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1951 130’ b&w Hindi d Nitin Bose pc Filmkar s Azim Bazidpuri lyr Shakeel Badayuni c Dilip Gupta m Naushad. lp Dilip Kumar, Nargis, Ashok Kumar, Nimmi, Baby Tabassum, Murad, Jal Merchant, Parikshit, Baby Anwari, Niharika Devi, Umasashi, Surender, Agha Miraz, Yakub, Sapru

Adapting much of the Saigal type of melodrama (Street Singer, 1938), the tale opens with adolescents Shamu (D. Kumar) and childhood sweetheart Mala (Nargis). Mala’s rich father (Sapru) disapproves and when the children have an accident while horse-riding (a portent of the tragedy to come), he has Shamu and his mother evicted. The trauma kills the mother and turns Shamu blind. He is rescued and brought up by Champa (Nimmi) and her canny guardian, Choudhury (Yakub). Champa loves Shamu but he cannot forget Mala. Dr Kishore (A. Kumar), an eye surgeon moved by the music Shamu sings on the streets, restores the hero’s eyesight. Shamu then sees that Mala, to whom he has dedicated his life, is engaged to his benefactor, Dr Kishore, and he puts his eyes out again. Dilip Kumar’s best-known tragic performance clearly evokes the Oedipus legend with blindness signifying an escape from the unbearable present and mourning for a lost innocence. The film, however, splits its lead protagonists, e.g. through turn-wipes repeatedly juxtaposing Dilip against Ashok Kumar and Nargis against Nimmi, a technique that evokes the Bengali literary melodrama (as does the cliche of the eye operation). In spite of the many unimaginative and maudlin sequences, some attempts at realism resemble aspects of Satyajit Ray’s approach, e.g. the long track along the kitchen floor in Champa’s hovel or the changing light patterns on the ceiling behind Shamu when he sings Naseeb dar pe tere azmaane aya hoon. Bimal Roy edited the film.