Mehboob Khan died on May 28, 1964, exactly half a century ago. I have seen seven of his films in full over the past five or six years, and I have watched dozens of clips from others that I hope to see soon. I have also written three full reviews of his movies during that time and have praised a couple of others very extensively. (Plus, I have posted many videos of the songs from his films – though that has been just as much in tribute to the great music directors and singers included in his soundtracks.)
Usually, when I have not written a full review, myself, I have been able find excellent reviews to recommend from my blogging friends. And I have been able to watch a few of my favorite Mehboob films for free, in very clean-looking English-subtitled versions, thanks to Tom Daniel (of course).
In honor of Mehboob Khan on his death anniversary, I thought of writing another full film review, but that is not going to happen today (which, unfortunately, is not the first time I’ve said such a thing). So, instead, I would like to offer a few words here and there about the films I saw, as well as quite few links – to all of the things that I mentioned above, and then some…
I have also decided (at the last minute) to post this tribute in two installments. So, here is Part 1:
Aan – There are a couple of reasons to list this one first. Alphabetization could be the best excuse. But, also, it was obviously his least good film. On the other hand, it was so much fun to watch anyway! There is a hilariously articulate review of this film written by Philip Lutgendorf. And our friend Madhulika aka Dustedoff also wrote a good, funny, and thorough write-up, enhanced by interestingly related anecdotes from her personal life.
I have not done any full write-ups of this film, myself, but I have made quite a few references to my favorite song and picturization from this movie, “Aaj Mere Man Mein” (e.g., in my very last post).
I do not know of any good, free, English-subtitled versions of this film that could be found right now, but it’s pretty easy to buy, and I watched it a few years ago on DVD.
Anmol Ghadi – Of course, this film is musical heaven, and I absolutely love it! I reviewed Anmol Ghadi just about five years and one week ago. I praised it back then for many reasons, and if my attitudes about the film have changed at all, it is because I have gotten to love it more. I think that I really do enjoy it as a film separate from the music, but it is impossible to think of this film separate from that music. So I guess the real prize for this one goes to Naushad, Surendra, Suraiya and Noor Jehan. But Mehboob Khan does deserve a lot of credit for putting it together as well as he did. And I do like the plot, the messages, and the (sometimes rather bleak) philosophy. (For a review that goes into that bleakness a little more, I suggest another amusing writeup by Philip Lutgendorf.)
By the way, I wrote this film up back in the middle of May 2009 as part of a joint blogging agreement with Doc Bollywood. His review is a bit more historical and probably more controlled than mine (an interestingly different kind of take).
I have Doc Bollywood aka Sanket Vyas to thank for enabling me to watch the film in the first place, since he sent me a copy on DVD. I could not find copies of the film around at that time, but in the years since, I have seen two different DVD versions become highly available in the Bollywood stores in Jackson Heights, New York.
Anokhi Ada – I keep telling myself that this is next film that I will review. But since I have not done that yet (and neither has anyone else, as far as I know), I’ll be glad to give a very brief plot summary here…
I think I mentioned somewhere (here or on Facebook) that I was very amused by the fact that the basic plot was almost exactly identical to the one in a later film (which I had seen earlier), Amar Deep. And I guess I should write a “SPOILER ALERT” here, because I can’t resist relating most of that similarity:
In Amar Deep, the hero (Dev Anand) gets hit on the head and loses his memory, which causes him to drift away from his lover (Vyjayanthimala) and into the arms of another lover (Padmini). Then, later, something happens that causes him to get hit on the head again, and guess what happens next!
In Anokhi Ada, the heroine (Naseem Banu) gets hit on the head and loses her memory, which causes her to drift away from her lover (Prem Adib) and into the arms of another lover (Surendra). Then, later, she gets hit on the head again, and…
But I’ll stop the comparisons there, since they otherwise are pretty different films, from somewhat different eras (late ’40s vs. late ’50s) and with different regional influences. (Amar Deep was a remake of a Tamil film and was directed by T. Prakash Rao.)
Anokhi Ada has some of the best qualities that ’40s films had to offer, especially in terms of the music. Once again, a lot of credit goes to Naushad, for bringing out the best in Shamshad Begum, Surendra, Uma Devi, and Mukesh. But the film also has very interesting characters, some visually wonderful scenes, and a great and funny performance by Naseem Banu. (She is a bit more mature and earthy than in her most famous “face of an angel” days, but I think she might be more interesting here, too. In this film, she also must have the widest eyes of anyone in the world – which she deliberately emphasizes throughout. I think she actually outdoes Padmini in that game.)
And by the way, I had the chance to watch Anokhi Ada with English subtitles over at Tom’s channel.
[To be continued in Part 2!]