Darwaza (1962)

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Darwaza (1962)
Cast:  Neelo, Yousuf Khan, Talish, Nazar, Panna, Laila, Naeem Hashmi
Director: Saifuddin Saif
Nutshell:  Musical melodrama showcasing Neelo about an evil lecherous landlord destroying the hard but idyllic lives of the villagers with his devious new westernized values.

 

This old-fashioned melodrama was another perfect showcase to display Neelo at the height of her popularity in 1962.  She had enthralled audiences for a handful of years in which she had already amassed over 40 films in both Urdu and Punjabi and her popularity chart was higher than ever in the early 1960s.  This time around she plays a spirited village belle madly in love with Yusuf Khan, an earnest peasant farmer; not a wealthy man in monetary terms, but everything that Neelo desires in a man and seemingly it is a match made in heaven.  Complications arise when two different city cads take a fancy to her and try to wrest her away from her happiness in the arms of her loved one.

The first cad is the village landowner’s son (Naeem Hashmi) upon whose acres the poor villagers toil to pay their dues and be allowed to subsist on the land.  The second is Talish, a big shot theatre star and producer from the bright lights of the city who is smitten and totally infatuated by Neelo and is adamant to drag her to the city one way or another.

Even though Yousuf and Neelo have no riches they are content with what they have but soon things change for the worse as the Landlord who graciously and generously allowed their loans to be written off becomes gravely ill and passes away leaving the estate in the hands of his evil, foreign educated and returned son whose ethics and fangled business ideas clash with those of his ailing father putting profit and personal gain above all other factors.  The dastardly Chhotay Nawab orders the loans to be reinstated which places an incredible burden on the toiling Yusuf and especially Neelo whose family have no means by which they can pay back the burden loans.

Chhotay Nawab tries different conniving ways to get Salma (Neelo) to be his but she stands firm until finally a destitute father begs her to comply as he is unable to pay the loan back and they have absolutely nothing to offer in exchange.  The only commodity he can offer is his daughter.  Yusuf is crushed but Neelo also can’t destroy her life by marrying the Nawab and so she flees to the big bad city hoping to be rid of the evil Nawab.  Once in the city she falls into the trap of Talish who grooms her as the cities top courtesan by teaching her classical singing and dancing.  He falsely keeps her faith by telling her that he will write a letter to Yusuf asking him to join her in the city but in reality, he has his own designs on the beautiful and somewhat helpless Salma, captured in the city as she is.

Poor Yusuf falls into a deadly spiral of depression and illness as his will to live dissipates without his beloved whose whereabouts he has absolutely no blue about.  He lies in his bed, withering away, being cared for by his mother and by Laila.  The only thing he insists up on is that the door be left open just in case Salma ever decides to return, but eventually Laila closes the door thinking that Salma has gone for good.

Eventually matters come to a head when Talish makes his move on Salma and his deception about writing the letter to Yusuf comes to the fore.  At the same time, the dastardly Nawab has arrived in the city and manages to find Salma and continue his nefarious plans that had been thwarted by her escape to the city.

A tragic end for Salma and Yusuf looks likely but they are given hope by some timely intervention by an unexpected source.  Will they be able to rekindle their relationship or will Salma be lost to the city for ever, constantly hounded by randy, cunning evil city dwellers?

The film is essentially a showcase for Neelo to display her range of talents and she has plenty of scope to impress.  The music is pleasingly melodious with one standout track “Piya Nahin Aaye” by Madame Noor Jehan and Ustad Amanat Ali yet the film could have done with less songs.  Yusuf Khan is decent in support while Talish shines once again playing himself pretty much and playing it well.  The villain Naeem Hashmi is impressive as is his slimy sidekick.  The film may not tread any new ground or make any breakthrough social or political statements yet it is solidly entertaining throughout without being exceptional in any particular manner.