Dev Anand is a legend in Indian cinema and in Asli-Naqli he gives one of his most underrated and subtle performances. Staying away from his usual larger-than-life roles, he plays the part of a spoilt brat, Anand, coming to terms with reality when one day after fighting with his rich grandfather he decides to spend the night in a park. Here he is taken home by a small factory worker Mohan (Anwar Hussain) who gives him food and shelter. Unbeknownst about Anand’s true identity Mohan along with his sister Shanti (Sandhya Roy) and the rest of the basti give Anand support and love as the former playboy discovers the harshness of life and learns the all important lesson of being happy with whatever little he has.
Asli-Naqli (Real-Fake) is a film with a message. It signifies the ever growing diversity between the rich and the poor and their resulting thoughts about each other. The film is from a time when the middle class was nonexistent and thus the difference between the rich and the poor was a lot more stark and visible. As Anand goes about living in the basti he meets Renu (Sadhna) who teaches him about selfless love and the power of sharing education and helping someone without expecting anything else in return. As love blossoms between both Anand and Renu, the past catches up and it is at this point that Anand rises up to the occasion of breaking down the boundaries that exist between his former life, that he detests, and a simpler life that he has come to appreciate.
Dev Anand, while he has played varied roles throughout his career, and while some of his trademark acting traits are omnipresent in the film, still gives a commendable performance and stands out amongst the rest of the cast. The remainder of the cast takes on their characters rather well with Anwar Hussain and Sandhya Roy making the most of their supporting roles.
No Indian film is complete without songs and Asli-Naqli is not without the classics like "Tera Mera Pyar Amar" and "Tujhe Jeevan Ki Dor Se". The title song, which comes midway in the film, is especially memorable as it is in tune with the theme of the movie and the lyrics talk about how the rich people, busy accumulating wealth, are the ones who are at a loss and the poor, who might not have money, have hearts big enough for everyone.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee, one of India's most versatile directors, manages to capture the frustration of Anand really well. In his earlier life, Anand besides having everything one could require has a certain hollowness he feels in his heart. Now, living with people who give him love without expectations, he struggles to find or keep a job. What really is noticeable in the direction and the story is the abundance of humor, a trademark of Mukherjee that he explored much later in his career. It is these clashing moments of high tension emotion and comedy that bring alive the reality of life as it is.
Asli-Naqli is a film full of emotion, and does drag a little in between, but it is a film that preaches a simple lesson, one that encourages everyone to enjoy the simplicities of life and not just take everyone they meet at face value.
Running Time: 145 Minutes
Format: Black & White
Price: Rs. 149