Cast: Waheed Murad, Zeba, Rozina, Nirala, Ibrahim Nafees, Azad, Baby Jugnu.
Director: Parvez Malik
Nutshell: An attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Waheed Murad and the team that hit the bullseye with Armaan.
Waheed Murad was riding the crest of his immense wave of popularity in 1967. Armaan had been a stupendous hit and the same team combined to concoct an unofficial sequel aimed at a box office jackpot once again.
Waheed Murad, who produced as with Armaan, has a meaty role of the charming Dr. Aamir who works in an asylum treating patients with mental illnesses. He is immensely liked by the crazies within whom he treats with warmth and love rather than with discipline and routine. Just as he is charming, affable and full of wit, he is equally diligent and dedicated to his work and is the pride of the hospital and its owner.
He owes a huge debt to a kindly but crotchety Nawab who has helped to support him after the loss of his parents early on in life and the Nawab has intentions to have him marry his daughter played by Rozina. Frequently in a cast featuring Waheed Murad, Zeba and Rozina, the latter is often found playing the jilted and vengeful part of a love triangle but in this case, she plays Dr. Aamir’s BFF who is in fact in love with a ridiculous but charming fool by the name of Jimmy; a passionate and rather mad devotee of western pop music.
Dr. Aamir cheerfully attends to his patients during the day and most of them are incorrigible but there is usual a cheerful banter going on except for one particular patient who remains a total loner and an enigma. Ibrahim Nafees refuses to speak or seems incapable of it. He appears in some sort of deep traumatic shock and despite all Dr. Aamir’s attempts, he refuses to respond or open up in any way. His case remains the most challenging one in the hospital and also remains deadlocked.
Meanwhile Dr. Aamir meets the mother of a young little girl he has befriended who is visiting his benefactor the Nawab’s mansion. When he comes across the little girl’s mother he is smitten by her beauty, her manner and her charm and falls head over heels in love with her despite the fact that she is a widow with a six-year-old daughter. Waheed Murad slowly charms his way into the woeful and clearly heartbroken but beautiful widow Zeba but she hesitates to form a bond due to the fact that she is widowed and society doesn’t look kindly upon such women.
After many quite delightful songs Zeba is slowly won over by the dashing Dr. once she realizes his intentions are entirely noble. Meanwhile he takes on those who frown upon his marrying a widow and ends up with a fierce ally in the local Maulvi who praises his nobility in doing the good Muslim thing by marrying not only a widow but a widow with a child, and to support them through life. Initially the Nawab is disgusted that his lovely daughter Rozina be refused for a widow and her reacts in a manner that reflect the standards of society. However, a timely lecture by the owner of the Asylum soon sets him straight and he has his priorities sorted out for him. The Nawab makes his peace and rights his wrongs and soon the controversial wedding is blessed and on its way.
Life is hunky dory for the young dr. and his widow and the little girl but then suddenly at a function held at the asylum by the inmates in honour of the newlyweds Zeba wanders down the corridor and comes to the cell of Ibrahim Nafees and becomes very, very agitated. Finally, at three quarters of the way through the film, the plot thickens.
Soon all sorts of dark secrets begin to emerge from Zeba’s murky past and Waheed Murad is forced to separate from his new wife leaving her both bewildered and confused. Ibrahim Nafis regains his memory which turns out to be a dreadful turn of events and now things start to get seriously out of control. He was better left as the panic stricken mute but now that they have stirred his memory, they have also reminded him of the psychotic brute he was in the past.
Just as Zeba had found happiness and a support in life, just as the little girl had found herself somebody she could proudly call her father and just as Waheed Murad had got all he yearned for…. all hell breaks loose. It takes another stirring melody, a lengthy car chase, some dastardly villainy and some rousing speeches to finally arrive at a satisfying conclusion.
Ehsan has many plus points; Waheed Murad at the peak of his powers is a formidably charismatic and charming. He acts with ease and waltzes through romance and comedy scenes with as much ease and poise as he does the dramatic and emotional drama. Zeba is well, Zeba. Beautiful, demure, perfect, simple, virtuous and all that. She could play this part in her sleep and repeated similar roles throughout her career. Highly efficient yet never really pushing or challenging herself to go to another level. And yet angelic and stunningly beautiful as she was during her prime. Not perhaps best remembered for the range of roles she took on though. The fact is there is a stunning sameness to most of Zeba’s work which is either by design or by accident or both. Nirala and Rozina are quite charming if utterly frivolous and the supporting cast are perfectly capable.
The story doesn’t shake the system and yet it has an important point to make in the way that society devalues and judges a widow. The notion that a man in his prime would chose to marry a widow with a six-year-old child is not only fresh but also an important attempt at explaining a situation from as a virtue of the faith.
Ibrahim Nafees shines in his short but important role and quite shocking is the fact that a child artiste is not only tolerable but fairly personable as well.
The film achieved a Silver Jubilee status but was not quite the barnstorming hit that Armaan had been. After all these years Ehsaan remains a pleasing, well performed romantic comedy from the glory days of Lollywood. A polished and accomplished film even if it took an age to reach the drama contained within.