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Daera (1953)


Nasir Khan in Daera (1953)

Kamal Amrohi’s Daera is a deeply experimental look at a young and frail woman’s mis-marriage with a man old enough to be her father and the suicidal fascination that her young neighbor (played by Dilip Kumar’s brother Nasir Khan) develops for this silently suffering woman. From the outset, when the mismatched couple arrives at the dark, windswept scene where they will face their destiny, the symbol-laden film deploys a baroque style of lighting with sparse dialogue and obsessive characters in the grip of their desires. The narrative constantly plays cruelly conflicting games with light and shade—deep shadows fall across the frames creating a harmony of hope and despair. Daera is a slight film that goes into profound areas of human relationship. Meena Kumari expressing the smothered sexuality of a lonely woman is the epitome of tragic dignity. Long before it became fashionable in cinema to borrow literary devices, Daera brought in a Shakespearean pathos to the story of a man’s inexpressible passion in a forbidden relationship. As in Amrohi’s Mahal (1949), the soundtrack is exceptional, from the opening Mubarak Begum bhajan introducing Sharan to Sheetal, to the hush marking Sharan’s fall from the balcony as the camera cranes over the crowded chaos below into Meena Kumari on a distant terrace.

Cast and Production Credits

Year – 1953, Genre – Drama, Country – India, Language – Hindi/Urdu, Producer(s) – Kamal Pictures, Director – Kamal Amrohi, Music Director – Jamal Sen, Cast – Nasir Khan, Meena Kumari, Roopmala, Pratima Devi, Kammo

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