Son of India (1962)
Year – 1962
Language – Hindi
Country – India
Producer – Mehboob Production
Director – Mehboob
Music Director – Naushad
Box-Office Status –
Cast – Kumkum, Kamaljeet, Jayant Kumar, Kanhaiyalal, Simmi, Lilian, Sulochana, Mukri, Sajid, Murad, Bakhtawar
Miscellaneous Information –
THE awe inspired by the imposing credits and spectacular opening scenes of “Son of India” gives way to a feeling of confusion as the film progresses, and the confusion in turn becomes bewilderment by the time the film ends, as to what it is all about.
The “son” is a precocious eight-year old who forsakes his home to look for his father who five years ago fell victim to a nefarious gang. The youngster takes gods and gangsters in his stride. And certainly his stride is big, for he merrily undertakes almost a walking tour of India in the course of his search. Patriotic speeches, tirades against the evils of drink and exposes of blackmarketeering and electioneering rackets are interspersed through the film’s heavy footage. Characters pop up from nowhere and disappear. The exigencies of time and place are brushed aside so that the overall effect is sometimes of a dream, and sometimes of a nightmare, sequence.
The sequences by themselves are plausible and dramatic, but they have not been knit into an acceptable screenplay. This is “Son of India’s” basic shortcoming.
Considering that the film’s main burden falls on young Sajid’s slender shoulders, he acquits himself creditably indeed. If sometimes he sounds like Father India, the fault is certainly not his. He is made to match his wits against the smooth, gum-chewing, suave, dyed-in-the-wool blackguard J. B., played with such commendable restraint by Jayant that our so-called “villains” with their gnashing teeth and rolling eyes appear merely amateurs in comparison.
Kamaljeet has expressive eyes and a dramatic profile which will stand him in good stead once he has mastered the technique of diction and acquired ease and confidence before the camera. In this film he has been rather let down by a screenplay which so often at crucial moments gives him nothing to say so that he has to stand about looking futile. Kum Kum as the mother impresses by her dancing. Bakhtawar with her simple and Simi with her sophisticated charm contribute to the visual appeal. Kanhaiyalal as a drunkard and Kumar as the grandfather are other victims of the screenplay. Young Shaheed gives a winsome performance.
Naushad’s music while remaining in the background yet makes an effective contribution. This reviewer has always maintained that Naushad is perhaps alone among our music directors in his comprehension of the true purpose and significance of background music. He has in this particular case received excellent support from lyricist Shakeel Badayuni in the songs “Aaj ki taza khabar” and “Insan tha pahele bandar” and in the gazal picturised on Kamaljeet and rendered by Mohammed Rafi.
The dance ensembles which are as spectacular as in any film from Hollywood, the elaborate color sets and stupendous locations combine with the magnificent sweep of Faredoon Irani’s camera to impart to the film a quality of grandeur. But then, grandeur is not greatness.