I was so f*ing happy to see these words. An alternate title could be When Bad Things Happen To Good People. The denouement has Dilip Kumar stabbing his own eyes out. And up until then it’s nothing but misery, suffering and pain.
I will say that it is a well-crafted film, with superb performances—especially by Dilip Kumar and Ashok Kumar. But for a girl who already worries too much about eight dollar cups of coffee and what the world is coming to it’s unredeemably depressing.
Shyamu and his widowed mother work for Seth Daulatram Rai (Murad). Rai’s daughter Mala has befriended Shyamu, but when she is thrown from her horse while riding with Shyamu, Rai boots him and his mother from the house and their jobs. They wander aimlessly until Shyamu’s mother collapses and dies. Some villagers notice vultures circling overhead and find him sobbing over her body.
He is taken in by a man with a daughter named Champa and a son whose name I never catch. Tormented by grief and missing his beloved Mala, Shyamu goes out into a sandstorm in the night and is blinded by the sand.
When Shyamu (now Dilip Kumar) grows up, he becomes a singer and supports his adopted family. Champa (Nimmi) adores him, I’m not sure why since he doesn’t do much but talk about lost love and the futility of our cruel existence. But she loves him anyway.
Back at Daulatram Rai’s, a grown-up Mala (Nargis) is introduced to her fiance, Dr. Kishore (Ashok Kumar).
It’s love at first sight for Mala and Kishore, as he heads off for a short vacation. In spite of their short acquaintance, he manages to write a lot of love letters to her.
At home, Champa and Shyamu continue their uplifting conversations.
She’s not wrong!
One day Shyamu goes into town to sing for their supper (Naushad’s music, by the way, is pretty—but not much more cheerful than the plot). Kishore is there, and is drawn by the song. He immediately takes Kaviraj (Shyamu’s “good” name) under his wing and arranges for his vision-restoring surgery in the city. Mala arrives to visit Kishore and is equally enchanted with Kaviraj’s talent. But even the prospect of regaining his sight does nothing for his repartee.
Finally, the day comes when Kishore takes Kaviraj to the city for his operation. Champa and her brother are pleased for their Shyamu—her brother hoping that eyesight will double Shyamu’s income for some reason, although I would think the blindness-pity thing would be more profitable—but Champa is also sad.
It’s certainly true that her brother isn’t too useful. Dr. Kishore and Kaviraj bond over the fact that they are both in love, little knowing that they both love the same girl. True to his word, Kishore restores Kaviraj’s sight.
An ecstatic Kaviraj tells his doctor that now his sight is restored he wants to see his beloved—Mala, Daulatram Rai’s daughter. Kishore is thunderstruck. Kaviraj begs him to take him to see her.
Kishore says he will take Kaviraj to see her, but asks him not to remind her of their childhood, and Kaviraj agrees. Unwitting Mala invites him to stay at her house; she has arranged a gathering so he can sing. Over the next few days (or weeks, it seemed endless) we watch as Kishore becomes ever more tormented, and Kaviraj ever more obsessed with Mala, who remains stubbornly oblivious—even when Kaviraj sings their childhood song to her.
Champa comes to find Kaviraj and he sends her away, telling her that he’s found the person to whom he belongs. She goes home to starve with her brother since their sole source of income has deserted them.
(Is it just me, or does Nimmi have a giant head?)
Kishore is feeling increasingly unworthy since he only loves Mala whereas Kaviraj worships her. He even encourages Kaviraj to keep hoping! I want to shake him. Well, them. All of them. A psychiatrist in this house would have a field day!
Then Mala mentions their upcoming marriage to Kaviraj. He is astounded when she tells him about it—I am astounded that he doesn’t already know. They’ve been spending days together, all three of them. How could it not have come up before, even once?
Kaviraj now is torn between his loyalty to the man who restored his vision, and the woman he has loved since childhood. He gives clueless Mala one more chance to recognize him by asking her to look deep into his eyes.
She fails his test miserably. He is crushed by the realization that she loves Kishore, and doesn’t remember him. He looks into the mirror and blames his sight since his eyes are the doors to his heart or some nonsense like that.
He takes up a sharp object (the picture is too dark to really tell what it is) and as Kishore breaks the door down, he blinds himself.
What will happen next? Can this possibly turn out well? The strange answer is, well, yes. I guess it does.
I am sure that others who are more analytical (and perhaps smarter) could write about the psychological intricacies of the characters and impart some sort of wisdom into the film. I left out some stuff like Kishore slamming his hand in a door on purpose. Deedar may deserve it—as I said, it’s well done. But it’s just too grim for me.