In my review of Maut Ki Aahat (a Hindi novel), I have opined that consuming liquor to forget one’s grief is futile as liquor consumption may make a happy person happier but it can by no means mitigate the grief of an aggrieved person. On the contrary, the feeling of grief intensifies in the intoxicated condition. By drinking, a person does not get any relief from his grief but he makes those also aggrieved who are, in one way or the other, associated with him. By quitting drinking only, can the drinker think logically about and take some prudent step to solve the practical problems of his life. That’s the message of Daag (1952).Daag (scar) tells the story of Shankar (Dilip Kumar) who makes earthen toys and idols and sells them to earn a living for himself and his aged widow mother (Lalita Pawar). Shankar loves Paaro (Nimmi) who is the (step) sister of Laala Jagat Naarayan (Kanhaiyalaal). And Paaro loves Shankar even more than he loves her. Laala Jagat Naarayan has a grown up daughter too named as Pushpa (Usha Kiran). The aunt (Bua in Hindi) and the niece belonging to the same age-group, behave like close friends. Pushpa falls in love with a teacher Shyam Sunder (Jawahar Kaul) who has been appointed to tutor her and Paaro. Now Usha’s marriage with Shyam Sunder is fixed quite smoothly by her father but as far as the marriage of Paaro with Shankar is concerned, it’s almost next to impossible because of an acute problem with Shankar.And this problem is his addiction to drinking liquor. Paaro belongs to a well-off family whereas Shankar earn barely enough to make both ends meet for himself and his mother. But even a major part of that earning goes in Shankar’s expenditure on liquor. He does not listen to anybody, may it be his mother or his sweetheart Paaro or his close friend and genuine well-wisher Ragunaath (Laxman Rao) who wants him to quit drinking despite himself only running the liquor shop. He loses a lot including his mother and the love of Paaro whose marriage is fixed by her brother to someone else. The movie ends on a happy note when Shankar finally gets rid of his liquor addiction and gets the love of his life in the form of Paaro.Once my ex-boss Mr. S. Alaguvel had told me in my own interest – ‘Mathur, image is very important. It’s even more important than who you actually are and what you actually do’. Sometimes a person may be very good, capable, virtuous and possessing a heart of gold but develops a bad image of him in the eyes of the world. That bad image sticks to him like a monkey on his back and does not leave him despite all his pluses and his sincere efforts to get rid of it. Hence to survive and prosper in this world and to lead a normal and peaceful life, one has to be image-conscious because we can’t afford to live alone, ultimately we have to be a member of the society and a part of the milieu. The protagonist of this story, i.e., Shankar could learn it after losing a lot as well as suffering a lot. The bad habit of drinking became a scar (Daag) on his name uglifying his personality. That’s why the movie has been titled as Daag.Despite selecting a good theme, writer-director Amiya Chakravarty could not prepare a good screenplay for the movie and finally it turned out to be just an average flick which the audience can endure mainly because of the great musical score consisting of some immortal songs. The complete script is lacklustre and the narrative moves in a wayward fashion without any direction and coherence of events. The movie defies logic time and again throughout its duration and the filmmaker could not create any sympathy in the audience for the suffering hero.The major part of the narrative is gloomy but for the purpose of giving relief to the audience, the completely superfluous love story of Shyam Sunder and Pushpa has been inserted alongwith a couple of songs. It has given some relief and amusement to the audience but it has nothing to do with the main story of Shankar, his mother and his sweetheart Paaro. The character of Pushpa itself is not at all required in the main story. The episode of Laala Jagat Naarayan’s unexpectedly getting inherited wealth is also quite amusing though it also serves no purpose for the story except creating a status difference between the hero and the heroine which has no relevance to their love.Still if the movie is able to pull the audience alongwith it, then it is because of the songs composed by Shankar-Jaikishan with the help of the lyrics of Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. This movie was made in the heyday of Talat Mahmood who was the uncrowned king of sad songs then. The album consists of three great sad songs of Talat Mahmood – 1. Hum Dard Ke Maaron Ka Itna Hi Fasaana Hai, 2. Koi Nahin Mera Is Duniya Mein, Aashiyaan Barbaad Hai, 3. Aye Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal (which comes many times in the movie, once in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar too). Among other songs, Lata’s classic sad song – Kaahe Ko Der Lagaai Re, Aaye Na Ab Tak Baalma is also in the movie. The other songs (all in Lata’s voice) – Preet Ye Kaisi Bol Ri Duniya, Jab Se Nain Laage, Dekho Aaya Ye Kaisa Zamaana etc. are also good.
Technically, this black and white movie is so-so. The milieu is rural and simple. Sometimes the narrative confuses a bit. That speaks of poor writing and editing.
Tragedy King Dilip Kumar has done well in the lead role but surely it is not one of his best performances. Nimmi and Usha Kiran too have done well as the leading ladies. Lalita Pawar is perfect as the hero’s mother. The supporting cast including Kanhaiyalaal is also well in place.
Daag may not be liked by today’s generation who may find it difficult to sit through this movie. However I recommend it with my rating of 2.5 stars to those who are fond of watching old black and white Hindi movies containing good music and ample dose of sentiments. The huge fan following of the legendary singer Talat Mahmood and the legendary actor Dilip Kumar will also like it.
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