This Gothic mystery story has an interesting claim to fame: it was the film Nutan wasn’t permitted to watch at the premiere, even though she starred in it.
Nutan had debuted in the film Hamari Beti (1950; it was directed by her mother, Shobhna Samarth) when she was all of fourteen. The following year, after having spent the intervening period at a finishing school in Switzerland, she was cast as the female lead in Ravindra Dave’s Nagina, which starred Dilip Kumar’s brother Nasir Khan. Nagina was released under an A certificate because it was considered too frightening for children; Nutan, then not even sixteen years old, was escorted to the premiere of the film by family friend Shammi Kapoor, but was not allowed in because she was underage.
The story begins [rather choppily; I wonder if this is the modern-day slash-and-burn style of video editing that’s reflected here, rather than the original film’s editing] with Srinath (Nasir Khan) having a conversation with his wheelchair-bound mother (Anwari Bai). As it later emerges from the story, Srinath’s father, a jeweller named Shyamlal, has been missing these last twelve years, ever since he was accused of having murdered the wife of a zamindar, Raiji, over a valuable gemstone (a ‘nagina’) set in a ring.
Some years ago, while watching Adalat, I was struck by the interesting way in which the song Jaa jaa re jaa saajna was composed (by Madan Mohan). It begins as a plaintive, melancholic song, the singer (Nargis, lip-syncing to Lata Mangeshkar’s voice) filling her song with the emotion she feels at being betrayed. Then, just as one had settled into thinking that this was a particular type of song, the tone of the song changed. The tempo increased, and though the lyrics still conveyed the same emotion, the singer (Asha Bhonsle) made them so teasing and flirtatious that their import changed. Two songs, one slow and anguished, one fast and vibrant, but woven together into one song.
What an impressive performance, I thought: and it occurred to me that there were other songs, too, of this type, where a composer and a lyricist create two songs but weave them together. Note that I’m not talking of the back-to-back songs, like Kya se kya ho gaya/Mose chhal kiye jaaye. I mean songs where the two styles of the song alternate. Also note that I regard two tempos of the same tune as two different styles.