Aah (1953) – Review
Year – 1953
Language – Hindi
Country – India
Producer – R. K. Films
Director – Raja Nawathe
Music Director – Shanker
Box-Office Status –
Cast – Nargis, Vijayalaxmi, Ramesh Sinha, Bhupendra Kapoor, Leela Misra, Raj Kapoor, Pran, Mukesh
Miscellaneous Information –
IN spite of being a polished production with good portrayals, Raj Kapoor’s “Aahâ€ť receives a severe set-back from the strong flavor of incredibility Which taints the whole picture. This impression receives its most powerful contribution from the hero’s contracting tuberculosis, which eventually leads to his death despite constant medical attention. To depict a situation of this type in these days of advanced medical science, when cures for T.B. are so wonderful as to seem miraculous, is either crass ignorance which no producer of director should have in this measure, or that brand of superb indifference to established facts which characterizes many of our films and, incidentally, rings their death-knell.
Well, if the hero must die, he must, one supposes. But he doesn’t have to sing on his way to the grave! For a young man weighed down by a frustrated love-affair, two infected lungs and a sensitive, tortured poetical mind, he looks surprisingly well and plump. What were the director, make-up man and photographer doing? Skillful make-up and lighting can create any illusion as film men should know, but this obviously is another group of innocents. His coughing is equally unconvincing â€” artificial spasms, casually put over.
This character is inconsistent â€” sometimes a clown, sometimes mouthing soulful dialogue, it is not convincing at all, and the whole sequence of events of which it is the central core consequently doesn’t ring true.
The story is about a young man who corresponds with the girl of his father’s choice, Chandra, and falls in love with because she seems a kindred spirit. What he doesn’t know is that her younger sister Neelu is writing to him in Chandra’s name. Neelu and Raj are deeply in love, but when he realizes he has consumption he goes all out to make Neelu hate him and forget him because, as he tells his doctor friend, he doesn’t want to leave her widowed untimely.
Too much time is wasted showing the exchange of letters, and those continual meetings between Raj and Neelu are unnecessary and ridiculous. They live in different places, far apart, yet they seem to pick up their letters at the same post office! Those post-office sequences serve no purpose and the buffoonery perpetrated by Raj and the clerk have no place in this story.
The rendezvous Neelu keeps with Raj is another inexplicable superfluity. He realities her identity, yet doesn’t disclose his own till their next meeting. The way the girl walks in and out of her home to keep those appointments is astounding. Her parents appear to be nonentities, extending sympathy where they should be firm, if not strict.
Later, when Raj, attempting to make Neelu despise him, comes courting Chandra, Neelu’s love-lorn behavior is overdone. Weeping nearly all the timeâ€”time means nothing throughout this picture–leaping up the steps to her room like a startled antelope, the character and the film lose much by these over-long sequences to establish her despair.
That is the whole trouble with “Aah”â€”its momentum is lost by the ekeing-out of the theme and over-played agony and sorrow. That bit when Raj is dying and steals off to have a last glimpse of Neelu–his long drive to the house and the shots of Neelu decked in bridal arrayâ€”is a tedious interruption to include the tonga-walla’s song.
The stars do well enough, but are handicapped by the foregoing defects. Nargis is very well photographed and looks beautiful. But her flair for comedy is limited to primitive acting and director Raja Nawathe hasn’t helped her any. Vijaylaxmi as Chandra and Pran as Raj’s friend, the doctor who eventually marries Neelu, are good in the supporting roles.
The songs are many and appallingly misplaced. The music by Shanker and Jaikishen defies description: it is neither good nor bad. It is just there, holding up the story ever so often. The sets and decor are good, the one dance sequence is not good enough to excuse its superfluity, and the photography, like the production values, is very good. However, “Aah” doesn’t prove anything and “nothing attempted, nothing done” seems to be a fair summing up of what it amounts to.