A royal Indian family which consists of the Maharaj (Murad), his brother Shamsher Singh (Premnath) and sister Rajshree (Nadira). A local village leader named Jai Tilak (Dilip Kumar) enters a contest to tame Princess Rajshree's horse and after he is successful Shamsher challenges him to a game of fencing. Jai is declared the winner of the fight after much dispute and Shamsher is enraged at losing to a poor villager. Jai then falls in love with Rajshree and tries numerous times to woo her but the princess's arrogance prevents her from revealing her true feelings.
Shamsher becomes even more enraged when the Emperor Maharaj reveals that Shamsher is not the heir to his throne after his death and that he plans to free India from monarchy and turn to democracy.
Shamsher then plans to gain control of the kingdom by killing the Maharajah on the night before he is due to travel to England for a medical procedure. However he is unsuccessful after the Maharajah escapes an attempt on his life by Shamsher's henchmen and disguises himself as a servant in his own palace.
Shamsher then sets his eyes on Mangala (Nimmi) who is a village girl and childhood friend of Jai but her love is not reciprocated as he is only in love with princess Rajshree. After Mangala is kidnapped by Shamsher Singh who plans to keep her prisoner in his palace and molest her, Mangala takes a bottle of poison and dies. Jai kills Shamsher in revenge and provokes Princess Rajshree to launch an attack on his village to avenge her brother's death. Jai manages to kidnap Rajshree and sets out to gain her love by taking her into his village and forcing her to live as a peasant girl. Just when Rajshree begins to realise her feelings for Jai, Shamsher Singh who was presumed dead returns to get his revenge against Jai.
This prestigious production was to be India's first full feature in Technicolor. The film was made with an extremely large budget. Dilip Kumar, Premnath & Nimmi, then at the height of their popularity and success, were quickly signed on for starring roles, but the second female lead proved more troublesome to cast. Initially, Nargis was cast but left the film to concentrate on her association with RK studios. For a time Madhubala was considered, with considerable lobbying from Dilip Kumar who was romantically involved with her at the time, but for reasons unknown she was never cast. Finally Mehboob decided to launch a newcomer and selected the then unknown, Nadira and promoted her as his new star discovery.
When a first edit of the film was shown to the film's financiers and distributors, they objected that Nimmi's character died too early. This was due to Nimmi's vast popularity as an actress. Therefore, a lavish and extended dream sequence was filmed and edited in to give Nimmi more prominence and screen time in the film.
Aan was one of the first Indian films to have a worldwide release. The film had an extremely lavish London premiere attended by Mehboob Khan, his wife Sadar Akhter and Nimmi. The English version was entitled Savage Princess. On the London trip, they met many western film personalities including Errol Flynn. When Flynn attempted to kiss Nimmi's hand she pulled it away, exclaiming, "I am an Indian girl, you cannot do that!" The incident made the headlines and the press raved about Nimmi as the "...unkissed girl of India".
Although Nimmi was not the romantic lead, she made a huge impact on audiences and her character, Mangala, emerged as the most popular in the film. This was to such an extent that, when the film was released dubbed in French in 1954, it was retitled Mangala, fille des Indes (Mangala, girl of India) and Nimmi was promoted as main star of the film in the theatrical posters and trailers for the French language release. Nimmi further revealed in a 2013 interview, that at the London premiere of Aan, she received four serious offers from Hollywood, including Cecil B. DeMille who greatly admired the production design and Mehboob's vision as a director. He was in fact, so impressed by the film, he personally wrote a letter of commendation to Mehboob Khan praising the film and the performances of Nimmi and Nadira in particular.Dilip Kumar as Jai Tilak
Premnath as Shamsher Singh
Nadira as Princess Rajshree
Nimmi as Mangala
Murad as Maharajah
Mukri as Chandan
Cukoo as dancer
The film features an acclaimed soundtrack composed by Naushad.
Hindi lyrics were by Shakeel Badayuni
Tamil lyrics were by Kambadasan. Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum rendered the Tamil songs also. However, it appears the lyricist did not approve their diction and so songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar were recorded again with M. S. Rajeswari and songs sung by Shamshad Begum were recorded with Soolamangalam Rajeswari. While the film had the original recordings, the records (Plates) had both versions. So, there are 14 songs recorded on the gramophone records.