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One of the sixties movies which tells about the corrupting influence of money and how it tends to attract the wrong kind of people around you. Om Prakash plays Gokuldas who after being declared the heir of Seth Nihalchand, metamorphoses into Seth Gokuldas, now flanked by a money hungry buffoon cum villain Pran and an eye-rolling Manorama. The changed Gokuldas estranges himself from his devoted kids, Manohar and Kishore. How he realizes his folly forms the crux of the story. The movie has some good music by Ravi and good performances by Pran, Om Prakash, Ramesh Deo , Seema Deo and Sanjay Khan. The glamor quotient is taken care of by a débutant Babita and a encumbered by a golden wig but essentially charming Helen. Incidentally the movie also marked the debut of Neetu SIngh albeit as a child actress.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When it comes to the classic Indian movies, something magnetizes me.
Their melodrama is usual stories in the eastern societies, such as
mine. Their formula to make it into movies is so close to the one we
used back in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s' movies. Some of their customs,
accessories, and most importantly social habits are the same of
ours at the very era as well.
So me, as an Egyptian, feeling related to the old and decent Indian melodramas is emphatic. Look for instance how the main places of those movies, of them and of ours, reoccur : the poor house, the palace and the cabaret. Sometimes there is a factory (compensated here by the store, the construction's area), or a court. There are always hot ethic speeches, unredeemable evil guys, and one happy end where the evil guys are dead or in jail (usually in jail, since the violence would come in the 1970s to stay !). And singing and dancing are there to lighten the load, sometimes to narrate the story, and rarely to be a decisive event in it.
Basically, the Indians and the Egyptians are similar. Else the warm atmosphere and nature, we both had a great civilization. The people have long history and books of wisdom stocked in their genes. It shows in the culture of our daily life and naturally movies. Let me review it through this movie from 1966.
The moral core is unmistakable. Real unmixed religiousness prevails, since it gets its owner supported by god's conducting and contentment, and provides the perception of the momentousness of incorporeal in the face of the triviality of materialistic. The evil comes in foreign shape; namely unaffiliated, ungodly and so greedy. Not only the different place / culture, but sure the long western colonization is what seriously affected establishing such a viewpoint. At one moment, the evil team holds a masquerade, where disguises of the west's historical symbols, like Napoleon, are mixed with disguises of animals (the reference can't be ignored!). However, it finds a good portion of objectivity through the character of the evil wife's son and daughter; especially the "all English" daughter who refuses the impure plots of her English mother and helps the wronged Indian sides. Btw, that character is forced eventually to be a nurse instead of a dancer, since the movie, laden with its values of demureness, despises dancing (despite how it uses it ALL THE TIME !). Then, "the song" does the miracle, the right is never restored unless after a big finish (read : satisfactory fight), and lots of grins for the bad guys, and smiles for the good guys who win the last shot, with the "end" board, the vivid cadre and the celebratory music.
How many Egyptian and Indian movies had all of the above? Plenty, mostly done around the middle of the 20th century. Maybe it was the way we used cinema as a new medium to retell our folk stories, moral lessons, in an entertaining form. Maybe it has a lot to do with the age of getting free from the colonialism's grip, assuring the national values and character. Maybe it was the age of decency internationally, where being ethical, good beats evil, richness isn't blessing as poorness; all were welcomed and not old-fashioned yet ! Whatever the reasons, the similarity is no coincidence at all.
Artistically, it's average with few problems. It's chromatically unwell at times. I don't think that the disharmony of the palace's colors was intended to embody the father's bad taste or something, it's rather the art director's bad taste ! I didn't like (Om Prakash)'s performance. The absolute naivety of the father isn't the reason, it's just in (Prakash)'s simple charisma and limited capacities. He looked more fit for a minor role. One scene he did brilliantly though; the fake sadness over his dead relative. (Pran) was overdone caricature, his wiper of an eyebrows weren't funny or "evil" either! Clear that they wanted a comedian evil, but they got an actor evil who was put in funny mood. Well, you can say that (Pran) was in tight clothes and character also. Overall comedy isn't taken care of. The pace is a slack at the second act. There are moments that could've been cut; like blaming the younger brother for not admitting his love. The matter of the necklace was awfully fabricated for pure tragic purposes; it's impossible that the older brother's wife borrows a necklace while they live in luxury. Then, their home after the palace was a wreck, why not returning to their first home? The tragedy's sake anew. (Helen)'s blond wig was so heavy, so exposed. The masquerade's attendances join the fight very late I must say. And the love talk, of the young lovers, was too sugary it's sticky !
On the contrary, acting was a good factor, (Ramesh Deo) did the best of it. While the music was enjoyable, the lyrics enjoyed me the most, being sentimental and sublime. The songs and the dances played a main role in the story; whether by boosting its meanings, or doing it. For a second you may laugh while wondering "how they dance and sing while the older brother is dying?!" but don't. It was another time, another way to do things. And it isn't utterly over, as time changes relatively though genes don't change wholly. Now it's redone yet with more sex, violence, and pathetically Americanized music !
(Dus Lakh), as its likes, makes me untroubled, sates my nostalgia to certain age, mirrors similarity between 2 peoples, and secures a morality lesson in a form of a movie. It's ingenuous time machine to travel to the ingenuousness of us.
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