Of all the pictures recently seen by us, Afsar is about the most putrid and amateurish production ever presented on the Indian screen. The picture is a disgustingly abortive attempt to entertain the masses by slapstick comedy. Adapted from a Russian play by Gogol the sequences are more or less copied from The Inspector General a Hollywood picture produced by Warner Brothers. While Danny Kaye, the superb Hollywood artiste, turns The Inspector General, a Technicolor production, into a roaring comedy, Dev Anand, who apes him in Afsar, wears a castor-oil expression throughout the picture and gives colic gripes to the audience. That is why, perhaps, we found several people walking out at different stages of the show and never returning to their seats. Dev Anand had probably cured them of their chronic constipation.
BADLY DEVELOPED STORY!
A young impecunious journalist named Kapur comes to a small town run and exploited by a gang of corrupt officials, under the leadership of an unscrupulous Tehsildar. The guilt-conscious officials mistake him for a higher government official, who was due to visit, the town for inspection, and fuss and fawn on him misunderstanding everything he says and does and cringing in his presence. This aspect of mistaken identity wedded to the guilt complex of the racketeers is supposed to provide the comedy element of the story and entertain the masses. It, however, fails to do so because of the sloppy development of the scenario and utterly poor acting.
The love appeal is provided by the romance between the journalist masquerading as an official and Bimla, the Tehsildar’s sister. This romance also fails to entertain because of Bimla’s classic ugliness and the journalist’s effeminate grace.
It is a pity that in spite of the original play by Gogol and a Hollywood picture to provide visual guidance, the producers of Afsar have failed to give an effective and entertaining picture. We, therefore, cannot escape the conclusion that some of our producers haven’t the brains and imagination even to copy and imitate others.
DAMNABLY POOR DIRECTION!
The production values are slipshod, photography and sound recording being indifferent throughout. The music is poor. The direction of Chetan Anand is damnably poor. Nowhere in the long footage of this picture has this man given us even a glimpse of his education and intelligence of which he is never tired of talking. And that is a disappointment to us. From people of Chetan Anand’s self-emphasized culture and education we expect: something better than a disgustingly poor picture like Afsar. Or shouldn’t we?
With a poor screenplay, one cannot expect good performances. With the exception of Zohra Segal, who plays the Tehsildar’s wife and gives a neat and crisp performance, no one else impresses. Even Kanhaiyalal, the superb artiste that he is, is not properly exploited and made to run across the screen like a monkey in jitters.
Dev Anand looks and plays a poor officer and Suraiya looks more hideous than ever-before as Bimla. Ruma Devi, a new girl, makes an attempt to dance but she seems to be too muscle-bound to bring any grace to the screen.
In fine, Afsar is just too rotten for words. It is a picture that provides killing boredom from inch to inch of it. The way people file out of the auditorium one by one during the show, wiser and repentant of course, it seems that the picture can hardly hold the people till about the first three reels.
Afsar is a picture that must be religiously avoided both by the exhibitors and the filmgoers not only for financial reasons but also for health ones. (FilmIndia Review)
Year – 1950
Language – Hindi
Country – India
Producer – Nav Ketan
Director – Chetan Anand
Music Director – S. D. Burman
Box-Office Status – Flop
Cast – Rashid Khan, Suraiya, Manmohan Krishna, Kanhaiyalal, Krishna Dhawan, Zohra Sehgal, Anand Pal, Dev Anand, Ruma Devi, Mohan Sehgal
Miscellaneous Information – N/A
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