Andaz (misunderstanding) is the story of Dilip’s (Dilip Kumar) ill-fated love for Neena (Nargis) and the uncontrollable jealousy of Rajan (Raj Kapoor), her finance and then husband.
Director Mehboob Khan, places two misunderstandings at the heart of Andaz, neither of which is resolved happily, both leading to heartache for Nina.
That there’s no neat conclusion for any of the protagonists was one of the things I liked about the film. The tensions created along the way give the film a very watchable momentum. Looking over to Hollywood for a minute, there is something very relaxing about watching certain black and white films from the 1940s/50s. Andaz, released in 1949, with its stylish, graceful picture of monied upper-class Indian society reminded me of a certain type of Hollywood film, pictures like Philadelphia Story.
Perhaps it’s the less frenetic direction, or the appeal of black and white over colour. It’s obviously not in characters, attitudes, society etc, so perhaps it’s more down to feel. Whatever it is, Andaz shares this aspect thanks in part to Dilip Kumar’s matinee idol looks and the carefree world of mansions and afternoon horse riding Nargis’ Nina inhabits.
But there’s some irony in making this comparison. One of the film’s themes is the importance of halting the encroachment of western values on Indian society, given voice through dialogue like: “You can’t play a western song on Indian strings,” and “Indian flowers won’t bloom in western soil”.
Perhaps as such it shows Indian cinema, pre-Mother India and still just two years after independence, grasping towards its own identity.
Andaz was one of the films in a recent run of Bollywood classics shown on television. I recorded most of them and will probably have a few words on each eventually.