Husn aur Ishq
India 1966
Directed by Naresh Kumar.


Hiding behind the non-descript title and the poor EROS Entertainment DVD art is a certain story about a magic lamp with a Djinn in it. And no, we're not talking I DREAM OF JEANNIE. It's Aladdin! Sort of. Here, he's Ashiq Hussain (Sanjeev Kumar), driven to visit a far off kingdom just to glance at the legendarily beautiful princess of his dreams (Sabina). But the King is a bit simpleminded, and his Vizier (played by the perfectly villainous Jeevan), wishes only to kill him, marry the Princess, and rule the Kingdom.

HUSN AUR ISHQ is mostly set bound in an elaborate palace set, but opens with a pretty spectacular camel chase across the desert. Fantasy elements abound, including a room with sliding, spike-covered walls that drops its victims into a crocodile infested river. And then there is the lamp, and the djinn, a happy, laughing, buddha-like figure who is somewhat capricious but would rather woo the palace chambermaid than perform miracles.

Sanjeev Kumar is sufficiently dashing and handsome as the lead, and Jeevan is at his villainous, mustache-twirling best. Sabina is beautiful, and spends her time either in peril or filled with longing. In other words, everyone plays their stereotypical roles with expertise, and glee. It's a spirited, swashbuckling adventure.

And then, nearly two hours into the picture, as if suddenly the movie has been transported over the rainbow, everything switches to glorious and garish color for the final reel, in which the Princess is forced to dance for the Vizier, and Hussain must lay seige to the palace and defeat him in a last desperate battle. Was the film originally released in color, but Eros Entertainment only had a single color reel? Or was it released theatrically like this? There is no good explanation for the switch to color, and it does not hugely help the production, the cinematography and lighting favoring the black and white scenes.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on May 20, 2007.


Comments

The film was made in B&W with the last reel in colour. Those were the days when colour had just come to Hindi cinema and many producers who had completed a large portion of their films and yet wanted to incorporate colour began to make the last reel in colour. Many others who could not afford to make the entire film in colour would shoot only the song sequences in colour which became the highlight of the film. There are many films of that era where you will find the film made partially in colour or, as the filmmakers were fond of saying, "Partly Colour".

Posted by: Sanjit Narwekar at June 12, 2007 01:48 AM

Thanks very much for your comments. While I suspected this to be the case, and have seen it in more well known films such as Nadodi Mannan, I also recently read of Jhansi Ki Rani, which appeared on DVD recently in color, and on another DVD in black and white!

Posted by: PTN at June 17, 2007 12:19 AM

Talking of Jhansi Ki Rani did you know that it was India's first film in Technicolour and also made in Hindi and English (under the title The Tiger And The Flame). Here is an excerpt from an article of mine:

"Sadly the Hindi version of the film failed to connect with the Indian audience and was a costly misfire for its producer-director Sohrab Modi as it crashed at the box-office.

"Producer-director Modi who had spent a pretty packet for the film because of his having imported artistes (Michael Shea and Gloria Gasper) and technicians (cinematographer Ernest Haller) from Hollywood was felled with a single blow. The film had also been made in English as The Tiger and the Flame but with the flopping of the original Hindi version, Sohrab Modi was unable to give it the lavish international release that he wanted.

"Much later (1955) the film was released in a curtailed 93-minute version and expectedly failed because the sheer magnificence of the film’s sets were lost and so was the storyline. Hal Erickson of All Movie Guide omments, “Though the storyline of The Tiger and the Flame proved remote and confusing to American audiences, the film was at least handsomely mounted in the manner of the best Hollywood historical epics.” The international version was once again released as a DVD in 2005 by Gemmon but did not make much of an impact."

Yes! There is a B&W version also floating around which was probably made for release in some of the smaller centres in India. (I've seen both.) It could also be that the original Technicolour version is now lost since Modi is no more and the next of kin is not traceable. Do review the film if you manage to get hold of a copy. Jhansi Ki Rani has a huge reverent following in India but no film on her has met with any success. One of the puzzles of Hindi cinema!!!

Posted by: Sanjit Narwekar at June 23, 2007 10:23 AM
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