In the year 2013, two Hindi movies were released whose titles were misleading. Their titles were made by joining the screen names of the lead pair but the titles made this way meant differently and thus giving a wrong impression of the subject-matter of the movie concerned to the prospective audience. These movies were Aakaash Vaani whose literal meaning is the All India Radio and Raam-Leela(later the words – Goliyon Ki Raasleela were prefixed to this title) whose literal meaning is the portrayal of the activities of Lord Ram of the Hindus. However neither the story of Aakaash Vaani has anything to do with the All India Radio nor the story of Raam-Leela has anything to do with any episode of the life of Lord Ram. These titles are nothing but the names of the heroes and the heroines of these movies. I strongly oppose such practice of keeping titles of the movies because it’s a kind of cheating with the audience. However this practice is by no means new. Decades back also it was followed in respect of a Hindi movie. This movie is Neela Akash (1965).As appears from the title of Neela Akash, it must be related to the sky because Neela means blue and Aakaash means sky, therefore, the literal meaning of Neela Aakaash is blue sky. But actually the title of the movie is nothing but the screen names of the heroine and the hero. Neela is the name of the heroine(Maala Sinha) whereas Aakaash is the name of the hero(Dharmendra). I watched this movie more than two decades back on Doordarshan and when I found that the title of the movie is nothing but the names of the lead pair, I was irritated like anything because I was expecting to watch a story linked to the sky or the aviation or the like wise. Well, fortunately, despite the story being a routine love story cum social drama, sky has a little role here. The hero is a pilot whereas the heroine is an air hostess.Neela Aakaash is a run-of-the-mill movie containing the regular Bollywood formulae of romance, comedy and family drama and falls in the league of several such movies made during the sixties in which the story was nothing but an excuse to fit in the melodious songs prepared for the movie and show beautiful locations. Being set in Delhi, it is the love story of Aakaash(Dharmendra), a suitable boy from a rich family who is a pilot by profession and Neela(Maala Sinha), a girl from a financially weak family who has to take a job after becoming a graduate because of her alcoholic and gambler father(Raj Mehra) who loses his job also due to embezzling the funds of his employer company for the sake of gambling through horse-race. To manage a reasonable life for her mother(Sulochana) and her younger sister and brother, Neela becomes an air-hostess and starts working for the Indian Airlines(those days, private airlines were not allowed to operate in India). She falls in love with Aakaash who is a pilot and her colleague and their love life is all set to reach its destination in the form of marriage because Aakash’s mother(Mumtaaz Begum) fixes the matrimonial alliance by meeting Neela’s parents when the trouble strikes for them.Aakash’s ex-landlady(Manorama) and her daughter(Shashikala) collude with Neela’s unscrupulous father who is already unhappy with the prospective marriage of his daughter(because her earning is the only source of income for the family and quite naturally, money for his comforts) and create misunderstanding in Neela’s heart for Aakaash. They do so because the daughter of his ex-landlady wants to marry Aakash. Now misunderstanding Aakash and forming a poor opinion about his character, Neela breaks up with him. Her misunderstanding is cleared by Aakash’s friend and colleague(Mehmood) but only when Aakash is sent on a dangerous military mission by the government. He gets injured while fighting with the enemies of the nation. However the lovers unite in the end and Neela’s father repents for whatever he has done.I have written the whole story here because there’s no substance in this story. The drama of the break up of Neela and Aakash appears during the final 20 minutes of the movie and prior to that the director has done nothing but filled the time duration through comedy, romance, songs and some family scenes. No attention has been paid to the stoutness of the script which has several weaknesses and plot-holes. I could not understand till the end as to whether the hero works for the Indian Airlines or for the Indian Air Force. When he is carrying the regular passenger flights, how his office asks him to move on a military mission, is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps the director has done it to cash on the patriotic sentiments flourishing in Indian hearts during the sixties because we had to fight three wars within a single decade in that period. However this attempt of his is quite childish. He had to separate the love-birds under any excuse and then had to reunite them after a little bit of drama, that’s all. Further, it is ridiculous that the hero is called the captain of the flight by the air-hostess whereas he is shown to fly the plane himself. I doubt that the pilot of the plane and the captain of the flight can be one and the same person. Well, who cares? At least not the filmmaker.
The comedy track of Mehmood, Maadhavi and others is quite long and though it entertains, it has added undue length to the narrative. And thus the wafer thin story has been stretched to make a more than two and a half hours long movie. The first half is more entertaining because it is studded with comedy and romance. It’s mainly the second half which irritates because of the imposed drama. The attempt to arouse the patriotic sentiments of the audience in the final sequence is also futile and unimposing.All the same, overall this movie is entertaining and can be given a watch because of the melodious songs composed by Madan Mohan with the help of the touching and beautiful lyrics of Raja Mehndi Ali Khan. Tere Paas Aake Mera Waqt Guzar Jaata Hai, Aakhiri Geet Mohabbat Ka Suna Loon To Chaloon, Aapko Pyar Chhupane Ki Buri Aadat Hai etc. are the songs which music lovers like me can listen to n number of times. Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Aasha Bhosle have given their voices to the various songs.
Cinematography, action and thrill, art direction, background score etc. are all up to the mark. Delhi of the sixties has appeared on the screen in a very beautiful form.
Dharmendra has always been a very natural performer and this dashing He-Man has not disappointed here also. He has risen above the weaknesses of the character and the script and delivered a performance which is touching in serious scenes and amusing in comic and romantic scenes. His pair with very beautiful Mala Sinha was lovable in every movie done together by them. Mala has also done well. Mehmood alongwith Maadhavi has done very good comedy and generated enough laughs for the audience. All others are routine. Both Manorama and Shashikala are over the top and too much theatrical which is clearly a weakness of direction.
At the cost of repetition, I assert that Neela Aakaash is true to its name only to the extent that the hero and the heroine have to fly in the plane according to the need of their employment in the movie. Else it has nothing to do with the blue sky. The movie is entertaining all the same and recommended to those as a decent one time watch who like old fashioned entertainment.
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