Paying Guest (1957)

Nutan in a still from the film.   | Photo Credit: email

Dev Anand is the paying guest in this film but Nutan it is who holds the key, literally, to the success of this romantic comedy. Every time the movie threatens to meander from the planned path, she restores quality with her vibrant presence. The close-up shots capture her pristine beauty even as Dev Anand competes to match her acting talents during one-on-one situations. Nutan emerges a winner by miles. Dev Anand, at 34, was a ‘veteran' of more than 40 movies and established star when “Paying Guest” was released. Nutan, barely 21, was new to the industry but not a novice, having won the Filmfare Award for “Seema”, a moving portrayal of an orphan who finds her way after immense struggle. “Seema” had given early indications of Nutan's commanding skills as an actor and the commercial success of “Paying Guest” was a confirmation of the fact that she could carry a movie on her own despite a weak plot.

Contrasting views

“Paying Guest” is about a struggling lawyer (Ramesh), who falls in love with his landlord's daughter, wins her heart only to lose her faith from a misunderstanding and eventually saves her from a murder charge. Nutan (Shanti) and Shoba Khote (Chanchal) have little love lost between them following a college debate that evokes contrasting views from them – Shanti prefers love over money. To prove her point, Chanchal marries a wealthy lawyer Dayal (played by Gajanan Jagirdar) but comes to grief when her husband finds little time for her. Chanchal hatches a plot with Prakash, Shanti's alcoholic brother-in-law (Yakub), to eliminate her husband. Shanti is implicated before Ramesh plays the saviour's role on predictable lines. The movie ends with the two uniting against a conspiring Chanchal and Prakash.

The pace of the movie, directed by Subodh Mukerji, and the story, by Nasir Husain, are nothing to rave about but the same cannot be said of the music.

Sweet melody

With a composer like Sachin Dev Burman and lyricist like Majrooh Sultanpuri, one can expect nothing but melody at its sweetest.

Dev Anand did not have Mohammad Rafi as his background voice in this movie. Kishore Kumar had begun to share the stage, giving Dev Anand some hits in “Nau Do Gyarah”, released the same year as “Paying Guest”. The year also featured Dev Anand and Nutan as the leading pair in “Barish”, a forgettable movie, but “Paying Guest” made an impact on the audience, thanks to Nutan and Sachinda's music.

The actor refers to the movie when he writes in his autobiography about ‘O Nigaahen Mastana', a duet by Kishore and Asha Bhonsle.

“The audience had swooned over both of us, as I had on Nutan!” wrote Dev Anand in his autobiography.

Another duet, ‘Ah Chhod Do Aanchal Zamana Kya Kahega' brings out the best out of Nutan – and Asha. You warm up early in the movie to Kishore singing ‘Mana Janab Ne Pukara Nahi' with Dev Anand riding a cycle, trying to woo Nutan. There is another solo by Kishore, ‘Hai Hai Hai Yeh Nigaahen' before Burman opts for Lata Mangeshkar to sing the memorable ‘Chand Phir Nikla', easily the pick of all the numbers, an evergreen composition that figures among her personal best.

Dev Anand and Nutan make a delightful pair to dominate the movie and create entertaining fare. But Nutan steals the show with her impeccable performance.

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Printable version | Sep 6, 2021 6:21:21 PM |

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