Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Naya Daur: The message still relevant today

Naya Daur is a movie made way, way back. It was made in 1957, and was made by BR Chopra (directed and produced). Why talk about this now, especially when it is 50 years old. Well, the movie is going to be re-released in color by the BR films banner (interview of Ravi Chopra). After the re-release of Mughal-e-Azaam in color, this is the second movie to be so released.
Converting a black-and-white movie to color is a fairly challenging and time consuming task, and this current effort by BR Films has taken 2-3 years. The projected release is in the next few months (I don't have an exact date since one place quoted Aug 3 and the other quoted a date in October).
Naya Daur is a very interesting movie. I watched it when it came on Doordarshan a long time back, and it struck a chord in me, and then I was reading about it again, and it is a movie that seems very relevant even now. It was relevant in the time of the industrial revolution 150 years back, and is still relevant in these times of offshoring, and with lots of discussions going on about growth in India not leading to a growth of the labour market.
Naya Daur has a fairly good cast, starring Dilip Kumar in his prime, Ajit, Jeevan and Vyjanthimala. The overall theme of the movie is about the march of modernisation leading to poor workers being rendered jobless, and hence sinking into poverty. The movie does make an attempt to portray this as a human choice, with the hope that people will take a considered decision to use machines as long as it does not affect the jobs of people. The movie is also about a romance almost breaking up the friendship between 2 close friends, and although this loss of friendship leads to another machine coming in and affecting more jobs, the story still revolves around the concept of machine vs. people. We all know that in this world, the choice is not so simple, given that we have accepted all the machines shown in the movie in our life, 50 years on.
What is Naya Daur about ? It's about a village affected by modernization. Dilip Kumar and Ajeet are fast friends who live in a village and both of them love Vyjanthimala. They have a falling out, and turn hostile to each other. Now Dilip Kumar runs a horse-carriage and depends on that for his livelihood, like many others. In addition, many of the villagers depend on the local factory for work, and the factory owner is shown as a considerate man who cares for workers.
All this changes when the factory owner's son, Jeevan arrives and the factory owner proceeds on a pilgrimage. The son is more profit oriented and gets machines over to do the factory, relieving many of the workers. At the same time, he gets a bus to do the same trip that the horse-carriage men used to do, this cutting into their income as well. This is a double whammy for the villagers, and they don't like all this happening, but are really powerless to do anything.
The spectacular part of the movie happens now, when the die is set on a bet that can change everything. Jeevan and Dilip Kumar have a bet where a competition will be held between the bus and the horse-carriage, and whoever wins gets to take all; hence more machines and buses, or more jobs for the workers. The race is spectacular, and you know who wins.
This is a concept that has been there for time immemorial, and in the present global context, the movement of software / legal / call center jobs to India and manufacturing to China in the quest for a cheaper option and the effect that is having on middle class America can be equated. Now you can say, technology is good and will have an overall positive effect, but this movie shows the effect on this on the ones who are truly impacted.
Some of the songs of the movie are real popular (ude jab jab zulfe teri, Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Kaa, Maang ke saath tumhara), you can view them on YouTube

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