11 comments on “Najma (1943)

  1. Veena + Ashok Kumar + a Muslim social? (Okay, Yaqub not so much, but still). And Sitara. This sounds like a film totally up my street. Thanks so much for that review, Richard. I’d not heard much about Najma before you started referring to it on FB, so I’ve been looking forward with keen interest to your review of it. I must watch this. :-)

  2. Thanks Richard. You’ve made me sit up. As a great fan of muslim socials I’d exhausted the numbers available. Now I find (thanks to you) there are older versions (or at least this ‘one’).
    I’ll definitely watch it. :-)

    Your reviewing style is interesting too.

  3. After Afsana, I think I can watch anything that has Ashok Kumar in it. I had never heard of this movie. I think it spawned a few ‘copies’, but it is nice to see the original :)

  4. Hi Richard,
    Total non-sequitur but thought of you watching the song/dance Nenu Autovanni from the 1995 Tamil film Basha. Worker solidarity :-)
    Wish there were more B/W wonders on Netflix but some compensation in finding unlikely films. Non-sequitur again but current favorite Kamal Hassan who is a lovely dancer and has a wonderful number as a drunken heartsick dance genius/critic/teacher on the edge of everything but in this instance of a well.
    All Best,

  5. Madhu, Reeba (letting everyone’s Net names fall by the wayside now), and Ava, too… None of you knew about this film, and now you are inspired to watch it because of my review? Then this time around, at least, the hours that I put into a blog post have proven to be more than worthwhile! :)

    I first got curious about this film a few years ago when I saw the the song sequences involving Ashok Kumar and Sitara Devi. (In August 2010, I posted one those songs to this blog after I’d found it on the Dailymotion channel called “Squarecut Video Guy.” I think I know who that is…) So, I have been looking for a watchable version since. And thanks to Tom, of course, there is one now, with good English subtitles, too. (And Reeba, maybe the next time that happens with a film that I then write about, I’ll be thanking you also. ;) )

    Madhu, regarding your comment about those actors being in the Muslim social :) … Well, Veena was Muslim, but Ashok Kumar is another matter, of course.

    You know, I started thinking about a scene in the chapter from Saadat Hasan Manto’s Stars From Another Sky, where Ashok is driving a car and he decides to take a shortcut through a Muslim neighborhood during the time of partition, when the communal violence is at its peak, and Manto, who is sitting in the passenger seat, becomes terrified. But then a group of Muslims who recognize Ashok Kumar start shouting his name and calling him “bhai,” and come up to give him advice about a better way to travel. Manto was completely taken aback by this. But who knows, maybe these were people who had seen Ashok Kumar in Najma. :)

    Ava, yes… Out of the male acting superstars of 1940s and ’50s (the super heroes?), I think Ashok Kumar is my favorite.

  6. Ann, it’s good to hear from you. Yes, I guess these are non sequiturs, though… You’re talking about films made several decades later and you’ve gone to the other end of the country, too. :) But maybe there is a connection, since you must have picked up on some of my political sympathies once again, in this review.

    I don’t recognize the ’90s Tamil film that you named. (Maybe I knew it several years ago, when I was watching more ’90s Tamil films. By the way, a Facebook thread caused me to resurrect my old review of Thalapathi, and it started getting lots of hits again.)

    But, actually, I remember the Kamal Haasan dance on the well well. :) About five years ago, there was some discussion of that film over here, after I posted the kitchen dancing scene:


  7. Richard, I realise now that I should’ve worded my comment differently. Decoded, what my comment meant was: I love Veena. I love Ashok Kumar. I love Muslim socials. Yaqub I don’t like much, but I do like Sitara Devi. So the chances of me liking Najma are pretty high. :-)

    Though that wee bit of miscommunication did make me realise that Ashok Kumar acted in his fair share of Muslim socials – Pakeezah, Benazir, Mere Mehboob, Naqli Nawab etc (besides being the nawab in Dharmputra. And Veena, besides Pakeezah, was also there in Taj Mahal which could, at a stretch, be a sort of Muslim social…

  8. Sorry, Madhu. I guess I was confused regarding the reason for your question marks and plus sign, my mind wandered, and I wanted to tell that story anyway. So Ann is not the only one posting non sequiturs here!

    By the way, re. Pakeezah, would unhappy courtesan films really be considered Muslim socials? Or do they belong to a category all their own? Speaking of Ashok Kumar, then, what, exactly, is Kalpana (1960)? It’s an unhappy courtesan film that starts out in Kashmir and sometimes it’s so Muslim, but then sometimes it’s so Hindu, right?

  9. Hmm. That’s an interesting question, about whether or not Pakeezah is a Muslim social. I think it is, with the ‘unhappy courtesan’ motif being an angle (rather like Benazir, where again Meena Kumari played a dancer who was unhappy). I think the Muslim milieu, and all that defines it – the language, the tehzeeb, the costumes, etc – are what constitute a ‘Muslim social’. That’s just my opinion, of course.

    In the case of Kalpana, while the unhappy courtesan angle is there, it never did strike me as having ‘Muslim’ tones.

  10. And how come I missed this review the first time around? :) I’m glad you added the link in Madhu’s blog, Richard. This sounds very interesting indeed, since I love Muslim socials too. And no, I haven’t watched it either.

  11. Anu, I am glad that you finally did get to see this review and you like it also!

    I do hope that you get to watch this film soon. Or maybe you have already in the time since you wrote your comment, since I neglected to answer you for five days. :) In any event, I look forward to hearing your thoughts about it whenever you do.

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