Friday, 3 January 2020

Chetan Anand – The man behind Neecha Nagar

Long before the Art Cinema or Parallel cinema’s existence, Chetan Anand’s passion for filmmaking gave birth to the Art Cinema in 1946 by making Neecha Nagar. This was his debut film as a Director.
This film was a social drama and also the debut film for Pandit Ravi Shankar who scored the music, the debut film of Kamini Kaushal. It also starred his wife Uma Anand as a heroine, Rafiq Ahmed, and Zohra Sehgal. 

Neecha Nagar was awarded the Grand Prix Prize (Now Golden Palm) at the first-ever Cannes Film Festival in 1946.It had to compete with many amazing films that year like Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (Italy), David Lean’s Brief Encounter (UK), and Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend (USA). It is indeed a proud thing to say that it won the hearts of critics and viewers alike and emerged as a winner for the category.
You would be surprised to note that this film was not released in India even it won the prestigious award. Neecha Nagar was an expressionistic take on a social problem where a town is divided into an upper Ooncha Nagar and a lowly Neecha Nagar. 
The villagers of 'Neecha Nagar' harbor hate for Sarkar and their hatred is fueled even more by the fact that Sarkar plans to direct all the sewage into the village in order to make way for his housing project. The villagers protest this move with their head, Balraj (Rafiq Anwar) leading a movement against Sarkar's plan. Sarkar's daughter Maya (Uma Anand) joins the movement against her father and falls in love with Balraj.
 It is a poetic portrayal of destitution and deprivation of rural India and highlights the exploitation of the poor peasants by the aristocracy. The music of the film is noteworthy for its lyrics as much as for the fact that it happens to be the first film of Pandit Ravi Shankar as a Music Director. Two of the songs are revolutionary battle cries and it is surprising how the British authorities allowed them uncut.
Song of Neecha Nagar 1946

Song of Neecha Nagar

Song of Neecha Nagar 1946

Song of Neecha Nagar 1946

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