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Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Barsaat Ki Raat is a 1960 Bollywood film starring Bharat Bhushan, Madhubala, Shyama, Mumtaz Begum and K.N. Singh. It was directed by P. L. Santoshi.
This film was released in black-and-white and is widely considered to be a classic.[who?] The film became particularly popular for its qawwali songs and was one of the biggest hits at the box-office in 1960. ‘Barsaat Ki Raat was also one of the last films to star celebrated actress Madhubala.
The story features a number of innovative themes while maintaining the basic form of a love story. It has particularly strong female characters who are independent minded and choose their own loves and destiny. The conflicts are not so much between the wishes of the parents and children about whom to marry, as is a common theme in Indian movies, but it is on the more complex level of the conflicts among the main characters and the duplicitous signals men and women send each other. The movie glorifies the lives of “singing girls” not often regarded highly in Indian society. Although it is set with Muslim characters, the movie seamlessly shows the universality of sensual love.
Although Madhubala gets top billing, the main character is played by Shyama.

The songs are beautiful and the qawwali sequences sublime. The song and dance does not occur randomly as is often the case in Indian movies; instead it is an integral part of the story itself which involves a poet and singer as well as poetry competitions that were once common.
Female singers: Asha Bhonsle, Kamal Barot, Lata Mangeshkar, Sudha Malhotra, Suman Kalyanpur
Male singers: S. D. Batish, Balbeer, Bande Hasan, Manna Dey, Mohammad Rafi
Music Director: Roshan
Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

Directed by P. L. Santoshi
Produced by R. Chandra
Starring Madhubala, Bharat Bhushan, Shyama, Mumtaz Begum
K. N. Singh
Music by Roshan
Sahir Ludhianvi (lyrics)
Release date 1960
Running time Approx. 142 min.
Language Urdu, Hindi

Chaudhvin Ka Chand 1960

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Chaudhvin Ka Chand 

Chaudhvin Ka Chand (Hindi: चौदवीं का चाँद, Urdu: چودھویص کا چاند) is a 1960 Hindi feature film directed by Mohammed Sadiq. A production of Guru Dutt, the film centers on a love triangle between Guru Dutt, Rehman and Waheeda Rehman, and features music by Ravi. Farida Jalal is a guest appearance in the film, her debut. After a disastrous box-office performance of Kaagaz Ke Phool, this was a highly commercially successful and comeback movie for Guru Dutt. The movie saved Guru Dutt’s home production studio from ruins.

The setting is the city of Lucknow in northern India, where Islamic culture flourished. Two of the three best friends who live in this city have fallen in love with the same woman named Jameela unknowingly. Aslam (Guru Dutt) and Nawab (Rehman) are the two friends caught in this love triangle with Jameela (Waheeda Rehman). An integral part of any Guru Dutt film, comic relief was provided by Johnny Walker who plays Mirza Masaraddik Shaiza.

The Music of the film was by the critically acclaimed composer Ravi, and the lyrics by his all time favourite Shakeel Badayuni.

Chaudhvin ka Chand

(Moon of the 14th Day, i.e. Full Moon)

(1960) Hindi, 169 minutes

Produced by Guru Dutt for Guru Dutt Films. Directed by Mohammed Sadiq. Screenplay by Saghir Ushmani, from his story “Jhalak” (“A Glimpse”). Dialog by Tabish Sultanpuri. Music by Ravi Lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni. Cinematography by Nariman Irani.

Starring: Waheeda Rehman, Guru Dutt, Rehman, Minoo Mumtaz, Johnny Walker.

The exquisitely produced Muslim social Chaudhvin ka Chand seems relatively neglected within the pantheon of Guru Dutt’s late films. Perhaps because it appeared between the now-undisputed masterpieces Kaagaz ke Phool (1959) and Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962), the former the last film Guru Dutt is officially credited with directing, and the latter the final film he produced, Chaudhvin ka Chand shines less brightly in its setting, surrounded by striking gems. Nevertheless, the film was (following the box-office disaster of Kaagaz ke Phool) Guru Dutt’s biggest box-office hit, and his first to play in an international film festival (Moscow, 1962, which Guru Dutt attended). But even Guru Dutt’s greatest champion, Nasreen Munni Kabir, describes Chaudhvin ka Chand as “most conventional in story and in treatment” in her seminal Guru Dutt: A Life in Cinema (Oxford, 1996). However, the film is in many ways a remarkable work that deserves critical rediscovery and reevaluation.


There remains some speculation surrounding the production circumstances of the film, though Kabir’s critical biography clears up most of the facts: though the critical and commercial failure of Kaagaz ke Phool may have prevented Guru Dutt from signing his name to another film, he seems to have chosen M. Sadiq to direct this film because he simply felt that a Muslim subject demanded a Muslim director, though Dutt supervised the picturization of the film’s songs, employing color cinematography for the first time. (Dutt’s offer to Sadiq was also a generous way to help the commercially unsuccessful director improve his career and finances.) The project also perhaps derived from Guru Dutt’s desire to make a film based upon a qawwali story, as the director adored the Sufi musical form. In any case, while behind the scenes a number of new names were assembled for this production, the film’s cast again gathered many of the performers who had become closely associated with Guru Dutt’s increasingly tragic vision of the world.

As the Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema notes, the film “pivots around the Islamic practice of purdah, which forbids women to show their face to men outside their immediate family.” In fact, the film richly expands and complicates this basis in a cultural practice by constructing an extended study in vision and veiling, treated in both comic and tragic variations that structure the film’s plot of misidentifications and misunderstandings as well as its rich stylistic pattern of blocked and obscured views. Recent film critics invested in the power and erotics of the gaze would do well to discover this veritable treatise on the subject of focused looks and momentary glimpses, which intersects the essential looking of cinema itself with the specific visual conventions of Muslim India.

The film initiates its focus immediately, when we meet a nawab, Pyare Miyan (Rehman) and his comic friend Shaida (Johnny Walker) on the streets of Lucknow. Though Shaida is chastised for peering at women, his more sophisticated friend is thunderstruck by his glimpse of the face of Jamila (Waheeda Rehman) when she lifts her veil. Our own view of the striking face of one of Indian cinema’s most beautiful stars has the effect of immediately implicating us in the film’s moral tensions: we have paid for our right to gaze freely upon the faces of cinema’s stars, yet this undeniably erotic look – and others the camera will offer us – occurs within the dramatic and cultural context which forbids such invasive views. And while the film is obviously set in a world that supports male privilege, it often complicates matters by regularly shifting its point of view between men and women. In the first elaborate musical number, as the nawab peeks at the women gathered in his home for his sister’s wedding party, the women recognize his presence and watch their watcher. As he hides – blind beneath a sheet – in his room, Jamila and a friend comically dissect his painted portrait which “watches” over the room. Thus begins the film’s rich and varied play with screens, veils, curtains, performances, and disguises, together rendering all of the film a constant circulation between clear-eyed vision and (often preferable, or more alluring) distorted views.

The unfolding of the plot moves from the misidentifications of Shakesperian comedy to the misunderstandings of well-intentioned people that result in tragedy. The nawab’s ailing mother is anxious to see her son married, and has arranged his marriage; still seeking his briefly glimpsed Beatrice, he asks his poor friend Aslam (Guru Dutt) to marry the girl his mother has secured – who is of course Jamila. The film will then trace the series of errors and obligations that complicate this situation and results in the three friends understanding the prices they have paid attempting to insure one another’s happiness. The film’s long-delayed revelation, when the nawab finally realizes that the woman he desires is his best friend’s wife, is a brilliant sequence that shifts our attention between visual perspectives (as well as external and internal voices) that are intricately composed through reflections in mirrors. The scene summarizes the film’s catalog of visual structures as well as the moral consequences that they generate.

If the extended misunderstandings seem implausible (despite their grounding in a social system that isolates men and women from casual contact), the emotions that link the characters to one another and motivate their attempts to perform extreme sacrifices feel plausible and real. Although Jamila is central to the plot, the film concentrates on the obligations of male friendship (dosti), one of the great topics of popular Indian cinema but rarely given the depth and sincerity of this example: as in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam this film’s ostensible “happy ending” for a couple is outweighed by the painful cost of such joy. (One continually senses that the three friends at the center of the film are playing out their off-screen, longtime affection as well: Johnny Walker’s comic role is especially tempered by moments of convincing affection for his suffering friends.) Friendship forces these fellows to take action by acting: attempting to play the part of the wayward husband that will allow the wife he adores to divorce him and marry his best friend, Aslam’s joyless visits to a brothel make him resemble Devdas, the great Indian romantic anti-hero (Guru Dutt fans will recall that the ill-fated film being made in the ill-fated Kaagaz ke Phool is a remake of Devdas, a story of self-destruction that Guru Dutt’s own life seemed to sadly replay.) Shaida, on the other hand, approaches his roles – and costume changes – with great relish, disguising himself as a elderly holy man to photograph women in the bazaar, and finally donning the uniform and self-important mannerisms of a police inspector.

As in all Guru Dutt films, the song sequences are notable highlights, featuring the voices of perhaps Hindi cinema’s three greatest playback singers, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, and Mohammad Rafi, the latter shifting effortlessly between Guru Dutt’s heartfelt and Johnny Walker’s comic songs. Two numbers are given special treatment by being filmed in color (see note below), and Guru Dutt’s tendency to advance his story through songs, with the rhythm of music and editing in collaboration, is as strong as ever. For example, the first major number, Sharma Ke Ye Kyon … (“Why do these women adjust their veils?”) cuts between the nawab and women peering at one another while the lyrics comment upon this action (and the tradition of purdah), all within a tightly organized interchange of sound and image. If this film doesn’t finally achieve the overall impact of an earlier masterpiece like Pyaasa, the technical skills that made Guru Dutt one of the masters of Hindi cinema’s golden age, and unsurpassed in the art of song picturization, are still on display in this penultimate work.

[Chaudhvin ka Chand is available on DVD from both Yash Raj Films and Eros/B4U. The image quality of both versions is generally very good, through both include some rough spots and choppy transitions. The subtitles on both copies are fairly straightforward but necessarily fail to capture the rich texture of the original Hindi-Urdu dialog, though the Eros copy may be somewhat more accurate (it at least correctly identifies the final swallowed object as a diamond, not the “poison” that the Yash Raj copy provides.) However, the Eros DVD does not subtitle the film’s songs, and its subtitles tend to slip off of the bottom of the screen. A more significant difference between the copies is that the Yash Raj DVD includes only the title song in color, whereas the Eros DVD includes both the title song and the brothel number “Kabhi Raazi Mohabbat” in color . (The Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema claims that these two color sequences appear in “later release prints … although designed for b&w,” a rather confusing claim since the sequences were clearly filmed in color.) The Yash Raj DVD, like all of the company’s Guru Dutt Collection titles, also includes Nasreen Munni Kabir’s illuminating documentary “In Search of Guru Dutt.” Guru Dutt fans may be fated to owning both versions, since each provides something the other lacks.]

Gopalkrishna (Marathi & Hindi) 1938

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Gopalkrishna (Marathi &  Hindi) 1938

  • Director- V.Damle & S.Fatelal
  • Music-Master Krishnarao.
  • Cast-Ram Marathe,Shanta Apte, Ganpatirao,   Master Parshuram, S.Kulkarni & Haribhau.

The film portrays youthful life of Lord Krishna,the God, whose appeal and popularity touched the American shores. Leading a community of cowherds,the adolescent Krishna subtly typifies some of problems, still familiar to Indians.

Typically of Prabhat, the stress is on human approach to these rather than conventional ‘miracles’.As one sees the film, one literally breaths the atmosphere of the Krishna’s rural environment centuries ago in the midst of his mischieveous cowherd companions.

Technically Gopalkrishna is distinguished by the use of stylish sets, costumes and classically-oriented but lively music.


Vishnupant Damle,a born artist, spent his early life in great hardship. He worked with drama companies  to paint backdrops, under Baburao Painter and Anandrao Painter, the two masters in arts.
He became trusted lieutenant of Baburao Painter in his Maharashtra film Company,Kolhapur.
On 1st June 1929,Damle along with his partners,founded Prabhat Film Company.

He had a good understanding in Engineering.
The studio at Pune was constructed under his supervision. He worked as sound recordist for some early films of Prabhat.He along with S.Fatelal directed
Sant Tukaram
Sant Dnyaneshwar
Gopal Krishna and
Sant Sakhu.
“Sant Tukaram” was a great success.
In 1945, at an early age of 52 he passed away.



S.Fatelal along with Damle worked in Drama companies and Maharashtra Film Company .He cranked camera for silent films of Prabhat.

He  was a very skillful artist. He had the creative ability of designing big settings and innovative drapery and costumes.Settings and costumes from films of Prabhat is a testimony of his skills.

At the same time, he had a keen eye for reality of sets and drapery.


Krishnarao Ganesh Phulambrikar was a Marathi actor, composer, and musicologist. He was an architect of the golden period of Sangitnatak in Marathi Theatre. He was born in Alandi near Pune in 1898. Krishnarao Ganesh Phulambrikar was the son of a professional pandit who died when Krishnarao was only 6, reducing the family to abject poverty. He was weak in health. He did not have much formal education, but his sweet, elastic voice facilitated entrance into the Natyakala Pravartak Mandali, where he did small roles. After 1910, he left to learn classical music under Bhaskarbuwa Bakhle in Pune.




Chori Chori (1956)

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Chori Chori (1956)

Chori Chori (Hindi: चोरी चोरी, Urdu: چوری چوری) is a 1956 Hindi film directed by Anant Thakur, with music by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra. The film is inspired by the Hollywood movie, It Happened One Night. The film stars Raj Kapoor and Nargis.Bhagwan Dada, Pran, David, and Johnny Walker have character parts. The movie would later inspire the 1990s Hindi re-make Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin. The story is about a wealthy noble man, Girdharilal, who lives with his daughter, Kammo. Girdharilal is not pleased that his daughter is getting married. He attempts to keep Kammo a recluse, but fails to do so, for Kammo falls in love with a pilot named Sumankumar. Though the father frequently warns his daughter not to trust the pilot, Kammo runs away with Sumankumar. Girdharilal advertises for her return, and Kammo returns, ready to marry Sumankumar. But suddenly she gets a visit from a man named Sagar, who approaches and tells them something that causes a twist in the plot. The music was yet another thrilling endeavour of Shankar Jaikishan, with tracks ranging soothing melodies such as Aaja Sanam and Yeh raat Bheegi Bheegi in voices of Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey, to fast beat songs such as Jahan Mein Jati Hun by Lata and Manna and,Sawa Lakh ki Lottery, with the vocals of the maestro himself Mohammad Rafi.

Song Singer(s) Lyricist
Aaja Sanam Manna Dey & Lata Mangeshkar Hasrat Jaipuri
Jahan Mein Jati Hun Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey Shailendra
Mein Bhagwan Ke Ghar Manna Dey & Lata Mangeshkar Shailendra
Panchi Banoon Urti Phirun Lata Mangeshkar Hasrat Jaipuri
Rasik Balma Lata Mangeshkar Hasrat Jaipuri
Sawa Lakh Ki Lottery Mohammad Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar Shailendra
Yeh raat Bheegi Bheegi Manna Dey & Lata Mangeshkar Shailendra


Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

(“adoration, worship”)
1969, Hindi, 180 minutes
Produced and Directed by Shakti Samanta

Story and screenplay: Sachin Bhowmick; Dialogue: Ramesh Pant; Lyrics: Anand Bakshi; Music: S. D. Burman; Art Direction: Shanti Das; Cinematography: Aloke Das Gupta

When thinking of the dynamics of gender relations in India, I sometimes recall Garrison Keillor’s description of his fictional hometown of Lake Woebegone, Minnesota: “…Where the women are strong and the men are good-looking.” This could serve as a kind of summary-sutra for ARADHANA, a weepy drama of female self-sacrifice, buoyed by a famous Bakshi-and-Burman score, that casts Sharmila Tagore as the ill-starred heroine Vandana (a name that, like the film’s title, connotes “praise” or “worship”) and Rajesh Khanna in the double role of her lover and then son. Its dramatic success as a “golden jubilee” film (one that played for more than fifty weeks in major urban centers) made Khanna a superstar and led to a string of hits in which he starred (many directed by Samanta or by Hrishikesh Mukherjee) between 1969 and 1973—when the actor’s career went into abrupt decline due to the advent of the Next and Bigger Thing, Amitabh Bachchan.

As the credits roll, we see a radiant, white-clad Vandana being denounced in a courtroom, and (after tearfully refusing to speak in her own defense) being sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. One need not have taken Hindi Cinema 101 to grasp that she is doubtless Innocent, but the film will defer explaining her “crime” for its first half, which unrolls as a flashback from her lonely prison cell. As it opens, Vandana is returning from college to her hill-station home, where she lives with her father, Gopal Tripathi, a medical doctor and widower. As she rides the narrow-gauge train through the mountains, she hears a young airman, Arun Varma (Khanna) on the adjacent motor road singing the amorous song Mere sapnon ki rani (“Oh Queen of my dreams, [when will you come to me?]”) while he eyes her flirtatiously. Their paths soon cross in her hometown, where Arun begins to woo her more ardently; and although she is the very model of maidenly modesty and deferral, her jovial and progressive father proves to have no objection to a “love match.”

Soon, with the further blessing of Arun’s avuncular boss Air Commodore Ganguly (Ashok Kumar), the engagement is sealed (and celebrated with the sun-drenched love songs Kora kagaz tha, “My heart was like a blank page,” and Gunguna rahe hai, “The bees are buzzing,” both performed against a backdrop of forests and snow-covered peaks). But before the planned nuptials can occur, Arun and Vandana pay a visit to a Shiva temple where, at the prompting of a cheerful priest, they impulsively exchange garlands and “marry before God.” A sudden storm then forces the lovers into a nearby bungalow where they doff their wet clothes—she substituting an artfully wrapped blanket for her soaked sari, and he building a fire. The blanket is red, and the firepit resembles a Vedic altar; eyeing each other hungrily, they circle the blaze while (substituting for a mantra-chanting priest) an amorous young man in an adjacent room sings the sultry Roop tera mastana (“Your beauty intoxicates me”).

The film’s most erotic song picturization thus simultaneously manages to encode the key elements of a perfectly dharmicHindu marriage ritual, although it necessarily remains a scandalous secret, unsanctioned by family and “society.” The obvious ensues (off-camera, of course) and though the virtuous Vandana worries about it the next morning, Arun assures her that they will be formally wed in just a few days, when he returns from a flying trip to Delhi.

But alas, Fate is cruel, and the young airman’s plane crashes. He survives only long enough to remind the weeping Vandana, at his bedside, of his dream of having a son named Suraj (“sun”) who, like him, will become a pilot and range the skies; he extracts from her the promise to make this dream come true. Soon after his death, the distraught Vandana indeed discovers that she is pregnant, and reveals to her shocked father—who could arrange a face-saving abortion—that she intends to keep and raise the child, dedicating her life to the “worship” (aradhana) of her lost love. Despite her father’s blessing, Vandana’s plight now grows grimmer. Arun’s family (eager to inherit his property) mocks her tale of a secret “marriage” and denounces her as a loose woman, and soon after this her father expires. When she gives birth to a beautiful son, a lady doctor advises leaving him at an orphanage door and then coming the next day to “adopt” him—the only means by which she can salvage respectability as a single mother. But this plan too goes awry, as the baby is accidentally given to a prosperous couple, the Saxenas, whose own child was stillborn. When Vandana contacts the husband and attempts to retrieve the boy, admitting the real facts behind his birth, Mr. Saxena convinces her to join the household as a nursemaid, so that her son can grow up with the advantage of the family’s wealth. Thus begins Vandana’s long, worshipful “penance” for her romantic indiscretion, as she nurtures the child, indeed named Suraj, maintaining the illusion that he is someone else’s son, while nevertheless forming a close bond with him, celebrated in the lullaby-like song Chanda hai tu (“You are my moon [and sun]”).

Worse trials lie ahead. When the greasy, foreign-returned brother of Mrs. Saxena, Shyam (Madan Puri) tries to rape Vandana, eight-year-old Suraj comes to her defense. She now gladly accepts a jail sentence for murder rather than endanger her child. When she is released on good behavior after twelve years, she learns that Mr. Saxena has died and his wife and son have moved to an unknown place. Homeless once more, she accepts the invitation of the kindly jailer (himself a widower and about to retire) to come to his house in Delhi as his adopted sister and assist in the raising of his spirited teenage daughter Renu (Farida Jalal). It is not long before Vandana learns that, like her “aunt” before her, Renu too has a weakness for daring young men in flying machines, and in fact is in love with a twenty-year-old pilot named….. Ah well, watch the movie—keeping a hankie or two handy—and everything will (in time) be revealed.

The songs of Aradhana were very popular and several remain well known today. Although most are romantic duets performed by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar or Asha Bhosle and Mohamed Rafi, the film’s most haunting tune is perhaps the bhajan-like Kahey ko roye (“Why do you weep?”), unusually and soulfully sung by composer Burman himself as a voiceover commentary on Vandana’s many trials.

Despite its suffocating patriarchal morality—which condemns a young woman to a lifetime of solitary adoration of a dead fiancé and self-effacing nurture of the son who is essentially his clone—this is a female-centered film, graced with a memorable performance by Sharmila Tagore. Her character’s two decades of tribulations recall those of two classical heroines celebrated in the Mahabharata, Shakuntala and Draupadi. Like the former, the innocent Vandana, associated with nature and the hills, is ardently pursued and eventually seduced by a more sophisticated urban lover, who then leaves her; their informal marriage is unrecognized by society and she is scorned and humiliated because she bears his child, yet she devotes herself to the boy’s upbringing so that he may one day inherit his patrimony (here, the “kingdom” of the now conquered and militarized sky). And like Draupadi in the epic’s Book of Virata, Vandana, in order to achieve her object, disguises her identity and takes employment as a maidservant in a wealthy household, wherein (in the absence of a male protector) she is sexually harassed by her mistress’ brother, who finally pays for this crime with his life; the blame for his death then falls on her. Yet the outspoken assertiveness of the two epic heroines contrasts sharply with the passive and stoic endurance expected of the modern and respectably middle-class heroine, whose resistance to injustice is here largely expressed through self-imposed suffering.

Baazi 1951

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

(“The Wager”)
1951, Hindi, 126 minutes
Directed by Guru Dutt
Produced by Navketan Studios
Story by Guru Dutt and Balraj Sahni; Screenplay and dialogs: Balraj Sahni; Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi; Music: S. D. Burman (a.k.a. Barman); Choreography: Zohra Sehgal; Cinematography: V. Ratra

Despite the poor quality of its marketed DVD version (see final note below), this Bombay noir marks the directing debut of Guru Dutt and is worth seeing as a precursor of his later masterpieces. His fine cinematic eye for (especially dark) atmosphere is evident here despite often cheesy sets, and creates a fitting mood for a clever and suspenseful tale (co-written by Dutt and celebrated actor Balraj Sahni) of innocence and betrayal in the urban jungle. In a Hitchcockian gesture, Guru Dutt himself appears momentarily in the opening shots, as a cigarette-smoking beggar—an effective preamble to a tale of moral turpitude that will often be viewed through a heavy tobacco haze.

Madan (Dev Anand) is an out of work cabbie with a genius for gambling. He is spotted in a seedy dive by Pedro, an operative for the Star Hotel, a fashionable cabaret that conceals a subterranean casino. This den of iniquity is controlled from an inner sanctum by a shadowy underworld don who is seen only in backlit silhouette and referred to simply as “Master” (malik). Madan agrees to work for the don, luring gullible high-rollers into the establishment, because he is desperate to raise money (and too proud to accept charity) to pay for his kid sister’s treatment for tuberculosis. This puts him in contact with Rajni (Kalpana Kartik), the only child of a millionaire philanthropist, who has become a doctor and opened a dispensary in Madan’s slum. Though initially put off by Madan’s streetsmart attitude, Rajni quickly recognizes his good heart (it is implied that his family was once middle class, but has come on bad times) and the two fall in love—a process watched warily both by Rajni’s glowering father (K. N. Singh) and her would-be suitor, Police Inspector Ramesh (K. Dhawan), who also has his eye on the denizens of the Star Hotel.

Another eye fixed on Madan belongs to Nina (Geeta Bali), the Star’s star dancer and the proverbial loose woman with a golden heart, who would like to flee her tawdry world with the handsome young hustler. The plot takes an unexpected turn when Madan accidentally learns the identity of his boss, who then attempts to silence him. Arrested on false charges of murdering Nina, Madan is condemned to be hanged, and the only person who can forestall this fate is his rival for Rajni’s hand, Inspector Ramesh.

Apart from its often arresting photography, the film boasts strong and understated performances from all its principals. Dev Anand as the young hustler who has been wronged by a cruel world (a character he would recreate in other films; cf. TAXI DRIVER), effectively blends sensuality, bruised innocence, and melancholy. Kalpana Kartik and Geeta Bali both give nuanced portrayals of self-possessed and sexually mature heroines, avoiding the popular stereotypes of “good” and “bad” women. The film’s take on capitalism as inherently corrupt is well expressed in the don’s first speech to Madan, “Gambling is like any other business…in fact, one may say that gambling is another name for business”—and is borne out by the twists of the plot, which unfurl like the slowly rising smoke from Madan’s innumerable cigarettes. Burman’s score of eight songs is dominated by female voices: four are performed by cabaret singer Nina and three by Doctor Rajni. Madan has a single solo,Dil yeh kya chiz hai (“What is this thing called a heart?”), a jaunty and whimsical road song performed when he is trying to forget Rajni. Also notable is Tum bhi na bhulo balam (“Don’t forget, O Beloved”), sung by Rajni (who is unable to forget Madan).


Thursday, June 17th, 2010


(“The Vagabond”)
(1951), B&W, Hindi, 170 min.
Directed by Raj Kapoor. Lyrics by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri.
Music by Shankar-Jaikishen.

This much-discussed film was Kapoor’s first to feature his trademark Chaplinesque character “Raj/Raju” (“little Raj,” though the homage to Chaplin is less pronounced than in the sunnier SHRI 420), here a hapless “vagabond” (avaaraa) who, as the film opens, is on trial for the attempted murder of a pillar of society, Judge Raghunath (brilliantly played by Prithviraj Kapoor, R. K.’s real-life father). He is defended by a beautiful young lawyer, Rita (Nargis), an orphan who also happens to be the Judge’s ward. Her interrogation of the latter leads to a long flashback that occupies most of the film. Its opening segment evokes the Ramayana, with Judge Raghunath (an epithet of Rama) abandoning his pregnant wife Leela (Leela Chitnis) because he wrongly believes she has been raped during a brief abduction by the robber Jagga (K. N. Singh), and the Judge’s conviction that the “seed” of a criminal necessarily seals the fate of his offspring (ironically, we learn that Jagga only became an outlaw after being wrongly convicted of rape by the same Judge). Leela raises her son in the Bombay slums, slaving to send him to school so that he may become a lawyer and judge like his father, but with Jagga always hovering in the background, intent on luring him into a life of crime. As a schoolboy, Raj falls in love with the carefree Rita, despite the class gulf between them, but Judge Raghunath (a friend of Rita’s father who takes an instinctive dislike to the “wayward” boy) contrives to separate them. Jagga and the Judge’s struggle for Raj’s soul – a variation on the nature-vs.-nurture debate, with resonances of caste ideology – continues when Raj and Rita reconnect after twelve years.



The film, generally considered one of Kapoor’s finest, is notable for its darkly surreal sets, especially the Judge’s baroque-deco mansion, and for its remarkable dream sequence, which echoes this architecture in an evocation of heaven and hell. Despite its ultimate vindication of patriarchy and capitalism, the film became an enormous hit in the U.S.S.R. and, thanks to Chairman Mao’s reputed fondness for it, in China (to this day, millions of middle-aged Chinese can hum its title song).

Anmol Ghadi: A Classic Indian Hindi Movie

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Anmol Ghadi: A Classic Indian Hindi Movie

(“the priceless watch”)
Hindi, 1946
Directed by Mehboob Khan
Story: Anwar Batalvi; Screenplay and dialogues: Agha Jani Kashmiri; Lyrics: Tanveer Naqvi; Music: Naushad; Dances: Krishna Kumar

Albeit sometimes awkwardly plotted and woodenly acted, this languorous and mannered meditation on intractable class difference and frustrated love is memorable for the always-interesting camerawork of Faredoon A. Irani and a full bouquet of twelve songs by the great Naushad.  A further point of interest is that this is one of relatively few pre-Independence films currently available on DVD; moreover its principals, including the popular star Nurjehan, who would emigrate to Lahore soon after Partition, do their own singing—for this was an era in which playback dubbing by non-actors, though already utilized, was not yet dominant.  Students of Mehboob’s oeuvre will recognize motifs that anticipate the more complex and unsettling ANDAZ (1949), and there are also echoes of the unavoidable (in this period) Devdas story (memorably filmed by P. C. Barua in 1935), especially in the ineffectual and melancholic hero who is loved—to no avail—by two beautiful women: a chaste and unattainable childhood sweetheart and a coquettish but rejected adult admirer.

Anmol Ghadi

Anmol Ghadi

The film opens with a jaunty roadsong (Udhan khatolepe, “I go by flying carpet…and you cannot catch me”) celebrating the love but dramatizing the social distance between two children: the rich girl Lata and poor boy Chander, in the idyllic rural setting of Jehanabad (“flourishing world”).  While Lata wears a stylish frock and rides in a horse carriage with two liveried attendants, thekurta-and-dhoti clad Chander trots behind like a faithful puppy, albeit rolling a toy wheel in sport.  At the portico of Lata’s mansion, her doting district-officer father bribes her with his pocket watch before chasing off Chander, who is hiding in the bushes.  In the next scene, Chander’s widowed mother (Leela Mishra), who ekes out a living grinding wheat, explains to the pouting boy that true friendship is not possible between rich and poor. But when Lata’s father is transferred to Bombay and packs up his household, the girl presents Chander with her father’s watch as a memento of their love, and asks him to come to Bombay one day to find her.  Astute viewers who guess that (a) he will eventually do so, (b) the outcome will not be happy, and (c) the watch—emblematic of both modernity and fate—will loom large in the mise-en-scene, have correctly divined the gist of what ensues, minus a few (sometimes confusing) plot details.

But they will want to stay on for the songs, beginning withTera khilona toota (“Your toy is broken”), sung by a whimsical toy vendor to a crowd of village children as a commentary on Chander’s abandonment by the Bombay-bound Lata (he falls while chasing her carriage, breaking the wooden bird that he planned to give her as a keepsake in return for the watch).  Its part-nonsensical lyrics combine fatalistic sant-style motifs about the illusory world with droll evocations of Indian modernity, anticipating the mood of much of the film.

Your toy is broken, child, your toy is broken.
Fate has looted you, looted you! Your toy is broken.
The Player sits in heaven and plays.
Just see how the wooden puppets of this world dance!
We are but toys, whether our lives are sweet, bitter, or savory.
Children, take these dolls and play—
Human beings sold for pennies!
Here, take a silly god,
Take a hungry Indian,
Take a ‘made in Japan’!
Here are Lallu and Gyan, Kallu and Pran,
Why do you weep, little Chander?…
Don’t be wearied by weeping,
You are children of India.
Take this bow and arrow,
My dear young stalwarts,
Save the honor of your homes,
Smoke beedies and eat paan!
My toys sell for pennies,
Take them, children, and play….
Your toy is broken, child, your toy is broken.

Predictably, Chander’s melancholia proves permanent, and despite the tireless labor of his mother to educate him for a successful career, he grows (via a time-lapse marked by her turning millstone overlaid with a succession of schoolbooks) into a dreamy musician and sitar-repairer (Surendra Nath) who shows little inclination for work, preferring to sit under a tree sighing over poems and the fateful pocketwatch (occasioning the song Woh yaad aa rahi hai, “That memory returns…of a vanished world; this pitiable tale and tearful song, to whom shall I tell them?”) while his now-wizened mother continues her interminable grinding—a fate that he likewise laments but does nothing to allay.  To the rescue comes, inexplicably, one Prakash (Zahur Raja), a rich friend from Bombay, who magnanimously moves Chander and his mother to the big city and sets the former up in a musical instrument shop.  Chander repays his benefactor by being moody, unreliable, and occasionally insulting, but the indefatigable Prakash, who has money to burn, is motivated by the purest dosti.  Moveover, he and Chander share a passion for the poetry of an author known as “Renu” (“grain of sand”), actually the secret nom de plume of a soulful young society woman who is, in fact, the grown-up Lata (Nurjehan), and who dedicates her best-selling oeuvre to her evergreen memories of the lost paradise of her childhood in Jehanabad.

Lata’s best friend is the vivacious Basanti (Suraiya), another rich girl who develops an unrequited crush on the young manager of a sitar store (Chander, of course), even as its absent owner, Prakash, becomes engaged to the morose but dutiful daughter of a powerful government officer—in short, Lata.  These four ill-starred friends and lovers proceed to wander in and out of each other’s orbits, generating heartache and misunderstanding, but more importantly songs likeAawaz de kahaan hai, (“Tell me where you are,” sung by Lata as she pines for Chander in her moodily lit art-deco boudoir), Mai dil mein (“I embraced pain in my heart, when our eyes met,” in which Basanti—charmingly mirrored in the polished lid of the grand piano she plays—reveals her new infatuation to Lata, who of course does not realize that its object is her own lost childhood love), and Ab kaun hai mera (“Now who is left for me?,” sung by Chander after the death of his long-suffering mother and the revelation that Prakash is to marry Lata).

Even with fairly stereotypical lyrics, these (and other) songs are so musically effective and inventively picturized that it is difficult to choose a favorite—though another contender must certainly be Man letha hai angdai (“My heart twists and turns…youthful ardor suffuses my life”), Basanti’s sensual ode to Chander’s purloined pocketwatch, which she fondles and swings while writhing on an ornate bed beneath a portrait of herself.

Recapitulating Barua’s Devdas (and a long line of literary precursors, whose archetype is perhaps the mad Sufi lover Majnun) and anticipating Guru Dutt’s Vijay in PYAASA, Chander ends up distraught and disheveled, and (after putting in a morose appearance at his best friend’s marriage to his own beloved), abandons the world to wander off into the wilderness.  He is pursued by the equally-reduced Basanti, whose love he cannot return, and who now appearssadhvi-like in a white sari.  The final word on this lose-lose situation (for the newlyweds back in Bombay are presumably equally miserable) is conveyed by a reprise of the toyseller’s jocular song about a heartless heavenly Player and his two-bit human puppets.  This is a grim conclusion indeed, but, thank Heaven, we can just walk away from it—humming the delightful tunes of Naushad.

Andaz: A Classic Indian Hindi Movie

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Andaz: A Classic Indian Hindi Movie

(“Style,” Hindi, 1949, 148 minutes)
Directed by Mehboob Khan
Story: Shums Lucknavi; Screenplay and dialogs: S. Ali Raza; Music: Naushad; Songs: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Photography: Faredoon A. Irani

Like many films of the immediate post-Independence era, this tragedy of manners focuses, in a darker than usual register, on both the allure and danger of modern western lifestyles and modes of social behavior. Though their allure would appear to be felt by all, their danger is unequally shared between the sexes: since nationalist ideology posits woman as the embodiment of tradition as well as the guardian, through her chastity, of male honor, she incurs the greatest risk in any flirtation with the modern—a flirtation which (given the dictum that her sole God must be her husband) is tantamount to adultery. The suspicion of this sin, nurtured by innocent misunderstandings and repeated failures of communication in a world governed by verbal codes that discourage straightforward speech, lies at the core of the strange and destructive “love triangle” in this film.



As the spoilt only child of a doting millionaire, Neena (Nargis) divides her time between palatial homes in Shimla and Bombay. We first see her in her hill station lodge, being dressed in riding clothes by attentive servants, surrounded by amenities (including a salon-style hair dryer) connoting the last word in westernized luxury. Yet the supplier of all this, Neena’s devoted “Daddy” (Sapru) displays, in their first exchange, a hint of reticence about their lifestyle (complaining of sore limbs from excessive horseback riding in his “old age”) that is suggestive of deeper unease to come. Moreover, in implying that his nineteen-year-old daughter is approaching marriageable age (when she complains that she does not like to ride alone, he quips “That can soon be remedied…” causing her to blush), he also alludes to his traditional responsibility to insure her chastity and supervise her transfer to the oversight of another man. Soon after this, the headstrong Neena loses control of her horse and is rescued by a dashing stranger, Dilip (Dilip Kumar); her horse’s fall to its death from a high cliff prefigures the plight into which the principals will soon plunge, driven by Neena’s heedless disregard of social propriety. For when Dilip introduces himself to Neena’s dad (who has come to the hospital to fetch her after her mishap), we sense a definite chill: the old man appears dismayed by Dilip and Neena’s flirtatious exchange and her invitation to Dilip to come visit them at home. Later, when Dilip sings of his budding love for Neena (Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe, “Today I lost my heart somewhere”), and she apparently reciprocates with a lovesong of her own (Dar na mohabbat kar le, “Don’t be afraid to fall in love”), her father begins showing his disapproval, cautioning her that there are standards to which “the world” adheres that are not taught in college (an indication of Neena’s own level of education). Neena pouts and accuses him of holding views “from 150 years back”; in the matter at hand (the question of whether to invite Dilip to her birthday party) she again manages to get her way. Viewers may wonder why her father seems so disapproving of an apparently genteel boy of comparable social status. This mystery lingers until after the old man’s unexpected demise from heart failure. The stricken Neena is helped through this loss by Dilip, whom she rewards by making the manager and co-owner (with her) of her father’s corporate empire: a partnership that appears to Dilip (and to viewers) to promise a yet more consummate merger to come. But his hopes are dashed one day when Neena takes him to the airport to meet Rajan (Raj Kapoor), who has been away in London for several years, yet who is, it turns out, her fiancé and one true love. It gradually becomes clear that Neena’s allusions, in previous coy exchanges with Dilip, to being in love in fact referred to Rajan and not to Dilip.

However, such careless words, and the exchanges of looks that accompanied them, have had an unintended effect: Dilip is now hopelessly in love with Neena. The breezy, self-confident Rajan (an early incarnation of the narcissistic husband of Kapoor’s later SANGAM, which will repeat several motifs from this film, including a little wooing scene he performs here using a snakecharmer’s reed-pipe) is at first unaware of these complications, as is Neena herself, who considers Dilip merely a close “friend” (dost). But Dilip is sufficiently tortured by unrequited love to nurture the crazed hope that Neena may yet transfer her affections to him. When Neena and Rajan are finally married, Dilip can restrain himself no longer and, soon after the ceremony, confesses his love to Neena. The horror that this admission inspires in Neena appears to have multiple causes: fear that her husband may learn of Dilip’s love and suspect that she returns it; guilt over the realization that she has inadvertently encouraged Dilip; and dread of her own suppressed attraction (conveyed through her glances and body language) to the intense and sensual Dilip. She attempts to tell her new husband about Dilip’s confession, but Rajan misunderstands her and cockily changes the topic (as always, he thinks she is talking about him!), and the frustrated Neena resorts to various forms of denial: repeatedly professing her love for her “only God,” Rajan, fleeing with him to Shimla and refusing to return to Bombay, and stubbornly urging Dilip to marry her own girlfriend Sheela (Cuckoo), who is herself in love with him. Though uninterested in Sheela and desperate to leave, Dilip remains in Bombay running Neena’s business out of concern that an abrupt departure on his part, so soon after her marriage, might tarnish her reputation. He remains, too, in Neena’s consciousness, haunting her dreams and slowly chilling her relationship with her husband. When a daughter is born to the couple, Neena becomes troubled by Rajan’s adoration of her, fearing that he too, like her own father, will “spoil” the child’s character with excessive indulgence and freedom. Dilip waits until the baby’s first birthday for his own exit, concealing a note to Neena (explaining that he now understands that, as an “Indian woman,” she can have only one man in her heart, and that is Rajan) inside a toy he presents as a gift. A power failure during the party affords an opportunity to Neena to give a verbal message to Dilip, likewise begging him to leave, but in the dark she accidentally addresses her own husband with what Rajan now mistakes for a profession of love for Dilip. It’s all downhill from here, as Rajan’s insane jealousy provokes him, through several bouts of grandiose self-pity and biting sarcasm, to frustrate every effort by both his wife and Dilip to clear the record. Eventually, he attempts to kill Dilip with a blow to the head; the resulting concussion causes Dilip to go temporarily insane and to threaten Neena, both violently and sexually. Assailed, in effect, by two madmen, Neena commits a desperate act, resulting in her arrest and dramatic public trial.

Within this grim story, diversion of a sort is provided early on by one Professor Devadas Dharamdas Trivedi (a.k.a. “D.D.T.”), a bogus academic with a childhood link to Rajan, who insinuates himself into the household as a freeloader. Trivedi is a classic vidushaka (the comic sidekick of the hero of classical and folk theater): a dim but pretentious Brahman with outspoken opinions and uncontrollable appetites. Here he functions especially effectively as an exaggerated mirror image of the principal characters: like them, he is a creature caught between worlds, wearing a western style suit and solar topee, yet spouting Sanskritized Hindi and denouncing the decadent “foreign” lifestyle of his hosts, even as he greedily partakes of it.

Although voyeuristic delight in the westernized lives of the rich was (and remains) standard in Bombay films, Mehboob seems to dwell with particular intensity on surface signifiers of stylish modernity: Neena’s bob of permed hair, which she languorously fondles while talking to Dilip, her English-style boudoir and lap dog, and the Shimla round of horseback riding, tennis, and big-band soirees. The culturally corrosive effect of such amenities, earlier (hypocritically) decried by the buffoon Trivedi, is (even more ironically and hypocritically) declared by Rajan in his self-pitying speeches during Neena’s trial. Indeed, although Neena is ultimately driven to commit an act of violence, her real “crime” (apart from being involved in a series of misunderstandings, coincidences, and mistimed communications) appears to be her taste for “style”. The film implies that there is a slippery slide from such taste to a disastrous non-adherence to norms of feminine modesty and non-assertiveness (displayed in Neena’s repeated expressions that she doesn’t care what “worldly people” think about her behavior), and her error in boldly supposing that it is truly possible for a young woman to have a young man as a close “friend” (dost) without him and others getting the wrong idea.

Though the film appears to endorse Neena’s father’s often-recalled warnings about girls keeping within decorous limits, Rajan’s insufferable self-centeredness suggests just how much “good” Indian women may have to put up with (his assault on Dilip follows the latter’s—patently correct—assertion that Rajan has never really understood his own wife). And though the film is at pains to maintain the purity of Neena’s friendship with Dilip (which will eventually be distorted, by Rajan and society at large, into the manipulations of a lustful temptress), it also hints at the possibility of underlying erotic attraction, playing on the often sensually charged word dost. Rajan finally learns—when it is too late—the truth about Neena’s relationship with Dilip, and so presumably has to face his own measure of guilt. Indeed, there is guilt aplenty in this haunting, complex film, which ultimately implicates itself, and all its viewers, in Neena’s “crime”: succumbing to the irresistible attractions of alien “style” (and its attendant promise of new kinds of freedom, especially in male-female relationships), while maintaining the pretext of unwavering loyalty to an assumed “Indian tradition.”

ANDAZ boasts a very strong score with ten songs, mainly sung by Dilip and Neena. In addition to the two mentioned earlier, memorable tunes include Dilip’s romantic Tu kahe agar (“If you but say…”), his melancholy ode to Neena and Rajan’s wedding, Toote na dil toote na (“Don’t break, O my heart”), and Neena’s mournful chronicling of Rajan’s gradual rejection of her in Uthaye ja unke sitam (“Take away his oppression”) and Tor diya dil mera (“He has broken my heart”).

Anari: A Classic Indian Hindi Movie

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Anari: A Classic Indian Hindi Movie

(“the simpleton”)
1959, Hindi, approx. 157 minutes

Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Produced by L. B. Lachman
Story, Screenplay, and Dialogues: Inder Raj Anand; Lyrics: Hasrat, Shailendra; Music: Shankar-Jaikishan; Cinematography: Jaywant R. Pathare; Art Direction: M. R. Achrekar; Settings: K. Damodar

In a directorial career spanning some forty years, Hrishikesh Mukherjee made an equal number of what are often called “middle class” films. The label refers to their assumed target viewers who, like most of the principal characters in their narratives, were urban, educated people of secure but not lavish means, employed in white collar or professional jobs. But the designation might equally refer to their stylistic location somewhere between big budget, operatic masala melodramas, and the more austere and personal (and usually commercially unviable) visions of so-called “artfilm” or “alternative cinema” directors. Though usually made on modest budgets, Mukherjee’s films adhere to many of the conventions of the mainstream commercial cinema—storylines that rely heavily on both comedy and pathos, music and dance scored by eminent Bombay composers, and big name (or “A-list”) stars—who regularly chose to work for Mukherjee both because of his benign personality and reputation for integrity, and because his scripts gave them the opportunity to appear in more challenging or non-standard roles (e.g., Amitabh Bachchan as a struggling musician in ALAAP, Rajesh Khanna as a dying cancer patient in ANAND, Dharmendra as himself in GUDDI). In contrast to the wide-canvas, “epic” look of more lavishly-budgeted films, Mukherjee’s have a characteristically closer-focus and unpretentious style that often displays crisp and inventive camerawork, as well as a resourceful use of modest sets and locations. Many of these films enjoyed appropriately modest commercial success when they were released, and they have held their own over the years and indeed, have grown more beloved to viewers with the passage of time. Today, Mukherjee (a Bengali who trained under the famed Bimal Roy, and who turned eighty in 2002) is regarded as one of the grand old men of the Hindi film industry.

ANARI was Mukherjee’s second effort as a director (after 1957’s MUSAFIR), and his first notable commercial success. Featuring Raj Kapoor and Nutan—both then at the height of their careers—and a very catchy Shankar-Jaikishan score, it is essentially another “Raju” film (showcasing Kapoor’s trademark character of lovable and idealistic, though naïve, middle class everyman, trying to navigate a callous and materialistic world), though both the character—here named “Rajkumar”—and the storyline are trimmed-down in suitably Mukherjee-esque style. Kapoor is more pensive and less frenetic than in the “Raju” films he directed himself (such as AWARA, SHRI 420, or JIS DESH MEN GANGA BEHTI HAI), and the narrative places him neither in a palatial mansion nor among rustics and slum-dwellers, but in the lower-middle-class digs of a Bombay Christian matron with the common Goan name of D’Sa (pronounced “Disa”—and possibly a Portuguese version of the Gujarati “Desai,” suggestive of the Hindu roots of some Goan Catholics). She is the proverbial sharp-tongued landlady with a heart of gold, though here too Mukherjee tweaks the stereotype and summons a superb performance from veteran character actress Lalita Pawar.

Mrs. D’sa daily berates her boarder—an unemployed artist who regularly loses jobs because of his innocence and scrupulous honesty—and threatens him (in endearingly substandard “Bombay Hindi”) with eviction, all the while dotingly preparing his meals, secretly slipping coins into his empty pockets, and praying to Lord Jesus for his success—for in fact she has inwardly adopted him as a surrogate for her deceased son, David. Pawar’s performance manages to lift this poignant scenario above cliché, and the characters’ reflections on the inter-communal mother-son relationship adds a nice note of social commentary—the irrelevance of ethnic and religious divisions in matters of the heart—that is (again in characteristically Mukherjee-esque fashion) sincere yet understated.

The film is more outspoken about class barriers, for poor-boy Raj soon encounters and falls in love with the proverbial Rich Girl, Arti (the radiant Nutan), an orphan who lives in an ostentatious mansion with her pharmaceutical magnate uncle Ramnath (Motilal) and a companion Asha (Shubha Khote) who doubles as girlfriend and maidservant. Attracted to Raj, Arti trades names and personas with Asha, pretending to be a poor working girl in the employ of an imperious heiress. This permits Raj to express his feelings for her, but their budding romance is threatened when Raj accidentally meets Arti’s uncle, impresses him with his honesty, and lands a job in his firm.

Further complications arise from a subplot concerning a flu epidemic: Ramnath and his corporate cronies—including an unscrupulous Hindu Vaishnava of ostentatious piety—discover that one batch of their patent flu medicine actually contains poison, but in their greed to reap handsome profits they suppress this information. Raj’s world begins to fall apart when he discovers “Asha’s” true identity as the rich Arti, and Arti’s uncle—who rose from poverty himself and now fears and despises the poor—threatens her with dire consequences unless she breaks with Raj. To make matters worse, Mrs. D’sa goes searching for her distraught “son” in a downpour and then comes down with the flu; the doctor, of course, prescribes the tainted medicine. When the poor get sicker, the rich get meaner, and Motiilal’s subtle performance in the film’s final reels effectively suggests the thin line that separates corporate-executive respectability from rapacious criminality. Though things get pretty grave, the director salvages a happy ending—yet, again, not the ecstatic apotheosis one would expect from a more mainstream melodrama; but an understated resolution that is somewhat incomplete, bittersweet, and oddly satisfying.

ANARI’s six musical numbers—several of which became notable hits—are uniformly strong and work effectively to move the plot forward. Ban ke pancchi (“forest bird”) introduces Arti’s carefree character as she and a group of girlfriends cycle through the scenic Western Ghats (cf. the similar “establishing song” of the heroine in PADOSAN, which appears to quote this scene). Rajkumar’s own establishing song, Kisi ki muskurahaton pe (“someone’s smiles”), which celebrates his altruism and empathy, is a catchy Shankar Jaikishan classic with a jaunty Rive-Gauche accordion accompaniment. Raj and Arti’s blossoming romance unfolds through two lovesongs set in gardens, Woh chand khila woh tare hanse (“that waxing moon, those smiling stars”) and Dil ki nazar se (“with the eyes of the heart”). 1956 is a cabaret number featuring the inevitable Helen and a riot of low-budget sartorial and choreographic hybridity (Cossack and Flamenco meets fifties moderne!). Raj’s discovery, at Arti’s lavish birthday party, of her true identity, occasions the song Sab kuch seekha humne (“I’ve learned everything [except how to be deceptive]”), in which idealistic lyrics disguise a message of bitterness and betrayal. Arti’s pain at having to break with Raj occasions the anguished Tera jaana (“your leaving”).