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Rangeeli (1952) – Review


In India when a director finds it difficult to make a picture with some intelligence he makes a picture with Rehana. Since intelligence is not easily available to our directors, Rehanas have virtually become substitutes for intelligence in the Indian film industry.

Najam Naqvi has also substituted Rehana for intelligence in “Rangeeli”. Probably considering his own pigeon chest to be too weak for the purpose he has relied on Rehana to carry the whole picture on her short and broad figure. But even though Rehana lends the high pretensions and big dimensions of her figure to this picture, “Rangeeli” remains as unimpressive as the face of its director.

It is all about a girl Rangeeli who comes from a class where pilfering and pick-pocketing are the preferred hobbies. Rangeeli earns her living with the help of her limbs. She knows how to profitably use both her hands and feet. While she uses her feet for dancing at a third-rate theater, she employs her hands for shearing the coat-linings in the town. As usual with every criminal once in a life-time, Rangeeli dials the wrong number when she snips the pocket of Kundan who is an active social worker, particularly a reformer of delinquents.

Reformer Locked

Kundan finds her out but neither brings her to book nor to his reformatory. Instead according to some odd technique of reformation he lets Rangeeli roam the streets and interferes only when the distance between her fingers and the threatened pockets remains a few inches. Tn the beginning Rangeeli loves her profession too much to give it up only because a fellow, who doesn’t seem to have anything else to do, has made it his business to reform her. But when Kundan sticks to her like a shadow and manages to get her out of trouble a number of times, she realizes his good intentions and decides to devote her hands and feet for some honest living as a lintel dancer.

But to make the short story long another crook Chokhe Lal arrives on the scene and stops Rangeeli from reforming herself. He manages to include her in some big-time racketeering. And as usual in our pictures, the usually stupid heroine for the usual stupid reasons does things against her will and conscience, till her reformer boy-friend inhales the usual misunderstanding stuff and goes away leaving the girl at the mercy of the music director and the crooks in the picture. The tragedy reaches the climax when Rangeeli, after doing a lot of silly things, of course all under avoidably ‘unavoidable circumstances’, unwittingly gets Kundan implicated in a theft case and packed off to prison. However, the moment she comes to know that her reformer, who did not believe in filling the prisons, was himself in one of them, Rangeeli turns to the police and in a final chase scene with jeeps and taxis speeding on the roads, the criminals are killed or caught and the reformer is freed. Rangeeli gets wounded in the process but like all heroines survives the bullet and marries the hero.

Not Dull But Stupid

“Rangeeli” is not a dull picture as it contains an overdose of incidents and as Rehana does not sit still for even a moment. But it is a stupid picture all right because most of the incidents are silly and are merely jammed in to stuff the picture. In this picture there is no proper characterization, no earnest analysis of the issues involved, not even sober story-telling and of course no driving home of the professed point that delinquents should be weaned away from their lawlessness with love and indulgence. The alleged entertainment in the picture is just crude. Since stupidity is stupidity even if it be vigorous, the picture not being dull does not become a reason for its recommendation.

Technically it is a poor picture with photography and recording both being slipshod. While dialogue is not bad, music is too flat.

From the players Rehana overshadows everybody else in the picture and does some sprightly work. But in the initial scenes when she parades dressed up as a boy she looks definitely disgusting, We only wish directors wouldn’t take sex in their own hands and expose us to this particular brand of comedy. The new boy, Raj Kumar, has a commendable voice and is not very bad in general appearance but he is woefully camera conscious in close-ups. Probably he realizes more than the director that his face is not meant for close-ups. Nervous at places his work is slightly better than amateurish. Yaqub does the usual kind of work he has done in countless pictures without relief. However, the best work among bit players is given by the Police Inspector. Though conscious in close shots, the fellow looks and talks like a typical Bombay Police Inspector and is probably the first police official of the screen who does not look stupid and scared of the criminals.

In brief, “Rangeeli” is not a dull picture but it is meat for only those people who prefer Rehana to intelligence and do not mind cheap and crude humor sprinkled with plenty of vigorous stupidity.

Year – 1952

Language – Hindi

Country – India

Producer – M & T Films

Director – Najam Naqvi

Music Director – Chic Chocolate

Box-Office Status

Cast – Raj Kumar, S. Nazir, Leela Misra, Yakub, Rehana

Miscellaneous Information – Not Available.

Songs List

SongYearSingersMusic DirectorLyricist(s)
Baiyaan chhodo balam ghar jana re1952Kishore KumarChic Chocolate
Kali zulfon wale1952Shamshad BegumChic Chocolate
Saiyan agar tum ho sher1952Shamshad BegumChic Chocolate
Tar lalala hansle1952Shamshad Begum, G.M. DurraniChic Chocolate
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