly composed melodic songs among which include Mere Peeche Ek Deewana, Zulfon ko Bikhrake, Baazi Kisine Pyaar Ki and the two Diwali songs used quite well in both happy and sad versions.

Nazrana opened up the National audience to Sridhar as he went on to making more films in Hindi including Dil Ek Mandir (1963) and Pyar Kiye Jaa (1966).

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan

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