Howrah Bridge Review- In Brief:
A man sets out to investigate his brother's murder and recover a family heirloom and finds love…
Howrah Bridge Review-Story Plot:
The son of a rich businessman in Rangoon, Prem Kumar (Ashok Kumar) sets off for Kolkata to investigate the murder of his brother, who has fled his house with an invaluable family heirloom. On landing in Kolkata, Kumar meets an old friend Shyamu (Om Prakash), a tonga driver who informs him that Kumar's brother Madan was mixed up with some nefarious characters named John Chang (Madan Puri) and Pyarelal (K.N. Singh), who run a local hotel. Kumar pretends to be Rakesh Kumar to find out more about the criminals and comes in touch with a hotel singer-dancer Edna (Madhubala), who seems to have attracted the villainous Pyarelal too. How Kumar manages to win the heart of Edna and bring his brother's killers to book while recovering the family heirloom forms the rest of the story.
Howrah Bridge Review-Performances:
Though Ashok Kumar plays the male lead, Madhubala is the one who dominates every scene that she appears in. With her fresh beauty and charming looks, Madhubala's Edna comes across as a vibrant and strong woman, who knows how to turn the tables on the villains by using her feminine wiles and a flutter of her eyelashes. Ashok Kumar as Prem is adequate enough too, though he looks too somber to be paired opposite the vivacious Edna. The third actor who grabs your attention throughout the film is K.N Singh, one of the most stylish villains in black and white films. With his snazzy suits, a fedora tilted rakishly on his head and a cigarette dangling from his lips, Singh is the ultimate noir character. The comic relief is provided by Om Prakash and Sunder, who plays the greedy Bhiku, who lands in trouble while trying to find out the killers for the sake of reward money.
Howrah Bridge Review-Direction:
Howrah Bridge was Shakti Samanta's first film under his own independent banner Shakti Films. Though the movie was an average fare and there is no real suspense as such because the villains are revealed right at the beginning, it is interesting to watch the plot unfold even as Ashok Kumar and KN Singh lock horns over Madhubala. The film has everything that a Hollywood noir has- a stylish villain, a mysterious Chinese gangster, night-clubs, femme fatales and a double cross at the climax. Samanta certainly pulled off a casting coup when he brought together memorable actors like Ashok Kumar, Madhubala, KN Singh and Madan Puri in the same film. However, one does end up feeling that a sense of mystery and suspense would have made the film more gripping.
Howrah Bridge Review-Music:
What the movie lacks in suspense and mystery, it more than makes up for it as far as the music is concerned. With O.P Nayyar as the music director, Howrah Bridge boasts of memorable songs like the peppy mera naam chin chin chu picturized on Helen, the sensuous aaiye meherbaan, which was picturized on Madhubala and yeh kya kar daala tune, sung by Asha Bhosle.
Howrah Bridge Review- Final Word:
All in all, the film is worth a watch, if only for the songs and the effervescent Madhubala, not to mention the stylish K.N Singh, who always makes villainy seem so irresistible…