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AAN (1952)

Taming the Shrew


Aan - 1952

A critically acclaimed movie in India as well as abroad, and Aan had many firsts to its credit. The first Hindi movie to be shot in Technicolor, the first Indian movie to be released world over in more than 25 countries not just the Soviet Union but in US, UK as well and first ever to release in Japan with subtitles in over 15 languages by the name of ‘The Savage Princess’.

Aan also launched the career of Nadira. It was praised by the foreign press as well as personalities, in fact the Hollywood great Cecil B. DeMille personally wrote to Mehboob Khan the producer and director of the movie; praising it. It was the most expensive movie made at that time in true Mehboob Khan Tradition, no expenses were spared but collected 10 times over on the Indian and worldwide Box Office.

It was the first movie to be dubbed and released under the same name in the south. This costume drama about a fictitious kingdom was released on 4th July, 1952 in India. The second lead for which Nadira a newcomer was cast, that role was previously being considered for Nargis but because of her indulgence with the R.K.Studios at the time it did not work out. Madhubala who was also a big star by then also was considered but it did not work out and rightly so as Nadira did a fabulous job of the snooty princess. Nimmi who was a big star was the other heroine though in a small role had an impact on the movie and the audience and was offered many Hollywood roles too and the French dubbed movie was named after her character in the movie – Mangala. Aan had action, thrills and romance and was tastefully shot with great costumes and sets.

The movie commences with a contest of taming a royal wild horse. Jai Tilak (Dilip Kumar) the daredevil ordinary village head is able to tame the wild horse of the arrogant Princess Rajshree (Nadira) who is the sister of the Maharaja (Murad). This success of a commoner enrages her brother Shamsher (Prem Nath) who calls for a duel with a sword with Jai and loses the bout but is a sour loser. Though he tamed the horse, Jai loses his heart to the egoistic princess ignoring the overtures of his own childhood colleague Mangal (Nimmi) who is madly in love with him. Jai is besotted by the princess who is too snobbish to even acknowledge his advances or show her feelings. The royal musings take a turn for the worst when it is revealed the Maharaja intends to follow a democratic process rather than announce Shamsher as his heir. Shamsher makes a bid for Maharaja’s life but the king is saved only to disguise himself as a servant in his own palace.

This gives a freedom to Shamsher to rule with a reign of terror and oppression he also has a lusty eye for Mangala and kidnaps her, but Mangala consumes poison to save her modesty. This enrages Jai and he raids the palace and slays Shamsher, prompting Rajshree to attack the village, and in the melee Rajshree is kidnapped by Jai and makes her live a simple village life to tame her. Rajshree starts developing feelings for Jai but there is a turn of events as Shamsher who was presumed dead comes back to take his revenge. After a taut climax where the coup by Samsher is averted with the help of Jai and the Maharaja declares democracy.

The music of Aan was composed by the legendry Naushad and the soundtrack had 10 songs but only two sung by Mohammed Rafi stand out “Dil mein chupake pyar ka toofaan’ furor and ‘Maan mera ehsaan’. The entire background music of the movie was for the first time mixed overseas in London and many novel techniques were used to create the sound effects which were also the highlights of this film.

Aan was mounted lavishly with huge sets and the royal era grandeur was captured beautifully though the story left much to be desired. This is the only movie in which Prem Nath and Dilip Kumar acted together. This role of a swashbuckling hero with sword fights and horse rides was totally not in Dilip Kumar’s comfort zone but he made it look very natural and carried the movie on his able shoulders aptly supported by the enticing Nadira who had created quite a then but was relegated to vampish roles later in her career and the beautiful Nimmi. It is worth a look to see how the movies were made in the past and its lavish scale.

– Revisited by PAWAN GUPTA

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