Insan aur Gaddha (1975)
Cast: Kemal, Nisho, Rozina, Rangeela, Aslam Parvez
Nutshell: Attempted Fable cum satire about Man’s inhumanity misses the mark
Lollywood’s version of Raj Kapoor (looks if not talent-wise) Kemal wrote, produced, directed and starred in this ambitious attempt at social satire.
The film follows the tale of a simpleton Kemal who barely earns a living through his donkey driven cart. He is secretly adored by his pretty but desperately poor neighbour Rozina who is forced by the local goon to dance in the streets for an earning. Aslam Parvez is the evil mastermind at the centre of a gang of criminals who use whatever means available to them to extort money from the innocent and the weak. Thrown into the mix is an extremely wealthy landowner who is being tricked by his young nephew into signing away the inheritance in his name. Kemal, the donkey man, one day gives one of his two donkeys to a fellow suffering worker who begs and pleads with him for the second donkey Mangoo. Later we see that poor Mangoo is treated horribly by his new keeper and is desperately unhappy and yearning to go back to his original master Kemal.
In sheer desperation Mangoo the donkey prays to the heavens to allow him to live like a human being and lo and behold his wish is granted and Mangoo is turned into Rangeela – the human donkey! One-day Rangeela (Mangoo the donkey) happens to rescue the wealthy landowner from a murder attempt and subsequently inherits the old man’s millions, and then he begins to thwart the evil designs of Aslam Parvez and his cronies one by one. Meanwhile Nisho abandons her rich and scheming fathers millions for a life with simpleton Kemal, but only after she makes sure he has made millions in a share of the inheritance which his donkey Rangeela decides to share with his master.
Kemal’s story attempts to show the inhumanity in which man deals with his fellow mankind let alone animals and that how mankind’s added intelligence doesn’t amount to anything if put to negative uses. The film itself, despite its noble message is unfortunately totally infantile in the way it has been presented. The film panders to the lowest common denominator and therefore the humour is mostly of a silly funny visual nature rather than the sharp edged wickedly undercutting humour of Rangeela’s own Aurat Raj. In this movie unfortunately, the humour caters to the moronic element in the audience with its imbecilic sight gags and situational comedy. Kemal is irritating as the idiot with his lisp and Rangeela’s antics in trying to behave like an ass is precisely that – asinine and not particularly funny at all.
Nisho as the love interest does her job fairly well but Rozina as the poverty struck dancing girl steals the acting honours. Aslam Parvez as the sleazy, slimy, scheming creep Dilawer is the pick of the performers by a mile – exuding slime and menace as only he could. The film does have some serious problems other than being totally infantile and moronic in its approach. There is an extremely objectionable scene or two where it is clearly evident that the animals used in the film were being treated in a way that goes against the very point the film is trying to make. There is one scene in particular where a donkey is being thrashed and it is clearly visible that the donkey on film is cowering in terror and is in fact being struck by the actor, however lightly – it is clear that the animal was being terrorized. In another scene Kemal takes a small dog from his owner and physically throws it outside – again quite negating the point his film is trying to make about treating people and animals humanely as they are all created by God.
However clearly Kemal and had his eyes more on making his financial profits rather than actually trying to make a statement about how the lesser privileged are treated in our society. In this respect the film fails in making its point and instead comes across as just another crass, farce of a comedy which could and should have been so much better. Insaan aur Gaddha was certainly a good idea for an effective satire but alas it ends up as a mundane and painfully moronic slapstick farce of the most avoidable kind. A world apart from the masterful Aurat Raj which followed a few years later.