Street 77 (1960)
Year – 1960
Language – Urdu
Country – Pakistan
Producer – M.Fazl-ur-Rahman
Director – M.Haziq
Music Director – Akhter Hussain
Box-Office Status – Average
Cast – Musarrat, Habib, Neelo, S.Gul, Sharara, Ghori
Miscellaneous Information – N/A
Street 77 inspired unmistakably by Odd Man Out, furnishes another example of good material affected by undue hankering after the box-office formula. Whereas Carol Reed’s film presented the poignant story of a complex character, this new local offering treats the story more or less on the lines of a conventional crime thriller with far greater emphasis on police hunt for a notorious criminal. Incidents and characters added to meet formula requirements and the director’s desire to punish every member of the gang put the theme under strain but it goes to the credit of the Director that he has managed to combine the various elements into an interesting film.
Dara (Habib), the leader of a smugglers gang is no amateur in the trade. His criminal activates follow elaborate arrangements. The police however has no trouble in keeping track of his movements. The police officer (S. Gul), who happens to be Dara’s old friend, tried to persuade him to change ways but to no purpose. Then one night Dara’s party is involved in an encounter with the border police and he is seriously wounded. For the next 52 hours the wounded man flounders from door-to-door with police and his own dog in close pursuit.
The hunted man has one devoted friend in his fiancée, Seema (Mussarat Nazir). She disapproves of his activities of his activities but is always at hand to share his suffering. The director uses her to contrive some twists which introduce an elements of uncertainty but ultimately the moralist has to be satisfied.
As pointed out before, the screenplay loses some of its compactness by the addition of unrelated elements. The treatment is however, intelligent and sure. The director prejudices the spectator at the moment he is found borrowing. But he is not likely to be deprived of the credit he deserves for some fine scenes. Fortunately, he has taken care to keep the film moving. The audience remains interested.
While he has taken liberty with the original story the director has genuinely tried to retain the mood of the model production. Both he and the cameraman deserve praise for that. Location scenes are very impressive. Unusual angles and correct camera movement have made scenes of chase through Lahore streets the best part of the film. The cameraman lights up his frames well and the compositions are striking.
Habib plays his role with a great deal of understanding. Towards the end his performance becomes slightly unconvincing but on the whole his portrayal has merit. Mussarat has a minor role which she plays quite comfortably. Ghori returns to the screen in another small role which demands little from him but his gay march home through mud and rain water shows him in fine form.
Neelo has been cast in the somewhat traditional role of club-dancer who is attracted towards the gang chief. The director has kept her under reasonable restraint. Her dance numbers have considerable appeal for the masses. The music is not of the same quality as the film’s other elements but it is not without appeal.
To sum up Street 77 carries a branch different than what we have seen in the latest local releases over the past weeks. It is neither cheap not absurd. At key points the drama is sufficiently taut and technically it is a welcome offering.