[To anyone who read this post in an earlier version, I have added another paragraph to make it a more complete review. Because I wanted to get the post out on January 30th, I really did send out a write-up with a rushed and choppy ending – which is actually pretty appropriate, considering the film, itself.]
Back in the library a couple of weeks ago, I finally found a playable copy of the film Ghar Ki Izzat (1948). It had been a few months since I tried the copy that didn’t work, but maybe this was a better time for me to watch the film anyway, considering that I had just recently viewed and reviewed Basant (and also fondly remembered a relatively recent viewing of Kismet). Unfortunately, of the three Mumtaz Shanti films I have mentioned, Ghar Ki Izzat is by far my least favorite, at least in the form I watched. It does contain nice messages championing the poor and advocating the right of people to choose their own spouses, etc. – the good subjects covered in quite a few films of this time. And not only does it star Mumtaz Shanti but also Dilip Kumar, who always added some quality to a film, even this early in his career. But the direction and editing of the film seem a little off. (The director, Ram Daryani, actually directed a couple of better films that I’ve seen, Bari Behen and Tarana.) It seems particularly rushed at the end, but that could be the result of a chopped up print, whether it was the fault of Shemaroo or whatever source Shemaroo used. The turns in the plot are also unexceptional and predictable, probably even for 1948. But, on the other hand, the film is not unpleasant, either, thanks to the cast (which also includes Gope, Manorama, and Jeevan) and thanks to its good song sequences…
One very noteworthy song in this movie is “Sari Duniya Ke Sartaaj.” I wanted to talk about this one today – and actually rushed to get the post out today – because it is such a perfect song to view on January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It is a song about Gandhi’s death, and it contains some moving historical footage from the time. Mumtaz Shanti also gives a lovely performance here (as one would expect her to do in any patriotic song). And the singing, headed by Shamshad Begum, is certainly a treat. (The music is composed by Pandit Gobindram – a lesser-known music director, but obviously worthwhile nonetheless.)
The song sequences in the film are all good, and there is another song that could be considered the best among the bunch. This one, “Meri Duniya Ke Garibon Jaago,” is a good patriotic wake-up call. And it has very uplifting music, but it is most noteworthy for the dance and the way that this dance is filmed. This is not the only film dance that I have seen in which the chorus dancers appeared as shadows (which is always interesting), but it might be the best. The choreography is highly intriguing – which is not a surprise, since the choreographer is K.S. Moray. This choreographer’s name came up during a long discussion about Cuckoo, and while we could not find any text that stated this definitely, the evidence strongly suggests that he was Cuckoo’s husband.
I think that as time goes on, I will probably remember those two songs – and the interesting facts surrounding them – much more than I will remember the rest of this film. (Although I might remember some of the other song sequences if someone plays a few notes of a song, etc.) I might remember the plot because it is so basic and familiar: Poor girl marries into rich family who didn’t know how poor she really was, and they consider her a dishonor to the house, and the mother-in-law is the most abusive, etc. (you know how it goes). I already have very little memory of the secondary characters played by Manorama and Gope, outside of their being kind of nice and funny (of course). And I don’t think I will try to refresh my memory by watching Ghar Ki Izzat again. On the other hand, I have already watched those song sequences a few times, and I probably will a few times more. The film does have its moments (in those sequences and a little beyond), as well as some historical value. For those reasons alone, I guess I would recommend it to anyone who can find a copy, as long as you don’t expect too much. Actually, I would also list Mumtaz Shanti as a good reason to watch it. She did a pretty good job with the material she was given here, and I am still a Mumtaz Shanti fan.