In my review of Mohabbatein (2000), I had criticized that movie for maligning the image of an educational institution and a teacher also because I consider teaching an extremely noble profession whose dignity is beyond any measure. Today I am reviewing a black and white Hindi movie in which a teacher changes the life of a dancer who is in the tainted profession of a Tawaif (courtesan).Nartakee (dancer) was released in 1963. The title role belongs to Nanda who wants to read and become literate but is forced by her mother to live the life of a courtesan, dancing for the entertainment of the people and spend a life sans any dignity or social honour. Sunil Dutt arrives in her city as a teacher in an educational institution whose owner and chief trustee is a high-handed man, Om Prakash. Om Prakash’s daughter, Preeti Bala who is also a student there, falls for Sunil Dutt. High-handed and arrogant Om Prakash soon gets annoyed with the straight-forward, honest and sincere Sunil Dutt who does not flatter him just to secure his job. One day Nanda, fascinated by the charm of education, enters the institution and comes across Sunil Dutt. Sunil Dutt saves her from the blushes being thrust upon her by that gate-crashing entry and being impressed by her desire to study, decides to teach her privately. When it is known to Om Prakash and Sunil Dutt’s detractors that he teaches a courtesan, the stage is set for his termination from service. On the other hand, Nanda’s mother is also after her and strictly against her education as well as her interactions with Sunil Dutt. Seeing all the circumstances, Sunil Dutt proposes Nanda for marrying her and giving her a dignified life. This is even more difficult for him (as well as Nanda). However with his courage and conviction, Sunil Dutt is not only able to tie the sacred knot with Nanda but also able to save his job and honour.Nartakee is a very good and interesting watch which, unlike Mohabbatein, underscores the importance of education and the noble profession of teaching. It establishes that an ideal teacher is always able to earn the respect of not only his students but also the society in general. The screenplay has been written with suitable patches of comedy (by Agha) and touching sequences. The scene of the birthday party of Preeti Bala and the scene of the first encounter of Sunil Dutt and Nanda are very impressive. Despite predictability, the flow of the story is able to keep the audience tied with it.Sunil Dutt has been given the get-up and the attires of a traditional Indian male in which he looks quite handsome. Nanda shares excellent on-screen chemistry with him. Both these actors have performed quite naturally. Preeti Bala as Om Prakash’s daughter who falls in love with her teacher, Sunil Dutt; is also impressive. Bollywood’s seasoned comedian during the fifties and the sixties, Agha has generated enough laughters for the audience. Om Prakash is over the top whereas Chandrima Bhaduri as Nanda’s evil mother leaves her mark.I personally like this movie because one of its songs – Zindagi Ke Safar Mein Akele The Hum, Mil Gaye Tum To Dil Ko Sahaara Mila – is very close to my heart. It has been sung by Rafi. Aaj Duniya Badi Suhaani Hai (Asha) is also quite good. Comedy song – Poochho Koi Sawaal Bachchon Poochho Koi Sawaal (Rafi) which has been picturized on Agha and child artists is able to make the listeners (and the viewers) laugh. The lyrics have been penned by Shakeel Badayuni and composed by Ravi.
The photography and technical aspects of the movie are up-to the mark. The picturization of Zindagi Ke Safar Mein in a boat is quite beautiful to watch in which the emotions of the song seem to be intermingling with the waves of the river and the gusts of the wind.All in all, writer Dhruva Chatterjee and director Nitin Bose have made a touching as well as entertaining movie. I have seen the full movie twice on TV (first time on Doordarshan and second time on Zee TV). But when I bought its VCD, I found to my despair that 20-25% part of the movie had been cut in that. However this movie must still be telecast from time to time on some classic movie channel in its full version. I recommend this beautiful black and white movie to the viewers who like neat and clean musical entertainers with some exemplary message embedded in them.
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