Platinum Jubilee of iconic Neecha Nagar

Monday, 29 November 2021 | Purnima Bisht | Dehradun

Doon remembers U’khand connection of director Chetan Anand and sixc artists who worked in the movie

Neecha Nagar, a Hindi film that is considered a pioneering effort in social realism in Indian Cinema completed 75 years of its release this year.

Not many are aware that six artists associated with the movie including the director Chetan Anand have a close connection with Uttarakhand.

Informing about this association with the state, the movie buff and Doon Library Research Centre research staff member Manoj Panjani said that Anand received his childhood education in Haridwar. He started his career as a history teacher at The Doon School in 1940 where he also supervised theatre. “In the next four years, his love for the cinema flourished further and he resigned from the school to pursue filmmaking in Mumbai. Two years later, his first directorial debut happened with Neecha Nagar, which gave recognition to the Indian Cinema at international level by winning Golden Palme Award at Cannes Film Festival in 1946,” said Panjani. He said that the movie was based on the theme of the rich using ploys to possess the land of the poor and is often given a credit for paving a way for parallel cinema in India. 

He said that Anand’s wife, Uma Anand also starred in the film. Apart from this, three students of dancer Uday Shankar who had his dance academy in Almora were also part of the movie. He informed, “Zohra Sehgal choreographed the dance sequences and also acted in the movie. Her husband Kameshwar Sehgal worked as an art director. Another student Mohan Sehgal worked as a chief assistant director. Pandit Ravi Shankar, the renowned exponent of Sitar and music composer and brother of dancer Uday Shankar composed music for the film.”

Panjani informed that Chetan Anand once received a letter in which the writer said the movie had inspired him a lot and he wanted to work as an assistant with him. Later, the writer later turned out to become the famous filmmaker Satyajit Ray, added Panjani. He said that the movie was ahead of its time and still holds relevance in the current world.

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