Bowing before the urge of my younger sister and esteemed reviewer and blogger – S.B. Patra (chalojai bahudure), I am presenting my review of Neel Kamal (1968) which is based on the novel of the same title, written by Gulshan Nanda. Since I saw the movie first and read the novel later, I quite easily caught the deficiencies of direction of the movie because the story is very good and the author has penned the novel in such a manner that it is engrossing from the first page to the last page. That’s why the movie seemed a bit disappointing to me. All the same, it’s to be admitted that it’s counted among the golden oldies of Bollywood especially on account of the immortal song – Baabul Ki Duaaen Leti Ja, Ja Tujhko Sukhi Sansaar Mile. The story revolves around the collegiate girl, Sita (Waheeda Rehman) who is not only a sleepwalker but also behaves strangely at times. Her troubles multifold when she is expelled from the college and the hostel because of her personality problem. Even after getting married to a suitable boy, Ram (Manoj Kumar) who had saved her life, her problem remains as it is, resulting into spoilage of her married life and her relationships in the in-laws’ house. Finally the reason comes out in the form of a re-incarnation story as she was princess Neel Kamal in her previous birth and the soul of her lover Chitrasen (Raaj Kumar) who was a painter and was killed by the king because of his love for her, has been haunting her.The novel has treated the plot quite nicely and has a tragic end with the mystery behind the sleepwalk and the strange behaviour of the leading lady maintained till the ending pages. The character of her lover in the previous birth is only mentioned to reveal the suspense. The character does not come vividly before the readers. However, in the movie, the story starts with him only, giving quite a long footage to him and his love for the princess Neel Kamal. This defective sequence chosen to present the events has marred the beauty of the screenplay. Further, the poor direction, besides the wrongly placed (excellent) songs, makes the movie sucking for the viewers. The only thing that makes the audience to sit through the movie is the quality of the songs and good performance by Waheeda Rehman. Since there is no mystery for the audience as to why the leading lady sleepwalks and behaves strangely, the curiosity factor is missing. According to the taste of the Indian audience, the movie has been given a happy ending but before that the over the top scenes in the house of the heroine’s in-laws take a heavy toll on the viewers.
Had the director stuck to the style of the novel in the screenplay of the movie, he might have succeeded in making a good movie in suspense thriller style but in his bid to make it a social drama, he has badly faltered in his job and made a movie which is definitely boring in parts. It’s a good example as to how an excellent plot, full of potential is wasted by an inefficient director.The songs of the movie are excellent. In fact, it is the music of this movie which is its biggest plus point and the ultimate face saving grace. Ravi has composed melodious tunes for the outstanding lyrics of Saahir. It contains the immortal classic song in Rafi’s voice – Baabul Ki Duaaen Leti Ja which you always listen to when a newly wed girl is seen off by her parents and other relatives. One more classic song of Mohd. Rafi – Tujhko Pukare Mera Pyaar is also there in the movie. One Ghazal sung by Asha Bhosle – Woh Zindagi Jo Thi Ab Tak Teri Panaahon Mein and one Bhajan (devotional song) also sung by Asha only – Hey Rom Rom Mein Basne Wale Raam are also quite good. Two comedy songs – Aao Ni Sakhiyon, Aao Ni Adiyon and Khaali Dabba Khaali Bottle Le Le Mere Yaar are also good to listen as well as to see. But again, the placement of all these excellent songs is defective and most of them seem to block the flow of the narrative, making the watch somewhat irksome for the viewer.
The story is very good and an experienced director would have made an interesting, suspenseful reincarnation movie upon it. But Ram Maheshwari (the director) could not do the job as nicely as the author of the novel, Gulshan Nanda has done.However, the movie is not to be brushed aside completely. It has its relief moments. Listening to (and watching) the songs is definitely pleasant. Performances are quite all right. Waheeda Rehman has delivered a praiseworthy performance in this female-centred movie and she had won the Filmfare award for the best actress too for her performance in this movie. Rest others including the two heroes, Raaj Kumar and Manoj Kumar, have done well. Balraaj Saahni as the heroine’s father has delivered a touching performance especially in the song – Babul Ki Duaaen Leti Ja. Technically also, the movie lives upto the standards.
Neel Kamal is for the audience of the movies of the social drama genre. I recommend it for those who like social dramas with melodious music. Since Gulshan Nanda has had a very large readership in his time, Neel Kamal will also be liked by those who have read his novel which the plot of this movie has been taken from.
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