Nakli Nawab begins, more or less, at a mushaira where a trio of siblings—Nawab Sharafat Ali (KN Singh), his younger brother Shaukat Ali (Ashok Kumar) and their burqa-clad sister Shabnam (Shakila) make a late entry. While the men are greeted effusively and seated in the front row, Shabnam slips away into the zenana. There are a few laughs at the mushaira, thanks to the comic poet ‘Shaiza’ (Munshi Munaqqa), who discovers too late that he’s misplaced the ghazal he’d penned for the gathering. In his absence—while he’s gone off to retrieve the paper from his house nearby—Shaiza’s nephew, a pickpocket named Baadshah (Maruti), passes off Shaiza’s ghazal (which he’d purloined before the mushaira) as his own. This isn’t great shaayari, so just about anything that comes after this is bound to be appreciated. As it happens, the next poet up—and the last of the evening—is Nawab Sharafat Ali himself, who reads out a sher ridiculing love. He is greeted with much praise and is looking pleased with himself when Baadshah’s equally unscrupulous friend Yusuf (Manoj Kumar) challenges him. Nawab Sahib is annoyed, but the rules of the mushaira are democratic: if this man wishes to recite a poem, he is welcome to. So Yusuf goes up on stage and sings in praise of love, which brings a yearning dreaminess into Shabnam’s eyes.