Naujawan (1966)

Sadly this isn’t a film anymore, but the last gasping remnants of one: a collection of random scenes (or partial scenes) strung together incoherently with big gaping wounds of missing content (and sometimes, sound). There are barely two seconds of footage together anywhere not punctuated by a skip or a jerk. That it still manages to be kind of fun to watch is a testament to…something, although I am not sure I can pinpoint what that Something is. It might just simply be Dara. Or Ajit, Randhawa, Nishi, Helen, Madan Puri, Bela Bose, Madhumati and some perfectly scintillating songs and dancing.

Well, there you go: I have pinpointed It.

I can only hope and pray that a better print is lying around somewhere because I had a sneaking feeling while watching this poor convulsing thing that were it not so terribly sick and distressed it might well be my new favorite Dara film. The fragments which remain offer glimpses into a rollicking, swashbuckling tale of romance and separated brothers in a colorful historical costume-drama setting (lots and lots of pretty galloping horses!).

I will tell the story as I managed to piece it together (besides lots of it being missing, and the sound regularly going AWOL, it is very lamely and mostly unintelligibly subtitled—actually, in an unusual twist, the songs are better subbed than the dialogues). In any case, as is usual with Dara Singh’s oeuvre, it’s all about the action (and giant cutlery!).

Ajay (Ajit) and Vijay (Dara) are brothers belonging to a band of gypsies who have decided to give up their nomadic ways and settle down in a kingdom plagued by a band of dacoits led by the mighty Roopa (Randhawa).

Ajay and Vijay are pretty mighty themselves, and prove it when Ajay is smitten on sight by a pretty dancer named Bindia (Helen) at a fair. She is harassed by some guy and Ajay punches him; this leads to a wholesale fight on the part of all the audience members, to Bindia’s great delight, during which Vijay materializes in defense of his brother as well.

Soldiers appear and arrest Vijay, but overlook Ajay who has been knocked out and is lying under some broken furniture. Bindia tosses some cold water on Ajay, who comes to and flirts with her, then rides home to get reinforcements to break Vijay out of jail. Sadly, this mission goes unseen, but is evidently successful since suddenly it is evening and Vijay is sitting in a cart and asking a girl in his lap who she is before being set upon by bandits.

This girl, it transpires, is Kamini (Nishi), and she is the unfortunate (so she seems to feel) object of dacoit Roopa’s affection. This results in her being kidnapped by him time and again, although once she is captive Roopa seems inclined to leave her alone and she always manages to escape. I kind of like Roopa, myself.

Ajay meanwhile brings Bindia home to his Ma, Bhavani (Veena, in extra-emoting mode, God love her).

Ajay and Bindia settle into comfortable bickering domesticity and Helen dances to a song with no sound while Vijay falls in love with the beautiful Kamini (and she with him), and she too finds refuge with the tribe between kidnapping adventures.

This does not go down well with Roopa, naturally, and sets the two brawny men at odds with each other. I must say that I love Nishi in (what’s left of) this film. She looks very pretty and is a good dancer, even matched up with Helen (and I love, love, love this song).

Why is GS Kohli so ignored as a music director? Why?! I just don’t get it. I absolutely always love his music when the sound isn’t missing (Faulad, Char Dervesh, Shikari, and so much more!).

More trouble enters the picture now in the form of the Rajkumar (Madan Puri), whose enmity is roused when Vijay kills a tiger which the Prince was aiming at himself. He demands that Vijay give him the poor dead cat. Vijay refuses, and then thrashes the Rajkumar’s burly aide, no doubt a wrestling colleague of Dara’s. Huge logs are tossed around like sticks and swords clash, etc. etc. Very satisfying indeed! The Rajkumar and his men chase Vijay back to his little settlement where Bhavani asks if they might be allowed to live peacefully in his kingdom. The Prince says no.

And furthermore!:

He also gets a good look at Kamini and likes what he sees, and it’s no wonder: look at that tower of red hair! I am not sure if everything they possess actually is wrecked because, you know, whatever happens next is missing. But eventually Kamini is kidnapped again, this time by the Rajkumar’s men (one of whom wears an eyepatch, which is awesome).

Oh but Vijay can save her! Especially when he’s equipped with a large horsewhip. At least, I guess he rescues Kamini, although that bit is missing too and we are transported to one of the best dance fragments I’ve ever seen. Bela Bose and Madhumati dance convulsively with men in blackface, wearing fezzes and emerald green satin harem pants, and it is FAB. No lyrics, only music, and not very long, sadly, but seriously awesome nonetheless.

There are lots of little dance segments like this throughout, which by themselves are reason enough to rescue this movie.

Bela and Madhumati are dancing for the Rajkumar and his father the Maharajah (Randhir). Vijay and Ajay are escorted in, and the Rajkumar welcomes them warmly on behalf of himself and his father.

The King has apparently heard about these brave brothers (if not his son’s dushmani with them) and he asks if they will help him get rid of Roopa. The Rajkumar tells them that he had kidnapped Kamini to test their bravery. Vijay demurs: they are pacifists, it seems. I laugh and laugh. But when his beloved Kamini is abducted anew by Roopa and Vijay has to rescue her again, he changes his mind and agrees to help the King get rid of Roopa once and for all.

But we know (because he’s Madan Puri, duh) that the Rajkumar is playing a double triple game: he calls Roopa to court and warns him that the brothers are coming for him, and promises that the soldiers whom the King has given Vijay and Ajay as backup actually are loyal to HIM.

Then he instructs his one-eyed lieutenant (Kundan) to watch the mayhem and bring any survivors (including Roopa) back to him under arrest.

(No, I do not have a super-human ability to read those subtitles, but it seems logical from what subsequently happens.)

With the help of the double-crossing soldiers under the Rajkumar’s command, Roopa now has Ajay imprisoned with the idea that Vijay will be willing to exchange Kamini for his brother. But he isn’t, so Roopa challenges Vijay to a duel instead and later tells Ajay that regardless of the outcome he’ll be set free (not an option for poor Kamini though!).

The next development isn’t much of a surprise, but of course it is good fun. Roopa’s fiercely mustachioed father Balwant Singh begins talking with Ajay, and Ajay tells him that he is the son of Man Singh Thakur—a name Balwant Singh clearly recognizes.

Through a lengthy flashback from which the sound is missing but for which there suddenly and mysteriously are fairly readable subtitles, we learn that Man Singh Thakur (Tiwari), was a respected and extremely brave chieftain in this very area years before. Everyone in the place seems to have been as quarrelsome then as they are now, and Man Singh defeated a neighboring clan called the Chauhans. Roopa’s father Balwant saved Man Singh’s life during the battle, and as thanks Man Singh had given Balwant Singh a sword for his then two-year-old son.

Besides Vijay, Man Singh and Bhavani had younger son as well, an infant. After their defeat, the Chauhans snuck back into the village at night and set fire to everyone’s homes, and in the mayhem that followed (during which Man Singh was killed) Bhavani rescued Balwant Singh’s young son but misplaced her own baby (although she managed to hang onto Vijay, the elder). Balwant himself managed to rescue Bhavani’s infant boy, and afterwards, thinking Bhavani and Vijay to be dead too, decided to raise him in place of his own lost boy.

So Roopa is Vijay’s real brother, and Ajay is actually Balwant’s son! Balwant frees Ajay, who rides home and tells Bhavani that Roopa is her long-lost youngest son. The Rajkumar overhears this conversation and sends his soldiers to arrest Roopa and Vijay, who are in the middle of their swordfight, with Kamini trying vainly to stop them. He also tosses Bhavani, Bindia and Ajay into his dungeon, where he has already incarcerated his own father the Maharajah and taken over the kingdom (he celebrates the occasion with Bela and Madhumati again!):

Roopa and Vijay are kept separate from the rest of the prisoners and remain unaware they are brothers; they are to be pitted against each other like gladiators the next morning for the Rajkumar’s pleasure. It will be a fight to the death for one or both, in this chhote chhote castle.

Can Ajay and company escape in time to save them from killing each other? Can they save the kingdom from the evil Rajkumar? Can someone please, please save this film?

Oh I beg you, Universe, make it happen.

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27 Comments to “Naujawan (1966)”

  1. I loved all the dance bits in “Naujawan” too…especially the rock-n-rollish number Nishi does with Roopa’s men. As messed up as the film is (apart from all the other problems, did you notice that some of the reels were out of order?), I’m glad I had a chance to see it just for the songs and dances alone.

    • YES—that dance Nishi did with Roopa’s men was too, too much fun. I did notice that near the beginning there were two reels transposed but the whole thing is so incoherent that I couldn’t possibly tell if it happened again :D

      But I love the songs, love. One of Helen’s is missing the sound completely though :( There must be a better print of this out there somewhere, we can only hope :)

  2. Am amazed you managed to piece together a story from this, given the quality of the video, subtitles and missing portions that you had to work with.

    That you still managed to put all this aside and sit through this movie is testimony not only to the actors and songs in the movie (like you’ve pointed out) but also to your own dedication. A movie like this certainly deserves to be saved, it sounds like a lot of fun.

    Btw, the guy with the patch on one eye seems to be Kundan, who we had in our AIP but has since been identified.

    • Yes, the eyepatch guy is Kundan although I don’t recall if he was in the credits (they too were patchy anyway). I hope this film shows up somewhere in better shape though!

  3. Memsaab, How sad is this? The mauling of such lovely gems is so heart-breaking. Thanks for watching it through anyway, and writing it up. At least, part of it is archived now. I’m really beginning to like Nishi now, and with that red hair, she looks awesome. :)

    • Nishi is awesome. I like her in everything I’ve seen her in, and she’s a B-movie queen! Does not get better than that…I did want to write this one up despite all the issues and the missing hour plus, just because it does deserve to be remembered somehow ;-)

  4. Waah, waah, you have sifted through tiny fragments and discovered what really must have happned with the movie. I suppose that is how detectives solve a mystery or archaeologists learn about prehistoric civilisations. Indeed, I guess future civilasations will likewise learn about Human civilisation of this era from fragments of Hindi movies, in case some of it can still survive till then.

    Great review. Going through it is great fun. Guess the story without subtitles is challenging, but guessing the story with pictures/ sounds/ parts missing/blurred- that is something else altogether. Indeed, this movie appears a great B movie. Hopefully better prints of this movie may be lying somewhere.

    • You would love the songs in this Atul, thankfully Tom has put two of them on Youtube (the ones I linked in the post). I need to do a post about GS Kohli one of these days, he is one of my favorite music directors.

  5. There are quite a few music directors who have been “unsung” heroes (pun not intended)

    Another who comes to my mind apart from GS Kohli is Babul who composed the music for Naqli Nawab (1962). The song which stands out in this movie is “Tum poochte ho ish bhala hai ke nahin hai”.

    Don’t know why they were never given their due. Same could have been the fate of Jaidev who composed music for Hum Don0 (1961), but fate had different plans for him.

  6. You must be the one of the most dedicated and patient hindi film fans ever!! To sit through remants of a film, with annoyingly invisible subtitles – what fortitude!! Perhaps not a film I would choose for myself, but I loved watching it vicariously through your eyes :) Thank you.

    • This is more a testament to how entertaining the remnants were than to my fortitude I think :) But I did feel like I was having seizures sometimes while I sat through it!

  7. Dara Singh’s films in those days were classified as stunt films. These films had a following making Dara Singh quite a successful actor. Such films I noticed always had lovely songs. By the way would you like some trivia, Dara Singh’s surname is Randhawa, his brother took on the this surname as his screen name or maybe you know this already. Okay here is another one the one -eyed lieutenant seen above with Madan Puri is Kundan, you may have seen him in several films playing a villain.

  8. Thanks for taking one for the team, Memsaab. For the time being, I’m going to satisfy myself with your description and wait until a better quality version turns up.

  9. How have I missed this movie???!! How???

    Dara and Ajit as brothers…what great casting! And Nishi, how I love her…Helen and Randhawa and Bela Bose…I don’t care have bad of condition this print is, I am buying it!!

    And you are so right, the songs that you have attached are absolutely delightful. Wish CD companies would release more of these soundtracks.

  10. Madan Puri as Rajkumar. :D He must be the oldest Rajkumar ever.

  11. Memsaab do you have songs from this films? Can you post the Videos of it?

    • Since I have only *just* managed to figure out how to do such things, I will try. I think my pal Tom had them up on his YT channel, which has been suspended yet again. Some of the songs are incomplete, though, like much of the movie :(

      • There are a couple of “Naujawan” songs scattered on You Tube.

        I have the Helen-Nishi one – “Majnu sa aashiq mar gaya” on my channel:

        And the Bela Bose-Madhumati number – Woh ek nazar mein kitn nazdeeq” is here:

  12. I hope I am not out of line to say what I need to say. I have not read any of the above. I am here only to let you know that I recently saw Naujawan 1951 with Nalini Jaywant and Premnath and loved it. Would you, if you haven’t seen it, see it and do a blog on it? Also, how do you capture the screenshots? Thank you.

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