If I had to pick up divine songs which are torture to watch despite the song being unforgettable, I would be spoilt for choice. Bollywood has many ignoble situations where the actor(s), director, dress, locale or picturization make it impossible to watch the song on-screen and one is best served by shutting one’s eyes to the pain than unfolds in front of one’s eyes.
Take this song as a very strong case in point: the movie is Aakhri Dao, made in the late 50s. The movie has a terrific rip roaring plot, a comedy about the effervescence of youth.
Two young men work in a garage; one very estimable, played by Shekhar, and the other played by Johnny Walker (naam hi kaafi hai) . They are as happy as any two young fellows can be without anything to speak of: no money, no responsibilities, no love, no commitments as well. The trouble begins when Johnny Walker tries to make some quick money by selling Shekhar as a husband to a rich man’s daughter. And the actual trouble began with the casting choice.
Shekhar borrows a car and careens happily towards his prospective bride, keeping an eye open on the way for interesting bits of femininity. He catches something by a lamp-post, slams on the brakes and shoots head over heels into love. The lady in question (Nutan), impressed with his car, and seeming air of prosperity, tries to borrow a large sum of money. Shekhar magnanimously agrees to give it to her, and then of course picks a pocket to get it. He goes to jail, of course, but what do a few months matter at that age , and as they say, all is fair in love and war.
Look at this song, Shekhar, the hero is wooden and immobile, clearly overcome by catatonia and his hands move within very narrow confines (only one shows some movement, the other is rigidly stuck- as if by Magic Glue). His face shows an acute expression of discomfort as if he wants to visit the washroom and there isn’t one in sight. Nutan clearly appears pained to death to have to put up with the torture of having to witness the guy trying to pour out his feelings in full public view, in sight of all her naughty friends (all clearly grinning in unconcealed glee, with the irrepressible Shammi‘s body language telling a story that escapes the very opaque Shekhar who sticks to holding the edge of his jacket with one hand and surprised that he has one more left over, caresses his chest – I wondered if he is trying to indicate to the audience about an impending Coronary Catastrophe) .
Divine singing by the amazing and soulful Rafisaab, Sublime music by Madan Mohan (he was blighted by such sordid actors and films throughout his career and the on-screen depiction of his amazing compositions undoubtedly drove him to the bottle and an early death) and lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri are all laid low by the hypnotic (in the classical , literal meaning- hypnotic drugs are those that put you sleep) performance by Shekhar. Nutan, poor lady with the torture that she had to endure from such movies came up and delivered a set of completely different powerhouse performances in Anari and Sujata the very next year. Can’t blame the lady, all that nervous energy and explosive raw talent can’t be kept repressed for much too long: Between 1957 and 68 she won 4 Best Actress Filmfare Awards: Seema, Sujata, Bandini, Milan and was even nominated for Chhalia. She has the unique distinction of winning the Best actress Filmfare while being nominated for the best supporting actress for her two roles in the same film, Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki.
Have a great week ahead, folks, stay happy, stay safe, beat the Wuhan Virus