Year – 1956
Language – Urdu
Country – Pakistan
Producer – J.C. Anand
Director – R.K.Shorey
Music Director – G.A. Chishti / Vinod?
Box-Office Status – Average
Cast – Meena Shorey, Santosh Kumar, Shamim Ara, Aslam Pervaiz, Charlie, Zareef, Shahnawaz, Iqbal Sheikh, Azurie
Miscellaneous Information – Debut film of Meena Shorey in Pakistan. Please note that although this was her debut film in Pakistan, it was not her first released film. Sarfarosh (1956) where she played the second lead was released first on June 15th, 1956, while Miss 56 was released on 16th November, 1956.
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J.C. Anand’s Miss 56, is a comedy of the type in which the director sets out to make the audience laugh at any cost. There is not even the slightest attempt at disguising the purpose and he succeeds in provoking laughter beyond his own expectations, for the public laughs not only at the pranks of the players or at the humor, but the director also makes a considerable contribution to the fun.
The most striking feature of Miss 56 is that it bears the mark of Shorey technique. The story is by I.S. Johar, the director is R.K. Shorey, the female lead is played by Meena. Their combined efforts follow the pattern of their previous efforts and, consequently, one finds in Miss 56 some repetition of old jokes and comic clichés.
Meena once again plays the role of an intelligent girl (a gifted dancer and stage artiste, naturally), who falls into the hands of a pair of swindlers. They (Charlie and Zarif) want to use her to bait new victims. Two visitors to the city, Santosh (Santosh Kumar) and Shyam (Aslam Pervaiz), are easily trapped. The young men have come to the city to start a business with Rs. 5,000, the savings of a village group from the disastrous floods. The business is theatre, where a romantic story is to be staged and soon the romance spreads off-stage giving two happy pairs of screen lovers.
The swindlers are not interested in the theatre and once they have got the money, they run away from the scene. Director Shorey has a special weakness for chase sequences and some of the most fantastic ones in Urdu/Hindi films can be credited to him. The rogues trying to escape in a jeep are followed by Meena on a camel. The idea is quite novel and useful, too, as her exploit enables the director to move on to a longer chase sequence. She further has the opportunity of mimicking a French woman and deceiving her companions with the help of a false nose and a huge wig. That with such a thing outfit and loud gesticulation she can pass as a French woman is no small wonder. It is amusing, anyway. Then the director presents the final chase sequence, a car racing to catch up with a plane. Fortunately the plane is only a Tiger Moth and it is still on the ground. All that the car driver has to do is to pass the plane and block the runway. This time the police is there to take charge of the villains.
The simplicity of approach and the disproportionately light hearted treatment are surprising, all the more so when found in the work of a veteran director.
Meena plays her role with her usual exuberance and overshadows the work of every other artiste, except Charlie who can shout as loud as she can. In her dances the director makes much of the movements of her hands – shots open on them and some of them are close-ups of dancing fingers – but the exact significance and value of these scenes is unlikely to be appreciated by the audience.
It is good to see Charlie back on the screen. He has not lost much of his appeal and is still capable of setting off a genuine laugh riot. But he has to be handled with discretion and his enthusiasm needs restraint.
Iqbal Sheikh makes a nice impression in a small role. He makes a sincere effort to create a new character but he also sometimes overacts.