Woke up to the sounds of songs from this movie that is more famous than the storyline or the acting for two things: the lead pair and the musical score.
The movie was made in the mid 50s. Navketan was a busy production house at the time. Dev Anand was at the height of his creativity and was churning out movies by the dozen. He was shooting Taxi Driver and House No 44 ( a.k.a. Ghar No 44) and released the two one after the other. Both were commercial successes thanks in no small measure to the sublime musical scores by Sachin Dev Burmanda, whose 46th Remembrance day was yesterday, 31st October.
Made by Dev Anand himself for Navketan, but directed by MK Burman, it had great music by S D Burmanda and fabulous, meaningful lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi. Hemantada’s baritone is enough to romanticise the suffering of poverty and take the edge away from the harsh reality of its suffering. Dev Anand, a resident of drainage pipes is shown dreaming of a better life, after he sees Kalpana Kartik sing the opening bars of a song through her kitchen window. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQxEu-LYbZE
The movie had the pretty corny theme of the hero – who leads a life of petty crimes in a gang- falling in love with a woman – who does not want him to tangle with unlawful activities and get on the wrong side of the law. The hero now wants to quit the life of crime, and the gang doesn’t want him to do so. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xz2X2dX-eY
Dev Anand works for a notorious gangster and his men. He then meets Kalpana Kartik and falls in love with her. Kalpana Kartik asks Dev Anand to leave the life of a gangster and settle down with her. He agrees, but after a few days of not having any food, Devsaab has second thoughts instead, thinking that he was probably better off being a gangster. The movie has several twists and turns. Kalpana Kartik’s father gets bumped off by the very man who gives her refuge (Very broadminded and generous of him, isn’t it?) The gangster Sundar is actually working for the Don K N Singh (God alone knows how many movies he has been that) seen in a bare bellied avatar, like an early version of Salman Khan. Why does the chief of goons (called somewhat intriguingly “Kaptaan” go around baring his corpulent torso is never explained, but repeated exposure to that should have ideally sufficed to turn Dev Anand away from a life of crime. But the denouement comes aptly towards the end.
Burmanda was pretty much the soul of Navketan movies and the partnership yielded so many lovely movies with memorable musical scores. After Burmanda’s demise, Dev saab turned to the son.
Dev Saab (on the rebound from Suraiya’s having to say NO to his suit) feel in love with – and married- Kalpana Kartik (born Mona Singh) his costar in a few movies, actually during the lunch break of Taxi Driver. House No 44 was thus the first movie completed and released after they had married. The hush hush marriage was so unlike Bollywood marriages and Dev Saab must’ve broken a few thousand hearts of nubile girls (of all ages) who were besotted by him.
Stay safe, folks, as I get ready for the 13th of my fortnightly programs on AIR FM Gold in a couple of hours. Stay away from the Chinese Virus and do take the jab (if you’ve not already done so)