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Insaan (1952) – Review


New Social Theatres’ “Insaan” shows what happens when an astrologer turns a producer and screen writer. Jai Gopal Mohla caught the infection of production while studying the horoscopes of film people and ended by becoming a man with astrology as his pastime and “monstrology” as his filmic achievement. On seeing his “Insaan” it appears that the planet which governs intelligence and commonsense is not very favorably placed in his own horoscope.

“Insaan” purports to be a heroic tale giving a glimpse of medieval times. But the glimpse it affords us leaves us with an impression that Rajasthan was a big asylum of mad clowns. And a picture which conveys this impression does no justice to history. “Insaan” may not be about the medieval times but this motion picture certainly appears to be a relic of the middle ages.

It tells us about one Rana Bikram Singh who was a brave and virtuous Jagirdar in Singhgarh. This Rajput carried his virtuousness a bit too far and earned the displeasure of the Dewan of that state who instigated the Ruler against Bikram and got him duly externed from Singhgarh.

Bikram, then, accompanied by his wife migrated to Rajgarh which was ruled by Balram, a sworn enemy of the ruler of Singhgarh. Balram and his Dewan Bhanamal tried to use Bikram for bringing about the defeat of the Singhgarh ruler. Bikram refused to turn a traitor to his state and stuck to his decision inspite of rich temptations and physical torture. Tired at his obstinacy Bhanamal put him in jail for an indefinite period.

Bikram’s wife Uma left alone in this world of Rajputs stumbled into a temple where a “Pujari” gave her shelter to bring forth the child she was carrying.

After helping the entry of a new soul in this world she herself staged an exit from it. The young son, Umesh, was left in the care of the Pujari.

Bikram on the other hand haunted by his wife’s memory escaped from jail wearing a modern prisoner’s outfit and not being able to find his wife anywhere became a Robin Hood in sheer desperation and vowed to wreak vengeance on Balram.

Under the fatherly care of the Pujari, Umesh emerged into a brave youth and conveniently fell in love with Balram’s daughter, Rajkumari. Dewan Bhanamal, not liking this romance between Rajkumari and Umesh particularly, craftily promised Umesh Rajkumari’s hand in marriage if he arrested Bikram—known as Sangram in Rajgarh. Umesh accepted the challenge and set out to arrest Sangram all by himself.

In the meantime Sangram entered the palace in order to fulfil his vow about Balram but instead confronted Rajkumari who pleaded with Sangram to get himself arrested by Umesh as that alone could save her life which was devoted to love.

Sangram felt pity on her and placed himself in the hands of Umesh who brought Sangram to court and asked for his reward. Now Balram knew nothing about the deal between Umesh and Bhanamal and was actually marrying off his daughter to someone else when Umesh arrived. Balram became infuriated at Umesh’s suggestion and ordered his arrest but Sangram immediately interfered with the help of his armed supporters and declaring his real identity brought every thing to a happy end.


This cock-and-bull yarn with its historical complexion needed at least authenticity in costumes, sets, make-up and other things to be acceptable, if not convincing. But these things are totally lacking in this picture. Had the artistes moved about without any costumes at all they would have looked much better than they do in those costumes. The sets look so ugly and cheap that their price could be guessed in annas. And the general tone of the make-up is just a big screaming joke.

Photography is disgracefully poor. Even the blind singer K. C. Dey would have done a better job of it. The recording seems to have been done by a man who hasn’t a very gifted pair of ears.

The dialogue of the picture reminds one of the Arya Samaj debates in old days. It is stupid and bombastic. There is nothing uncommon about the lyrics and the music made the audience wish that it would be the swan song of the composer.

Jagdish Sethi’s direction is incredibly stupid and one is inclined to doubt if he did his job with any sincerity at all. Sethi is a good artiste with sufficient experience and there is no reason why he could not foresee the idiotic mess he was making of the picture. His direction shows utter lack of interest.

The less said about the performances in this picture the better. All the artistes look and act like so many characters from a cartoonist’s strip.

Prithviraj Kapoor, with his sheer enthusiasm , has given touches of realism to the picture at places but otherwise between Mohla and Sethi, he has been reduced to just a big-sized clown. Ragini looks like an opium-cater. A floating timber has more life in it than is shown by Kamal Kapoor. K. N. Singh moved about in a funny make-up and all the time his mind seemed to be adding up the money producers owed him. And the total seemed to stagger him throughout the picture. Kanhaiyalal was completely eaten up by his moustaches to have done anything.

To condense the whole damn thing, Insaan is a pride presentation of crude and clumsy buffoonery and is not worth half a visit. And it is a picture that ought to shake Producer Molah’s faith in astrology.

Year – 1952

Language – Hindi

Country – India

Producer – New Social Theatre

Director – Jagdish Sethi

Music Director – B. N. Bali

Box-Office Status

Cast – Prithviraj, Kamal Kapoor, Kanhaiyalal, Cuckoo, K. N. Singh, Ragini, Rajkumar

Miscellaneous Information – Pakistani actress Raagini visited India after partition to work in two Hindi films in 1952 – J. K. Nanda’s Chamkee and Jagdish Sethi’s Insaan.

Songs List

SongYearSingersMusic DirectorLyricist(s)
Jab yeh nighahien tujh ko na payien1952Asha BhosleB.N. BaliSaba Afgani
Mast jawani hai mausam-e-barsaat hai1952Shamshad BegumB.N. BaliBalwant Kapoor
Mere sajan sanware, hue nain bawre1952Geeta DuttB.N. Bali
Meri choodi ka rang aasmani1952Shamshad BegumB.N. Bali
So Ja Re Dukhiyare Maa Ke Aankh Ke Taare1952Geeta DuttB.N. BaliSajan Bihari
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