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Jugnu Firefly, was an important film in many respects. It was the first box office success for Dilip Kumarthen a newbie in the industry, and the last film of singing star Noor Jehan before she permanently left Bombay for Karachi. Jugnu was peculiar in another regard.
It was among a few films that were conceptualised and made in pre-independence India but were released in theatres after the dawn of Independence and the pain of Partition. The present-day audience would likely judge Jugnu as a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy which like many latter films of Dilip Kumar ends in a tragedy that ticks some boxes and misses a few.
The film produced and directed by Shaukat Husain Rizvi, then-husband of Noor Jehan, has a simple story. Jugnu is an orphan and Suraj is the only son of an ostensibly rich raisaheb who has accumulated debt. The family has planned to marry Suraj to a girl from a wealthy family hoping to receive dowry that will end their financial troubles. The mutual heartbreak, ultimately, le the couple to their tragic ends.
Although a mixed bag in terms of performances, the film is salvaged by the comedic episodes in the first half and a couple of good songs in the latter. It portrayed Indian youngsters as carefree romantics for whom the only thing that mattered was the success and failure in love. A peek into the archive tells us that popular periodicals like Filmindia were routinely receiving letters from its English speaking readers complaining about Jugnu. Others demanded that it should be re-examined.
Shiv Das Singh, a student from Jodhpur, feared that Jugnu might affect his educational prospects. After Bombay, several other provincial governments banned the film. The distributor — Bharat Pictures, Akola — was forced to re-submit the film for certification where it was chopped off ificantly.
Records show that when the film obtained its first Censor certificate from the Bombay Board of Film Certification on July 7,its total length was 14, feet. Dirty girl nude revisions made following the ban, it was reduced to 11, feet.
In terms of the run time, the film lost 28 minutes of its original duration of minutes. The film returned to the screens after a few months in truncated form. In many ways, the extent of criticism that Jugnu received seems disproportionate to the provocation contained in the film. This response can be understood in two contexts.
For example, in its review of Jugnu, Patel made a misplaced and far-fetched connection between director Shaukat Rizvi and Qasim Rizvi, the head of extremist, separatist Razakar movement in Hyderabad.
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