Khurshid Anwar’s Hamraaz provides an excellent example of a film artist’s ability to make a clean and engaging film even when compelled to compromise in the selection of theme. Hamraaz is a thriller, but vastly different from the thrillers made in Pakistan because the characters symbolize the contest for supremacy in a cognizable social system. Moreover, having set this story going the writer does not try to introduce everything considered essential for a thriller but follows the demands of the characters and their interests, incorporating only such action as is compatible with them.
Briefly, the film describes a conflict generated by a man’s demoniacal lust for possession and power which he disguises as a mission to preserve the values inherited from his feudal forefathers, and for whose gratification he does not hesitate to intrigue and kill. Some of the people who come in his path are ruthlessly felled, some escape by sheer ingenuity, and over them all rules the natural laws of balance and retribution. The story began long ago, perhaps when the Nawab of Qaisarabad died and left the jagir to his three sons, one of them a sophisticated mixture of Macbeth and Richard III. The film begins when both of his brothers have died, one leaving an imbecile (who, quite suggestively, sports a cowboy costume and constantly plays double agent), and the other leaving two girls (Again, suggestively – one fond of teddy culture and the other fond of traditional dress and music). He draws up a plan to do away with all these claimants to the family throne and almost succeeds but for the intervention of a young doctor who takes a stand against evil largely because his conscience rejects it and to a lesser extent because he likes one of the girls marked for liquidation.
The writer starts telling the story from the point of view of the doctor. He (doctor) finds a mysterious girl on the road, she disappears, and when he tries to follow up the trail he lands himself in the thick of the plot. The writer then reveals some facts to the audience (the doctor is not taken into confidence) but the essential part of the mystery is unraveled by the doctor and the audience simultaneously. This is one of the better known techniques for treating a mystery and the director exploits it to the maximum advantage. Quite frequently one feels that he is trying to invest his characters with symbolic value as representatives of socio-cultural trends in our society. Although the screenplay is skillfully written, but somewhere along the line a link is suppressed and the average spectator is likely to find some questions unanswered.
As usual with Khurshid Anwar’s films, he uses music to further the plot. If you remove a song, you destroy a link. Even when the leading lady goes out to dance, her movements help the doctor to get rid of an illusion. Such sequences and the firm handling of the artistes make Hamraaz very much a director’s picture, particularly in the last scenes when some ghastly business is so delicately handled that the spectator feels its impact without being shown repulsive details. On the whole the artistes have responded commendably. Shamim Ara excels in the dual role, remaining faithful to both the girls — she portrays. Mohammad Ali looks relaxed after a long time. Talish is his confident self and Rangila has a role tailored for him. Tariq Aziz has not been able to decide when a worldly-wise professional ceases to be flippant. As for the musical score, it seems the demands of the story have considerably affected the compositions but Khurshid Anwar preserves his style and at least two of the compositions are outstanding. The technical values are adequate and Nabi Ahmed’s work behind the camera is excellent.
Cast and Production Credits
Year – 1967, Genre – Thriller/Suspense/Mystery, Country – Pakistan, Language – Urdu, Producer(s) – Sh. Abdur Rashid and Kh. Khurshid Anwar, Director – Khurshid Anwar, Music Director – Khurshid Anwar, Cast – Shamim Ara, Mohammad Ali, Nabila, Lehri,Tariq Aziz, Meena Shorey, Rangeela, Changezi, Ajmal and Talish