Haqeeqat (1964)

With most films, by the time I see The End come up on the screen, I’ve more or less decided what I’m going to write about it, till which point I’m going to reveal the plot, and so on. With Haqeeqat, I’m still a little dazed. This is one of Bollywood’s earliest—and most realistic—war films, set against a backdrop of what was then the almost inaccessible region of Ladakh. It’s a blend of war and melodrama, propaganda and patriotism… and I’m not sure exactly what can be considered the main story of the film, since it actually consists of a number of stories woven into each other.

Balraj Sahni in Haqeeqat

Let’s begin with what I originally thought was the main story: the romance between Captain Bahadur Singh (Dharmendra) and a half-Ladakhi, half-Kashmiri girl called Angmo (Priya Rajvansh, in her debut). Bahadur Singh is stationed at Sonamarg, where he’s met Angmo’s younger brother Sonam. Sonam wants to be an officer when he grows up, so Bahadur Singh takes the boy under his wing and drills him every day. One day, one of Angmo’s lambs nearly falls off a cliff and Bahadur rescues it—which brings the two together. They’re obviously very attracted to each other.

Bahadur Singh and Angmo fall in love

Angmo, Sonam and their mother (Ruby Myers) need to go to Leh and then on to Phobrang (near the Chinese border) to stay with their Ladakhi relatives. Bahadur Singh persuades Major Ranjit Singh (Balraj Sahni), who’s driving up to Leh, to take the little family along, and he agrees. The major also seems quite enchanted with the lovely Angmo.

Major Ranjit Singh gives a lift

While Bahadur Singh, in a fit of ardour, follows his beloved to Leh, Bahadur’s father, Brigadier Singh (Jayant), receives news of unrest along the front. A border dispute’s been brewing for a while now. While high-level talks between Indian and Chinese delegations have begun in Delhi, Chinese troops have been moving in towards Indian-held territory.
The brigadier decides to send his officers out to hold a bunch of posts right on the border. Selected for the job are Bahadur (his is one father who can’t be accused of nepotism!) and Major Ranjit Singh.

The brigadier sends Bahadur and Ranjit Singh off to the outposts

So Angmo is separated from her beloved almost before their love story starts.

Angmo bemoans her lost love

And like Angmo, there are others who are far away from their homes and their families, huddled high up in the freezing, nearly airless mountains of Ladakh, way above the treeline and with nobody to turn to but each other. There is, for instance, the anguished Ram Singh (Sudhir), who’s reported back on duty after a quarrel with his fiancée (Chand Usmani) on the eve of their wedding. When he’d admitted that his leave was coming to an end, she’d been so upset that they’d had a fight and Ram Singh came away, unwed. Now, he’s waiting every day, at his post near the Chinese border, for her letter, assuring him of her love.

Ram Singh recalls his quarrel with his fiancee

Ram Singh’s colleagues are placing bets on whether or not his much-hoped for letter will arrive. Some of the men are downright scornful, but one (Sanjay Khan) is sympathetic, though he doesn’t say much to Ram Singh (or to the others, for that matter): he just shoves off anyone who starts piling on.

...and finds an unexpected champion

Then there’s the very young man (MacMohan, in the only film I’ve seen him in without his beard and moustache). He’s just turned eighteen, and so has followed the family tradition of joining up. His two elder brothers are already at different outposts in Ladakh, and this adolescent’s mother, despite pleas from her two daughters-in-law (Achla Sachdev and Indrani Mukherjee), has insisted that he, the youngest of her three sons, also serve his country.

A young man is sent off by his womenfolk

The two daughters-in-law have sent gifts for their husbands, which they ask their young brother-in-law to pass on through the daak which goes to the outposts. He does not get to meet his brothers, but sends them their gifts. For the eldest, there’s a much-longed for photograph of the son he hasn’t seen for two years now…

...carrying his nephew's photo

…and the middle brother, Ram Swaroop (Jagdev) receives a boxful of earth, along with a packet of seeds, from his wife. She remembers that he likes gardening, and having heard that Ladakh is a barren wilderness, has sent this for him, hoping he’ll be able to grow something. Something that will remind him of home, perhaps.

Ram Swaroop gets a gardening kit...

All Ram Swaroop remembers is the sight of his beautiful bride lying beside him, talking to him and laughing as she turns the bedside lamp on and off:

Ram Swaroop remembers his bride

And finally, there’s Major Pratap Singh (Vijay Anand), deeply in love with the girl whom he’s just got engaged to. Like Ranjit Singh and Bahadur Singh, he too has been sent off to hold one of the posts.

Major Pratap Singh departs for the front after his engagement

They all settle down in their bunkers, biding their time and waiting for the Chinese, wondering what’s to become of them. The months go by, with the Chinese yelling out propaganda laced with frequent “Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai!” shouts over a microphone. This causes more mirth than anything else among the Indians, and finally irritation because it’s so unremitting. Ranjit Singh ends up having to give the men a pep talk.

Ranjit Singh gives his men a pep talk

One day, though, the showdown looks like it’s about to begin. The Chinese troops begin to draw forward, line after line of men marching across the valley towards the Indian posts. Ranjit Singh informs the brigadier, but the orders he receives are unequivocal: do not open fire until the Chinese have done so.

The soldiers are ordered to hold their fire

So begins a protracted tale of skirmishes, outright battle against a foe that far outnumbers the defenders, and mounting frustration as diplomatic strategy insists the Indians sit tight and not retaliate—while the soldiers out in the open realise with every passing hour that there’s increasingly little hope left for them.

This is isn’t the greatest war film ever made, but it’s definitely one of the best made in India. It’s realistic and gritty, and shows the harshness of life (and death) in one of the world’s most treacherous battlefields. If only it had steered clear of the melodramatic patriotism that grips it midway through… read on.

What I liked about this film:
The realism. You can see Chetan Anand (the director and producer) has taken pains to ensure that the terrain, the military background, the life of the civilians, etc are all authentic. The battle scenes may not be quite so correct (for instance, I couldn’t imagine why the Chinese marched forward in droves like sitting ducks instead of using cover), but the rest of it looks real enough. Even a small thing like the fact that the men are unshaven, sunburnt and raddled with frostbite as the film progresses, is a vast improvement on the sanitised way war is often depicted in Hindi cinema. And yes, other than a few obvious sets, that’s Ladakh, all right.

The characters and the stories of their own little lives. Ram Singh; the unnamed soldier who befriends him; Ram Swaroop and his brothers; even the cook—whose wife sends him her recipe for tandoori chicken—are not merely soldiers in uniform, but poignantly real men with real lives. Interestingly enough, except for a handful of these men, none are ever named. Even those who are named, are mentioned by name perhaps only a couple of times in the course of the film. I wonder if that was a deliberate attempt by Chetan Anand to focus on the `unknown soldier’…? Whatever, it makes for a refreshingly different storyline that is diffused rather than concentrated on a couple of individuals.

Ladakh. I first went to Ladakh when I was ten years old, and have been there twice after. I think it’s one of the most ethereal places I’ve ever been to, and Haqeeqat brought its breathtaking beauty back to me very vividly.
When I was watching this film, I found myself wishing it had been shot in colour so that Ladakh could be shown in all its stark glory. Interestingly, according to this news article, Ketan Anand had begun colourising Haqeeqat. I wonder if it’ll ever happen.

A glimpse of Ladakh

The occasional flashes of brilliant screenplay that stay with you long after the film’s over:

Warning: Spoiler ahead!

Sanjay Khan’s character, for instance, barely says a few words in the entire film, but he’s memorable, and his last scene is haunting. He’s been separated from all except one colleague, Ram Singh, who’s dying and whom this man has dragged along across the miles. There’s little hope for either, and Ram Singh begs his friend to leave him—which, after some struggles with his conscience, he does. Leaving Ram Singh lying on a vast stretch of empty plain, the other soldier drags himself up into the hills. Gasping for breath, his lips cracked and frostbitten, he looks back, then turns and slowly starts sobbing. And it’s left at that. The viewer never gets to know whether this man is crying because he knows he’s as good as dead too, or because he’s guilt-ridden at having left his friend to die.

A poignant moment in the film

Spoiler over

There are other such scenes too, not spelt out in black and white, but absolutely unforgettable.

And yes, did I mention the music? By Madan Mohan, and very good. My favourite is Hoge majboor mujhe usne bhulaaya hoga, though the patriotic Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan saathiyon is generally more popular.

What I didn’t like:
The melodrama. This begins with a preachy speech by Ranjit Singh on India’s greatness and China’s underhand tricks, and after that it escalates into one scene after the other showing how our brave soldiers (and civilians) will do anything to keep the Chinese out. I applaud the spirit behind it; it’s the execution that riles me. Each soldier gruffly saying that he will take on twenty Chinese all by himself and so on, is fine—and who, knows, it may well have happened—but to have this patriotism drilled into me again and again got very irritating after a while. Much more subtlety was required here.

The other thing they needed was tighter scripting, and possibly fewer characters. The story meanders all over the place in parts, the fighting goes on endlessly (and the battle scenes begin to pall after a while). I found myself getting confused; for example, how does a certain band of soldiers end up in ABC when I’d last seem them firmly entrenched in XYZ… and where on earth did Vijay Anand’s character disappear? He comes in at the beginning with a bang (singing a song, too) and then vanishes, making only sporadic appearances every half hour to mutter a couple of sentences and then vanish again. Such a waste of a good actor.

I doubt if I’ve ever dissected a film this thoroughly. But Haqeeqat deserves it. In the final analysis, despite the melodrama and the preachy patriotism (and the sorrow of so many lives lost), this is still a good film. It’s very real and very believable. Definitely the best Bollywood war film I’ve seen.

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56 thoughts on “Haqeeqat (1964)

  1. I’ve only heard about this film till now, One time when it was shown on Doordarshan, I’d exams and TV was out of bounds.
    I also love the music!
    madan mohan is simply great!
    Would love to see the movie someday!

  2. Yes, despite all that melodrama etc, it’s worth a watch. Somehow I never got around to seeing it on Doordarshan either (strange; I seem to have seen just about every film that was screened way back then, simply because there was nothing else to see!). Thankfully, it’s fairly easily available.
    No, Ruby Myers did act a lot, but I’ve always only seen her in very small roles. According to imdb, her last film was Dostana in 1980. The film in which I remember her as having a somewhat substantial role was Mere Humdum Mere Dost. She was often credited as Sulochana, by the way.

  3. Oh Sudhir! I totally love him. Would be fun to see him as an actual character and not a caricatured villain type…and I’m a little confused on the Indrani Mukherjee thing—she is Ram Singh’s fiance and Ram Swaroop’s wife?

  4. Yes, Sudhir deserves more than being relegated to a villain, doesn’t he? Incidentally, one of my favourite romantic songs – a rare one called Chaand bhi deewaana hai, from the film Apna Ghar Apni Kahaani is filmed on him, with Mumtaz… they’re in a boat on a moonlit lake. Very nice, and the song is out of this world!

    Oops! Ram Singh’s girlfriend is Chand Usmani; Ram Swaroop’s wife is Indrani Mukherjee. Thanks for pointing that out! Have corrected it.

  5. I first saw this film at Shakuntalam at Pragati Maidan.when I was 10 years old and it has stayed with me ever since. “Kar chale ham fida, jan-o-tan sathiyo” moves me to tears every time I hear it.

    It was my first visual of a war…however melodramatic and I think the futility of it all hit me then.

    For its time, it was an excellent film

  6. Yes, Haqeeqat brings you very close to all these men and then… well, the futility of it all hits very hard. If they’d only cut down a little on the battle scenes and done a little better scripting, this would have been even better. Still, it’s a memorable film. Later war films such as Hindustan ki Kasam and (in my opinion awful) Border don’t even come close. Frankly, I even think using B/W rather than colour adds to the gloomy reality of the film – it might be a better idea to leave it in B/W.

  7. I saw this movie as a kid and dont remember much. I have heard high praise lavished on it as the best bollywood war film. The songs were all great. Apart from Hoke Majboor, there was Zara si aahat hoti hai.

  8. The songs were lovely and parts of it were beautiful too (like Rachna, Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan always has me fighting a loosing battle with tears, too) – the major fly in the ointment was Priya. Watching her “act” and “speak” is very painful! Your review reminds me of several things that I have forgotten – Sanjay Khan for one and the other is Vijay Anand (he looks incredibly stiff and camera-conscious in the song you’ve linked to). I’d heard nothing but praise for this one from my father (who rarely admits to liking Bollywood films!) for years before I saw it, and was inevitably disappointed. Guess its time to re-watch, but this time with lower expectations!

    Wasnt Ketan Anand convicted of Priya Rajvansh’s murder? How on earth is he out and about, colorising films?!!

  9. Ava: Ah, yes. Zara si aahat hoti hai is another lovely song. What I liked about Haqeeqat was that the songs blended in well (and there weren’t too many of them).

    bollyviewer: I agree with your father, this is a very good film – though could’ve been improved with some more editing. It’s still a little too long and complicated on the battle scenes. Sanjay Khan, though his role is small, is excellent, but Vijay Anand is wasted! And Priya Rajvansh: well, I’ve recently seen Hanste Zakhm and Hindustan ki Kasam and all I can say is that she’s more emotive in Haqeeqat than in either of those! And she’d graduated from the Royal School of Drama in London… wonder how. I’m not surprised the only films she ever got were those of Chetan Anand.
    Yes, I did wonder how that interview happened, because by all accounts Ketan Anand and bro should be chakki-peesoing right now.

  10. Indeed its one of the best war films i heard ever made in bollywood, it was made me add it to my rental list. It has been high priority on my rental list for the past few weeks but they still haven’t sent it to me, now i’m thinking perhaps i should wait for the colour version

  11. Thanks dustedoff, the review has given a very clear picture of what one can expect.
    Just for those scenes of Ladakh I think I will definitely buy the dvd, and the songs of course.
    I vaguely remember watching this film, but remember nothing except Priya’s voice which I thought was very masculine, or am I confusing with another film or actress, as i don’t remember anything really.

  12. bollywooddeewana: I really have no idea when the colour version will be released – as bollyviewer remarks, Ketan Anand ought to be in jail right now (he’d been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Priya Rajvansh), so I doubt if anything’s really happening on the colourisation front. I’d suggest you see the rented version first (if they send it to you), and then if you like it you can see the coloured version whenever it’s released!

    pacifist: No, Priya’s voice isn’t masculine, it’s just very flat and toneless. There’s no emotion in it. Such a pity, because she was very pretty. Have a look at this photo: I think she’s lovely!

  13. Yes, as I mentioned in my reply to Rachna’s comment, I have seen Border, but I thought it was awful. Partly, I think, because I am not a fan of Sunil Shetty (though I don’t mind him in later comic roles like in Hera Pheri), and I don’t like Sunny Deol either… and Akshay Khanna’s character died!! Horrible. Seriously, though, I thought it wasn’t as well made as Haqeeqat, which is much more sensitively portrayed.

    I haven’t seen LOC Kargil, but I did like the war portion in Lakshya – maybe I’m just a Ladakh fan!

  14. Hi,

    My first post on your blog, which I think kicks some serious butt.

    The song ‘Hoke Majboor’ actually features one of the singers of the song – Bhupinder Singh. The second shot in the song, while it is still in the intitial stages features a very young, soulful Bhupi lipsyncing.

    I show it to friends frequently, and no one gets it right.

  15. Thank you, Nandu!

    Yes, I knew about Bhupinder being onscreen in Hoke majboor mujhe, but I’d also heard somewhere that Mohammad Rafi sang playback for him – even though Bhupinder himself has a large part in the song. Is that true?

  16. Speaking of colorising old films, here‘s a colorised version of Abhi na jao chhod kar. According to this youtube user, Hum Dono will soon come out in color! Based on the look of this song alone, I am sure the results will be less than attractive. Guess we must rush and buy up our favorite B/W films before they get colorised and the B/W version disappears from the market!

  17. I’m not able to click the link :-(

    Could you please just copy and paste the link in the comment box? Thanks! (Not that I think a colour version of the song would be great, I’m just curious!) Frankly, I think indiscriminately colourising films is a bad idea. Some films are just so perfect in B/W – the cinematography is so wonderful, changing that into colour would ruin them. I can’t imagine Pyaasa, CID or even the much later Anokhi Raat in anything but B/W.

  18. Thank you!

    Yes, this is what I’d feared… it’s just so obviously colourised: there’s a flatness and a sort of dead hue to everything which looks very fake. I don’t see the need to expend huge amounts of money on doing something that would be much better left undone. The B/W version is vastly better.

  19. Yes, I wish they’d spend their money and energies on restoring damaged old prints, instead of colorising perfectly good ones. So many B/W classics that are crying out for restoration. I recently found a print of Bombay Talkies’ Ashok Kumar-starrer Kismet which I remember watching on DD long ago. The film is still as good as I remember, but the print is horrible with scratchy pictures, sudden jumps between scenes and bad audio. Something like that or even older films could do with restoration.

  20. I agree. I’d much rather see an damaged print that’s been restored, rather than a perfectly good one that’s been needlessly colourised. I wish somebody would also dig up some of those old Ruby Myers/Fearless Nadia flicks (I came across a couple with some very interesting names: Bambai ki Billi among them) and restore them too.

  21. Yes, this is probably the VERY best war film that came out of India. Others,
    such as LOC Kargil, Border, etc are merely “following the leader”. The film, unlike prior nationalistic songs, ex. Raj Kapoor era, brings the Indian miliatry into focus. Perhaps, the nature of the defeat only magnifies and not diminishes the greatness!

    • Also, one thing I especially like about Haqeeqat is that it deglamourises war. It shows that not everybody returns from war triumphant and into the arms of the woman who is waiting for him, or the family who is proud… there are those who fall in war too, and as you imply, without that falling in any way diminishing their greatness – rather, adding to it. Classic film.

  22. Greatly enjoyed post of “dustedoff” and the comments here. I have listened to the memorable compositions of the late Madan Mohan for this film, rendered to perfection by Rafi Saheb and Lataji. Is there a way to gain access to this film via any paid site?

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post – and yes, you must look out for this film; it’s not to be missed.

      As for where you can get this: that depends on where you live. If you’re in India, and in one of the metros, you could subscribe to a rental service such as Seventymm. Or, I think in the US, you could try Nehaflix. Or, of course, you could order it online on http://www.induna.com – they deliver both within India and overseas, and are extremely professional. You’ll have to buy the DVD/VCD (rather than rent it) from them, though. I got my copy from induna.

  23. haqeeqat is undoubtedly the finest war movie ever made-handled by a master story-teller, chetan anand (aakhri khat), this is soul stirring stuff telling us about the futility of war-however sometimes needed to defend ones country.
    excellent performances, great shaairee, rafi at his best (kar chale hum wattan…) and a brilliant madan mohan/kaifi azmi collaboration that is just so touching…………………

  24. “and where on earth did Vijay Anand’s character disappear? He comes in at the beginning with a bang (singing a song, too) and then vanishes, making only sporadic appearances every half hour to mutter a couple of sentences and then vanish again. Such a waste of a good actor.”

    G-uh! I was getting all excited about getting this film when you mentioned that Goldie was there too, but… Meh. XD

    Oh, and good news is, I’ve gotten over the horrible song. The reason? This: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/asha-parekh-prefers-shammi-kapoor-over-shah/547396/

    Hahahahahaha!

    • Yes, I know about Asha thinking Shammi Kapoor was better than SRK. :-)) I do know that Shammi and Asha were very good friends – they certainly starred in some great movies together (Teesri Manzil is my favourite, and Dil Deke Dekho comes a close second, and there’s also the pretty good Pagla Kahin Ka). I read somewhere that she used to call him ‘chacha’ and he called her ‘bhatiji‘ or something like that. :-D

      • Of course! SRK can never, ever, ever match up to Shammi’s standard. (And Dev’s, but that goes without saying!) They did make an awesome pair in movies, a lot of awesome movies, I should add. SRK can’t even dance, darn it.

        And those nicknames are really, really, cute! :D Asha also said once when they were filming Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, you know, the song, “Yeh Aankhen Uff Yun Maa”, Dev just took off his gloves and started hitting her with them for fun.

        She said she didn’t know what to do, but then she started hitting him back and they were laughing and all that. All I will say is, way to ruin a shot! :D

  25. I’m glad you liked those pictures Greta put up on her blog, Sasha! They were actually all photos (not illustrations), but hand-painted. So the photo would be B/W, but colours would be added by hand. I’m not sure what the exact process was – but they’re fun, especially as one gets to see some lovely shots of the greats in their earliest (and most glorious!) days. :-D

    I have seen Pyar Mohabbat. Didn’t like it much, though…

    • Wow! Hand-painted! I need a time machine! I need one! -throws a fit-

      Must’ve been one hell of a job. :DDDDDD

      Oh, it was just them runinng all around Egypt (And Dev in a terrible Arab disguise, WTH?), and the second half of the movie was damn predictable. I was about to die laughing, though. This, this is why you don’t cast Dev in these kinda films. Give him some better romantic role and watch him shine. Although, I liked the S-J numbers.

      He also had his puff sometimes, sometimes not (oh, come on, Dev, make up your mind!), but one thing – you do not have princes with berets and scarves and coats. And puffs. :D Seriously, though. And when he called himself a GUIDE (Yes, AGAIN WITH GUIDE!), I fell off my chair.

      Oh, but I think it was all worth it cause seeing Dev as a prince with a puff and a red jacket in color was just amazing. I also love this song:

      Been humming it all day. Trust Dev to annoy the heck out of a heroine. :D

      By the way, have you seen any old Filmfare Awards? I really want to see the 1959 awards (because Dev won his first award there), and I’m just curious. Pretty sure they didn’t have obscene performances.

  26. No, I haven’t seen any old Filmfare Awards. But if you look through Youtube, there are some clips there. I’ve seen glimpses, at least, of stars arriving at the venue or at the Awards – but not the actual announcements of who won, etc. And I am positive that they didn’t have obscene performances. :-D

    • Really? Really? Can you post me some links? -dying- :D

      I really really wonder what they did last time. Couldn’t just be an open-and-shut case of announcing the awards and that’s it, could it? I just realized one thing and laughed. Madhumati could’ve been the first film to win Best Actor, Director, Film, and Actress, but it didn’t cause Dev won the Best Actor award for Kala Pani.

      I laughed cause later in 1967, Dev and Goldie and Waheeda won those awards. :D Oh, and my grandma got me the movie Kala Pani just now! I’m going to watch it. :DDD

      • You haven’t seen Kala Pani yet??! *jaw drops open*. One of my absolute favourite Dev Anand movies (and Madhubala’s too! – plus Nalini Jaywant and a bunch of fabulous songs). It’s a gem of a film. :-)

        Will check if I can find some of those old Filmfare Award clips – I don’t remember what they were labelled, or anything… if I’m able to unearth some, I’ll send the links to you.

        • I wanted to get it a long time ago, but I skipped it over in favor of Dev’s sixties movies. Well, I’m trying to fix that now. (Honestly, I’ve known this film since June last year.) I just realized the big connection with the Filmfare stuff! Hehe.

          But… IT’S NOT WORKING! AKFJFGHTGHTNT N DAMN SHEMAROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

          Was so angry that I screamed into my pillow and cried. My God. I hate Shemaroo. Their DVDs almost never work. (Trust me, my DVD player doesn’t like Shemaroo DVDs). On a lighter note, I found some Filmfare videos.

          THEY GOT THE SINGERS TO ACTUALLY PERFORM. HEAVENLY. :DDDDD

  27. Ouch. I think my Kala Pani DVD – in fact most of the DVDs I have – are Shemaroo. But I never watch them on my DVD player; always only on my laptop, where they seem to work fine.

    • If you haven’t seen Haqeeqat, I don’t think you should simply dismiss it as propaganda. It isn’t – it’s more an anti-war film than anything else. And please don’t even mention Border and Haqeeqat in the same breath. Border was horrible. Now, that was a jingoistic and propaganda-riddled film. Certainly not Haqeeqat.

  28. One wonders how many people would know that Sulochana/ Ruby Myers, who played Angmo’s mother was one of the ‘superstars’ of the late silent/ early talking era. Incidentally, would anyone know if any of Sulochana’s movies from that era have survived?

    • I remember having searched a lot for her early films some years back (I was especially interested in getting hold of Bambai ki Billi – it sounded so interesting!), but with no luck. However, a lot of ‘new’ old films have surfaced over the past couple of years, on Youtube etc, so it might be possible to find something now. I wouldn’t hold my breath, though. It’s sad, the way cinema archival has been neglected here in India. :-(

      • In all fairness, until not too long ago even basic survival was a challenge for the vast majority of Indians. Most people who were middle class back until the 80s would be classed as poor today. In such an environment, its hardly surprising that preservation was low on priority. Hopefully we can at least preserve whatever little has survived from that era. Incidentally, the NFAI website does not list any of Sulochana’s movies from the 20s/ 30s in its collection

        • That is true, but film producers and distributors typically aren’t poor people. If one had the finances to make films, one could certainly afford to preserve them. It wasn’t as if film reels were available to all and sundry (like books are, in which case one could say that the neglect of the object was the responsibility of whoever bought it). Part of the problem, from what I’ve heard, was that the film used back then was particularly susceptible to fire, so a lot of reels actually caught fire very easily. That’s how Alam Ara too has vanished, and Pakistan may be our only hope for perhaps finding a copy of it still around…

          • Not sure I’d look at it the same way. For those early filmmakers, the movies ceased to have any importance once the theatrical run was over. Even in the USA, which has been a pretty prosperous society ever since cinema appeared, its estimated that about 50% of all films made before 1950 are lost forever. Given the number of upheavals India has experienced: the Bengal famine, partition, independence, etc, its a miracle that even a handful of movies from the pre-independence have survived. God willing, we may someday locate some more lost movies

  29. @Madhulika: Although the patriotism frequently veers towards jingoism, it must be said in all fairness, that this movies was released barely 2 years after the thrashing at the hands of PLA. Surely, the wounds of ’62 must have still been fresh at the time.

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