From "Chandidas", "Sant Tukaram" and "Tulsidas" to "Chaitanya Mahaprabhu" turned out several most excellent and impressive biographies of individuals whose transcendent piety, devotion and impeccable purity of life and thought combined with a deep awareness of the brotherhood of man to inspire them to revolt against the artificial barriers of caste and cemented by tradition. The Goel Cine Corporation's "Narsi Bhagat" is the latest of these biographies and ranks with the best of them.
Depicting the life of the fifteenth century saint and social reformer of Gujarat who, though born a Brahman, consorted with Harijans, preached the equality of man and by the sheer power of his faith in God shattered the strongholds of bigoted orthodoxy, "Narsi Bhagat" is so much in the tone and temper of our administration today that it can almost be said to have inspired the framers of our Constitution. So it did, in a manner of speaking, for Narsi Bhagat's life and message were the ideal and abiding inspiration of Gandhiji.
The imaginative script and straightforward narrative are presented in an atmosphere of pious devotion which is refreshingly free of mawkish sentiment and the naive crudities which so often pass for special effects in our devotional films. Crisp, straightforward direction, natural acting and the plain authentic setting, decor and costumes invest the story and the central character with a simple dignity which is tremendously impressive and dramatic.
Shahu Modak as the humble devotee whose faith was of the order which moves mountains by perfidy, hate and physical violence, gives, despite his somewhat portly figure, a fine and thoroughly fascinating portrayal of the ineffably good man whose devotion was so great that even the Gods were constrained by his prayers.
Nirupa Roy puts over another of her delightfully human characterizations as his wife whose trust in him survived her failure sometimes to understand him. She looks ravishingly beautiful too. Radhakishan as the stiff-necked and unscrupulous leader of the Brahmans who views the humble reformer as the arch enemy of his tribe and schemes constantly to destroy him until he is finally confounded and converted by an act gives a masterly performance which sparkles with consummate histrionic artistry. The support is excellent and the production values from the splendid photography to the costumes impeccable.
Nepal's superb lyrics and Ravi's very lovely and appropriate music further embellish the picture.
This article was published in Filmfare magazine’s 29 March, 1957 edition as a part of 'Filmfare Reviews' of the film "Narsi Bhagat" (1957).