Raat Aur Din (1967)

raataurdin

After reading a fine review of this movie over at Dusted Off, I had to see it. Nargis’ last film! Young Feroz Khan! Laxmi Chhaya! Ted Lyons & His Cubs! And truly it is an interesting and fun filmi noir, dominated by a fine performance from Nargis as a woman with a split personality. The music by Shankar Jaikishan is absolutely fabulous. My favorite song from the film is the lively “Awara Ae Mere Dil”—it’s going to be in my head for a few days, I can already tell. It’s picturized on the lovely Laxmi (it’s one of my picks for her top 10 songs) with my favorite band providing the music. The main quibble I have with the film is that it’s a Criminal Waste of Young Handsome Feroz—but hey, at least he’s there!

I won’t give a synopsis since Madhu in her review has done a great job of that already, and I agree with her completely on what worked and what didn’t (go read it, really), but here are the things that struck me as I watched.

In her party-girl “Peggy” persona, Nargis reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor:

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Feroz *sigh* Feroz…he wasn’t onscreen nearly enough, but when he was I didn’t want to look at anything or anyone else. And he waltzes Peggy around so gracefully in the first lovely song (“Dil Ki Girah Khol Do”). Such presence he had!

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Pradeep Kumar  is good in this—I don’t usually care for him much, but quite liked him as Varuna/Peggy’s bewildered and frustrated—but loving—spouse Pratap.

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(See how I snuck more Feroz in there?)

I was a little worried that the medical aspect of the film would be lacking…shall we say—authenticity?:

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But I was pleasantly surprised that the whole subject of Dissociative Identity Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder) was handled respectfully and for the most part realistically (at least as far as my limited knowledge goes). I have a friend with DID; I know a little from him of what it is like for the sufferer, and I think Nargis portrayed someone caught in the grip of the illness in a very subtle and believable manner. And the circumstances which led to her condition, when uncovered, seem credible enough. Nicely done!

Leela Mishra is officially the most nightmarish harridan of a Ma or mother-in-law EVER. Anywhere. At any time. In any place. Hopefully she was a lot nicer in real life. She shrieks like a banshee at her poor husband (SN Banerjee):

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and treats Varuna—who is gentle and sweet when not in Peggy mode—with disapproval and disdain. She calls in an exorcist when Varuna/Peggy *gasp* dances in her room one night.

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Yikes! Luckily Pratap intervenes in the nick of time.

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(He then removes them both from Ma’s house. Yay Pratap!)

Anoop Kumar is very funny and sweet in his role as an overwhelmed newly-minted doctor unable to cope with Peggy’s brashness.

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What a way to begin one’s medical career!

It was a pleasure to see KN Singh (as Varuna/Peggy’s father) in a small but non-villainous role.

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The music is just spectacular throughout; I love all the songs. Here is Laxmi:

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So pretty!

But the best thing about the movie by far is—Nargis. It is her film all the way, and especially in her Peggy avatar she is having fun

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Wah! Wah! What an actress she was, and what a charming and beautiful woman. It’s well worth watching Raat Aur Din just for her—but there is plenty of other goodness besides.

Satyen Bose directed this, as well as other movies I love (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Jeevan Mrityu); or have liked a lot (Ansoo Ban Gaye Phool). Like those, the pacing is good (although the DVD was choppy in places, possibly due to the source not being the best), the story interesting, the performances excellent and the songs just lovely.

I really need to see more of his films.

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52 Comments to “Raat Aur Din (1967)”

  1. I hope I can see this movie one day. My uncle, who brought me up, did not approve of young people watching movies, because of that I missed seeing many good films in my time. Luckily, my cousins were avid moviegoers and managed to see a lot of films by sneaking out of the house, and usually I tagged along.

    This, alas, they did not take me to.

    • It’s quite unusual a subject and well done for its time :) I think the Moserbaer/Indus DVD is the only version out there, and they haven’t done anything to make the source material a little better, but until someone else does it will have to do!

  2. lol – Dr. Dey’s Psycho Clinic. My word, there’s nothing like the good old days when no one worried about policital correctness. It sounds like Leela’s Ma would give Joan Crawford a run for her money in the best mother category! I’m adding to my list.

    • Argh! I just have to see Leela’s face and I want to run screaming. I wonder if she ever was anything but an unpleasant Ma/MIL. I think you are correct on the Joan Crawford analogy!

      • I don’t know why but I have a fondness for Joan Crawford. I think her campiness just permeates everything in her vicinity and that to me is irresistable. It’s one of the reasons I can’t take Mommie Dearest too seriously – I bet it’s all true but it’s Joan Crawford! How can you take it seriously? I know. V. v. wrong.

        Dr. Dey’s Psycho Clinic. That title deserves a film of its own.

  3. Ooh, I just bought this movie not long ago. Perhaps I will watch it this week, it sounds like fun!

    I wonder how many Bollywood movies one must watch before you get sent away to a Psycho Clinic, anyway?

  4. oh I know a real life one that would make Leela M look almost sweet: but fortunately, not mine!!

  5. Ah, so the Grumpy Granny was once a Malevolent Mommy! Next maybe we’ll see her in a role as a Dastardly Daughter. A Terrible Tot? Maybe even a Furious Fetus? Oh, Leela.

  6. I haven’t seen Raat Aur Din, but I’ve always loved its songs. Shanker-Jaikishen probably gave themselves all out in this one. And after this write-up, I’d just have to find the movie!

    Just a little trivia, in case you didn’t know: Nargis was pregnant with Sanjay Dutt in this movie; Sanju baba said so, as a guest judge in one of the talent hunt shows, when “Dil ki Girah” was being played on :-)

  7. Ah, good, I was just about to write and ask you for a screencap for my own post on this one. Hope you don’t mind if I steal one of yours. *grin*

  8. Ah, you finally found it! :) I really have to see this film sometime – though I’ve watched parts of it many times, thanks to YouTube.

    Both versions of “Awara Ae Mere Dil” are great, but I think I prefer the slower one, with Nargis dancing on the footpath. :) When she dances around with the child and then puts her coat on the homeless man…she seems like the sweetest psycho ever.

  9. Can anybody come up with any western “multiple personality” movies that predated this one? I don’t watch them because I’m scared of them, but I am interested in them. The only thing I can think of is “Three Faces of Eve.”
    Then there was one about somebody with hundreds of personalities, wasn’t there?

    • I think there were some TV movies in the 70s…I remember mostly the book “Lisa Bright & Dark” and also the Three Faces of Eve. It’s a very interesting illness…

  10. Leela Mishra is officially the most nightmarish harridan of a Ma or mother-in-law EVER.” lol Never realised she had so many harridan-ish roles starting out. In her later days she did those crusty-old-woman hard-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside roles (wasnt she Hema’s Mom/Aunt in Sholay – the one who is taken for a ride by Amitabh’s description of his friend’s character?). And my favorite Leela Mishra role was in Nani Ma where she plays a benevolent grandma to two cute kids who find a magic wand. It involved magic, hidden treasures, lovely food and the best grandma ever!

    And ditto on Nargis=Elizabeth Taylor in that screencap.

    • I’ve never seen her as anything but one of those screechy old women. Would be fun to see her as a cute grandma—I will look for Nani Ma :)

      • Wahh! Memsaab ki paarkhi nazar! Thanks for clearing that Nargis and Elizabeth Taylor matter for me, I would’ve never realized until the end of my time!

      • @Memsaab – Were you referring to Lalita Pawar perhaps?
        True Leela Mishra too had her share of harridan-ish roles but in most films her roles showed her as grandmother-ish being soft on the inside like bollyviewer suggests, while Lalita Pawar often defined the mean domineering mother in law.

        • Nope, I was referring to Leela Mishra. I’ve mostly seen her in harridan roles…Lalita I have seen in more “soft” roles many times.

          • Ah, no confusion then? With the amount of films you watch, you must have seen both Leela and Lalita in a wider variety of roles :)
            I was probably only thinking of the 70s where both were often slotted -Leela as a kind grandmother and Lalita as the wicked saas (mother in law).

      • Memsaab, haven’t you seen Parichay? She is sweet there even though she barks at her half-deaf husband some times?

  11. “I won’t give a synopsis since Madhu in her review has done a great job of that already…”

    Thank you! Coming from you, that’s high praise indeed. I’m so glad you were able to find – and view – this film. Your copy of it seems a much better print than mine, thank heavens.

    Wow, I hadn’t realised how much Nargis looks like Liz Taylor (especially Taylor in one of her later films, like The Taming of the Shrew): sisters separated at the Kumbh ka Mela? ;-)

  12. film noir???? ted lyons??? feroz???????????
    I so need to watch this! Feroz looks so extremely handsome its killing me :)

  13. review memsaab. I too enjoyed this movie when I saw it on Doordarshan years ago in India! Songs are indeed fab. I think Nargis was given Liz Taylor’s hair styles and make up since Liz was quite famous in Hollywood at the same time ie 60s. Me thinks this movie was a 60s one. I agree with you that Sanjay Dutt was born long before this movie was released! I think Nargis got the National Award for this movie.

  14. great screen caps of Nargis and the one and only Laxmi Chayya!
    Both have such expressive faces!
    thanks!

  15. They looked stunning, both of them :)

  16. I don’t have anything productive to say except “hi” and that after reading yours and Carla’s review, I’m very excited to add this to my list. :)

  17. That’s more productive than I have been today :-) And I think you’ll like it!

  18. Brilliant performance by Nargis. Intensity with which she acts has no parallel in Indian cinema. She carries both rules (day/hight) with ease. Her “Mother India” is a master piece. Above all outstanding songs by nightangle “LATA MANGESHKAR” makes this a great film. Lata’s voice is like a gentle stream which can flow and melt hardest of rocks, shining moon flowing gently under milky cloud which can starl and surprise even cuckoo. Lata and Nargis are great hits.

  19. Nargis smoking, dranking, dancing, and… PLAYING A COUGAR?! Yowzah!

    Too bad, her stupid husband has to show up and ruin everything! >=( Feroz was wasted in this since Pradeep Kumar pretty much took over.

    Anyway, good movie, but there are some minor complaints:

    Also, the movie didn’t seem to able to make up its mind about girls dancing and having a good time. On one hand, her in-laws are against it and her husband seems kind of embarrassed to have a wife who does that. Later, it tries to show that it is normal and modern. I am kinda confused.

    Also, the ending failed to resolve one very important detail. Varuna seems to have forgotten everything about her present and resumed her life after her mother’s death. Did she remember her husband?

  20. Hahahaha to forlorn_rage’s opening sentence.

  21. hi

    Just discovered your blog. It is wonderful. I have a real emotional attachment to Hindi films as I have been watching them for years. Nargis is my favourite actress, I adore her. British Film Insititute in London have just fun a series of Raj kapoor films and Nargis completly shone though in these movies.Her warmth and dignity spills over in all her roles. Gosh I could go and on about Nargis .She is a goddess !

    Well anyway really glad I have discovered your blog as I love Hindi movies from the 40s/ 50s and 60s and also love old Hindi songs. I have no-one to share my interest with as most friends prefer the new stuff. They really do not know what they are missing. and yes I also agree that Prithviraj / Shashi and shammi kappor are probably the most handsome men to have graced Hindi cinema.

  22. hi so glad I have discovered your blog. I am an avid fan of Hindi cinema especially films from the 40s/ 50s and 60s and really adore the music from those films. Nargis is my absolute favourite. I adore her ! British Film Institute In London have just run a season of Raj kapoor films and Nargis completely shone through in these. She had such a beautiful smile which exuded so much warmth.

  23. sorry about writing in twice. Was not sure if i had an account or that my comments were submitted. All too high tech for me !

  24. I have seen Raat Aur Din many times and I feel it is one of the best films to sign off one’s career as it was Nargis’s last film. S. N Banerjee was always terrified of Leela Mishra in this film. Leela Mishra, however, was always identified as a personality striving for preservation of social paraphernalia, or what is prevalent in society, as a keeper of traditions and social relationships, mainly as a mother-in-law, or grand-mother. She was shown as loud-mouthed and angry but soft at heart, not destructive even if she is under some false impression or biased opinion about any situation or personality, unlike Lalita Pawar, Shashi Kala or Bindu. Leela Mishra was there in Baaton Baaton Mein (1979), a good film of Basu Chatterjee. I think one of Satyen Bose’s remarkable film is “Dosti (1963 or 64). It was a film centering around friendship between two physically challenged youth (one blind and one lame), one of whom (The Blind) helps the other in attaining his dreams of being educated, despite all odds (and lip syncing some legendary and classic evergreen Mohammad Rafi songs in the process); a very good and optimistic film with great music. It is with this film, and “Paarasmani” that Laxmikant Pyarelal cemented their place as prominent music-directors in the Hindi film industry.

  25. I think Leela Mishra was also in Chashme Buddoor (1981) as Deepti Naval’s granny.

  26. I am almost sure that Firpo’s in the first scene had well and truly closed by 1967. I remember it well as a child, the narrow staircase Peggy runs down in particular. I was last there in 1962, and I know it also reopened a small stall downstairs on the side just selling ice-creams for a while in 1968 (?) or so. So it is not impossible that some of the film at least might have been made quite a few years earlier than when it was released, and that the actress was expecting her son at the time.

    Sanjay Sircar

  27. Another 5-star review, Memsaab! Love u to bits for yet another awesome write-up!!!!

    Nargis has always been one of my favourite actresses…I read somewhere that it was through her starring role in this film that Nargis became the first lady to bag the National Film Award for Best Actress…

    Raat Aur Din may not have been an easy film to make, considering how the writing department as well as the director have striven to portray a relatively unknown (in 1960’s Bollywood, to be specific) psychological impediment like DID as realistically as possible with such painstaking accuracy and clarity…so, kudos to them for the magnanimous effort…I think they have succeeded in their cinematic treatment of medical science, a particular area where many Bollywood films of the same era (and also beyond, sad to say) have failed on an epic scale, a glaring flaw which I believe you have covered in several posts (can’t remember any by name at this point, so sorry about that)…

    Nevertheless, the star of the show is obviously Nargis…it’s hard to imagine any of her contemporaries filling her shoes for such a remarkably dynamic, multiple-hued, well fleshed-out and demanding role. Although at certain points she tends to exhibit signs of age that may betray her histrionic abilities (especially in the Lata-Manna duet Dil Ki Girah Khol Do; I thought from a particular angle she resembled the legendary Egyptian singing powerhouse Oum Kalthoum (1898-1975) instead of Liz Taylor, no offence), her silently vibrant performance as a mentally-challenged wife grossly misunderstood by the traditional and oftentimes superstitious and judgmental patriarchal realm she lives in, alongside that of a shady fun-loving party girl, is not only convincing, but deeply heartfelt, sensitive and compelling. In fact let it be said that her performance is like a whiff of fresh air, especially when such well-researched and believable roles are thought to exist only in parallel/art-house cinema…

    About the patriarchal thing I mentioned above, I think the film seems somewhat at odds with its stand on tradition vs modernity. If it is trying to claim that it belongs to a sort of middle ground, it has failed quite miserably. That being said, I find Pradeep Kumar’s character rather baffling in terms of his personal views, even though I appreciate and laud him enough for being a loving husband, but in spite of breaking from the strereotypical pati param guru mould, I can’t help but feel that he is yet another hapless victim of sloppy caricaturing; in short, the character of the husband, although quite revolutionary, sadly seems like an afterthought at best. Another jarring flaw in this otherwise commendable film would be the cruel under-utilisation of the talented Feroz Khan… also, Leela Mishra may at times come across as overrated and even annoying, but her purposeful role as the traditional mother-in-law who resorts to blind superstition as a means of “curing” her daughter-in-law, is a powerful mouthpiece directed at an ultra-conservative society that sometimes views modernity as detrimental to its womenfolk. Apart from that, she is also a subtle depiction of rare cases of women who use patriarchal norms to their advantage, all too often to exert their dominance on members of their own gender…

    Hats off to Shanker-Jaikishen for a luminously haunting musical score…being the Lata fan that I am, I absolutely adore all the solos that she has rendered for this film, especially the two versions of Awara Ae Mere Dil Jaane Kahan Hai Meri Manzil, and not to mention her duet with Manna Dey, Dil Ki Girah Khol Do…mesmerising!!!

    All in all, Raat Aur Din is definitely a film to watch out for, as it is not only reasonably well ahead of its times, but also because it is a fitting testimony to the scintillating histrionic prowess and screen presence of one of Bollywood’s best actresses, Nargis…

    p/s do forgive me for rambling so incessantly, and also for taking so long to finally post a comment here…

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