Director: Raj Khosla
Translation - Black Water
Bollywood in Glorious Black and White.
This was the fourth film in a row including his debut that director Raj Khosla
combined with actor Dev Anand. There was to be one more after this. It was
a successful and beneficial collaboration for both. Anand had pushed Khosla
into directing and then gave him his name for his first few films - and C.I.D.
and this film were enormous hits giving Anand superstar status that he was
to hold on to for a number of years. Dev Anand was pretty cool back then
- not Shammi cool - but lean and handsome with his hair coifed back to give
him a modern look and a flirtatious grin always at the ready but able to
do that searing romantic gaze that could burn a woman's retina as well. His
later films Jewel Thief and Guide are considered two of the best films ever
out of Bollywood.
It is really Anand and his two female co-stars that make the film worth watching.
The plot is a bit creaky - at least now - and doesn't make that much sense
if you step back. But Anand is terrific as a man intent on freeing his father
and Madhubala could charm a cobra out of a tree and Nalini Jaywant who I
came across for the first time sizzles with sexual desire and promiscuity.
The music from the great S.D. Burman isn't bad either as Jaywant gets a few
excellent numbers and Madhubala gets two cute numbers.
The beginning leaves you askance - a mother (Mumtaz Begum) is horrified that
her son Karan (Anand) has found out that his father has been in prison for
murder for the past fifteen years while Karan had been told he was dead.
Anand is easily in his middle 30's so you have to wonder what he was doing
fifteen years ago not to notice that there was no funeral for dear dad. Anyway
- a small dent in a Bollywood film - but then he rushes to a train to take
him to Hyderabad where his father is in jail. I mean right away. He leaves
his house without any luggage or much money - a man on a mission. He meets
his father and is persuaded that he is innocent. The woman he supposedly
murdered was the most famous courtesan in the city.
He meets Asha (Madhubala) in one of those classic movie moments - he is trying
to get her attention with her back turned to him for a few minutes - finally
she turns - the Madhubala face with the clef chin and teasing eyes and he
is hooked as is the audience. He begins to dig up witnesses and one of the
major ones is Kishori (Nalini) who is now the top courtesan on the Top Ten
list. Mind you, a courtesan in this setting is not a prostitute per se -
men come to her abode that is beautifully decorated with servants and she
dances and sings for them - flirts - is good company and I suppose if a meeting
of the minds can be arranged she goes further. Anand needs to get evidence
she has that his father is innocent and turns on the charm and she falls
for it - meanwhile he is doing the same with Asha but means it with her.
A few twists that you should see coming a mile away but the film rests entirely
on the actors and the music. The scenes between Anand and Madhubala are very
playful and charming and you sort of wish the film had focused on that rather
than the free father angle.