Filmistan’s dance-cum-musical romance, “Nagin,” directed by Nandlal Jaswantlal and starring vivacious Vyjayanthimala and Pradeep Kumar in the romantic leads, was premiered in Bombay at the luxurious Liberty Cinema on Friday, December 24th, 1954.
Based on a highly improbable story by Bijou Bhattacharya and scripted by Hamid Butt, with dialogue and lyrics by Rajinder Krishan, “Nagin” has a music score by Hemant Kumar. Dances are the highlights of this film and they have been designed and directed by Sachin Shanker, Hiralal and Yogen Desai.
Superbly mounted, the film has excellent production values throughout its length. Special mention should, however, be made of Fali Mistry (Shyama’s husband) who was responsible for pleasing photography throughout the film and the exquisite Gevacolor sequences at the end. Sharing the credits with Fali Mistry for the climactic sequence in lush Gevacolor is Ram Kumar who designed the imaginative sets. Kudos should also go to Sayed Ahmed and G. J. More who are responsible for the black and white decor in the rest of the picture.
In spite of these redeeming factors which were smuggled into the picture with an eye on the box-office, “Nagin” is a deplorable production from a studio which won acclaim recently with such a thought-provoking film as “Nastik”.
The story is neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring, and defies classification. It has neither habitat nor locale, in spite of the claim by the producers that the two pivotal characters in the film belong to tribes “living in the hilly districts of India”. In fact the film is the creation of wild imagination and Nandlal Jaswantlal fails to rescue the hackneyed plot from the triteness in spite of this.
The fantastic story revolves round a boy and a girl belonging to rival tribes of snake catchers who deal in the poison extracted from the reptiles. Their love incurs the wrath of the warring tribes and in the ensuing turmoil the Nagin is bitten by a snake sent to kill her lover. She is, however, restored to life by him when he brings the venomous creature to cure her, and they live happily ever after.
Vyjayanthimala in the title role puts over a commendable performance besides looking ravishingly beautiful as the belle of the hills. Her dancing, too, is very graceful, specially in those eye-filling colour sequences and delightful ballets towards the finish.
Pradeep Kumar is unimpressive in a role -poorly etched and directed, and Jeevan as the jilted lover thirsting for the blood of the hero is theatrical throughout.
Mubarak, the old-timer, in spite of his outlandish costume and poorly-written role, is responsible for an excellent characterization as the stern but kind-hearted father. The rest of the characters are lost in the scenic trappings.
Hemant Kumar’s musical score is in keeping with the theme and the songs have a rare lilt and may prove popular.
As mentioned earlier, the piece-de-resistance of the film are the superbly conceived and dexterously designed ballet sequences, a delectable appendage to a depressingly poor film (Filmfare Magazine, 1955)
Cast and Production Credits
Year – 1954, Genre – Musical/Fantasy, Country – India, Language – Hindi, Producer – Filmistan, Director – Nandlal Jaswantlal, Music Director –Hemant Kumar, Cast – Pradeep Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Jeevan, Sulochana, Krishna Kumari, I. S. Johar, Mubarak