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Deedar (1951)

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Nargis in Deedar (1951)

Adapting much of the K.L. Saigal type of melodrama, the tale opens with adolescents Shamu (Dilip Kumar) and childhood sweetheart Mala (Nargis). Mala’s rich father (Sapru) disapproves and when the children have an accident while horse-riding (a portent of the tragedy to come), he has Shamu and his mother evicted. The trauma kills the mother and turns Shamu blind. He is rescued and brought up by Champa (Nimmi) and her canny guardian, Choudhury (Yakub). Champa loves Shamu but he cannot forget Mala. Dr Kishore (Ashok Kumar), an eye surgeon moved by the music Shamu sings on the streets, restores the hero’s eyesight. Shamu then sees that Mala, to whom he has dedicated his life, is engaged to his benefactor, Dr Kishore, and he puts his eyes out again.

Dilip Kumar’s best-known tragic performance clearly evokes the Oedipus legend with blindness signifying an escape from the unbearable present and mourning for a lost innocence. The film, however, splits its 1ead protagonists, e.g. through turn-wipes repeatedly juxtaposing Dilip against Ashok Kumar and Nargis against Nimmi, a technique that evokes the Bengali literary melodrama (as does the cliche of the eye operation). In spite of the many unimaginative and maudlin sequences, some attempts at realism resemble aspects of Satyajit Ray’s approach, e.g. the long track along the kitchen floor in Champa’s hovel or the changing light patterns on the ceiling behind Shamu when he sings Naseeb dar pe tere azmaane aya boon. The film was edited by Bimal Roy and contains some of the best songs composed by Naushad and sung by Mohd. Rafi, Lata, Shamshad Begum and G.M. Durrani including Bachpan kai din bhula na dena, Chaman mein reh kai veerana, Dekh liya maine and Meri kahani bhoolne waley.

Cast and Production Credits

Year – 1951, Genre – Drama, Country – India, Language – Hindi, Producer – Filmkar, Director – Nitin Bose, Music Director – Naushad, Cast – Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Nargis, Nimmi, Yakub, Tabassum, Rattan Kumar and Sapru.

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