Anmol Ghadi returns to cinema after 1965 war
By Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: A 1946 film made by the legendary director Mehboob Khan, starring Noor Jehan and Surendra, has finally staged a comeback after remaining banned in Pakistani cinemas for over four decades.
Anmol Ghadi (a priceless timepiece), which was produced and directed by Mehboob Khan (who made some of the all-time great Indian movies like Mother India and Aan) under the banner of Mehboob Production, was not allowed to be shown in cinemas after the 1965 war, despite the fact that its distributors claimed that its subsidiary, Mehboob Pictures, was formed in Karachi in 1944. Now that the film has been allowed to be screened in Pakistan, it can be seen in Karachi’s Bambino cinema.
“We’re happy that we can finally screen Anmol Ghadi,” said Sarwar Khan, who is nephew of Mehboob Khan and distributor of the film.
It’s a rare experience to see, in black and white, Surendra uttering well-scripted lines in a romantic manner addressed to none other than Noor Jehan, barely 20 years old, and looking fresh as a daisy.
The film pivots around the character of Chandra (Surendra), who is a penury-stricken boy and is too young to understand life’s vagaries. His love interest Lata (Noor Jehan) comes from a wealthy family. It leaves Chandra sad when Lata’s family leaves his town for Bombay, the only thing that remains with him as her remembrance is a timepiece (Anmol Ghadi). The wheels of time are set in motion and Chandra, who is now fond of poetry and reads verses of a certain Renuka Devi with great interest, grows up to get a job in a shop in Bombay where musical instruments are repaired. Here he meets a perky girl Basanti, played by the inimitable Surraya, who falls for him, but he can’t reciprocate the feeling. Later on when he meets Renuka Devi, he discovers it’s his childhood beloved Lata. However, she’s about to get engaged to Prakash (Zahur Raja), who had given Chandra a job in his shop and is a caring friend. This gives him the shock of his life and Chandra decides to leave the city.
The story of the film is written by Anwar Batalvi and screenplay is penned by Agha Jani Kashmiri. The great Naushad composed the music of the film, though credits also mention the name of Master Ghulam Mohammad. Three out of a dozen songs – Awaz de kahan hai, Jawan hai muhabbat haseen hai zamana, and Socha tha kia kiya ho gaya – are a delight to watch and listen to.
The print of the film is in decent condition and it is quite a sight looking at extreme close-ups of the protagonists, a technique that the directors of yesteryear used quite a lot to get their actors to emote. The melodramatic style of acting may prove to be a tad overboard for contemporary cine-goers, however, once they get the hang of it considering the film was made nearly 65 years back, they’ll enjoy it. Noor Jehan looks absolutely stunning, though her acting skills might not impress many. Surraya in Basanti’s role shines like a star.