The year is near to end and there’s not a single rejoicing film that makes this year memorable one for Bollywood cinema! So Popular Hindi cinema entertainment terribly falls short of creative ideas and concepts this year and carry on pushing remake factory packaged with glamorous wrappers of current bollywood stars. This Christmas, the audience habituated to mediocre action cinema flocked to see their screen sensation King Khan playing the new version of Don and than get ready to see one more handsome hulk playing the new version of Agneepath. The common denominator of both of these much hyped releases is that both has brand stamp of Amitabh Bachchan who set the status of angry young man or anti hero when audience is fed up with the romantic superstar of the era. Bachchan brought to screen the man of street in audience friendly cocktail made by Mehra-Chopra-Desai brigade. Perhaps the first dare act to play shades of anti-hero on screen was attempted by thespian Ashok Kumar but the popular star of the era who first romanticized the antihero characters on screen bade farewell to this world leaving legacy unsurpassed. For many admirers and fans like me the loss of this eternal evergreen phenomenon called Dev Anand this month was the saddest Sunday of the year.
I grow up watching his cinema, listening his memorable songs, fascinating his oozing flamboyant charm and serenading romance, his style and persona with that irreplacable smile, his active energy and his many facets of star, actor, director and above all the man who never retired. Maybe he’s making film out there too! As per his name he’s truly ‘an angel of happiness’. Revisiting his cinema is a small gesture to pay him tribute. Soon after Dev Saab’s death, I was just thinking about arranging a retrospective of his films for a week but somehow that didn’t materialize due to busy schedule at job and other responsibility. Anyway I begin my tribute journey with one of his long due film for me that belongs to his home banner Navketan. The film was written, directed by his younger and talented brother Vijay Anand lovingly known in industry as ‘Goldie’.
The idealistic Nehruvian socialism and Gandhian principles were the order of that era and the film encapsulated that in the story. The theme represents love as igniting spark transforming a petty cinema hall black marketer man to the road of redemption. He faced trials and tribulations of law and society but than as idealistic side suggests that everything ends well that begins with a noble intention. Though Goldie handled the film so well, the melodrama in the second half seems quite cliché of that period revisiting today that stretching the film in the second half; but it was the flaw he improved so well in his later films with sharp editing skill. Both director-actor combo took the same theme to the next level six years later in their most ambitious project and a landmark Hindi cinema- ‘Guide’ based on R K Narayan’s Sahitya Academy winning novel. Undoubtedly their complementary combination worked as asset and magic to Navketan films. Together they became unbeatable team that gifted some of the finest Hindi films to Industry for a decade with titles such as ‘Nau Do Gyarah’, ‘Tere Ghar Ke Samne’, ‘Jewel Thief’ and ‘Johnny Mera Naam’.
The film begins with one of the original shot which most of the critics considered as just footage but it is absolutely false assumption. We witness on screen the hero & his touts blackmailing tickets of one of the most successful and popular epic ‘Mother India’ at
cinema hall in Mumbai. There are no more takers of heftily charged black
tickets and than suddenly one after another all the mega stars-singers and crew
of era starts coming to cinema hall in their vanity vehicles to attend that
premier show waving their hands to the camera where Goldie was standing behind
the camera fitted with zoom lens to capture this originally executed shot for
his upcoming film. Liberty
Goldie a.k.a. Vijay Anand was heavily influenced by Hollywood Noirs of 50s and so one can witness the stark B&W frames, hero dwelling in some or other sort of street jobs and gripping editing for which he's famous. He also made some of the finest mystery thrillers with Hitchcokian twists. He paid homage to his idol in one of the scene here where Dev Anand standing next to large Hitchcock poster selling black tickets of ‘North By Northwest’ in Mumbai’s famous Metro talkies. The film finely captured post independent 60’s Mumbai with happening urban romance, and also the social reality on poverty and unemployment on Mumbai streets.
This is the rare Navketan film where all three talented Anand Brothers acted on screen together and all of them played their parts so well. Waheeda’s successful run into Guru Dutt camp won her entry to Navketan banner too. There’s no doubt that her on screen chemistry with Dev is something worth to watch in more than one film. Rest of the cast consists of Nanda, Madan Puri, Rashid Khan and Lila Chitnis, who remained officially default melodramatic mother of Dev Anand films gave her common contribution. S D Burman’s timeless compositions for Navketan is history for any Nostalgic Hindi film music lovers. Rafi’s two all-time soulful classic numbers ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’, ‘Apni To Har Aah Ek Toofan Hai’ belong to this film; though I equally love Manna Dey-Asha’s light romantic duet ‘Sanjh Dhali Dil Ki Lagi’.