Daman aur Chingari (1973)
Cast: Mohammad Ali, Zeba, Nadeem, Aalia, Aslam Parvez, Nayyar Sultana
Director: Shabab Kairanvi
Nutshell: Masala laden melodramatic “family drama” manages to hit the spot
Shabab Kairanvi, the director of this hit melodrama, was one of the powerhouse film makers of the 70’s with an enviable string of successes throughout the decade. Here he weaves together a potent, incredibly overwrought and melodramatic plot tailor made for local audiences who delight in such mega-dramatic fantasy.
The movie begins with its focus on the Alauddin household which includes his two gorgeous daughters Kauser (Zeba) and Kaiser (Aalia) and a good natured Aaya (Seema) and the mandatory moronic servant (Khalid Salim Mota). Zeba is very much in love with thoroughly decent Nadeem while younger sister Aalia is involved with a man of extremely dubious character played with his usual suave, debonair charm by super villain Aslam Parvez. Aalia’s father decides to get her married off to highly eligible bachelor Mohammad Ali but when Ali visits he mistakes Zeba for Aalia and is delighted at the prospect of marriage to the demure beauty – little does he know that his own bride is in fact supposed to be the wayward Aalia and not Zeba.
Meanwhile it is also decided that Zeba shall wed her beau Nadeem when he returns from a stint abroad after attaining his law degree. The slimy Aslam Parvez is confronted, insulted and humiliated by Alauddin and told to stay away from his daughter Aalia but this only makes the villainous creep more determined to destroy Aladdin’s entire clan. On Aalia’s wedding night (to Mohammad Ali who hasn’t yet seen her and thinks he is marrying Zeba), she is abducted by the dastardly Parvez and Alauddin is faced with the prospect of telling the bridegroom’s family that the bride has run away with her boyfriend! Zeba sacrifices herself for the family and steps into Aalia’s shoes and gets married off to a delighted Mohammad Ali who doesn’t realize how lucky he really is. Meanwhile Aalia is disgraced by Aslam then rescued by a Nightclub owning Madame who persuades her to follow in her own footsteps and wait for the day she can take revenge from Aslam.
Alauddin goes bonkers and sets his house on fire before going up in flames himself. Zeba tries to come to terms with losing her beloved Nadeem who in turn is devastated that he was ditched without so much as an explanation. As is the case with typical Lollywood melodrama, a bitter Nadeem returns home from his studies and comes to stay with his best friend, none other than, surprise, surprise Mohammad Ali! Then in another twist of fate, Zeba comes across her sister at the local nightclub and is told about what happened to her at the hands of Aslam…meanwhile Aslam takes the opportunity to try to blackmail Zeba for keeping quiet about Aalia the club dancer. At home things are just as fraught with Nadeem and Zeba attacking each other through double meaning dialogues sending poor Mohammad Ali into a total flap.
All this dramatic mayhem served up with several hit songs resulted in a major box office success for the Kairanvi clan. The songs were very popular in their day with Hamaare dil se mat khelo, khilona toot jayega by Mehdi Hasan being a big favourite while Madame Noor Jehan’s songs picturized on Aalia were also very popular particularly Aina tod de, Asli Chehre Par and Aik haath par suraj rakh do. The acting is impressive with Mohammad Ali outstandingly natural in his dialogue delivery and devastatingly overwrought in the punch drunk emotional scenes. He may not be the most handsome Lollywood hero (though some would argue against that) but he makes up for his lack of classical looks with his charisma and screen presence. Nadeem also does well in his role as the jilted lover but fails to match Ali for charm. Zeba also turns in an efficient performance managing to keep her pouting in check. Realism may not be her forte but she looks quite delectable and elegant and performs well enough in a role that hardly requires her to be a Shabana Azmi. Aalia has a rare juicy role in an Urdu film and does justice to her part being rewarded with at least three songs to herself.
This film was a career high for Aalia who wasn’t as popular in Urdu movies as she was on the Punjabi scene. Perhaps the pick of the lot is Aslam Parvez as the lecherous predator waiting to pounce on a helpless victim whenever the opportunity may present itself. It’s a role that he waltzed through several times in his glittering career – oozing slime and menace through every pore of his body. A better villain has yet to grace the Lollywood screen to this day. Daman aur Chingari may not have an original bone in its entire structure but that doesn’t stop it from being a perfect example of the perfect family oriented melodrama which is so much the hallmark of Lollywood cinema fantasy.
The one drawback is the inclusion of a comedy subplot featuring Munawar Zareef which takes up a good half hour of the movie including a parody song and is insufferably tedious and nearly succeeds in slowing the movie to a virtual standstill on one or two occasions. On the whole, the film is a good old fashioned “family drama” which manages to tug sufficiently at the audiences emotional levers to make it a worthwhile experience.