Nau Bahar (1952)

This is the story of a rich blind man who falls for a poor girl, regains his sight and is forced to marry a wealthy girl whom his father has chosen. It’s very similar in many ways to Deedar in that blindness is associated with joy and sight with sadness, but a much happier film overall, to my great joy and abiding relief. I was on a mission to see more of Nalini Jaywant (who was Shobhana Samarth’s sister, according to imdb, making her Nutan and Tanuja’s aunt). She was lovely in this, and I really liked her pairing with Ashok Kumar, who is also absolutely beautiful.

He plays Ashok (!), the son of a wealthy businessman who lost his sight as a child. We can tell he’s blind because his eyes are eerily pale.

But I don’t have to worry that Dadamoni will really go blind, thanks to this credit:

His mother died from the shock, and his sister died from the shock of THAT, so now it’s just him, his father Rai Sahab and a cousin named Hari. Rai Sahab does a lot of charity work at the local hospital that he built in the hopes that someone would find a cure for Ashok. As the film starts, Ashok is returning from an unsuccessful trip to see a surgeon in Bombay. His car breaks down as he nears home, and while it’s stopped for repairs Ashok hears a lovely voice singing about a “mad love.”

On his return home his father is distressed to find that Ashok is still blind. His health isn’t good, and he asks Ashok to think about getting married to the daughter of an old family friend—a marriage arranged by his mother when he was a boy (before he lost his sight). Ashok doubts that anyone will want to marry a blind man.

I love how Ashok is the one who is blind, but everyone else suffers from “shocks.” Anyway, Ashok goes to visit a beautiful garden that he used to frequent (before his sojourn in Bombay) for some peace and quiet and to play the flute. This time, though, there is someone else there. Her name is Jamna (Nalini Jaywant) and she and her grandfather are new caretakers of the garden. She immediately pegs him as both blind and as a rich man, but he tells her that he is a poor man. She says “But you are so stylish!”

He tells her that he makes mud statues (murti) for a living and that his name is Hari (his cousin’s name). She teases him gently, and when it’s time for him to go he asks if he can come and see her again. She performs a puja every afternoon, singing the song he had heard the day before, and garlanding a Krishna murti there.

Enchanted by her light-hearted chatter and unquestioning acceptance of him, Ashok returns the next day, and the next. He calls her “Rani” and she calls him “Babuji.” One day he makes a murti of her by touch:

It’s very sweet, and she goes home with mud all over her face. He insists on keeping the statue because it’s “the most beautiful thing” he’s ever made, he says.

She gives him the garland she made for her puja, and she tells her grandfather about him. Her grandfather comes to meet him and they hit it off immediately too. He teases her when she dresses up for Ashok:

Ashok keeps the garlands she now gives him every day in a chest in his room, next to her statue. He buys a gold necklace for her, although he tells her it’s brass. They are so sweet, and I am rooting for them so hard. But…I know his deception has to catch up with him, plus his father is still bent on marrying him off to his friend’s daughter.

She is a real piece of work, this Kamala (Kuldip Kaur). She has come to meet Ashok on his birthday, accompanied by her parents and a gaggle of giggly friends.

She even looks like a complete bitch. A little aside: in his gossipy book “Stars From Another Sky” Saadat Hasan Manto writes that Kuldip Kaur and Pran had a long term affair. I must say I don’t understand what he saw in her.

Anyway, she makes no secret of her disdain for Ashok’s blindness, and her reluctance to marry him. This of course pleases him no end.

And me!!!

She puts on a different act in front of the older generation, and is asked to sing by Rai Sahab. She chooses a song about eyes and love of course. What a bitch.

Ashok takes the opportunity to change into his rustic garb and slip out of the house to meet Jamna. He gets disoriented in his haste, and ends up on the fire escape (or something like one), where he slips and loses his cane, and then falls, hitting his head.

If that weren’t bad enough, he gets up and walks out into the road, where he is hit by a car. When things go downhill, they go downhill fast!

Meanwhile, Jamna is wondering where he is and is worried. She convinces her grandfather to go with her to the hospital in case he’s been injured. Ashok is wheeled past them on a gurney on his way out of surgery, but her grandfather pulls her away, saying that Hari would not have so many people around him.

Predictably, this accident results in Ashok regaining his sight, with the also predictable result that now Kamala is ready and willing to marry him and his money. It takes months for him to recover, though, and during that time Jamna, unable to find him, goes crazy with worry. Her grandfather carts her off to Janpur, their home village, hoping that it will help her forget him.

When Ashok is back on his feet, he goes immediately to the garden. The new caretaker tells him that Jamna has gone to Janpur. At home, Rai Sahab wants to prepare for Ashok’s wedding with Kamala, but Ashok refuses. He tells his father that he is going to find the girl he loves.

He and Hari set off. But before they reach Janpur, Jamna has set off herself (with her grandfather, who is now gravely ill) to go back and continue her search for him. They pass each other unknowingly (this filmi trope never fails to distress me).

Jamna’s grandfather is dying by the time they reach Ashok’s home town, and she takes him to the hospital there, where he dies. Rai Sahab, visiting for his charity work, sees her distress and takes her home with him.

So now Ashok is out and about searching for Jamna, who is living in his home as Rai Sahab’s adopted daughter. Rai Sahab decides to call her Kiran after his late real daughter. It’s a little creepy, but Jamna doesn’t care; at this point she doesn’t care about much, poor sad thing. Rai Sahab sends her off to Bombay for music training.

Soon after, Ashok returns home, dejected. He is greeted by a friend of his father’s, who scolds him for his selfishness and for neglecting his father who loves him. Feeling guilty, and noticing that his father’s health is declining, Ashok finally agrees to marry Kamala.

No, no, no, NO! I cry. And she is an awful wife: a shrew who beats the servants and torments Ashok, who refuses to touch her or acknowledge her in any way.

What will happen when Jamna returns from Bombay and discovers that her “Hari” is really Ashok, and is now married? And a rich man, to boot! What will Ashok do when he discovers that his adopted sister “Kiran” is really Jamna? Will he stab his own eyes out? (No, wait, that was Dilip Kumar and Deedar.) Worse yet, what will That Bitch Kamala do? It’s a plot straight out of a soap opera, elevated by fine performances and lovely music by Roshan. I loved it.

Edited to add:
Noor Jehan is in this film too. Is this her? I have never seen her as a young woman so am not sure…

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42 Comments to “Nau Bahar (1952)”

  1. “”Stars From Another Sky” Saadat Hasan Manto writes that Kuldip Kaur and Pran had a long term affair.”

    Nahin! Funny how that never came up in the “official” Bunny Reuben book I read on Pran. *hunts for Stars from Another Sky*

    This movie looks wonderful – the blind plot reminds me of “Fanaa” in a deliciously melodramatic way and who doesn’t love when Dadamoni gets to be all romantic….

  2. It’s a wonderful book. Manto was nothing if not brutally honest! I tend to believe him, although I would never bandy it about as fact, just gossip. Yes, I imagine “And Pran” kind of glossed over a lot of things out of courtesy. But “Stars From Another Sky” is a hoot. There’s a whole chapter on Dadamoni as well, and how girls threw themselves at him left and right—but he was too shy to do anything about it.

  3. Wow, this movie sounds JUST like a soap opera. All it needs is a bout of amnesia and a secret baby to get the show on the road! Still, I think I might like it. You’re right, Ashok is beautiful.

  4. Yup, it is a soap opera. But it’s good fun, and well done :-)

  5. Nope, thats not Noor Jehan.
    Besides, she left Bombay and 1952 would be too late for her to be in a movie this side of the border.

  6. OMG LOVIN’ IT. This I must see. Ashok is such an adorable cutie.

    And that’s Pran’s girlfriend?! Whoa.

  7. Must be a different Noor Jehan…

    Yes, ppcc it’s very squishy indeed, just as you like it. I can always count on you to appreciate the same subtitles I do too! And she’s Pran’s “alleged” girlfriend :-)

  8. memsaab, I recently bought this when i was in southall in london, and found it very cute in a very 1950’s style melodrama, though i do suspect that Ashok and Aruna Irani from Quarbani could be siblings due to their eyes!

  9. It’s my third movie in a very short time span with weird contact lens stuff happening…Raja Saab had Nanda wearing bright blue ones for some reason, Maha Badmaash had some strange “pupil” madness going on, and now this! Makes MY eyes hurt.

  10. I wish I wouldnt laugh so much at this :”His mother died from the shock, and his sister died from the shock of THAT,”- I keep imagining them dropping off like dominoes.

    But seriously- it sounds so sad- I think I enjoy Ashok Kumar much more when he was older and played character roles – so grand-pa-ly cute! As a hero, he just is so depressingggg :D

  11. Ha ha…that’s just my embellishment (well, they did all die of shock but still). The actual film is not really sad. Deedar was sad! this is mostly just a sweet love story which goes awry for a while with many near misses and unbelievable coincidences before turning out just perfectly :-) Not sad at all, I promise! And Ashok is so very handsome, really.

  12. Another DadaMani-in-the-lead movie. Have been looking for some *new* ones and this one looks great. He was really really good in lead roles.

    Never knew Nalini Jaywant was in any way related to Nutan/Tanuja! Really Bollywood seems like one big happy family!

    Sadat Hassan Manto wrote gossip! Have to get hold of this book. (Its impossible to find gossip about *old* Bollywood!) Was it written in English or did you get a translation?

  13. This definitely sounds much better than the last Ashok Kumar-Pran-Kuldip Kaur movie I saw: Afsana. Ashok Kumar in a double role as twins, Kuldip Kaur as the unfaithful wife of one of the twins, and Pran as her lover. Pretty inane movie, and a lead actress I’ve seen as heroine only in this one movie: Veena.


  14. What thrilled me is your reference to Manto’s book. It’s one of my favorites. His hard-hitting, realistic style that make his stories so unforgettable, make even gossip seem like a well told story. I love the tales about Nargis and Madhubala.

    I haven’t seen ‘Nau Bahar’. Have a lot to catch up on. :)

  15. bollyviewer & Banno: I love Manto, his short stories are so compelling (and you would know better than I, Banno, but it seems to me that writing really good short stories has to be one of the hardest things to do). “Stars From Another World” (subhead: The Bombay Film World of the 1940s) is so witty and forthright. I’ve read it about five times (so far) and it’s just fascinating. Lots of good stuff in there! I’d love to see a film that he wrote.

    The book is a compilation of essays originally written in Urdu I think but translated by Khalid Hasan, who has also translated many of his stories. I bought the book in Bombay years ago just because it looked interesting—I hadn’t watched that many older films yet, but it helped ignite a spark of interest in them.

    madhu: I love Veena (but have only seen her as the vamp or evil mother)…would like to see Afsana just for Pran and Kuldip Kaur in the same film! :-)

  16. You’ll be pleased to hear that I just got “Stars from Another Sky” from the library and have already zipped through the first two chapters!

    Oh, Dadamoni! Too shy to chase after all the ladies who were throwing themselves at him… :D

  17. Oh good! Nice that it’s available there! it’s such a good read.

  18. Re. the Noor Jehan question…

    I’m just sort of discovering Noor Jehan; I’ve gotten into a Noor Jehan kick of sorts…

    Having read up on her a little, I also said to myself that 1952 would have been too late for her to be in a Bollywood film. IMDb says she’s in this, but I’ve found them to be wrong before (and might be wrong yet again on another point – see my P.S. below).

    I’m seeing a lot of clips of Noor Jehan as a young woman, on YouTube (though most, unfortunately, have embedding disabled).

    Over on my blog, I recently posted a really nice one of her from 1942. I also saw and posted a clip of her playing Anarkali in 1958.

    If you’d like to see a scene with her from 1952, here’s a good one that I found:

    P.S. Also curious about Nalini Jaywant’s relationship to Shobhana Samarth, so I looked that up… According to a few sites, she was Samarth’s cousin, not her sister, though they did live under one roof like step sisters at one point. (Detailed the most in an article in the Tribune (India):

    P.P.S. Don’t think from all this that I really know anything (especially compared to you!)… I’m very new at all this, just having fun doing a little research – and showing that IMDb is wrong once again! (Just getting annoyed at that site. Once, I was looking up a film list for Padmini (as I often do) and it claimed that she was in a film made in 1935…)

  19. Hi Richard :-) imdb actually may have the right Noor Jehan for this—they credit Noor Jehan (II) and I think Noor Jehan (I) is the *famous* one that I was thinking of. Having said that, yes imdb is very often wrong, especially when it comes to Indian films.

    Thanks for the links! The Tribune article is really great and sounds very well informed. I love finding bits and pieces of biographies like this.

  20. Hi, Memsaab. If there are two Noor Jehans, the IMDb listings are still very confusing or confused. They list Noor Jehan (II) as having starred in movies in the 30s as “Baby Nurjehan,” but that’s something that applies to the famous Noor Jehan, according to Wikipedia, at least. (Bose’s book also mentions Noor Jehan starring in productions as a child – and she was only 16 when she made her big breakthrough in 1942.) Could there have been two “Baby Nurjehans” (whether the “Nur…” part is one word or two) acting in films in the 30s? It seems uncanny to me. Though I’m not completely ruling it out either. At any rate, I imagine it will take more time than I have at the moment to get to the bottom of this mystery and fully confirm or discount this idea. :)

    • Richard,

      There are atleast 3 Noor Jehan’s who worked in Bollywood. One the famous Noor Jehan who migrated to Pakistan. Second, the character artiste Noor Jehan who worked in films like Sofia (1946), Abidah (1947), Mela (1948) etc.

      And believe it or not, there is another lesser known singer Noor Jehan, who sang for Madan Mohan’s Heer Ranjha (1970).

      The famous Noor Jehan, started her career as a child artiste in K.D. Mehra’s Pind Di Kuri (first Punjabi film produced) in 1935.

      • Mr. Jinx, thanks for the info. In the year-plus since I wrote the comment above, I have become a bigger fan of Noor Jehan (she is my favorite singer!), so I have learned a few more Noor Jehan-related things, including the info about other Noor Jehans. (I even know about that other singer named Noor Jehan… In one forum, I saw that there were three singers named Noor Jehan!)

        And, btw, I have noticed a scene with the other Noor Jehan in Mela…in which she is actually singing in the voice of Zohrabai!

        But there is still a question in my mind about whether there was another Baby Noor Jehan acting in the 1930s (though it’s possible – did that character actress also act as a child?)… And I still would maintain that when IMDb has listings such as I and II for the same actress name, they often are simply confused, not separating the listings accurately according to actually different individuals.

        • Sorry for the very late reply. Yeah it is quite possible that another Noor Jehan was acting in the 1930’s because the name Noor Jehan shows up in film directories as early as 1932!

          “In one forum, I saw that there were three singers named Noor Jehan!”<—– I am sure you are talking about Hamaraforums, where Noor Jehan fans, including me, Priya, Pulkit, Inaam and many others were active till the sudden death of Priya (who was one of the biggest fans of Noor Jehan)

          "And I still would maintain that when IMDb has listings such as I and II for the same actress name, they often are simply confused, not separating the listings accurately according to actually different individuals."<—– Yes you are right, but we cant blame them either because most Sub-continent films from the 1930's don't even exist, and the ones which do are saved at that the film archive in Pune and were never released commerically. The only way to clear the confusion (if the artistes themselves are dead) is to watch those films and see if it really features that particular star, but in most cases it isn't possible now. Same confusion arises with many other stars with same or similar names. For Example – Meena (so many in Bollywood and Lollywood)

        • The Noorjehan in “Mela” is the lady who plays the stepmother of Nargis. The song by Zohrabai was picturised on an extra.

  21. Both Noor Jehans are listed as being in films as “Baby Noor/Nur Jehan” It’s not completely unbelievable, given that all female child stars were billed as Baby.

    I have time to get to the bottom of it, but not the energy :-)

  22. I hope this won’t hurt anyone’s religious feelings, but reading about Noor Jehan reminded me of a delightful joke in an article written by Shashi Tharoor on his college days. He attended a famous Christian college that had a Biblical quotation in the main hall – “And Jesus said I am the light of the world.” According to him, a professor translated that as “Aur Jesus ne kaha mein noor jehan hoon.”

  23. Anonymous, that is HILARIOUS. :-) Thanks for sharing!

  24. Thanks for putting up the story.
    Though Its very difficult to motivate one to watch these old black and white movies. But some of these movies have great musical compositions which makes me read about the movie story.

    thanks once again for putting the twisted story so well


  25. Abhishek, the quality is not always very good, but the stories are and if you can get used to the poor sound/video it’s a nice experience to watch these old ones. The music for this music is just wonderful. I think my favorite soundtrack from Hindi films is Roshan’s “Taj Mahal” from 1963.

  26. Hi memsaab,
    Thanks for the wonderful way you have described this story. I would love to get my hands on a copy of this movie :( By the way, do you know where I could find a list of songs in this movie? I heard there were a couple of songs by Pankaj Mallick in this movie, but I can’t find them. Can you help? Thanks!

  27. You could look on Earthmusic or Kaustubh (links are in my sidebar) for a list of the songs. Roshan wrote the music and the only singer besides Lata that I know of is Talat Mahmood…there may be another film called Nau Bahar with Pankaj Mallick singing?

  28. Dear Memsaab

    I came across this blog a few months ago and since then, I have visited this site from time to time. Some very interesting discussions take plsace. I am impressed by your involvement in all these Hindi films. It wouldn’t be an exagerration to say, that I am obsessed with films and especially the music of this era. My favourite period is that between 1932 and 1957. I think some of the most outstanding music was created during this period. I try to collect the lost music of this era, and thanks to the internet and friends all over the world, I have amassed a huge collection of these songs which are not available commercially and have not been available for a very long time.

    Roshan in my opinion was a very under-rated music director who got his due recognition very late. He created some of the most outstanding scores. Naubahar is one of his best. Most of the songs were sung by Lata Mangeshkar, one by Rajkumari and one by Talat Mahmood. Whether it was the vivacious “Unke bulawe pe dole mera dil” or the tenderness of “Dekho ji mera jiya churaye liye jaaye” or the devotion and pathos of “Ai ri main to prem diwani” (which Lata has included in her best ten list) or the restlessness and anguish of “Woh paas nahin majboor hai dil, hum aas lagaye baithe hain”, Lata has shone like a dazzling star.

    Since I was a teenager, I have been mesmerised by its soundtrack. In the late seventies, when I bought my first cassettte recorder, I did not have money to buy many blank cassettes. There was a shop in Delhi who would record LPs onto a cassette. In that shop, one day I saw the LP of Naubahar. There was another LP in the shop of Bhimsen Joshi. As I had only one blank cassette, I had to make a very difficult decision to choose one LP to be recorded. At the time I chose Bhimsen Joshi. I promised myself that I will save some money very soon and come back for Naubahar. Three weeks later when I came back, alas the LP was gone. It was only three decades later that I eventually found it in a shop in Southall, London.

    Sorry for this extremely long first posting on your website, but reading the discussion about this film brought back such memories and emotions flooding back.

    Best Wishes to all


  29. Hi Keshav :) I’ve said it before on here and I’ll say it again now: Roshan’s “Taj Mahal” is possibly the music I would choose to take with me into exile from all other music. He’s a genius!

  30. Thanks a lot for the lovely story.
    It was just a chance how I came across your blog. But now I am hooked and will be a regular visitor.
    I agree to a large extent with Keshav Nigam that the most melodious period for the Hindi film music was pre-1960 (though, speaking for myself, I would not like to go as far back as 1932 – the early days, the days of Alam Ara, etc.). Just think of all the great music directors, singers, lyricists; they were all together then. Each one trying to do their best. that was really the period when melody was the king ( or queen).
    Avadh Lal

  31. Welcome Avadh :-) I think the 50s and 60s were really special, but I also love a lot of the music from the 70s…and some from the 40s…oh, I’m glad I don’t have to settle for only one decade! :-) Glad you like the blog, and please keep coming back and commenting.

  32. Well, what they failed to mention in the Tribune article is that not only Shobana Samarth starred in many movies along with Motilal but also had an affair with him. He once followed her to her hill side bungalow in a helicopter!
    i remember her telling this in some interview somewhere or was it at this nutan’s fan homepage?

  33. Oh, Roshan! He and R.D. Burman are the twin musical passions of my life…well actually Asha Bhonsle too, so that would be 3 loves…monogamy is overrated anyway.:-)

    The soundtrack of Nau Bahar is among Roshan’s finest and reason enough to see the film. As a bonus, the Ashok Kumar-Nalini Jaywant jodi is among my favorites and it was lovely to see them in a sweet story like Nau Bahar. Bit of Bollywood lore -Ashok and Nalini had a long affair that began around the time of their first movie together, “Samadhi”(1950) and ended in the early 60s!

    • GET OUT!!!! Oh they would be my most favorite couple ever—I think Ashok K. was just so handsome during this period. And she is just gorgeous too. Wow.

      I have the same Roshan love you do :-) Taj Mahal is my favorite…

  34. Shobhana Samarth having an affair with Motilal, Ashok Kumar having an affair with Nalini Jaiwant, Pran having an affair with Kuldip Kaur- what were these oldtimers upto ?

  35. Talking about affairs, the rumour was that Nutan was Shobana Samarth’s and Motilal’s daughter just as Dimple was rumoured to be Raj Kapoor and Nargis’s daughter… but i guess these are just rumours…Dimple looks way too much like her mother (Betty Kapadia)…..

  36. HAHAHAHA! They were up to the same stuff people are nowadays too :-D

    It’s love that makes the world go around.

  37. @bluelotus: If you watch Awara just before the Dum bhar jo udhar mooh phere sequence, Nargis looks just like Dimple. I am sure that is what spurred there rumours. I have had people saying – Its a fact, no doubt about it.

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