JHOOMAR Shows the way
Reviewed by I. A. REHMAN
CREDITS: Banner: Noor Minar Pictures. Producer: Kh. Khurshid Anwar. Director: Masud Pervez. Story and Screenplay: Kh. Khurshid Anwar. Music: Kh. Khurshid Anwar. Songs: Qateel Shifai. Dialogues: S. Imtiaz Ali Taj. Photography: Nabi Ahmed. Audio- graphy: S. Afzal Husain. Cast: Mussarat Nazir. Sudhir, Laila, Bibbo, Rakhshi, Ghulam Mohammad and Alauddin. Release in November 1959
THE most characteristic feature of the work of Khurshid Anwar-Masud Pervez unit is their endeavour to broaden the scope of filmic expression to bring screen spectacle closer to natural drama. With their technical skill and understanding of the medium they combine an admirable courage to experiment.
In their latest presentation, jhoomar, they have tackled one of the most fundamen- tal problems faced by film-makers in Pakistan as well as in India-the accommodation of music in the narrative. In the traditional set- up musical pieces are separate patches, put in rather arbitrarily, which hold up action and impair rational development. Some people have thought of overcoming this basic set-back by either eliminating the musical score altogether or by treating it as a part of the background music. Neither of the propositions satisfies the makers of Jhoomar, convinced as they are of the important place of music in our films. They have, therefore, launched a two pronged drive, purification of the film music and its adjustment as an integral part of the theme. This effort is more pronunced in Jhoomar than before and it is more successful as well.
Here is a musical score which does not distract by being a separate patch, which does not contradict characters or situations, but which furthers development, which, in short, just tells part of the story, of course, in notes. This achievement alone is sufficient to raise jhoomar far above the level of the traditional film. Here is something to learn from, for the public as well as the film-makers.
But this attempt at rationalising music- drama relationship, while most important from the point of view of those students of film art who want to bring local films in conformity with reason, is not an isolated factor. It is in fact part of a bigger scheme which aims at naturalising the whole content of the feature film. This may sound as a plati- tude to the theorist but anyone who knows what cinema in this country means can realise what a major task it is.
In Jhoomar this process is conducted in two parallel channels.
Firstly, the story is reduced into ele- mental human feelings and urges-brother's love for a sister, a. woman's urge to love and be loved, the conflict between social values and moral values, and courage to own and shoulder one's responsibility. These attributes are given to different characters with utmost care-a rustic for the elemental values, a con- scious being for qualities acquired.
Secondly, contents-characters and inci- dents resulting from the interplay of their emotions and thoughts-are placed at a locale which strictly corresponds to the subject. While basic instincts and emotions are projected the background is an undeveloped hill tract where the rustic cultivator tills the soil and where nature's beauty has not been spoiled by man's craze for artificial comfort. When the drama is created by the conflict of man's acquired sense and values the scene shifts to the city where physical objects-the buildings, the cars, the furniture-are also the products of human effort.
This much for the discriminating approach to the theme of 'Jhoomar'. The result-the spectator's standard for judging the film-amply proves the soundness of the approach
The film opens on a fast note. The scene is the bungalow of a rich man (Nazir Bedi) who is worrying about his daughter (Rakhshi). She has gone much too far in imitation of Western manners. The father is grieved and he decides to marry her off to a trusted young man, Sudhir. There is cleavage between the newly-wed couple from the very start and soon there is a disaster, a disaster which shatters the nerves of Sudhir Bedi advises him change of climate, offering him his hunt- ing lodge in the hills.
Here ends what should be taken as a pro- logue to the story. From the moment action is shifted to the hillside a different world is revealed to the audience. It is a beautiful valley. It green slopes, majestic trees, and singing streams. The people there are simple and honest. From the very beginning the audience is conscious of a true, natural, and fresh atmosphere. The sunrise, the flocks of sheep moving out for grazing, the music of the brook, the birds and the flowers-and the people-all make up the picture of a charming haven. Throughout it is looked at through the eyes of the principal characters-their joy is reflected in the flowers in bloom, and their grief transforms the silent trees into symbols of sorrow.
That this effect is maintained all along is mainly due to the efforts of the director, the photographer, and the artistes. From their bearing, dress, and speech the players look part of the countryside. One has to believe they are real people in a real place.
Into this valley comes Sudhir, a nervous wreck. Allauddin, a tenant, looks after him. Allauddin's sister. Musarrat,-a simple, un- spoiled, uninhibited daughter of spring- consoles him. It is love but their is hardly a conventional scene. There is restraint, but within reasonable limits, there is villainy but it can hardly be called that. The situation becomes tense; Allauddin sticks to his honour, Musarrat must follow her love, and Sudhir has a load on his conscience.
The scene once again changes to the city. Here takes place the grand clash of characters, their desires and the bondage to conscious thought. Here also the writer finally empha- sises the sanctity of marriage bond and the virtue of standing by one's duty. All the forces are brought together in a gripping court sequence, revealing what is high not noble about love, truth and sacrifice-the prime values of a living soul.
A GOOD SYNTHESIS
The film has the impact of romanticised realism which is the synthesis of compact screen-play, mature direction, correct port- rayal, appropriate music, and highly imagi- native camera-work. It moves along smoothly, stirring and entertaining the audience as it progresses Since the characters have been established as creatures with normal desires, qualities, and failings, and as there is nothing unnatural about the situations, the audience can share the happiness the pathos, and the tension that is there.
The scriptwriter adheres to the theme faithfully. There is not the least digression, every scene has some meaning.
The director follows the script, in letter and mood, and with the excellent support of the cameraman creates warm scenes of life.
The music is subservient to the same mood. The basis is classical and folk, the main ingredient is melody, with rhythm conform- ing to the situation or mood of the person concerned. As usual in Khurshid Anwar's scores the silent pause has its own value, it gives meanin2 to the notes. And it is a delight to watch young singer Nahid Niazi's growing command over expression. The recording also is good.
The players have to depict a variety of characters. Musarrat and Sudhir appear more active in the sense they translate their thoughts and emotions in various forms of physical expression ---they laugh and jump with joy, when they are hurt they cry like simple folk, and if they intend to do wome- thing their intention finds unmistakable expression. It is most refreshing to see Musar- rat shorn of false glamour, looking every bit a mountain belle. Hers is a great perfor- mance and there is something to note when it is remembered that her previous best per- formance was in 'Zehr-i-lshq' In histrionics, however, Allauddin reaches a new height. The director has accommodated the star's irrepressible zest for always doing something and in turn he has brought restraint when required. No doubt, it is a superb piece of acting. As compared to these two stars, bubbling with life, Sudhir's character will look less active. There is a reason. He lives in a shell, guarded by his conscience. His conflict is purely mental, it can be felt and not seen. That the impression is near the object is a tribute to the star who is generally considered a 'very acting' type. Smaller roles are filled with distinction by Rakhshi, Ghulam Moham- mad, Azurie, Diljeet and Laila.
Mention has already been made of Nabi Ahmad's excellent photography. In the strictly technical field his contribution rates second to none. His imaginative placing and sense of lighting give the film both mobility and substance.
That the film fulfils the high expectations from the team behind it is not to be denied It shows the way how to sensibly combine art with entertainment. The unit will improve the scheme and perhaps other will also join them. The fact to be remembered is the principle laid down in 'Jhoomar'-if the artist has to compromise with the box-office the compromise has to be on the artist's terms.