Eveready Productions’ “Hatim” is the story of a king whose generosity is boundless.He would relinquish the most prized things on anyone’s asking. His life is dedicated to the service of the needy and no sacrifice is too great for the fulfillment of his mission. The film narrates a series of adventures undertaken by Hatim for the sake of his fellow beings.
The story has been presented as a sequel to an argument in heavens between ‘Iblees’, the Devil, and an unnamed angel of good. The latter offers the instance of Hatim, the ruler of Yemen, whose heart, evil can never penetrate and who would never waver from the path of God. To disprove this contention the Devil creates serious problems for Hatim. He loses kingdom after kingdom, undergoes the most rigorous ordeal to keep up his word, and subjects his wife and himself to great suffering while doing good to others. Whenever his faculties show sign of failing, or he is in imminent danger the angel of good is there to protect him and guide him.
In the main, the tale covers Hatim’s adventures in solving the seven questions of a beautiful princess on behalf of his friend, Munir. Besides fighting a duel, he is asked to bring ‘Jahan Numa’ and the ‘manka’ of a reptile, to answer two questions on human nature, and lastly to bring the head of his dear wife.
This fantasy has been filled with material for mass entertainment. It has magic, chivalry and tomfoolery in considerable measure. Along with these the writer and director make full use of situations likely to appeal to the “Islamic of Muslim sentiment.” The sets have been lavishly decorated. All these factors can assure the file fat returns at the box-office.
In spite of the somewhat audacious, through amusing, claim that the tale bears no relation to the legend Hatim Tai and that any resemblance between the two should be considered mere accident, anybody who has heard the legend will tell that the film is very largely based on it. The framework is the same, and the difference lies only in a few episodes. Ordinarily this would not have mattered but by following the legend too closely the writer has limited the film’s appeal to a very narrow section of the audience. If generosity means the cutting of an innocent woman’s head, then most of the sane people would rather abstain from it. Generosity is a human quality, strictly controlled by man’s personality and the circumstances. When it exceeds the limits and offends plausibility, the story become a worthless piece of fiction.
In presenting the story the director has not paid due attention to the time factor, nor has he tried to make it look authentic. The events occupy 17 long years and Hatim has to travel throughout the territory from Yemen to Caucasus but not even his headgear is ruffled, the desert sand makes no effect on his royal robes, and at the end the characters are as lovely and as youthful as in the beginning.
The film includes an episode which embodies one of the most revolting ideas man is capable of entertaining and presents the most gruesome sight on the screen. It shows a brute of a son stabbing his mother (without hesitation and without any sign of remorse) and plucking her heart as casually as a child picks up eggs from a bird’s nest. The bleeding heart is offered, in full view of the audience, to the heartless princess. Only the most inhuman can stand this horrifying exhibition of savagery. The producers of the picture would do well to delete this episode.
Production values of the film are satisfactory. Outdoor photography is good and the locales impressive. The sets are elaborate and had they been photographed intelligently they would have enhanced the quality of the picture.
The film has an imposing cast but one feels that the small roles and the nature of the fable put a great strain on artistes like Sabiha, Sudhir, Ilyas, and Ghulam Mohammed. The roles have no dramatic interest and they could not have done anything about it. Ajmal, as the Devil, acts well. Sabiha has a few dramatic scenes and Asha Posley some good lines
Year – 1956
Language – Urdu
Country – Pakistan
Producer – J.C. Anand
Director – Daud Chand
Music Director – Safdar
Box-Office Status – Flop
Cast – Sabiha Khanum, Sudhir, Asha Posley, Nazar, Ilyas Kashmiri, Ajmal, Ghulam Mohammad, Diljit Mirza
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