In this weekly column, we revisit gems from the golden years of Hindi cinema. This week, we revisit BR Chopra’s 1957 movie Naya Daur.
Naya Daur, actually translated because the ‘New Era’, is the story of a village that’s standing on the precipice of the promise of improvement however amid the peace of mind of a so-called higher future, the villagers query why these guarantees of the long run riches, are taking away their “do waqt ki roti” in current day.
Released in 1957, BR Chopra’s Naya Daur talks concerning the disturbing casualties of the rampant industrialisation that’s projected because the wave of the long run. Naya Daur opens with a quote by Mahatama Gandhi that finest encapsulates its core message. “Dead machinery must not be pitted against the millions of living machines represented by the villagers scattered in the seven hundred thousand villages of India,” reads part of the quote. The movie questions this lack of employment in these ‘seven hundred thousand villages of India.’
Naya Daur is ready in an nearly utopian village the place everybody’s employed – both as a mill employee or as a tonga-puller. The mill proprietor, performed by Nazir Hussain, treats his workers as equals and vehemently believes that the connection between an employer and worker is horizontal, not vertical. Things take a steep flip when he goes for a pilgrimage and his city-bred son Kundan, performed by Jeevan, takes his place. This is the place the battle between fashionable India and rural India begins taking form as Kundan can see the worth of his father’s enterprise, however can’t see the worth of his loyal workforce.
The introduction of a machine within the mill renders half the inhabitants jobless. The movie’s protagonist Shankar, performed by Dilip Kumar, takes it upon himself to barter with Kundan. Tonga-puller Shankar realises the significance of unity and is acutely conscious that if one domino falls on this peaceable temple of a village, chaos will ensue. Soon after, Kundan introduces a lorry for vacationers, instead of the age-old tonga. This threatens the employment of the opposite half of the village, which makes the villagers concern the extraordinary energy of machines much more.
Naya Daur captures the spirit of a younger nation that’s making an attempt its finest to maintain its head above the water. A rustic that believes that transferring with the instances is the golden path to a greater future however doesn’t actually know what to do with its labour drive that has been its spine for all these years. Watching this movie in 2021, one realises that in some ways, we’re nonetheless combating the identical issues, albeit with completely different titles. The movie’s core battle is the massive disparity between the haves and the have-nots. In Naya Daur, the battle between man and machine doesn’t pit one in opposition to the opposite however reasonably encourages society to tread a center path. In a big scene within the movie, Dilip Kumar’s Shankar stresses that neither he, nor the villagers, have something in opposition to the machines. They simply need the educated folks to give you a method for them to not lose their employment.
The movie’s last act builds as much as a direct competitors between arduous labour and fashionable equipment, a race between the common-or-garden tonga and the lorry. It is on this portion that the movie emphasises the ability of unity that may create a revolution. The complete village will get collectively to construct a brand new street, and a bridge, singing “Saathi Haath Badhana” which is a minimum of a warfare cry. Naya Daur is a 64-year-old movie however a sequence on this portion rings so true even in 2021 that it appears like we haven’t missed a day. The movie’s villain will get a God’s statue buried within the floor simply so villagers mistake it as “devi maa ka sthaan” and cease constructing the brand new street. The manipulation of villagers, within the identify of God, makes for a small episode right here however might be essentially the most relatable bit. The politicisation within the identify of God isn’t new for us Indians however seeing that not a lot has modified in our nation, leaves you a bit upset.
Naya Daur raises a related query, how do you race forward within the age of revolution however maintain your residents employed and well-fed? While it doesn’t provide a direct decision, it encourages us to discover a center path, which we’re nonetheless looking for, 64 years on.
The movie is unquestionably one in every of BR Chopra’s most interesting works with some good performances by its forged – Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Ajit and Jeevan. With songs like “Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawano Ka”, which has continued to be part of our cultural zeitgeist, because of bandwallahs, and romantic numbers like “Maang Ke Sath Tumhara” and “Ude Jab Jab Zulfe Teri”, Naya Daur’s music by OP Nayyar, with lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi has stood the check of time. The movie was written by Akhtar Mirza and is a masterclass in capturing the nerve of the nation, however doing so with out being preachy and a related instance of the identical is the introduction of the love triangle within the movie. The love triangle triggers the principle battle right here, however it’s evident that it’s used solely as a instrument to get to the core story.
Naya Daur is the story of the upcoming period, the premonition of change that may shake the inspiration of society, and whereas society has been by many overhauls since 1957, the specter of the subsequent step is simply as unnerving.
Naya Daur is streaming on YouTube and ShemarooMe (Black & White) and Prime Video (Coloured).