Dard (1947)

Hindi films are so aptly named much of the time! This one is unsubtitled but even I could tell that it is full of people paining and pining, although I am not always clear why. I don’t usually write up the unsubtitled movies I watch unless they are particularly interesting; this one is (at least to me), for several reasons. One is that Uma Devi, later known and beloved as comedienne Tun Tun, sings playback for actress Munawar Sultana. The songs were a big hit for her (composed by Naushad). The second is that it is a relatively early film for character actors who went on to have long careers in Hindi cinema: Protima Devi, Badri Prasad and one of my favorites Shyam Kumar. And also, except for Suraiya, I had not seen the lead actors—Munawar Sultana and Nusrat—so was just plain curious!

I don’t think Nusrat did much besides this film, although imdb is my only rather unreliable guide to that assumption; Ms. Sultana seems to have worked throughout the 1950s anyway. She was apparently better known than Suraiya at this point since she got top billing (followed by Suraiya with Nusrat a distant third). I was more impressed by the actress playing the best friend, though: Husn Banu. What happened to her? According to imdb, she worked through the 30s (in films I really really really want to see, like Flying Ranee and Hurricane Hansa), then her career seems to have faded. In this she is sparkly, teasing and fun, which is a nice break from all the angst everyone else is burdened by.

My synopsis is more interpretation than actual synopsis, since as I said there were no subtitles (thanks for nothing, Nupur). A schoolboy named Gopal? or Badal?—I’ll call him Gopal—who is apparently smarter than the other kids is taken home by a Nawab (Badri Prasad) to live with his wife the Begum (Protima Devi) and their young daughter Suraiya (that’s the character’s name). Suraiya is an imperious young thing who torments the poor orphan, until he tries to run away. When the Nawab stops him and scolds his daughter, Gopal steps in to defend her, thereby making her his friend for life and working a miracle on her up-until-now obnoxious personality.

Years pass (a rosebud unfolds) and Gopal (Nusrat) studies hard and becomes a doctor. He strikes me particularly as a wet blanket type, but Suraiya (Munawar Sultana) is clearly smitten with him. She gives him a big honking diamond ring to celebrate his success. Nusrat doesn’t seem very interested in Suraiya, though; in fact, she appears to annoy him a bit. Her friend Zubeida (Husn Banu) enjoys teasing them both, which makes Suraiya laugh but irritates Gopal. (I’m assuming that she is Husn Banu: it seems logical given the small cast.) She has a nose like a beak but I think she’s very pretty.

Meanwhile the Begum sits around with a bandage or something tied around her head while her husband gives her head massages. Is she suffering a head wound or a headache? I am unclear as to how a bandage would help a headache or a massage a head wound.

Mostly I am distracted by how much their house resembles an Art Deco cruise ship, or at least what I imagine such a thing would look like.

There are ornate railings and windows everywhere, and huge vases full of flowers. (Dard-e-Deco? Sorry.)

In any case, Gopal soon decides to go off to a village to treat the sick there—I think there is some sort of epidemic, since dead rats are shown lying around.

While there he treats an old man with a daughter named Hamida (Suraiya). So impressed is he by her beauty that he forgets to take his doctor bag with him every time he leaves their house, and the two are soon romancing. Suraiya (the actress) is so pretty when she smiles, it’s a pity she didn’t get to do it more often.

As Gopal heals the sick and flirts with Hamida, the Begum continues to wear a bandage and get head massages from her husband, and Suraiya (the character) pines away for her beloved Gopal. Dard, dard and more dard. This paining-pining does give us the prettiest of the songs: “Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon.” I know the songs were big hits, but in all honesty I must tell you that after a minute or so I used the FF button for many of them.

Hamida has another suitor in the unsavory person of Dilawar (Shyam Kumar). He appears to have some sort of hold over Hamida and her father—I think they owe him money or something, because after much posturing and threatening on Dilawar’s part (Shyam Kumar’s main talent), Gopal gives Dilawar the diamond ring which Suraiya had given him. Then Gopal becomes gravely ill himself, and the Nawab sends a car and an ambulance to bring him home, leaving Hamida alone and sad.

Dilawar then gives her the diamond ring, which she accepts for some reason (I’m not sure if she knows it belonged to Gopal); and soon after he murders her father.

Meanwhile back at home Gopal has recovered thanks to the loving ministrations of his family and Suraiya (the character) in particular. Also, the Begum stops wearing her bandage, although I don’t understand the source of her miraculous cure any better than I did the source of her pain.

Now for some reason the Nawab goes to the village and brings poor sad bereaved Hamida home. I have no idea whether this is at the request of Gopal, or for some other reason (maybe her father was one of the Nawab’s employees?), but she moves in with the family, with this heavily symbolic portent of things to come.

She is welcomed by Suraiya, but Gopal is perturbed when he sees her wearing the diamond ring he had given Dilawar. They have some sort of tiff about this, where he stops speaking to her and pretends that she’s invisible (so mature!)—but they eventually make up.

Then Suraiya sees her gift to Gopal adorning Hamida’s finger, with predictable results.

The humanity! What kind of dard-e-dil will this ginormous diamond bring into the household? Can any more sad songs be sung (yes)? Will Hamida and Gopal’s relationship be torn asunder? Will Suraiya (the character) die from the pain of her betrayal? Or will Gopal remember his debt to her family and do the right thing?

I’m pretty sure that the lack of subtitles didn’t much matter here (in fact, it may have been a blessing). But I enjoyed it for the deco decor (and the hookahs), the familiar and unfamiliar faces (although I can see why Nusrat didn’t make it far, if he in fact didn’t) and the draaaaaama. And some of the songs. And the sumptuously beautiful ghararas, shararas and kameez(es?). Those Nawabs and their ladies really knew how to dress for lounging around!

Updated to add: Nusrat’s full name was Nusrat Kardar, and he was the brother of producer-director AR Kardar. He went to Pakistan after Partition and made some films there. See more about him here.

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41 Comments to “Dard (1947)”

  1. Oh I am so glad you reviewed this. I got this one because of the lovely songs and because the cast listed “Shyam”. Browsing through the DVD, I quickly realised that it was the wrong kind of Shyam altogether (I was looking for the one Manto wrote about)! :( And so this DVD has been adorning my maybe-will-watch pile, while I gather the courage to watch the film (from what I have seen so far of 40s Bollywood, I’d MUCH rather stick to 40s Hollywood!). Now I know its as bad as I thought it was, I will dump the DVD and just listen to the songs! :-)

    • The hero Shyam is a very elusive man!!!! I am DYING to see him in something, ever since I read about him in Manto’s book.

      I love this Shyam though. Am actually writing a post about him, he is such a loony tune. And in EVERYTHING I watch, it seems :) I love him.

      • He may be great, but he isnt a patch on Manto’s Shyam! ;-) I’ve seen the latter Shyam in only two films (Dillagi and Patanga) but remember liking him a lot (the films, not so much!). Dustedoff posted about Samadhi, where he is a second lead with Dada Mani – a movie that I’ve been trying to locate for a while. I think I have Dillagi (I need to check, because I cant always remember what I have!) and will happily share!

        • Oooh!!! I have Dillagi!!!! FAB :)

          I think I might love them for different reasons, my two Shyams.

        • Yes, Shyam was in Samadhi – so good to look at, too. :-)

          I’m going to pass this one up, even though I like Afsana likh rahi hoon. BTW, the bandage around the head might to help ease the pain – if it’s being used less as a bandage than as a sort of ‘pressure band’… something tied so tight, it helps press the head.

          Maybe.

        • lol, I agree with Memsaab. Shyam Kumar is much better. Look at the pure emotion and posturing he brings in the screencaps that MS has so beautiful captured. He looks so cool in the screencap here too looking around after having killed Suraiya’s father. YAY! villains.

          There being another Shyam worries me though. Is he the one who sings and not Shyam Kumar?!

          • oh, I read the full discussion on Shyam Kumar’s page. I’m glad he’s the singer.

          • Me too!!!! It was such an unexpected side to him, and I just ADORE him. Wish I could have spent an evening or two with him :)

          • Yes! Wouldn’t it have been amazing if the Naushad-Shyam Kumar relationship lasted till Baiju Bawra (three years after Dillagi)? Shyam could even be singing “O Duniya Ke Rakhwale”. =)

  2. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ! **wiping tears*

    Did I EVER tell you just how much I looooove your reviews of unsubtitled films, memsaab?

    Two mention just a few gems which had me in fits;

    >I think there is some sort of epidemic, since dead rats are shown lying around.

    >So impressed is he by her beauty that he forgets to take his doctor bag with him every time he leaves their house, and the two are soon romancing.

    (doctor bag!!! LOL)

    >As Gopal heals the sick and flirts with Hamida, the Begum continues to wear a bandage

    And not forgetting all the clarifications about Suraiya (the character) and Suraiya (the actress) and the journey of the diamond ring from person to person. LOL!

    Thanks so much. :-D

  3. What I want to know is when will there be a CD of Uma Devi’s greatest hits! Seriously!

  4. Sounds like a film just to be watched for the visuals and to listen to the songs. Great going!
    Suraiya looks simply great here. I think she would be the ideal cast for madhu’s mehtab from the englishman’s cameo!
    What does Manto say about Shyam?

  5. Art Deco cruise ship..:))L..hit the proverbial nail again, memsaab

  6. This is a nice review!! will get hold of d dvd soon.. btw.. memsaab, r u on twitter?? Would like 2 follow u ther..;)

  7. I may or may not get to watch this one eventually, but I’ll continue listening to the soundtrack – some very, very nice songs! (I could spend days on end listening to Naushad music from the 1940s.)

    Re. the distracting deco decor – hmm, could have been leftovers from Anmol Ghadi.

    And. btw, I can definitely relate to your comment about focusing on strange things when you don’t know what’s going on because you’re watching a movie without subtitles. :)

    • Yes, but sometimes that’s a good thing :) I think I probably enjoyed the decor and making up my own story more than I might have liked what was actually going on!

  8. The comments about Shyam the Handsome propmted me to look for my copy of “Shabistan”, a swashbuckling, family drama from 1951 starring Shyam and Naseem Bano. People worry about what to have for dinner, I fret about what movie I should watch.:-D

    • That’s one of those films I’ve seen ads for that I would love to see someday…you really have a great collection of hard to find things Shalini!!! (I too agonize each evening over which film to watch…isn’t life good?) ;)

  9. That was a good review. Just to give you further information – the actress Husn Banu was quite a popular side actress of the 40,s. You can also see her in Mehboobs “Amar” and also in Dilip Kumar,s “Ganga Jumna” albeit in a small role. Her daughter was the actress Azra who made her debut in “Mother India” where she pines for Sunil Dutt and also in “Love in Simla” opposite Joy Mukherji. The hero of “Dard” , Nusrat was the younger brother of the producer of the film AR Kardar and he migrated to Pakistan – not that he made a mark there either!

    • Oh thank you so much! Everything I know about Hindi cinema history I have learned from readers like you :) I know who Azra is—she was also the fake princess in Junglee who is supposed to marry Shammi. It’s great to be able to put things like that together! :) Nusrat didn’t have much in the way of screen presence, poor guy. But hopefully he led a happy life!

  10. Your remarks are so funny at time – “art deco ship” etc. However you didn’t pick up a dialogue in the film when Munawar Sultana tells Suraiya that the “hamaam” is ready and to go and have a bath!! This was a grand ritual in the days gone by and more apparent in the art deco ships of the nawab houses!

  11. The hero Shyam died on the sets of Shabistan while shooting when
    he fell from the horse.

    • Oh so sad…Manto was really heartbroken when he heard the news. According to him, he (Manto) was in the mental hospital at the time. Shyam sounded like quite a character, full of life! They must have been nearly finished shooting I guess, since the film was released?

  12. WHAT A FILM!!! THE SONGS, “HUM DARD-KA-AFSAANA-DUNIYAKO-SUNAYENGE…”, “BEECH-BHAWARMEIN, AANA FASA HAI…” WERE TWO
    HAUNTING SONGS AND ONCE THEY ARE LISTENED HEAR, “TU MERA CHAND MEIN TERI CHANDNI”, “MURLI WALE, MURLI BAJA”, “IS DUNIYA MEIN AYE DILWALO DIL KA LAGANA KHEL NAHIN,…” YOU REALLY GO INTO A DIFFERENT WORLD! GREAT NAUSHAD, WHOM I HAD INTERVIEWED IN THE EARLY NINETIES AND COMBINED WITH THE LYRICS OF SHAKEEL SUNG BY MOHD. RAFI, SURAIYA, SHAMSHAD BEGUM, MUKESH, TALAT …. WHAT YOU GET ? CAN I BORROW THE ENGLISH POET’S WORDS, MANNA DEW FALLING FROM THE HEAVEN?

    THE FILM DARD AND DILLAGI BOTH FROM ARK’S STABLE HAVE A SAD ENDING AND IN THE FORMER THE LAST DIALOGUE BETWEEN SURAIYA AND MUNAWAR SULTANA BRINGS TEARS TO YOUR EYES.

    CAN WE GET SUCH MOVIES AGAIN? NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. CAN WE HAVE DIRECTORS LIKE A.R. KARDAR, MEHBOOB KHAN OR FOR THAT MATTER, SINGERS LIKE SURAIYA, TALAT, MOHD. RAFI, MUKESH, SHYAMKUMAR, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER. THAT WAS THE BEST ERA OF HINDI CINEMA. LET THOSE GREAT MOVIE MAKERS, THE GREAT LYRICISTS, HEROES AND HEROINES, THE SINGERS ET. AL WHO HAVE LEFT THEIR MORTAL COILS HAVE PEACE OF GOD UPON THEIR SOULS.

  13. I have seen the movie. The song Afsana Likh rahi hoon, sung by Uma Devi, is very popular.

  14. Hello, Memsaab. I’m writing this comment a year and a half(?) after my last one because I finally did watch Dard – without subs – because it is available now on a Vintage Shemaroo YouTube site (I just “blogged” about that too). Or, more accurately, I just watched most of it, because there obviously are still some parts missing at the end (in addition to the fact that in the last few installments up there, the picture and dialogue are way out of sync – oh, well). But anyway, I wanted to mention that it helped me to read this review first.

    A couple of our friends flattered me on my blog for my willingness to watch unsubbed oldies, and I told them that you were much better at this than I am, and it’s true. You probably surmised more from the plot than I would have been able to (because I just don’t have such a wealth of patience). But more importantly, your writeup is extremely amusing. So, after reading this, when I saw certain scenes that I was already anticipating, it just cracked me up. The bandaged head massage was one of them. And then I almost fell off my chair when Suraiya started with that “Apka bag” business.

    I have to say, though, that I can’t understand why you used the FF button on the songs. The music is so good, and with Uma Devi, Suraiya, and Shamshad Begum all singing here… I didn’t use the FF button on the songs; I used the replay button. But maybe I “FFed” a little during the final soap opera in that house. Though I tend not to be as harsh on these Suraiya weep fests as you are; I actually like them. (Even liked Bari Behen…though too bad my Friends DVD started freezing and jumping five or ten minutes before the end.) But anyway, minor differences aside, your review certainly “prepared” me well for this. :)

    • Ha ha, I’m glad :) I did like some of the songs, but for me there were too many of them and they tended to sound all the same to me. I am a philistine that way. There was lots to like in this though, despite the title!

  15. Yes, Richard S is like me, who loves watching the songs more than the movie. In fact, I have learnt about a few obscure songs from him.

  16. I think the remedy the Nawab uses for the Begum is that old fashioned thing, a poultice or a compress (differences being hot and cold, whole plant or extract, plant material or only liquid) used for tension and other headaches (e.g. vinegar and brown paper for Jack who broke his crown). Whether traditional Muslim (or Muslim folk) medicine or allopathic, I cannot tell.

    Sanjay Sircar

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