An early morning remembrance…

I had posted a Pankaj Mullick song yesterday from a movie called Doctor where he was the male lead, the singer and the composer as well. It was perhaps natural I ran over some of his melodies in my head through the night. After returning from the Thursday morning darshan, I remembered this song.

Amazingly, AIR FM played the very same song as I settled down in my chair. A case of mind over matter or more likely, just happenstance. This amazing song, played to very prominent and dominant notes from the Organ transport you to a different frame of mind. I was reminded of going to a chapel in Shimla which has the largest pipe organ I’ve ever seen.

I would love to be present when they actually play that one. The low notes would really send an ecstatic shiver down the spine, I am sure. The mesmerizing effect would be heavenly.

The movie was made by Debaki Bose for New Theatres, the legendary production house from Calcutta which was in the 30s and early 40s one of the biggest banners in India. This movie Nartaki was one of the first movies made on the central theme of a dancer. Leela Desai, the actress had actually been born in Newark, New Jersey, while her parents were on a long (3 years!!) trip of the US. Her father was a highly educated Doctor who had multiple qualifications from Scotland, England, Belgium and even Australia. Dr Desai as he should have been referred to, was actually more popularly called Raosaheb Umedram Lalbhai Desai, and had several patented instruments used for orthopaedic surgery. His daughters Leela and Ramola grew to be famous actresses. Leela Desai actually was trained in music and dance at the famous Morrice College in Lucknow ( now called Bhatkhande Music Institute) and even acted with K L Saigal in President – again a New Theatres production.

This movie, Nartaki had Najam Ul Hussain,( the foolhardy actor who had tried to elope with Devika Rani and got thrown out of Bombay Talkies as a result), as the male lead, with Wasti in the pivotal role as a priest of a famous temple. Najam is the son of the priest who doesn’t allow the Rajnartaki, Leela Desai to enter the famous temple of the Kingdom. She vows revenge on the priest and seduces his son (Najam) who is promptly thrown out of the temple by his father. The lady surprisingly turns to spirituality and the repentant son returns to the temple. A kind of forerunner of the storyline of Amrapali which was made some 20 odd years later.

The movie had amazing music by Pankaj Mullick who also acted as Kaviraj in the Hindi version of what was a bilingual production. The soundtrack actually contributed to the great success of the movie, which despite being scoured by the critics of the time (including the acerbic Baburao Patel) was one of the top two grossers of the year. Predictably, Najam soon became something of a leper in Filmdom and died a forlorn death in Paapistan. To me he looks something like Mahipal, which doesn’t speak very highly of acting “skills”.

Stay blessed, folks, stay free of the Chinese threat. Have a wonderful weekend ahead and stay healthy.

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

2 replies on “An early morning remembrance…”

God knows how you get the details of a vintage movie like Nartaki.. which I just passingly heard🤔🤔🤔🤔🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🤔
Lovely share, Leela Desai looks so extremely beautiful and graceful 👌👌👌👌👌👌👌
In the given clip only glimpses were seen yet she impressed me👍👌story line of the movie is really catchy 👍
To talk of serendipity like thing which made you write about this song after hearing it just by chance.. is something like a god gift to your honest worship of music .. I think🙏🏾

Liked by 1 person

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