Sunday, 19 September 2010

Navrang (1959)

Going by the films I've seen so far from V. Shantaram i can say without doubt that his later films apart from say the music is very much an acquired taste, this is particularly true in the case of Navrang (Nine Colours). V.Shantaram set about making this eye candy of a film following an accident which almost made him go blind on the sets of his previous film 'Do Ankhen Barah Haath' (which i hope to review at a later date) upon regaining his sight he set upon making this technicolour feast for the eyes

The movie begins at the time of British rule in India when Indians started adopting British mannerisms, the film goes on flashback mode where an old man looks back at his life as a colourful youth where we are introduced to his life as Diwakar (Mahipal) a gifted poet who is deeply in love with his wife Jamuna


However, whenever he wishes for her to dress up she shuns his advances but an imaginary muse very much like his wife called Mohini help bring his fantasies to life













When the ruling Thakur of the time Bahadur singh is relieved that the British aren't invading his territory he holds a holi party where people can play with colours to their hearts' content Leelu Rangbaz is commissioned to write the holi song, Leelu knowing the depths of Diwakar's talents asks him to write the song


Diwakar writes the fantastic Holi song which goes down so well that he's made the royal poet, his new post in the King's courts court singer Manjiri (Vandana) takes a liking to him and tries seducing him but he lets her down gently and the two become good friends













The British invade India and during battle with them Thakur Karan Singh dies at the same time Diwakar gives birth to a son Munna. The British take over India and a new system is declared Divakar is asked to sing a congratulatory song instead he sings a song about the west (The British in this case) and the east (India) not being able to come together, he's threatened by Diwan Daulatrai (?) who keeps him on the pay roll despite his actions













but when Diwan Daulatrai asks him to write a song that would cause his name to be glorified in all of India, Diwakar refuses on the basis of Daulatrai's corrupt ways and quits his job as the royal poet













As he earns no money his family are forced to live on rations and his wife Jamuna out of frustrations and unable to put up with his artistic visions of Mohini who she doesn't realise is herself leaves him taking their kid Munna with her


With his wife gone Diwakar finds his creativity stifled, plus he has to perform will he be able to find inspiration without Jamuna


Like Jhanak which i reviewed a few days ago, this film works as a musical fairytale, the colours are sumptuous and everything from the costumes to the sets seemed well planned out, the song picturisations are excellent and creatively done, that said you need to have some appreciation for art to appreciate this film fully as its unlike other bollywood movies from this era, i wouldn't even describe this film as melodramatic as there's hardly anything dramatic about it but theatrical and eccentric oh yes

Lots of Visual Eye Candy from the Pastel palace interiors



To some lovely backdrops and jaw dropping sets similar to what you'd see in a bugsby Berkeley musical
















To Sandhya's amazing range of make up and costumes as the muse





















































Everyone just seemed to be in sync with one another, the set decorator, costumier and dance directors, if you love and appreciate classical filmi dance here's a film for you


Also added to our enjoyment are two lovely animals which were included in the credits as Moti the smart Pony


and Ramchandra the wonder Elephant who even manages to shake a leg with Sandhya


the songs by C.Ramachandra are absolute classics and this film is notable for giving Mahendra Kapoor his break in the film industry as well as for Asha Bhosle singing all the female vocals which was quite unheard of at a time when Lata Mangeshkar was the dominant female playback singer. Highlights are the beautiful ballad 'tu meri mai teri', the beautiful 'ae dil se milale' & 'tu chupi hai kahan' a wonderful holi song 'Are ja re hat' which i've included with English subtitles my favourites and ones i've chosen to embed are

the fabulous 'Tum saiyan kulake phool' (o darling did you call me a flower) to which Moti the smart Pony nods accordingly like he can hear what she's actually saying (or maybe he can)


'Shyamal shayamal baran' which is the only filmi song that I've heard so far which celebrates Dark complexion all the songs i hear about complexions tend to be Gori this Gori that, also lovely is how Sandhya incorporates dancing into her housework


a gorgeous Asha bhosle & Mahendra Kappor duet 'Adha hai chandrama raat adhi' where Sandhya manages to balance about 7 pots on her head while still doing some serious classical dances, it just has to be seen to be believed



Now head over to My Music Movies and Muttering's blog who has uploaded all the songs on download for free and also to find out why Lata didn't sing any songs on this album



Total Score:7/10
Buy the dvd here

12 comments:

Nasir said...

Thanks for the review BD which gives me an inkling as to what was the movie about. Here again it seems to be a tale of a muse. It is evident that Sandhya was the real life muse for Shantaram who featured her in one movie after another, perhaps beginning from Parchhaiyan (1951), where interestingly Jayshree (his wife) also was cast. It is said that Navrang is also the product of the "unseen colours" that Shantaram saw during his temporary blindness on the sets of Do Ankhen Baarah Haath.

I remember that Navrang was premiered at Liberty Cinema in Bombay. Regarding Mahendra Kapoor, his debut was in Sohni Mahiwal (1958)with the song: CHAAND CHHPUPAA AUR TARE DOOBE. It was Naushad who gave him him a break. So did the other panelists. Thus Navrang came later.

Nasir said...

By the way, the Asha Bhonsle song is: TUM SAIYAAN GULAAB KE PHOOL...(Beloved you're a Rose flower). LOL....

Incidentally, the lyrics are highly Sanskritized one, as in SHAAMAL SHAAMAL BARAN...

Sharmi Ghosh Dastidar said...

I don't quite like the looks of Mahipal. And i think the sets, makeup and everything here has the heavy southern OTT touch. But Sandhya looks very promising. I think I'm game for the colours even though the story might not be that attractive :)

harvey said...

This is one of the few film of shantaram I like with Sandhya. It gives a look into different psychic layers of the hero (poet/artist) and his realisation that it is all in him. Sort of a (too) colourful, cheerful Pyaasa.

avdi said...

I loved this movie. It is unusual to see a man trying to win over his wife, and fantasizing about her. It was sweet to see how she cares for him, but does not understand him or his special needs. He wants her to be his companion in art and life, but she is too much of a 'hausfrau' to understand that.

I did not like Mahipal, but this movie made me love him.

What can I say about the songs! They are lovely. Tu chuppi hai kahan is one of my top top favorites. It gives me goosebumps.

dustedoff said...

Ouch. I got mixed up with this when I made that comment about Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi being in Jhanak jhanak paayal baaje. My bad. Harvey, Ava, bollyviewer: thank you for recommending this. I don't care for Mahipal either, but this sounds like something I'd want to see!

"THE BARD WHO DOESNT HAVE TO TRY TOO HARD" said...

must watch if it ever comes..gud job wit d review..n "adha hai chandrama" has been 1 of my fav songs :)

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Nasir You're welcome, thanks for correcting that Asha song the subttles had it has 'oh darling you call me a flower'

@ Sharmi yes the props did look a bit Ott southern style as you note, give it a try

@ Harvey great insight there, still haven't seen Pyaasa

@ Avdi Wonderful insight there, i didn't think of it that way but it totally makes sense

@ Dustedoff You're welcome dusted off, its a movie worth watching

@ The bard Thanks, 'adha hai' seems to be popular with everyone

Richard S. said...

Thanks for the good review (with much more detail than when I reviewed it, and so many nice screen caps!)... I enjoyed this movie and appreciate the concept quite a bit - it is different. Some critics, etc., panned it, but I don't know why... Still, bad reviews or not, it is regarded as a landmark. When Sandhya appeared at that awards function in 2009 (which I mentioned in my last comment), it was because they were observing the 50th anniversary of Navrang:

http://www.dhingana.com/news/the-v-shantaram-awards-brings-in-the-old-and-the-n/20748

Re. Nasir's comments... I loved Parchhaiyan, which was made in 1952(I especially loved it for the music!), and I also thought when I saw it that this must be Sandhya's first Shantaram film. Well, maybe it was her first in Hindi, but I just recently found clips from the Marathi film Amar Bhupali, which starred Sandhya in 1951.

But I didn't know anything about this other stuff Nasir said... So Shantaram went blind temporarily during Do Ankhen Barah Haath and saw the colors that would appear in Navrang?! Very interesting...

bollywooddeewana said...

You're welcome Richard, i found the write up of this a little complicated as i didn't know if i could express my feelings about it clearly, so its nice and reassuring you thought my review of it was good. And as for the critics who panned it, i think you need to have a certain kind of artistic sensibility to appreciate it which i guess they didn't share

Upendra said...

I think Deewan Daulatri is played by Baburao Pendharkar. I'm almost sure Baburao plays the Prison Superintendent in Do Aankhen Barah Haath.

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Upendra Thanks for stopping by and commenting, yes you're definitely right, Baburao played the prison superintendent in Do Aankhen Barah haath