It is a fabulous film, and in my view it is the original underdog-wins-the-sports-event type of film. Lagaan, Chak De India and others of their kind were all mere variants, no matter how well made or successful they were. I saw the film during one of DD’s Sunday screenings and really liked it. The crux of the film is about a village where the motorbus threatens to do away with the horse carriages (tanga/tonga). Dilip Kumar, who is one of the latter group and he challenges the bus operator to a race between the two vehicles. The loser has to leave the village. Everyone of course says that the jutka stands no chance. But then, surprise… surprise, of course after a nail-biting climax.
Illustrated Weekly listed it among its top ten and then made fun of it saying that the motto of the film was that you had better leave your car at the theatre and look for the jutka to take you home. I would agree. I mean, it is hardly likely that the horse carriages kept out the buses forever. Anyway,Shankar (Dilip Kumar) struck me an enterprising character and I am sure he must have become successful in something else. Vyjayanthimala was her usual self-conscious, star self and right through this film you get the usual Vyjayanthi vibes – look here I am, Vyjayanthimala, playing the role of Rajni. The half-saree she wears in the film only makes her stand out, as a South Indian in a Hindi movie.
The songs were out of this world (lyrics Sahir Ludhianvi, music OP Nayyar)- sung chiefly by Rafi(Oh what a voice) and Asha Bhonsle (Oh what a singer). Samshad Begum leaves her indelible impress in one dance number (Reshmi Salwar Kurta). My all-time favourite is Aana hai to aa raah mein, a solo by Rafi. With the external shots at the Marthanda Bhairav/Khandoba temple at Jejuri, it is set at a very important moment in the film. The four principal actors, Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Ajit and Chand Usmani are all present. I love the tense drama of the song, the two friends waiting to see which flower their object of adoration will offer, the dramatic entry of Chand Usmani from under an arch, her rapid climb up the hill, her arrival (without a trace of breathlessness as we can see) and the final switch…Rafi is at his best. My favourite in this scene is a ham who plays the first extra – a bearded and turbaned guy behind Dilip Kumar. See the way he tries to be in every shot and also overacts to catch everyone’s attention.
There are plenty of other great songs as well – Maang ke saath tumhara, Saathi haath badhana, Ude jab jab zulfein Teri.. being just a few.
The back story to the movie has a tinge of sadness,for this marked the end of the romance between Madhubala and Dilip Kumar and the beginning of the former’s tragic decline and death. More details are in this excellent Wikipedia entry on the film. The same entry also had another detail that was unknown to me – apparently Naya Daur was dubbed in Tamil and released as Pattaliyin Sabatham. There are therefore identical Tamil equivalents to every one of the Hindi songs. The lyrics were by Kannadasan. God knows how he made them fit. They were sung by P Suseela, TM Soundararajan, Sirkazhi Govindarajan and TV Rathnam (for Samshad). Sadly for me, not one of the Tamil songs lingers in memory.
The Wiki entry has all the Tamil and Hindi songs listed. And, this is where you cherish modern technology, all the Hindi and Tamil versions are up on YouTube.
1. Aana hai to aa Raah mein (Hindi/Rafi)
Vaarai neeye (Tamil/Sirkazhi)
2. Maang ke saath (Hindi/Rafi & Asha)
Vazhvilin korikkai (Tamil/TMS & P Suseela)
3. Reshmi Salwar Kurta (Hindi/Asha & Samshad – featuring a delightful dance duet between Minoo Mumtaz and Kum Kum)
Angiyodu nijaar (Tamil/ P Suseela & TV Rathnam)
4. Saathi Haath Badhaana (Hindi/ Rafi, Asha & chorus)
Vaazhga vaazhga paattaliye (Tamil/TMS, Suseela & chorus)
5. Ude jab jab (Hindi/Rafi & Asha)
Undan mugil surul (Tamil/ TMS & Suseela)
6. Yeh dash hai veer (Hindi/Rafi)
Thainadu Ide (Tamil/TMS) (not found)
7. Main Bambai ka babu (Hindi/Rafi) – a song I never quite liked and actually superfluous to this film.
Wiki lists two more Hindi songs but fails to give their Tamil equivalents. I too cannot locate them on YouTube. But anyway, the above are enough to keep us enthralled for weeks on end. I am aware that Naya Daur was later coloured and released. I have however tried to use only B/W clips because the coloured version has speed variations in the songs.
This article is part of a series I write on old film songs, chiefly Hindi and Tamil. You can read the earlier bits here