Tamasha (1952)

Starring Dev Anand, Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Kaushalya, Bipin Gupta, Sunalini Devi, Randhir

One of the big hits of the year from Bombay Talkies produced by Ashok Kumar and Sarak Vacha, “Tamasha” had a narrative far ahead of its times, the action spread over 16 eventful days. On the surface, a young heir-apparent, Dilip (Dev Anand) is hopelessly in love with an aspiring film actor, Nayantara (Kaushalya) who together with her scheming mother(Sunalini Devi), a struggling director (Randhir) and assistant actually wants him to finance her launching pad. The stumbling block is Dilip's ailing grandfather, Rai Saheb (Bipin Gupta) who is dead against the alliance and constantly warning him to break away from the actress that will otherwise only bring shame to the family. Although Dilip keeps assuring him that he has severed all ties, and is, in fact, dating a homely girl from a middle class family, he is actually besotted with the actress who is simultaneously in an unholy alliance with big star Ashok Kumar (Ashok Kumar). Persuaded by Rai Sahib, Dilip hires the services of Kiran (Meena Kumari) as his new love interest.

As Kiran gets more and more comfortable as the housekeeper, Dilip gets caught in the whirlpool of his own creation, drowned in his infatuation with Nayantara and admiration for Kiran. Mummy, the director and Nayantara conspire and photograph Dilip in intimate moments with the latter, start blackmailing and threaten to take them to court. After some melodramatic scenes, actor Ashok Kumar brings in a dramatic end to the drama, teasingly telling the director and the heroine, “ Kaise raha yeh twist climax mein ? (How was this twist in the climax),” a dialogue the actor repeatedly deploys in the film.

It was unusual, and first in many ways: this is the only film in which Anand and Kishore Kumar acted together; this was both Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari's outing with Dev; the only one in the evergreen hero's long and distinguished career where he is not seen singing a solo or a duet. Also the dialogue by famous Urdu writer, Krishan Chandar: “ Samajhdar log dil se nahin dimag se mohabbat karte hai (The wise use their head not heart to be in love),” actor Ashok Kumar tells a besotted Dilip; “ Mohabbat usi ka naam hai jo qurbaniyan na de (Love is that which does not give sacrifices)”.

Manna's turn

Manna Dey took over as music director after the untimely death of the original composer Khemchand Prakash. Five of the nine songs penned by Bharat Vyas and set to music by Manna Dey — Lata numbers (“Armanon ki nagri ujad gayi”, “Kyon aakhiyan bhar aayi”) or Geeta Dutt's “Raat mere meetha meetha” or Asha Bhosle's “Thi jinse pal bhar ki pehchan — nor Khemchand Prakash's compositions with Lata, “Mere chhote se dil ko tod chale” or Kishore Kumar, “Jab miyan biwin raazi” contributed to the success of the film. The highlight song was “Koi jal jal mere”. Kishore also rendered the mediocre “Khali peeli kahe ko akha”.

Directed by Phani Majumdar from his own screenplay, it had cinematography by Roque M Layton, and editing by Raghu Tipnis with choreography by Lacchu Maharaj. A young Meena Kumari with a sparkle in her eyes and an impish smile was quite the opposite of the accomplished tragedienne she became immortalised as. Dev Anand looked much more comfortable, though somewhat awkward in the romantic sequences, than in his earlier outings. Bipin Gupta was brilliant, Kaushalya just passable. Even in a side role of Rajju, Dilip's half brother gave a clear vision of his capabilities as a light, facile-footed performer, a much thinner version of his later successful star.


“Tamasha” was an unusual film in which both Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari appeared with Dev Anand.

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