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Upperstall Review




Hindi, Drama, 1971, B/W

Shankar (Joy Mukherji) comes to Bombay and meets with his father's friend, the Industrialist Jwala Prasad (Ashok Kumar) in the hope of getting a job and making something out of his life. He is given a job as a clerk and a flat to live in. The flat is right next to his office colleague and college friend (Agha) and Shankar falls in love with his friend's sister, a radio singer he admires but hadn't seen till now, Neela (Nanda). She too responds to his feelings. Shankar meanwhile on his own initiative makes a proposal to improve things in the company which Office Manager Shukla (Tarun Bose), a man resistent to change, rejects. However, Shankar takes it to Jwala Prasad who is impressed by him and has the proposal passed with Shankar in charge. Jwala Prasad's daughter, Mala (Leela Naidu) too falls for Shankar and Jwala Prasad arranges her marriage to Shankar. Shankar is unable to tell either Jwala Prasad or Mala that he loves Neela. Jwala Prsad goes for a business trip abroad leaving Mala in charge. When she finds out the truth about Neela and suspecting Shankar of using her to further his career, Mala sacks him. To make things worse, he is framed for a theft of 2 lakh rupees from the office by Shukla...

Ummeed, according to one of its lead actors, Leela Naidu, never found its way to the theatres. But the VCD - perhaps a first of an old film that did not release - starts with a censor certificate saying the film was certified in 1971 and the credits tell you the lyrics are by the late Shakeel Badayuni (he passed away in 1970) so let's just go by that. However, clearly it does look like the film was quite long in the making and a troubled production.

Coming to the actual film, sadly it is not very good and my viewing was not made any easier by the horrendous quality of the image on the VCD - it is not out on DVD yet as this review is being written. The picture freezes at parts, drop outs and glitches abound and even the frame shifts several times! On the filmmaking side, it was sad to see a great director like Nitin Bose (President (1937), Deedar (1951), Ganga Jamuna (1961) etc) come up with this disappointment of a movie at the fag end of his career. Clearly he was way past his creative best when he made this film. The script by Ranjan Bose is weak, simplistic, predictable and stereotypical. The characters are fleshed out rather weakly and of course like many a film of yore, the plot complication depends a lot on the hero being unable to speak when he has to. Why he and Mala could not talk amongst themselves that he loves Neela is beyond me as the hero's 'majboori' is simply not convincing. The comedy track is pretty sad as well. Then there are the abrupt jumps in the narrative which you are not sure are due to the quality of the print (VHS not even Beta - at least that is what it looks like) from which this VCD was made or if the film is missing bits.

Still, the first hour and a bit actually moves smoothly enough even if there is no conflict (not even the germs of it which should have been planted) as Shankar comes to Bombay, gets a job, moves up the company, finds the woman of his dreams all too easily. It is when the conflict element of Shankar's marriage with Mala (extremely predictable) and his subsequent frame-up is introduced that the film goes haywire. The complications and theirs resolutions are done very matter-of-factly as if the priority seems to be to just get the film over with. Logical loopholes abound. Tarun Bose's abrupt character jump to show him as the villain is absurd. Till then, OK, he did not like Shankar and his ideas for change, but he did his job in the office. Suddenly to show him with a nubile woman (Madhumati) dancing around him and him guzzling alcohol - really! And Mala, who is never shown to be interested in her father's business and merely seems to be at home to smile at Shankar and pour tea from a fancy teapot is made in charge of the entire business when her father has to go for a buisness trip. Oh well...

The performances too cannot lift the film with only Ashok Kumar and Nanda coming through somewhat with their reputations intact. Joy Mukherji was never a great actor and Leela Naidu though beautiful as ever, is also unfortunately as stilted and embarassing as ever. Agha is so-so while the rest of the cast doesn't really deserve a mention.

One cannot comment on the camerawork, sound or editing looking at the abysmal quality of the VCD with hazy imagery, unclear audio and frequent narrative breaks. However, Ravi's music and the late Shakeel Badayuni's lyrics do lift the film a notch or two. Special mention must be made of the title song, Humne Chaha Magar Keh Na Paye, Mera Dil Hai Pyar ka Ashiyan and Mujhe Ishq Hai Tujhise, which are well tuned.

All in all, a disappointing watch and pretty much avoidable.

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan

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