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From Pakeezah to Mere Mehboob: 5 films to watch this Eid

en Bollywood News From Pakeezah to Mere Mehboob: 5 films to watch this Eid

Silvat (2018)
Playing a Muslim darzi in the crowded gully of what looks like Mumbai’s Haji Ali locality, Kartik Aaryan is every bit Anwar, the shy sensitive tailor who develops a secret passion for his favourite client: a lonely abandoned wife Noor (Meher Mistry) whose husband has migrated to Riyadh for a job with nary a glance back for the woman he has left behind. The focus of the passionate plot, pulsating with unspoken ardour, is Noor. But it’s Kartik’s Anwar who silently steals the show. There is no exhibition of outward passion here. And yet so much is said through Anwar’s eyes. Every stolen glance is laden with longing. The film is shot on location in a Muslim locality with street side vendors frying parathas and malpuas, hawkers selling bangles. The bustle of the street is weighed against those heavy loaded silences between Noor and Anwar. This is 1997. And riots don’t happen only on the streets. Sometimes they also occur in a woman’s lonely heart.

From Pakeezah to Mere Mehboob: 5 films to watch this Eid

From Pakeezah to Mere Mehboob: 5 films to watch this Eid

Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)
Said to be ghost-directed by Guru Dutt, set in Lucknow, this love triangle features two friends Aslam (Guru Dutt) and Nawab (Rehman) who fall in love with the same beauty Jameela (Waheeda Rehman). The film captures the exhilarating hustle-bustle of Eid and other festivities of Lucknow known as the city of Nawabs, while the love triangle unfolds in graceful episodes through song, poetry and courtship. The sequence where Guru Dutt sings the title song in Mohd Rafi’s voice to describe Waheeda Rehman’s beauty is considered among the most poetic description of love and romance to have ever been filmed in Hindi cinema. Come, fall in love with Guru Dutt’s first and only ‘Muslim Social’ a genre of cinema that celebrated the obsolete if not altogether non-existent Nawabi culture, was made to counter the losses he suffered with the autobiographical Kagaz Ke Phool. While that film was all about life, Chaudhvin Ka Chand had nothing to do with real life. Two Muslim best friends Aslam and Nawab (played by Guru Dutt and his real-life buddy Rehman) both love the same beauty Jameela (Waheeda Rehman). The title song written by Shakeel Badayuni as the ultimate ode to love and beauty, captured the actress in all her resplendent beauty in colour while the rest of the film is in black and white. The film is set in the city of nawabs Lucknow and captures the ethos of luxuriant romance rather flamboyantly. This is Guru Dutt’s least subtle work.

Mere Mehboob (1963)
The film featured Rajendra Kumar and Sadhana, two non-Muslim actors, who fall in love on a train and have to go through various storms in ornate teacups before the ultimate nikaah. The film was remarkable in capturing the colours, music and festive mood of a decadent nawabi culture. The songs composed by Naushad are especially delightful in their dulcet delicacy. My favourite being Sadhana and Nimmi dancing around water fountains and under sparkling chandeliers singing Mere ‘Mehboob mein kya nahin’ not knowing that the ‘Mehboob’ they are both crooning about is the same person. After the release of this film, Sadhana was often mistaken for a Muslim, and she loved it. Rahul Rawail’s father H S Rawail directed this all-time hit. Ideal Eid viewing with the characters shown to belong in a well-to-do Muslim environment. Director H S Rawail constructs the royal grandeur of the nawab culture lavishly. Given the spatial grandeur and the never-ending burst of lovely melodies composed by Naushad, this film feels even today like an ode to romance and revelry. Except Nimmi, none of the principal actors Sadhana, Rajendra Kumar, Ashok Kumar or Pran were Muslim. But they carried the Nawab culture so gracefully! Watch the way Rajendra Kumar falls in love with the mysterious woman in a veil played by Sadhana. It is the most dignified ode to courtship you will see in a Hindi film. Incidentally, Mala Sinha and Sadhana were two actresses who were mistaken to be Muslim because of the roles they played.

Pakeezah (1972)

The theatrical actor Raj Kumar falls in love with a courtesan Meena Kumari’s feet. But he doesn’t know she is a tawaif. This is the story of a fallen woman’s search for love and family through pain and poetry. Kamal Amrohi spared no expenses to ensure the film exudes a glamour of epic proportions. This Eid sit back and watch the legendary Meena Kumari dance to ‘Inhi logon ne’, ‘Thare rahiyo’, ‘Chalte chalte’ and ‘Teer-e-nazar’. The melodious music by Ghulam Mohamed merges and melts into an absolutely enchanting evening of unparalleled beauty and harmony. Meena Kumari lived the part of the tawaif Sahib Jaan and the credit for her heart-melting performance must go to a large extent to the music by Ghulam Mohammed. As sung by Lata Mangeshkar, the Mujras, the life and breath of every tawaif’s tale, are among the finest heard in Indian cinema: Chalte chalte yuhi koi mil gaya tha’, ‘Teer-e-nazar dekhenge’, ‘Thare rahiyo ho banke yaar re’, ‘Inhi logon ne le lee na dupatta mera’…which one do we choose? All or none? I could watch Pakeezah a million times for the songs. Meena Kumari’s performance was dependent entirely on the music. During a large part of the film’s shooting, Meena Kumari couldn’t even move because of ill health let alone dance. The ‘Mujra Chalte chalte’ was shot with chorus dancers and ‘Teer-e-nazar’ was performed by a duplicate dancer, Padma Khanna.

Nikaah (1982)
The film dared to challenge the Sharia laws of India. Salma Agha, freshly imported from Pakistan, played wife to Deepak Parasher, who divorces her by saying “Talaq” thrice. Boldly the film questions the male spouse’s right to discard his marital duties on a whim. Salma Agha not only played the lead but also sang Ravi’s chartbusting compositions which went a long way in making this film a superhit during the year of Amitabh Bachchan’s Namak Halaal, Khuddar, Satte Pe Satta and Desh Premee. Again the music of Ravi went a long way in accentuating the film’s love triangle where Haider (Raj Babbar) loves Nilofer (Salma Agha) who ends up marrying Wasim (Deepak Parasher) who divorces her after saying “Talaq” thrice. While Ms Agha was a Muslim, the two heroes were Hindus. Raj Babbar once told me he had to brush up his Urdu to understand some of the songs and dialogues before vocalizing them.

More Pages: Pakeezah Box Office Collection


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