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Home / Reviews / Ajeeb Ladki (1952) – Review

Ajeeb Ladki (1952) – Review

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The Indian Cinema seems to be passing through a phase of opulence. Luxury and all the other hand-maidens of wealth are present in most of the films in quantity, if not in quality. This applies to sets, costumes, characters as well as to the music.

Enormous mansions flash before the eyes, curtained, carpeted and decorated with an unending wealth that seems to be provided by an invisible behind-the-scenes King Croesus. There are laboriously carved pillars, fantastic french windows, deep subterranean passages and—staircases, lavish marble staircases, on which the characters seem to spend the major part of their lives running up and down—to delight the escapists.

All Countries Contribute

As regards characters, these are drawn from all countries and all epochs. I remember seeing a swashbuckling cavalier, a Mephistopheles, a Russian cossack, a South- American caballero, French beachcombers, and even a representative who seemed to have come straight from the top-hatted crowd entrenched in the Royal enclosure at Ascot.

The music is amassed and appropriated almost entirely from the vast resources which are at the disposal of the Western orchestra from themes both classical and popular. These are dressed up without exception in the monotonous but heady beat of a turn-tee tum-tum bass which seems to provide the rhythmic spine for almost every cinematic composition.

In spite of the handicaps which the inclusion of such an indigestibly rich fare imposes on the viewer, “Ajeeb Larki”, Taj Mahal Pictures’ new offering, is a remarkably neat and well-groomed comedy. If it were not for one or two impossible happenings, the film could very easily be proud of itself.

Marriage Tangle

The story deals with the lives of two sisters, played by Naseem and Shashikala, daughters of a peppery millionaire Peshori Mal, transplanted mysteriously from Peshawar to Lucknow with all the trappings of opulence. Unfortunately both the sisters manage to entangle themselves in emotional affairs with two representatives of the theatrical world, delineated by Rehman and Agha – who belong to a fraternity which is absolute poison to their father.

Proceeding further through a complicated maze of incidents resulting from mistaken identities, we reach a stage where Rehman is being pursued by the irate Peshori Mal for having purportedly stolen the affections of both his daughters, in addition to having been revealed as a gentleman who is the proprietor and chief star of a theater. Then follows a subsidiary plot which requires that both these characters be kidnapped and removed to a dark dungeon only to be rescued, after a fantastic sequence of swordplay and broken fists, by a dark stranger who looks the spit-image of Monsieur D’Artagnan suitably equipped with a black velvet mask.

In one final stagey scene which follows much brandishing of revolvers, the dark stranger is revealed as Naseem and the father’s blood-lust for honor is pacified and all ends well.

Rehman acquits himself creditably with a certain naturalness which audiences may find it difficult to resist. Naseem, quivering constantly in chin and lower lip, bravely tries to be a maiden out of the ordinary but is only revealed as middling and middle-aged. Most people will appreciate the antics of Agha who manages to achieve quite a delicious imitation of certain American funsters.

Two Points Made

There remains little to be said except for two small points. Much of the action takes place in two theaters which are shown to function opposite each other. Apart from the fact that both of them are remarkably alike, it seems queer to adopt such an unusual locale—presumably it was to find an excuse for scene after wearied scene of hackneyed ballet. As there is no organized theater in any Indian town we know of today, this subterfuge for staging a continuous choreographic debacle is palpably far-fetched.

The art of the playback singer is now firmly established as a major menace to the Indian film. The mental effort, however, needed to iron out the difference in timbre between the ordinary conversation and the singing gives a nasty jar to the ear whenever this deception is practiced. While such a shortcut enables every second-rate ham actor to seemingly equip himself with the vocal chords of a Saigal, it is always irritatingly artificial in overall effect.

The film as a whole is one more example of the current trend that favors an atmosphere of sterile artificiality which is as far removed from the life of the average persn as is the man in the moon.

Year – 1952

Language – Hindi

Country – India

Producer – Taj Mahal Pictures

Director – Mohamed Ehsan

Music Director – Ghulam Mohammed

Box-Office Status

Cast – Cuckoo, Shashikala, Agha, Jayant, Shyam Kumar, Naseem, Rehman

Miscellaneous Information – Not Available.

Songs List

SongYearSingersMusic DirectorLyricist(s)
Chhodo chhodo ji piya1952Talat Mahmood, Lata MangeshkarGhulam Mohammad
Chodo chodo ji piya1952Talat Mahmood, Lata MangeshkarGhulam Mohammad
Chup chap chala jaa door1952Shamshad BegumGhulam Mohammad
Dikhla ke jhalak bas ek nazar1952Shamshad BegumGhulam Mohammad
Do din ki zindagi1952Shamshad Begum, Mohd Rafi, G.M. DurraniGhulam Mohammad
Ek bewafa ko dil diya1952Talat Mahmood, Lata MangeshkarGhulam Mohammad
Ek bewafa ko dil ka1952Talat Mahmood, Lata MangeshkarGhulam Mohammad
Husn ki sarkaar men1952Shamshad Begum, Shyam KumarGhulam Mohammad
Lala rukh1952Shamshad Begum, G.M. DurraniGhulam Mohammad
Main banoonghi filmstar aha ha1952Shamshad BegumGhulam Mohammad
O cycle wale babu1952Shamshad Begum, G.M. DurraniGhulam Mohammad
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