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Raag Rang (1952) – Review

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Often in the realm of Indian films, advance publicity and fanfaronade, studio gossip and giant hoardings have given rise to high expectations and, just as often, after the release of the films the critics and cinegoers have been disappointed. “Raag Rang”, the first film produced by film star Geeta Bali and her sister, Hardarshan, is unfortunately one such picture. It was boosted as a spectacular musical extravaganza with a feast of tuneful melodies and colorful dance ensembles, but in the film, as it has emerged, its music is the greatest drawback. Badly-worded lyrics, worked into rather dull tunes and sung indifferently by playback singers, have marred the total effect of the film.

The film opens with a street dance executed with considerable verve by Gopi (Geeta Bali) with Gopal (Ashok Kumar) and Tikramdas (Sunder), the city dandy, looking on. Gopal is a composer of music—in search of a singer who will be his medium. He sees suitable material in Gopi, who becomes his protege and is coached by him. She becomes a famous stage star. In these musical sequences, the songs, with the exception of the classical “yaman”, are so dull that one is bored to the point of dozing and all the technical skill and “tilted montage” employed by director Digvijay are completely wasted.

The story thereafter wanders, for Gopi sets her heart on Gopal who refuses to respond. The emotional conflict between the lover and the artist in Gopal affords much scope for excellent “mask-shots”, but they are rendered ineffective in succeeding scenes which are detached from the conflict and feature the stage dances again.

Thus the mounting conflict spends itself in indecision. Then we have glimpses of Roopa (Sudha Bali), the “other girl” and Bhim Palasi (Madanpuri), the professional rival of Gopal. These are two characters who could have given interesting twists to the story and supplied the action for a rising climax. But the camera reveals little of their designs and, when Bhim Palasi puts gunpowder below the piano keyboard and Gopal loses his hands in the explosion, the entire sequence fizzles out like a damp squib.

Gopal, in despair, remembers Gopi and presently she is sent for. His art finds expression in her voice and dancing, and it would have been far better if the film had ended there, with the “turn wipe” of Gopi. But owing to the director’s temptation to exhibit his dexterity in filming montage shots, the film drags on and on till the title “thank you” announces the end, much to everyone’s relief.

“Rang Rang” is a film which effectively demonstrates that, whenever the script is weak, even deft direction and forceful performances fail to lift it. It abounds in gorgeous sets, revolving stages and pleasing photography, but its mediocre music makes the entire film lifeless.

Among the performers, Geeta Bali, who alone gets all the opportunities, acts with gusto. Ashok, Gyani, Madanpuri and even the charming, new find Sudha Bali are all wasted. The dialogues are witty and they help to tell much of an otherwise action-less story in an interesting manner. “Raag Rang” establishes Digvijay at a director of great promise and enhances the reputation of Geeta Bali as an actress. It fails to become an outstanding film because of its thin story, pedestrian lyrics, lifeless music and lethargic editing, and the fine work of the sound recordist is ruined by the outdated sound equipment of the Novelty.

Year – 1952

Language – Hindi

Country – India

Producer – Bali Sisters

Director – Digvijay

Music Director – Roshan Lal

Box-Office Status

Cast – Geeta Bali, Ashok Kumar, Sunder, Sudha Bali, Madan Puri, Ruma Devi

Miscellaneous Information

Songs List

SongYearSingersMusic DirectorLyricist(s)
Aur hai dil ki lagi1952Talat MahmoodRoshan
Dil e beqarar soja1952Talat Mahmood, Lata MangeshkarRoshan
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