Year – 1956
Language – Urdu
Country – Pakistan
Producer – S.D.Asif
Director – Munnawer.H.Qasim
Music Director – Tufail Farooqi
Box-Office Status – Flop
Cast – Rehana, Afzal Nazir, Himaliyawala, Zareef, Asha Posley, Shahida, Rakshi
Miscellaneous Information – Debut film of Rehana in Pakistan
In every good film the main idea is brought out in a climax which is the culminating point of a steady and balanced movement. This part of the film is treated specially in order to give it the prominence of the dominating feature. Its effectiveness depends a great deal on the treatment of the entire theme with proper regulation of tempo and variation of emphasis. It is always necessary to suppress certain parts of the theme to put the vital element in a better condition, for if all the scenes are treated with unchanging emphasis the result would be a flat and dull picture.
In “Wehshi”, for instance the confusion is due to the fact that equal and uniform attention has been paid, in every respect, to the two different parts of the plot – one an ordinary love story, the other a faint attempt at character study. Neither the writer nor the director seems to have clearly understood which part of the two parts is more important than the other. The director has presented each and every sequence as if that in particular sets the tone for the whole picture. The film thus becomes, comedy, tragedy, musical, and mystery in turn and at the end the effect is hazy and obscure.
Taking a clue from the title the film can be said to analyze the character of a sex maniac, Madan (Himalyawala). Drink and woman constitute his sole interest in life and to get them he can have recourse to the meanest trick and the most heinous crime. He squanders his property and ignore his obligations toward his dying mother and helpless young sister. The film deals only with his pursuit of women and as such it is an incomplete character. The love story involves a lady doctor, Asha (Rehana), and a police officer, Kishore (Afzal Nazir), who rescues her from Madan’s clutches. They promptly fall in love. Madan and Asha meet again at a hill station where he has gone to renew an old affair and she to took after the hospital built by her father. Madan looks like succeeding in his designs this time but Asha suddenly turns tables on him. Madan goes down into a lake and she rolls down in an empty drum on way back home. With misunderstandings, murder investigations and Asha’s willingness to sacrifice her happiness for Kishore’s sake, the plot drags on for another hour or so but ultimately Madan and Kishore have to settle the affair between themselves. What is left over from the opening scene of the picture comes to conclusion in the last.
The story has the ingredients of a routine screen entertainment but the matter required careful sorting. Its monotonous movement and lack of balance have robbed it of any chances of becoming popular.
In spite of its weak impact the direction is not without certain good features. Unlike most of his contemporaries, the director is keen to exploit the medium for dramatic interpretation. He has presented the whole theme most diligently, with full attention to the details. In fact he is over anxious about minute points. Nothing is left for the spectator’s imagination. There is no use of the suggestive power of the picture frame. Everything must be plainly brought before the audience, even Madan’s discovery of the decomposing corpse and his covering it with his own coat. He is over-enthusiastic about moving the camera also which is quite distracting.
The film has several dance numbers. There are four young female characters in it and all of them are dancers. Rehana follows the Indian classical forms. She shows impressive knowledge of steps and gestures but her dances have not been picturized properly. Rakshi dances to foreign music in her usual manner. Asha Posley performs a typical film number. Shahida’s dance, which falls in the opening sequence, is remarkable for its presentation on the pattern of ballet. The girl expresses her love for Madan, the happiness produced by the feeling and her reluctance to yield to his lust. The director’s idea and effort deserve commendation. Had it been timed neatly and developed a bit further, this number alone could have raised the film high as a genuine artistic effort.
“Wehshi” is Rehana’s first picture in Pakistan. This is not the role a serious actress would like to play. Her performance has some good points but the character she portrays suffers from the director’s inconsistency. For a newcomer Afzal Nazir faces the camera quite confidently. There is a casualness in his movements which sometimes makes his work seem natural. But he acts throughout the film in the same strain, neither a moment of joy nor of exciting situation affects him much. He will have to adjust his mood in accordance with the changing mood of the plot. He should also avoid delivering dialogues faster than normal human speech. There is a danger of words being jumbled together. Himalyawala plays the title role in his familiar style. A new actress attracts notice, and she is Shahida, the mountain girl who galls for Madan and goes mad on the loss of her child. Her acting gives promise of shining in the future. It would be an intelligent director’s job to train her.
The film has some charming shots of mountains and water falls. The photography is fair. The sound is satisfactory, the recording of songs is especially good.