Trying an experimental kind of project just a decade after the Indian Independence in the mid-fifties, Ab Dilli Door Nahin (1957) showcases the creative vision Raj Kapoor had even in the initial years of his illustrious career taking the calculated risk. Moreover, when a similar subject gets repeated after more than half a century in the new millennium, it gets proved that the man truly deserved the title of ‘The Showman” as fondly given to him by the industry and media together due to his exceptional body of work and contribution made to the Indian cinema in its developing stages.
Made under the banner of RK films and directed by Amar Kumar, Ab Dilli Door Nahin (Black & White) is actually more remembered as a children’s film due to its basic storyline revolving around an innocent child and its hugely famous song “Chu Chu Karti Aayi Chidiya” (Hasrat Jaipuri / Dattaram / Mohd.Rafi). However the film did point towards much bigger and important issues through its novel story progression that was indeed a quite courageous as well responsible step to take at that particular time of the century representing the young India.
It narrates the story of an innocent child Ratan’s journey from his village to Delhi in order to meet Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, then Prime Minister of India who was also famous in the kids as Chacha Nehru. He wishes to tell Pandit Ji about his father’s innocence who has been falsely charged with a murder and believes that the PM is the only person who can help his family come out of this serious problem and no one else. Ratan has an important letter written as a proof by an eye witness that he wishes to hand over to Pandit Ji personally and how he painstakingly completes his journey meeting the PM, becomes the main crux of the script capturing human emotions and expectations quite beautifully.
Interestingly after more than half a century post Ab Dilli Door Nahin, director Nila Madhab Panda made his award winning film I Am Kalam in 2010, that also revolved around a young boy who wishes to study and do something in his life inspired from the most beloved national leader of the new millennium, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam (who sadly passed away due to a sudden heart attack on 27th July 2015).
The kid in the film (working in a roadside dhaba) called as Chhotu, accidently listens to an inspiring speech of Dr. Kalam coming on television and gets motivated enough to continue with his studies (left in the middle) despite many hurdles of poverty and lack of resources. Renaming himself as Kalam (becoming an ardent fan), he even runs away to Delhi in order to meet the (then) honourable President (in the film’s climax) with a personal ‘Thank You’ letter to be delivered by hand just like the child in Ab Dilli Door Nahin. But unfortunately he has to give the letter to a security officer in front of the President’s house who promises him that it will be delivered to Dr. Kalam positively. The film won several awards in India and abroad along with Harsh Mayar winning the National Award for Best Actor in the Child Artiste Category for his brilliant portrayal as Chhotu/Kalam.
Considering the acute similarities in both these films, the most significant point to be noted here is that after 50 years of RK Film’s Ab Dilli Door Nahin and six decades post our Indian independence since 1947, the only man director Nila Madhab Panda and his writers could think of as an honest, influential, friendly, non-political, legendary Indian icon impressing a young, receptive mind was of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and nobody else amongst hundreds of key names representing India and its core leadership.
And this otherwise filmy fact, actually gives us the real scenario of the present, where we still do not have any other name who was, is and will always be unanimously respected as an highly qualified, intelligent, non-political, humble and completely devoted visionary becoming a guiding figure for every young and old citizen of our country as well as the world…….. forever!
With my utmost love and respect for Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Sir,