Mai zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya
Har fikr ko dhuen mei udaata chala gaya
The flamboyant actor Dev Anand has more or less lived a life in spirit of this song penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. His love for the medium and his enthusiasm for movies is unmatched. He may have ceased to be relevant and not in touch with the thought process of this generation, but he hasn’t ceased to make movies; good or bad. In fact, his movie making escapades are not decided by box-office success or failure, mostly failures.
In a bid to reach out to this generation Dev Anand decided to colorize his last black and white home production, Hum Dono. Reviewing this movie would be a redundant task since the film was a mega success of its times; the songs still ring true in our ears. Dev’s style and Sadhna’s beauty aside, Jaidev’s tunes and Sahir’s lyrics are timeless. I shall save myself the trouble of writing about the movie’s plot and story.
Interestingly, this is one of the few dual role movies where the personality exchange hasn’t been used for conning people or obtaining some hidden secrets etc. The army backdrop was just incidental to the movie, it could well have been two look-alikes in a train or air mishap where one gets rescued and the other finds his way into a lost-and-found list. Anyways, Anand replaces Verma as a favor; a promise that he had to keep. But what was supposed to be a brief support to Verma’s mother and wife turns into a moral dilemma for Anand. In the process of keeping Roma [Verma’s wife] happy and cheerful, he offends his true love Mita. And instead of being thankful for Anand’s honest attempts at consoling Roma, Verma accuses him of adultery.
Vijay Anand’s involvement in the writing department shows, the screenplay and dialogs were really good. The conflict between Anand and Verma and the interaction between Anand and Roma was written delicately but handled dramatically. Another new aspect for those times, 1960′s, was the conversation between Anand and his conscience. Usually, the voice of conscience was depicted by an echo effect; but here they brought the mand and his conscience face to face.
Of course the movie had some flaws too. The portrayal of army life was incorrect, the planning and strategizing during war sequences were not done well and Dev Anand was trying too hard to create distinct characters for the two roles which led to a lot of hamming as Mr.Verma. But lets not miss the woods for the trees. The wonderful songs and the theme of the movie more than make-up for the minor glitches.
And now I come to the big question: What’s the need to colorize the movie? Not just this movie, but any movie. I think the movie loses its charm, the heritage value and the tag of being a ‘classic’. No wonder that in 1980′s when talks were on, to colorize Citizen Kane and Casablanca, there was outrage among the movie makers. They felt that the studios were destroying an original piece of work, and future generation would be unaware of the fact that the movie was actually shot in black and white; thereby redefining the history of movie making.
At some level I concur with the people who are against colorization of movies. Lets not confuse between restoration and colorization. If an old classic has to be restored then its fine. If the restoration process requires pigmentation then I can understand and accept that too. But don’t harm an original piece by colorizing it, leave it untouched. With the help of new technology, distributors might think of adding background voices to silent movies! Please let a piece of history be as it is and let it speak for itself, we don’t really have to give a voice to it. The charm of Gone With The Wind or Shri 420 would be lost in color. In fact, some directors choose to make movies in black & white as in Schindler’s List or a pixellated grey as in Pi; because they want a certain feel to the movie.
Another important point, in Mughal-e-Azam the color version worked because certain parts of the movie were shot in color. Hence, there was a reference for the various pigments used. But in the case of Naya Daur and Hum Dono, there is no color reference element. Something that appears white in the movie could actually be off-white or yellow or peach, and that info cannot be captured. The result could be that in colorization, the white gets replaced by baby-pink. For that matter, what appears grey could be bottle-green or navy blue; but colorization may translate that grey into muddy-brown. Hence, we will only be resurrecting the body but losing the soul. The legacy of the movie and the special memories that such old classics have in our heart would be eroded. People who wish to watch the movie will go out and seek the original version, we don’t really have to make it available for new generation by all this gimmickry. The movies of yore exude a certain warmth which would definitely be lost in colorization.
Coming back to the movie, as soon as I reached home after watching the film, I logged into youtube and saw the songs Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar and Mai Zindagi Ka Saath in its original form, black and white. Soon after that I received this retweet : 20 years from now, I suppose Dev Anand will release Hum Dono in 3D.
This post was first published on PFC