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This was a mainly studio bound vehicle for its two stars, the ever
lovely and dignified Meena Kumari and ever dashing and confident Dilip
Kumar, only occasionally venturing outside with real backgrounds. Not
that it bothers me though - entertainment doesn't require realism,
witness all the blockbuster live action/cgi cartoons that Hollywood is
pumping out nowadays.
He has his convoluted reasons but Dilip Kumar plays a number of characters in disguise, from a humble neighbour of Meena's, to the rather admired thief Azaad with a fantastic hideaway. He, along with the real baddie of the story, falls in love with Meena and the battle is on first to win her, out the baddie and establish his respectable credentials to the world. The comic melodramatic plot is a bit tortuous at times the IMDb plot summary gives you a good idea, but the songs are the thing after all. And there are some all time olde time Indian musical classics by Ramchandra here, especially Naa Bhole and Jaare Jaare Oh both sung by Lata and gracefully danced to by Meena striking many iconic poses in the process, the earnest Kitna Haseen out in the mountains, and even a memorable and exuberant qawali is squeezed in. But for me the pinnacle is Aplam Chaplam, a wondrous tune so precisely sung by both Lata and Usha to some beautiful precise dancing. The only thing I didn't like about the film was that there were far too many slapstick interludes in the police station, although I bet they went down well with the original audiences.
The print used on the Eros DVD I've just watched seems to have more cuts and slashes than the version I taped off UK Channel 4 in the '80's, but it's not too distracting. I've no idea why this is apparently so neglected - it's a nice little film: for the ladies Dilip Kumar was at his most romantic "The heart that is on fire cares not for time" etc, but from my point of view of course with Meena to look at and especially Lata to listen to it's well worth watching too!
Dilip Kumar is known as the Tragedy King and Meena Kumari is known as
the Tragedy Queen of Hindi cinema. It's because of the intense roles
played by them on the screen with excellence. Who can forget Dilip
Kumar in Devdas or Meena Kumari in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam ? However
despite this labelling on them, these two stalwarts of Hindi cinema
were equally proficient in comedy too. Today I reviewing a classic
black and white movie with these two legends in lead roles which is a
hilarious comedy. It's Aazaad (1955).
Aazaad is the remake of a superhit Tamil movie - Mallikallan starring M.G. Ramachandran. It tells the story of a youth, Kumar (Dilip Kumar) who has to don the persona of a bandit, Aazaad in order to take on the real baddies directed by Sunder (Pran) who is known as a wealthy and respectable person. Kumar aka Aazaad has one more persona and that's of an aged Muslim - Abdul Rahim Khan. The story takes off when the heroine of the movie, Shobha (Meena Kumar) is abducted by the men of a bandit, Chander (S. Nazir) but before she could be taken to Chander, Aazaad intervenes and rescues her from them, taking her to his place. He promises her to take her to her guardians (she is an orphan) when the time is right for that. Quite naturally, romance blossoms between the lead pair. After many twists in the story, Aazaad not only reveals his true identity to the police (who is after him and other known bandits since the very outset) but exposes the reality of the villain also before the law-enforcing agencies and the society at large. The lovers unite (and live happily thereafter).
Aazaad is not a great movie but it provides wholesome entertainment which may sound old-fashioned to some but still this logic-defying movie is a decent romantic comedy. Modern directors like David Dhawan seem to have learnt to make pure entertainers sans any logic from such movies only. The movie starts interestingly and despite dragging of the narrative, entertains the viewer through comedy, romance and songs and dances. The romantic track of the lead pair is heart-soothing and the comedy of Om Prakash makes the spectator laugh time and again.
It appears to be a low budget movie with the beautiful locations in the scenes mostly being created in the studio instead of real outdoor locations. Art direction is all right alongwith the costumes of the characters suiting the time frame (fifties). The movie is unduly long which, I feel, is due to the trend of long movies in that era. Director Sriramulu Naidu has done his job well but he could have done better.
Dilip Kumar had won the Filmfare Award for the best actor for this role. He is at his romantic best with an admirable comic timing. The great tragedy king has shown in movies like Aazaad that he could do comedy with no less proficiency than he could do tragedy-stricken and profound roles. Ditto for the tragedy queen, Meena Kumari who with her raw and immensely beautiful looks, has romanced hilariously with the hero and played her part very well in tickling the spectators. Her dance numbers in this movie are considered as classics. Pran is utterly hateable. Shammi, Raj Mehra, S. Nazir, Jaanakidas etc. have played their parts satisfactorily. The actor who has generated non-stop laughters for the audience is Om Prakash who has played the role of a policeman.
The biggest strength of this black and white movie is its music. C. Ramachandra has composed music of a lifetime for this movie with gems in Lata's voice. Her unforgettable songs viz. Aplam Chaplam Chaplaai Re (sung with her sister, Usha), Baliye O Baliye Chal Chaliye (again with Usha), Kitna Haseen Hain Mausam Kitna Haseen Safar Hai (with Chitalkar who was C. Ramachandra himself), Dekho Ji Bahaar Aai, Ja Ri Ja Ri O Kaari Badariya, Radha Na Bole Na Bole Na Bole Re, Kitni Jawaan Hai Raat, Kabhi Khamosh Rehte Hain etc. are a perennial source of pleasure for the music lovers. There's a awesome Qawwaali also in the movie, sung by Raghunath Jadhav and others - Marna Bhi Mohabbat Mein Kisi Kaam Na Aaya. Most of Lata's songs are based on Indian classical Raagas. All the dance numbers have been choreographed in the most impressive manner. It's the music which adds immense value to the movie and covers the shortcomings of the script.
Aazaad has a repeat value due to its comedy, romance and above all, music. Not only the fans of Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari but movie buffs in general too, will find this black and white movie as thoroughly enjoyable which was a huge box office hit of its time. I unconditionally recommend it to all with my rating of 3.5 stars.
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