Jaal (1952)

04 May

The first time I saw Jaal was in the mid-80s during the assembly polls for Maharashtra. It didn’t leave much of an impression on me. And after the somewhat disappointment with Baaz, I wasn’t expecting much from Jaal. The review on Upperstall gave me a little hope. But, wow, wow, was quite impressed with the end result. Maybe it is just good not to have any expectations (Expectations reduce Joy!).

As the credits roll, I am astonished to see Raj Khosla not only as assistant director but also in the supporting cast! Is it the same Raj Khosla or is it a different person? I don’t know much about his life history. Does anybody out there know more?

The story begins with the above lines. Translated it would mean

Don’t listen if anybody says anything bad
Don’t talk about it if anybody does anything bad
Hold him back if anybody goes on the wrong track
Forgive, if anybody commits a mistake

So, it seems that this is going to be the leitmotif of the story. But it well can become the leidmotif (pain motive)!
Is this from the Bible? I am asking, cause afterwards in the church the padre is shown saying the same lines during his sermon.

But we get more warnings before the film starts

In this story good and bad people are shown, they are not true, but their virtues and vices are and in every nation and every folk you will find them. Now to the preface

On the western shore of India there are small foreign settlements, where people from other countries come for business (thanks to bollyviewer for the correct translation of tijarat). From such a settlement a ship is leaving……

Among the people waiting to board the ship is a woman (Poornima), who is nervous and asks her companion, Tony (Dev Anand) not to carry out the job today. He reassures her and sends her on the ship, where she gets caught, but manages to escape the police, by jumping off the ship onto a fishing boat. The scene moves to a fish-auction, where Tony buys off all the fish from Maria (Geeta Bali) and her companion Simon (Ram Singh).

While they are going back to their settlement, they discover the fugitive in their boat. She tells them that she is escaping from her cruel husband.  Maria takes her to her house, where she lives with her blind brother Carlo (K. N. Singh) and introduces her to him as Lisa. Carlo doesn’t take a big liking to the new guest. The policeman on visit tells them about the runaway smuggler, who was smuggling gold.
In the night, Maria sees Lisa hiding the gold in the garden. She takes it away and hides it.

When confronted by Carlo, Lisa confesses everything and tells how a man seduced her and forced her into robbery. But she doesn’t reveal Tony’s name and promises to be every grateful to Maria. Well, she could have started to be grateful and reveal HIS name!

Meanwhile Tony is being pressed by the Arabs to get them their gold back.  They catch him, while he is bathing in a trough! To save his gold, he enters into Maria and Simon’s service as a helping hand. Very confusing, why doesn’t he just steal it?

Lisa recognises him and when she sees Maria falling for him, she tells her about Tony’s true identity. The picturisation of this scene is done beautifully. Maria and Lisa sitting on the Ferris Wheel and with every quarter movement of the wheel and Lisa’s narration not only Maria’s perspective of Tony changes but also her opinion.

But Tony just has to sing “Yeh raat, yeh chandni” in Hemant Kumar’s voice and she comes running back to him. Well, I think, she is 18, and looking back at my own life, I tell myself, she is entitled to her mistakes.

And after such a scene, when you she her returning home crying, you know what has happened.  (I wonder about depiction of such scenes in the 50s in Indian cinema and now in European cinema. In European cinema of the present times, after such a night, the girl would be shown to be cheerful. Not that one is right and the other is wrong, am just wondering at the difference)

Meanwhile we learn about Tony’s plans to use Maria to get the smuggled gold to the Arabs (And not to sell her to them as written in Upperstall review by ThethirdMan).
Lisa tries to warn her, but when she sees that it doesn’t help much she spills the beans to Simon. Carlo overhears them. Carlo and Simon beat up Tony, which only makes Maria sympathize with him. Just imagine, they drag the blind Carlo to the ends of the world so that he can beat up Tony or be present at the climax scene!
Well, you know this is just a movie, hence you know how it will end, and therefore I won’t bore you with questions like: Will Maria be saved from Tony’s clutches and since I also don’t have any humorous questions. I will leave it at that.

What I liked about the movie:
The first and foremost thing which I liked is that the characters, who are all Christians (except the Arabs) are not shown speaking like “Tumhe kya mangta hai man?” They speak good Hindi with good, chosen Urdu words but not exaggerated. Fisherfolk are not shown as drunkards. The dialogues are great. Very good acting by all the actors without going overboard, there are enough moments for that, but the director, it seems, held tight reins. The music by S. D. Burman is great. Rediscovered many good songs like “Pighla hai sona”, “De bhi chuke hum dil nazrana” and “Chori, chori mere gali”! The duet “De bhi chukhe hum dil nazrana” reminds one of the similar duet in Baaz, both are picturised on a tree. Last but not least it was a pleasure to see K. N. Singh not forced to raise his right eye brow.

What I didn’t like about the film:
There is hardly any character development. The only one is that of Tony’s and that also right at the end, which though the dialogue writer and director have tried to make it look convincing is not really convincing enough. It would have been nice to see it happen gradually.


Does it deserve a remake? I’m not so sure.
But anyway just in case if there are any plans ;-), then here is my suggestion:
Tony: Abhishek Bachchan
Maria: Preity Zinta
Lisa: Katrina Kaif
Carlo: Jackie Shroff/Suneil Shetty
Director: Zoya Akthar

By the way just like in Baazi, we see the director here again, but only in a song as a fisherman.


Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Bollywood, Guru Dutt Series


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 responses to “Jaal (1952)

  1. bollyviewer

    May 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I remember watching this in the good old DD days, and being very disappointed! I kept waiting for Tony’s change of heart, for him to change for the love of a good woman, but he was so stubbornly hell bent on being bad (or maybe he found Geeta Bali as hard to like as I did, in this film!) and Maria was so dedicated to loving him, it got monotonous. I dont remember KN Singh though, so maybe I should re-watch it – or maybe not, because I LOVE his raised eye-brow and wouldnt recognise him without it! 😉

  2. bollyviewer

    May 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    PS: tijarat means business or trade.

    • harveypam

      May 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

      Me too, even I was waiting for it, but Tony was damn stubborn about it. But that is what comes when you are stubborn, he has to go to jail and do chaki-pisaving (copyright: Veeru).
      My version of the end is that, Tony lands in Jail for twenty years. Maria sees the point that waiting for him is futile and marries Simon. Lisa marries Carlo. The together establish a fishing cooperative and ecological tourism cooperative and the whole village profits from that and the beautiful mangrove forests (which are shown at the end) come under protecttion as national parks.
      The sequel to the movie: Tony comes out after twenty years of jail and wants revenge and joins with evil forces to destroy the national park (they have found oil there). Maria’s daughter and Carlo’s son save the day with the help of lots of animals, while singing to songs by A. R. Rahman.

      Thanks for the correction! I will change that immediately. While translating I was just thinking of the reason why everybody visits Goa or Daman and Diu. 😉

  3. dustedoff

    May 5, 2010 at 5:27 am

    I think the Raj Khosla in this may well have been the director. If you’ve seen Solvaan Saal, he also appears in that – as himself.

    For me the main attraction of Jaal is its music – fabulous! I remember, when I was in school, our Hindi text book had a poem titled Pighla hai sona, by Sahir Ludhianvi. I very happily showed it to my father, saying “Look! Sahir Ludhianvi’s poetry is in our book!” Only later did I discover that it was a song from this film. 🙂

    • harveypam

      May 5, 2010 at 11:33 am

      I haven’t seen Solva Saal as yet. I will have to try and get a copy of it. But altough I tried hard, I couldn’t find anybody, who looked similar to him.

      Isn’t the music great!!! Wow!
      You had Pighla hai Sona in your Hindi textbook? Wow, we only had patriotic hindi film songs as poems. And I can’t remember any except for one which is just hard to erase from my memory.
      “he bhagwaan mujhe duniya ki sewa ka vardaan do”
      I catch myself often humming these lines!

  4. pacifist

    May 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Aren’t the names short and sweet – Baazi, Jaal.
    Think of the names that got longer with time, and today most are a sentence – khelen hum jee jaan se.

    I haven’t seen this film. Must rectify that as soon as possible. 🙂
    Like your version of the end and its sequel.

    • harvey

      May 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      You are right, I didn’t notice it that way. so did Raj Kapoor start the trend of long names with his Jis Desh mein Ganga behti hai?
      I wonder if there are older films with long names?

      I am sure you will like the film and if not you are bound to love the wonderful songs!

      • sophy

        May 8, 2010 at 12:16 am

        “I wonder if there are older films with long names?”

        I can think of a couple of Raj Kapoor ones right off the bat. The names, both long and short, just kept getting used over and over again. There is Baazi 1951, 1968 (with a very scrumptious Dharam ji) and 1995.

        • harvey

          May 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

          You are right, the names get all repeated! There is Baazi, Awara, Sharabi.
          The name Jis Desh mein Gang Behti hai was sort of parodied in Jis Desh mein Ganga rehta hai.. I think that was a film with Rajnikant!

  5. memsaab

    May 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I see that you watched a vcd of it? I only have it on dvd (Nupur as I recall) and it was so chopped up that it was an hour and half, just barely…there was basically no story left, just a series of interludes that didn’t really connect to each other. Raj Khosla did like to make little cameo appearances, like Hitchcock 🙂

    • harvey

      May 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

      Yeah, that’s true! I had a VCD. Nupur quality is oftne awful, but which DVD company has it really good.
      I think you willl like the film, Geeta Bali looks fabulous and so does Dev. Raj Khosla was starting to imitate his mentor Guru Dutt in th eform of cameo appearances. The latter liked it so much, that he started appearing full time in his movies! 😉

  6. bollywoodeewana

    May 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Ever since you asked the question is thss from the bible? i’ve been racking my head trying to find it, and i have to say i stumbled across the passage below, i think that’s where its from
    Matthew 5:40-44

    • harveypam

      May 23, 2010 at 10:09 pm

      But it is not the same is it?
      But thanks for searching.


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