Prem Patra (1962)

I am not – most decidedly not – nuts about red hearts and roses and all that bullshit. Really, if you love someone, you love them. And not just on February 14.
But, anyway, here’s my nod to the bandwagon. I’m not jumping on to it, mind you; just reviewing one of my favourite romance films.
So here we go. A Bimal Roy film that’s a must if you like romances.

The hero of our story is Arun (a very young Shashi Kapoor – he was only 24 when the film was released). Arun’s parents died when he was a child, so he’s been brought up by Dr Mathur, who used to be Arun’s father’s best friend. Arun too has made medicine his profession. He’s an MBBS, and is now hopeful of getting a scholarship to go abroad for further studies.


The widowed Dr Mathur’s daughter Ratna (Praveen Choudhary) is younger than Arun. When the story begins, Ratna is:
(a) reading a book named Prem Patra Kaise Likhein (‘How to write a love letter’)
(b) very huffy that Arun did not come home for her birthday party the previous night because he was at work
Anybody with any knowledge of lovelorn young females would probably have figured out that Ratna’s got a massive crush on Arun, but that’s not the case in this household. Both Arun and Mr Mathur are blissfully unaware.


Ratna and Arun do get along well, though. In fact, since she’s known him from childhood, she’s even able to perfectly forge his handwriting and his signature, as she gleefully tells him one day during one of their light-hearted spats.

We’re now introduced to the female half of this love story. This is (as she’s referred to by all her classmates) “the famous Kavita Kapoor” (Sadhana). Kavita is a 5th year student at the medical college-cum-hospital where Arun is the House Surgeon. She’s very pretty, very good at her studies – and has been recently receiving some annoying anonymous love letters, which is presumably the reason for her so-called fame.
Kavita is now so irritated with these letters that she’s said – in a moment of anger – that she’s going to complain to the principal of the college the next time one of these letters comes her way.


In the meantime, though, it’s not a letter that comes her way, but the deliciously handsome figure of Arun himself, who bumps into her one day. He has a logical reason for not looking where he’s going – he’s just discovered he’s been granted that much-awaited scholarship, and has gone a little mad in his exultation.


There aren’t any fireworks at first glance (first bump?), but Arun’s friend and colleague Kedar (Rajendranath), who’s been witness to the entire episode, figures that Arun and Kavita would probably make a great jodi. He goes off to discuss the possibilities with his girlfriend Sumitra (Chand Usmani), who is also a doctor at the hospital and who immediately falls in with Kedar’s plan…


…which is to get Kavita and Arun on the same shift. Arun is House Surgeon for the night shift, and Sumitra has been assigned for the night shift in the Surgical Ward. That evening, she phones Kavita and tells her that she, Sumitra, isn’t feeling at all well, so will Kavita please do her shift at the Surgical Ward?
So Kavita is on duty when an emergency crops up: an appendicitis. She goes to the House Surgeon – Arun, of course – and he, after examining the patient, realises an immediate appendectomy is called for.
The senior surgeon isn’t available, so Arun has to perform the operation, with Kavita’s help.


They have a long and tiring night. The next morning, Kavita is driving home and offers Arun a lift. He accepts, and they drive off together. You can see they’re interested in each other, but beyond some shy sidelong glances and small smiles, there’s nothing yet.


When Kavita stops at Arun’s (or rather, Dr Mathur’s) house to drop him off, Ratna – who is sitting on the balcony above, with a friend of hers – sees them. Ratna’s friend has an elder sister who is Kavita’s classmate, so the friend knows all about “the famous Kavita Kapoor”. She shares all the gossip – about Kavita’s unknown admirers, the love letters, etc – with Ratna, and then takes herself off.


One evening, while Arun is sitting at home (he’s spending his time doodling Kavita’s name on page), Ratna comes along, asking for help with her chemistry lessons. The chapter she needs help with is on catalytic agents. Arun begins explaining catalytic agents to Ratna, and she deftly manages to swing the topic around to human chemistry – can, like two chemicals, two human beings too be in close proximity and not react to each other unless there’s a catalytic agent to spur them on?


Arun tells her off; she’s too young to be talking of things like that. This makes Ratna burst into indignant tears, and a disgusted Arun leaves. Dr Mathur, coming into the room, sees Ratna crying and from her confused babble, finally figures out what’s happening.
He informs Arun – Ratna is infatuated with him – and Arun is horrified. He’s always thought of Ratna as a younger sister.
Never mind, he tells Dr Mathur. He’ll go talk to Ratna and make her see sense.


But Ratna, though she’s not crying any more, has discovered Arun’s doodling, and is now a tight-lipped, cold female who whisks out of the room before Arun can talk to her.

The next day, at the medical college, there’s another love letter addressed to Kavita Kapoor. Her catty classmates (led by a pretty Bela Bose) decide to open it and read it for themselves before Kavita arrives.
It’s a very fervent prem patra, all right. The writer has poured his heart out, telling Kavita all that she means to him. And, for once, the writer isn’t anonymous. The letter is from Arun.


When Kavita gets to read the letter, she is angry – another love letter! The anger changes momentarily to pleased surprise when she sees who’s written it – and then back to anger, when her classmates gather around, jeering and egging her on to go and complain to the principal. Kavita does end up genuinely annoyed, and goes to the principal’s office.
Arun – completely baffled – is summoned and ticked off. He tries to defend himself and deny having written the letter, but he can’t get a word in edgeways. All he can do is stare at Kavita and feel betrayed and angry at this accusation.


Later that day, he receives a message from the principal that his scholarship has been cancelled.
Arun is so devastated that he goes home to the Mathurs’, packs his suitcase, and having told Ratna what has happened, tells her he’s going to his uncle in Rashidpur village, until he can figure out what to do with his life.
This brings Ratna to her senses. She goes to Kavita, introduces herself, and confesses: she, Ratna, was the one who wrote that letter – because she was infatuated with Arun, and was jealous of Arun’s love for Kavita. Now Arun is gone, and Ratna has been the cause of his ruin.


Kavita feels terribly guilty and wants to go beg Arun’s forgiveness, but he, of course, is far away. Sumitra, to whom she hurries for advice, consoles her. Arun will return sooner or later; she can apologise then.
But there has been an unexpected development in Arun’s life while he’s been in Rashidpur. At his uncle’s insistence, Arun has accompanied his uncle to the mansion of the zamindar of Rashidpur, to ask for a loan so that Arun can study abroad even though the scholarship is gone.


The zamindar is (in a refreshing departure from the stereotypical Hindi film zamindar) a generous and kind man, who readily agrees. Later, though, he confides in Arun’s uncle that he’s very impressed with Arun. He’ll give the money anyway, but in return, he’d like Arun as a son-in-law.

Arun, when his uncle tells him the deal, refuses. He won’t be bought. The uncle manages to convince him: it had been Arun’s father’s dearest wish that Arun should grow up and be a doctor, so that the villagers (like Arun’s mother, who died of cholera) would not succumb to disease because of a lack of medical care.
But Arun says he’ll marry the zamindar’s daughter only after he returns from abroad. And he has no wish to see the girl for himself. He has seen pretty faces, he says bitterly, which hide evil; what need does he have to see what his future bride looks like?


So Arun leaves, aboard a ship bound for distant shores (among the friends who come to see him off at the docks is a young Satyen Kapoo):


… and his fiancée, Tara (Seema Deo) is brought by her father, the zamindar, to the city. He brings her to the home of his sister (?) and her husband (Kanu Roy) – who happen to be Kavita’s parents. The zamindar wants Tara to spend some months in their home, acquiring a little town polish so that her husband-to-be won’t be disappointed.


Kavita is distressed to discover that her cousin will be marrying Arun, but she gamely joins in the makeover project. An Anglo-Indian governess is appointed for Tara; Tara’s ghagra-cholis are switched for saris, salwar-kurtas and capris; Tara is given a new hairstyle… and she finds herself quickly taken under the wing of a young man named Subhash (Sudhir) and Subhash’s sister Leela (Madhavi). Kavita’s parents had been hoping that Subhash and Kavita would be interested in each other, but it turns out that Subhash is keener on Tara.


And she on him. To the extent that, when Tara’s father writes to his daughter, instructing Tara to be a good fiancée and write to Arun, Tara is most reluctant. She confides in Kavita that she doesn’t know what to write; and when Kavita offers to dictate the letter, Tara has another excuse: her handwriting is so awful, Arun won’t come back to India!
Tara finally wheedles Kavita into writing the letter.


So Kavita writes to Arun, pretending to be Tara. And he, far away in England, is delighted to receive such a lovely letter from ‘Tara’. He writes back, telling her how surprised he was – he admits he hadn’t expected such a polished letter from a village girl – and even tells her, though without naming any names, about the girl who betrayed him.


Kavita is heartbroken when Tara reads out Arun’s letter. But Kavita has been well and truly sucked into the whirlpool now. She has to be the one to write to Arun, as Tara laughingly points out: after all, Arun now recognises Kavita’s handwriting as that of ‘Tara’.


And thus begins a chain of love letters: from Kavita (pretending to be Tara) to Arun, and back. She falls even deeper in love with him; and he comes to know and love the Tara he’s discovering through their correspondence. But every now and then, Arun mentions the bitterness he harbours towards the girl who destroyed his dreams… and Kavita knows that this long-distance love affair is a dream she’s built up for herself. It isn’t real.


Then, one day, there’s an accident in the laboratory where Arun is working, and he is blinded. He has to come home to India. He does – a changed man: blind and gradually growing uncertain of Tara’s love for him (he’s also changed in that his moustache is now thankfully gone, plus his singing voice has changed from Mukesh’s to Talat’s, but that’s a different matter).

What now?

What I liked about this film:

Just about everything. I love Bimal Roy’s usually easy-to-relate-to style of film-making. Films like Parakh or Sujata aren’t about the rich and famous or about crazy adventures; they’re about the everyday lives of people like us. Prem Patra is in the same style; people are shades of grey, not outright black or white. There are no villains – not even tyrannical parents wanting to force their opinions on their offspring – and there is no high melodrama. Even folk like Ratna aren’t really wicked, just naïve.

I even like the fact that Tara isn’t portrayed as the traditional bharatiya naari who wouldn’t even look at a man other than her husband (or her fiancée). Tara is good and sweet all right, but she’s human, and not a doormat enough to think she has to marry a man she’s never seen.

Shashi Kapoor and Sadhana, two actors whom I like a lot, and who are great together. Their chemistry is fantastic too: from the initial shyness (despite a mutual attraction) onwards.

Bimal Roy’s subtle way of showing emotion. I love the way he uses silences and expressions, rather than over-the-top dialogues, to reveal feelings. Especially in the case of Kavita. Kavita is caught in the unenviable position of being in love with a man who hates her but who is in love with the woman she is pretending to be. Her joy at getting a letter from him; her distress on realising how much he hates “the famous Kavita Kapoor”; her sorrow when he goes blind: a lot of this is never said.

Lastly: Salil Choudhary’s music. Not one of his best-known scores, but with some lovely songs nevertheless, especially Do ankhiyaan jhuki-jhuki si, Saawan ki raaton mein, and Yeh mere andhere ujaale na hote.

What I didn’t like:

A particular comic interlude that involves Tara going off with Subhash, Leela, Kavita’s father, and Kedar on a tiger hunt. It would’ve been better omitted from the film.

Still, I’m willing to forgive that in a film that’s otherwise so satisfying a watch for a romance lover.

Happy Valentine’s Day, all!

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94 thoughts on “Prem Patra (1962)

  1. Lovely Valentine Day’s post, Madhu, though I’m with you on the no-nonsense i.e. red roses and red hearts business. :) I really enjoy ‘Prem Patra’ and would not mind seeing it again. Though I do remember that hunt being way too long. Bimal Roy’s films are also so well-shot and cinematically satisfying.

    • Thank you, Banno – and yes, I could well imagine that you would be one of those who’d also steer clear of the red roses and red hearts business! Eww. It gets nauseating after a while, even to go to the market to buy something completely innocuous. Those flowers and hearts and teddy bears are everywhere.

    • You should definitely see Bimal Roy’s films – I think he was one of Hindi cinema’s best directors, and his range of films is quite impressive, from fantasy (Madhumati) to social issues (Do Beegha Zameen and Sujata) to lighter films like this one or Parakh. I love the restrained, sensitive way he treats his subjects and stories.

  2. Lovely review of a lovely film.

    >He has to come home to India. He does – a changed man: blind and gradually growing uncertain of Tara’s love for him (he’s also changed in that his moustache is now thankfully gone, plus his singing voice has changed from Mukesh’s to Talat’s,

    I **snorted** so violently on reading this that tea went up my nose, but the discomfort was worth it. :-D

    Sadhana did really well in two of Bimal Roy’s films. Both such mellow and soothing films (the other being Parakh, of course).

    • :-))

      Sorry about your nose getting an unwanted dose of tea!

      But it did strike me as rather odd that while Mukesh sings playback for Do ankhiyaan jhuki-jhuki, Talat is the one who gets to sing both Saawan ki raaton mein and Yeh mere andhere ujaale na hote. SInce I prefer the latter two songs to the first one, that particular change was welcome enough!

      Yes, I love Sadhana in both these films of Bimal Roy’s – very lyrical and sweet and soothing. I must see Parakh again.

  3. Valentine’s day! Another commercial gag! Hate the commercialism about it, but also hate the religious fundamentalist agitation against it as well.

    Prem Patra! I have intended to see it since I read a review of it, I think, at bollyviewer’s blog.
    A Film by Bimal Roy can only be good!

    “she’s even able to perfectly forge his handwriting and his signature”
    This surely is going to bear heavily on the story!

    “who bumps into her one day”
    Reminds me of Mere Mehboob.

    Like Shashi’s smug look in the 7th screen cap.

    “She goes to Kavita, introduces herself, and confesses”
    How sensible! How Bimal Roy!

    Was Seema Seema Deo already at that time? She married Ramesh Deo.

    “she finds herself quickly taken under the wing of a young man named Subhash (Sudhir)”
    Now I will have to draw a mind map.
    A loves B, B loves C, C loves B, B has to marry D, D loves E, E loves D, there are intentions of marrying C to E,
    Now we only need somebody for A.

    “the bitterness he harbours towards the girl who destroyed his dreams… ”
    Why didn’t Ratna confess to Arun? *groan*
    How unlike Bimal Roy!

    “plus his singing voice has changed from Mukesh’s to Talat’s”
    :-) Stautory warning in chemistry labs: Blindness caused due to explosions in chem. labs can change your voice!

    Lovely review, madhu! Happy Valentine Day!

    • Yes, the commercialism behind Valentine’s Day (or even, now, Diwali and Christmas) is sickening – they make a tamasha out of it all. And that moral policing against Valentine’s Day is equally silly, as you point out. Indians have a tendency to get offended at anything around, no? Even if there’s nothing really offensive about it.

      I don’t think Seema Deo was married when this film was made (she’s credited as ‘Seema’), but I did want to put in her more commonly-used name, that’s why I’ve listed her as Seema Deo. I do know she was Ramesh Deo’s wife – they made such a good couple in Anand.

      Incidentally, your mind map can be simplified a little. :-) I didn’t mention it in the synopsis (it was just a small detail, anyway), but just as Arun is leaving for abroad, his foster father tells him that he’s found a groom for Ratna. Arun teases her about it, and she’s very shy and sweet – you can see that she’s gotten over Arun and is quite happy to be marrying the man she’s now met.

      I have a feeling that Bimal Roy deliberately didn’t have Ratna confess to Arun. Of course, there’s the practical reason too: she doesn’t get the time to do it. He comes rushing home, tells her the news, throws a few things into a suitcase, and leaves before she even realises what the result of her action has been.

      Also, I think the implication was that Arun would already have guessed who had forged the letter, and why… but he owed a lot to Ratna’s father, so he would not have spoken out against her. Even without Ratna telling him, he perhaps knew, and Ratna knew that. Just my thought. After all, Arun knows that Ratna can forge his handwriting perfectly, and that she is hopelessly infatuated with him.

      • “Indians have a tendency to get offended at anything around, no?”
        It is not the people who sicken me, but the political parties who mobilise the people to do it. I think this way then extort more hafta. All Nazi methods!

        Seema and Ramesh Deo do make a nice couple. They were sort of Dharam-Hema of the Marathi cinema in the 60s and early 70s.

        You mean to say that Ratna doesn’t confess till the end?

        • “You mean to say that Ratna doesn’t confess till the end?

          No, no. Ratna confesses to Kavita, but never to Arun. In fact, we don’t see Ratna after Arun leaves for abroad. What I meant to say was that probably Arun and Ratna knew each other so well that he could guess she had been the one who forged his writing, and she knew that he had guessed. Also, perhaps, she was so childish that she couldn’t summon up the courage to say sorry to him. I don’t know… just gut feel.

              • Have just finished watching this movie. What a sweet movie it is!

                Just to clarify one point here.

                Arun does know immediately that it is Ratna’s job – he just doesn’t want to name her. He tells his friend that he knows who it is but owes a lot to that person’s family.

                As for Harvey being disappointed that Ratna doesn’t confess to Arun, she does! She sort of apologises to him at his send-off. He says, he’s forgiven her because it’s all worked out fine for him anyway. Till then she hadn’t even got a chance to apologise because he’d gone off in a huff. And after that scene, she isn’t to be seen anymore anyway.

                It’s a minor detail but since Harvey was harping on it, I just thought I’d clarify this and put his mind at rest. :-)

                Not that he’s going to read this comment but anyway… :-)

    • BTW, harvey, how’s Valentine day over there? I don’t see much around here. Of course I live in a small town, but that shouldn’t make a difference because there’s a lot going on about fasnacht. A few years ago there was more, but seems to have lost it’s worth.

        • Well I’m glad you didn’t look up the internet for the meaning because you would hear of a ‘doughnut’ called that. Probably a name given by the earlier settlers in America to a specialised doughnut.

          Here it has to do with the ‘eve’ of the Lent. There is almost a month of goings on with special kinds of band called guggen, and groups going around playing it. Then there are days with processions in fancy dresses (like a carnival).

          The highlight is on Thurday when a lot of fat was eaten in the food. The week following this Thursday it picks up and then stops on following Wednesday (ash Wednesday) when the period of Lent starts.

          And yes, there are these crisp sugar powder sprinkled things one gets to eat at this time.

          The other countries around Europe too have similar things going on.

          Two cities that top in this celebration in Switzerland are Luzern and Basel, which was among the top 50 celebrations in Europe.

          Here are two link for an idea.

          http://www.luzern.com/de/kunst-kultur/de/festivals-events/brauchtum/fasnacht?gclid=CLXv2LbAna4CFUwe3godawhldA

          http://www.universitieshandbook.com/articles/fasnacht-in-switzerland

          • Thank you, pacifist, for taking the trouble to tell me! Even as I’d been pressing the ‘Post comment’ button, I’d been thinking I should have first gone and Googled for fasnacht instead of asking you. Just as well I didn’t!

            It sounds – and looks – rather like the other pre-Lent festivals (the one nearest home here is the Goa carnival) that are held around the world. One last big binge before Lent sets in? :-)

            • Yes, the various carnivals around the world having it’s roots here in Europe.

              It’s pre-christian roots (at least in Switzerland) originated from people trying to chase away the dark cold winter demons by frightening them away with noise from beating of drums, and frightening faces.

              I don’t know if you’ve looked at the video in one of the links I gave. The masks are quite hideous. The more hideous the better.
              And the music is quite a noise. It’s not supposed to be melodious (originally, just the loud beating of drums).
              This part of the tradition is still followed to a great extent though there are some modernized masks (not so hideous or not at all hideous) as opposed to quite fanciful, and pretty carnivals elsewhere.

              All this incorporated very nicely as pre-lent revelry later on.

              • That’s an interesting bunch of information – it’s somewhat ironical to see that while the Christian church tried so hard to wipe out the ‘pagan’ beliefs of the pre-Christian world, so much of those beliefs have actually become so deeply entrenched in even Christian festivals.

                The masks do look pretty scary!

              • >it’s somewhat ironical to see that while the Christian church tried so hard to wipe out the ‘pagan’ beliefs of the pre-Christian world,

                I think that came later on. The catholics have incorporated a lot of things from that era. It’s the later protestants now the americans who are doing that, spreading uniformity and removing cultural background.
                ooops. I’ll stop right now.
                I’m getting into dangerous waters here!!!

      • The flowers shops are full of bouquets and plants with the tag Schönen Valentinstag. People in general don’t make much hue and cry about it.
        The Fasnacht is called Fasching here and the same type of doughnuts like in Switzerland are made here as well. they are mostly filled with apricot jam. The bakeries have started selling it weeks before. They are called Faschingskrapfen here. Quite tasty!

        There will be a Fasching procession (carnival) on 21st. People dress up in different costumes. It all leaves me cold. People get drunk and throw up in street corners. Pubs make lot of money.

  4. I read half of your post and want to see the movie before reading it again. I had *no* idea that such a textured movie even existed. Do you have any online link or should I go DVD hunting? :-)

    • Andaleeb, you’ll love this one. I don’t like the romances in a lot of Hindi films, because they either consist of the heroine capitulating after being stalked incessantly by the hero, or it’s deep love at first sight. This one has a more believable progression: though they are attracted to each other from the beginning, their love grows only over time. And, anyway – Bimal Roy’s sensitive portrayal of Arun and Kavita’s love is like a breath of fresh air. Very nice and very real. Plus, both Shashi Kapoor and Sadhana are good in their roles.

      The DVD is worth buying (you can order it online at http://www.induna.com), but you can also try watching the movie here:

      http://www.indopia.com/showtime/watch/movie/1962010007_00/prem-patra/

  5. Madhu, what a perfect Valentine Day’s post! (Add me to the list of ‘don’t like red roses and chocolate and hearts and all the hoo-ha!)

    I really really loved this film (I watched it after reading the review on bollyviewer’s site). I didn’t know it was a Bimal Roy film until I read her review. Sadhana looked so much better in these films – Parakh, Asli Naqli, Prem Patra, Hum Dono – though I must admit she carried off the glamour-puss roles too. She is one of my favourite actresses from that era. Thank you for this review.

    (My keyboard, along with pacifist’s nose, was another casualty of (he’s also changed in that his moustache is now thankfully gone, plus his singing voice has changed from Mukesh’s to Talat’s, )

    • Thank you, Anu – I’m glad you enjoyed this (sorry about your keyboard having been a casualty, though)!

      Yes, I did think Sadhana was one of the few who could excel at both the seedhi-saadi ladki and the glamour puss roles. She’s so good in this, Parakh and Asli-Naqli, and so oomphy in Waqt, Woh Kaun Thi? and Mera Saaya. Great actress, and so pretty too.

  6. I watch Bimalda’s movies with a very ‘humanitarian’ mind ;-) What good can I learn from the characters? How do they react? How do they show/suppress their anger? etc.,

    The beauty of directors like Bimal Roy is that they make the audience “feel” the situations along with the characters. Which is why we all see so much of commonness in the films and our lives. To their advantage, the actors don’t even need to ‘act’ in a dramatic situation.

    “Bandini” is a classic example of this. The scene where Tarun Bose discusses with Nutan about her marriage springs immediately to my mind.

    Same can be said of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and so many other Bengali directors.

    • I watch Bimalda’s movies with a very ‘humanitarian’ mind

      It’s good that we had directors like that, no? (and I agree with the other names you’ve listed – they’re in the same league). Though I love suspense films and the occasional fantasy/adventure film, there’s a satisfaction, a contented comfort, in watching a film like this, or Parakh – the knowledge that the people you’re seeing onscreen are in situations that are familiar.

      I don’t recall the particular scene from Bandini that you’re referring to, but that’s an excellent film too.

    • Yes, its so good we had directors like that. In today’s world, I get that feeling in Rajkumar Hirani’s Munnabhai series. (Please note I am not comparing him with the directors above).

      Suspense films will always get a big YES from me too !! “Kab? Kyon Aur Kahan?”(1970), “Saajan”(1969), “Kohraa”(1964) and so many others come to my mind.

      • You mentioned some of my favourite suspense films! Unfortunately, very few people seem to have heard of Kab? Kyon? Aur Kahan, or Saajan – most people only think of Woh Kaun Thi?, Ittefaq or Teesri Manzil when it comes to suspense. But there were some really good suspense films back then… Anita, for instance, or Shikar.

  7. @pacifist: I’m responding to you here, because we’ve run out of space above… regarding the ‘dangerous waters’ we were getting into about ‘pagan beliefs’ versus Christianity. I’ve actually been reading some good historical detective fiction by the Celtic scholar Peter Tremayne (that’s his pseudonym; he writes the Sister Fidelma books) and from what I gather, the trend had begun well back in the 7th and 8th century too.

    Whatever.

    I am surprised at the tangents our discussions on films can go off on! ;-)

    • >am surprised at the tangents our discussions on films can go off on! ;-)

      LOL! Yes. In this case I think it was Valentine celebrations.
      I don’t know about the celtic author’s opinion, but as far as I know there are a lot of incorporated stuff (eg the one we are discussing here, and also the various idols) which goes on ‘with’ the blessing of the church.
      It also could be that in the alpine region it was different from the celtic world?
      The only sense I can make of it is that it depends on who was there, and when. So while some didn’t object, some did.

      • The tradition of adopting ‘pagan’ beliefs started with incorporating of Christmas and Easter itself.
        The term Yuletide for Christmas highlights it. The Easter egg and the Easter bunny are of Celtic or Germanic traditions. The Hare was supposed to bring back the fertility in form of egg back to the earth after the cold winter.
        It is beautiful to see different beliefs surviving the onslaught of time and fundamentalism.
        That is why it is important for me to think of these traditions while celebrating these festivals. It brings back a connection to nature and its changing form. At the same time it also gives me connection to humans who lived long back. Furthermore it also underlines human fallacies and the place of humanity in the evolution and the presence of that supreme power/energy which is all-pervading and of which humans were and are in awe still.

        • “…am surprised at the tangents our discussions on films can go off on! ;-)

          … and this one takes us back to an old discussion we’d been having on another review (I think the Ek Saal one), about how certain communities – like the Christians – are stereotyped in Hindi cinema. Harvey, your comment about how different beliefs come together so beautifully reminded me of the goodies a lot of North Indian Christian families traditionally make at Christmastime: gujias, baajre ki tikiyaan, and baajre ki roti! And traditional Christmas lunch is invariably pulao and curry. The gujias are a particularly interesting phenomenon, I think, because they’re a North Indian staple at Diwali – so it seems our ancestors, even after converting, figured that a major fetsival had to be celebrated with gujias!

          • Sorry for butting in, but I guess being a food blogger could not resist it, Gujiyas are not just a North Indian favourite, Bengalis too love their Gujiyas, mum made some yummy ones, besides the North Indians and the Bengalis – and I am sure the rest of East India like Orissa and Assam too may have their own versions of the gujiya– it is a Diwali favourite here in Western India as well, it is called karanji here and the filling is a bit different from the Bengali version.

          • Thank you for butting in! Now at least we can get together and pay back pacifist and harvey for having me and Anu drool. :-)

            Just out of curiosity, what is the filling in the karanji? And in the Bengali version? The gujias my mum used to make when we were children had a filling of sooji with raisins and nuts. The gujias I’ve seen in Delhi (only in sweet shops, I’ve never had them at anybody’s house) are filled with a khoya mixture instead of the sooji. And, after the gujias are fried, they’re dipped in a heavy sugar syrup which crystallises on the outside.

            • Yes the karanji too has sooji and I think sometimes coconut, not too sure, haven’t eaten it for a long time and it is quite dry in comparison to the Bengali version which has a khoya filling.

            • We too made it with sooji. My mother used to put the mixtture of the filling in chaashni (sugar syrup) which made it less dry without sprinking sugar afterwards.
              I have eaten gujia with khoya filling at friends’ during holi (also mixed with bhang ;-)

              • I like the idea of mixing syrup with the sooji – otherwise, yes, the filling is rather dry. I’ve had gujias sometimes filled with some grated coconut added to the sooji/khoya mixture too. Nice!

  8. “Ah, I see we’ve been talking at cross purposes.”
    :-)

    Swiss Schmutzli is Austrian Krampus alright. He wears a mask in Austria, otherwise it is hard to look sinister without it. ;-)
    St. Nicholas just wears a false beard and he also doesn’t bring any presents but sweets, nuts and mandarins/oranges

  9. Lovely post, Madhu – the way you narrate a story is something that I cannot admire enough.

    I’ve not seen this movie but am 100% with you and the others here on Bimal Roy. The terms “great”, “brilliant” and “outstanding” are so overused nowadays for people and products of mediocrity that I’m even ashamed to use them for Bimalda. We need to find a yet-uncorrupted term to describe Bimal Roy.

    The story sounds really good – and so does its handling. I need to watch this one, for sure.

    As for the commercialism around Val’s day, *sigh*. I’ve begun to come to terms with the realisation (pretty fundamental but I’m a bit slow on some things) that intrusions in your lifestyle become a problem only if you allow them to. So all the commercialism nowadays (and it’s not just Val’s day, it’s just about EVERYTHING!) has stopped bothering me (remember my rant about Ra-one?). It exists, it serves some purposes for sure (and to be fair, if it helps some small-business people to grow their business around these events, I’m happy for them) but I choose not to fall for any of their gimmicks, because that’s a choice that is in MY control to make. :-)

    Otherwise, I don’t mind Val’s day – I actually like it more than Diwali. That’s because it’s about love and affection, Diwali lost that personal thing long ago (if it ever had it) and has become too ritualistic. I agree that showing love is a 365-day affair and not just a 1-day thing – but as a celebration thing, I’m quite happy to have a day for this.

    I even wrote a blogpost about Val’s day a year ago. It was more about the thought/feeling around it – the commercialisation is just riding on this love, of course.

    http://rajaswaminathan.blogspot.in/search/label/love

    • I agree with what you say, Raja, about “intrusions in your lifestyle become a problem only if you allow them to“. That was approximately what a friend of mine told me when I first expressed a distaste for signing on to Faebook! It’s true, I guess, in lots of other things too – TV, for example. How much you let something rule your life depends ultimately on you.

      How did I miss your Valentine’s Day post? Will go and read it now!

      P.S. If you like Bimal Roy’s films, this one’s a winner. Do try and get hold of it – I think you’ll like it.

  10. Now what did I like, the review or the later discussion between you, Harvey and Pacifist about the pre-Christian beliefs finding its way into Christian festivals? Well I will be honest Prem Patra was discussed quite often at home so much so that I have nothing left to say, just that I loved the film and the way the love story unfolds, by the way I think it is a remake of a Bengali film, I racked my brains but just could not remember the name of the Bengali film, sad mum isn’t around when I need her the most. Besides, here is a bit of trivia, dad does not feature in the film but you do here his voice, he dubbed for the actor playing Sadhana’s uncle.
    Having got that out of the way let me tell you something, I am saving this post for the future you might well ask why? Well there is loads of stuff what with all those links and since yours truly is a history buff, I need to go through this at leisure. I have done a great deal of research on this subject, I have got ,books, cuttings and so on. Well what do I say keep it coming friends.

    • Thank you for that little nugget of trivia! I wish I’d known before I began watching the movie – I’d have paid closer attention to Sadhana’s uncle’s voice. :-)

      Oh, and now I’m finding it so hard to be patient and wait for your site! Am really looking forward to it!

  11. Hey,This is good but not old Raunak,back after a long time.Was awfully busy for a while,so could not update myself on your posts for quite a while.Currently,I am going through all the posts that i Missed.

    A lovely film Prempatra and even more lovelier review of that by you.By the way,the bangla original of Prempatra that Shilpi mashi was referring to is Sagarika-An Uttam-Suchitra starrer.

    Sagarika is a film that is loved by some people to bits while some others don’t like it at all.For example my dear friend Sharmi doesn’t like Sagarika at all while she is head over heel in love with Prempatra.Now this is something that i expected since I know that Sharmi is a die hard fan of Dev Anand-Shammi Kapoor style of romance and generally does not like the Dilip kumar-Manoj Kumar style of romance-A genre which Sagarika belongs to.Don’t worry-Sagarika is indeed a Dilip Kumar style of romance but minus the tragic ending.

    On the other hand many and Bimal roy himself loved Sagarika.Now if we compare the two-Prempatra is indeed better,even though Sagarika has better actors in the lead.But Alas! Better actors don’t make a better film,better directors do.A great director can even make Inferior actors look much better than the great actors.And that’s why Prempatra scores more than Sagarika as it is directed by Bimal Roy,who is a far more better director than Agragami,the directors of Sagarika.That’s not to say that Agragami are bad,they are very good but Bimalda is great.What’s interesting is that Bimalda has given Premapatra a totally different treatment and feel from it’s original.To say it in short,Prempatra is better directed and is more technically perfect [due to brilliance of Bimal da’s technical team and financial money power of Bollywood] than Sagarika.So it’s safe to conclude that Prempatra is indeed the better of the two but that does not mean that Sagarika is as bad as Sharmi and some others say and is neither as good as some others say.But Sagarika is a very pleasant watch and is a very good film,if not an excellent film like prempatra.Also,Sagarika boasts of some wondeful music By Robin Chatterjee.And then there are Uttam & Suchitra-You know what I mean? Also there is one thing that one should always remember-No matter what,original is original and Sagarika was the original one.

    Trivia-The beautiful story of Prempatra was written By Nitan Bhattacharya-A core member of Agragami,So Agragami too deserves a lot of credit for the film.

    Released in 1956,Sagarika was a huge blockbuster.So huge that it spawned not one but two remakes,both in 1962.One was Bimal roy’s Hindi Prempatra and the other was the Telugu remake Aradhana. While Aradhana did great business like it’s original,Prempatra was only an average grosser at the box office.

    Having seen and liked all the three versions-I would place Aradhana little below both Prempatra and Sagarika.Sagarika and Prempatra are at par with each other.Even though Prempatra is little better than Sagarika,I place both of them at par since Sagarika is the original one.Just like there can be no son without a mother,there could not have been a Prempatra without a Sagarika.

    Note-Someone just said that most of the good looking actors in golden era of Bollywood were Punjabis,with which i thoroughly agree.In the same vein,I would like to state that most of the best and consistent directors and screenwriters[the two main persons behind a film] in the golden era of bollywood were bengalis.And here,I am just not talking about the feel good cinema of Bimalda,Hrishida or Basuda but overall.

    p.s:Knowing your likes and dislikes,I assume that you better try not to watch Sagarika since i find your and Sharmi’s tastes quite similar.

    • Welcome back, Raunak! I was remembering you just the other day and wondering where you’d got to.

      I’m so glad you liked my review of Prem Patra. I really love this film (as you’ve probably guessed!), and of course Bimal Roy’s direction is a class apart – you’re very right when you say that directors probably matter more than actors. I’ve seen some really good actors in movies that were simply awful, but just looking at the filmography of some of my favourite directors… I see almost no films that were bad, or even merely average.

      That’s an interesting comparison between Sagarika, Prem Patra and Aradhana. I haven’t seen the other two, but I’d certainly like to see Sagarika. I know Sharmi and I share a lot of our likes and dislikes (not all – she is more forgiving of melodrama than I am), but I’ll take a chance on this one! Now, if only I get it with subtitles… will look out for it; thank you for telling me about it. :-)

      • Directors actually matter a lot more than actors.Infact even scriptwriters matter a lot more than actors.Film is a director’s medium not actor’s.

        I always go by the name of the director or scriptwriter[here i am talking only about the story and screenplay writer,not the dialogue writer.If the story and scene are in proper place,then it’s quite easy to write the dialogues] when i watch a movie.For example,if i am in a mood for Bollywood thrillers,instead of going by the names of actors like Dev Anand,Biswajeet or Manoj Kumar-Heroes with whom bollywood thrillers are usually associated with,i go by the name of Directors like Vijay Anand,Raj Khosla,Shankar Mukherjee or Biren Nag-Directors who really make fine thrillers.Actually in case of thrillers,even more than the directors,i go by the name of two scriptwriters-K.A.Narayan [Jewel Thief,Duniya,Mahal] and Dhruv Chatterjee[Shikar,Gumnaam,Intaqam,Kab?Kyon? Kahaan?,Bees Saal Baad,Kohraa,Woh Kaun Thi,Anita]-two of the finest minds in the field of writing bollywood thrillers.Sadly,most of the people don’t know about them and these two never got their dues,even though Narayan was a favorite with Dev Anand and Dhruv Chatterjee- a favorite with Guru Dutt.
        Going by the name of the director and scriptwriter actually helps as one is quite certain that one would get atleast a good product,if not exactly an excellent product.That’s the kind of certainty that good directors and scriptwriters usually ensure.For example,when you watch a Hrishida movie you are certain that it will have good dialogues,irrespective of whether the dialogue is written by Rajinder Bedi,Ehsaan Rizvi,Gulzar,Vrajendra Gaur,Rahi Masoom Reza or Inder Raj Anand.[of course there is a reason behind it,but i will tell it some other day].Of course,there are exceptions but generally,good directors and scriptwriters deliver most of the time.

        Going by this way of watching films,i have saved myself from the torture of watching some terrible movies which boast of great actors and great music but are awful nevertheless.

        • Wah!

          I am very impressed. You know so much. :-)

          What is the reason behind Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies being always great irrespective of the dialogue writer, by the way? Please tell.

          • Now,you are making me blush.I don’t think i know much but i madly love music,movies and literature which translates into my knowledge and understanding of these arts.

            Well,the reason behind Hrishida’s films having great dialogues irrespective of the dialogue writer was that Hrishida most of the times would first write the dialogues of his films in Bangla by himself.Not many know that Hrishida was quite a good writer too and wrote short stories in bangla.But he would never publish them and instead would make films out of his short stories.These include Anupama,Anand,Abhimaan,Namak Haraam,Ashirwaad,Alaap and Anokhi Raat-the last one directed by Asit sen.On such occasions,the dialogues of his short stories would get transliterated from bangla to hindi by his dialogue writers.He could not do the translation himself as his hindi was very bad.Sounds strange,but it’s true.

            On other occasions,when Hrishida adopted Bengali novel Satyakam by Narayan Sanyal or Bengali stories like Anuradha by Sachin Bhowmick or Golmaal by Sailesh dey,he would again get the dialogues translated from the original novels and short stories.

            On some other occasions when he remade Bengali classics like Galpo holeo Satyi [Bawarchi] or Chhadmabeshi [Chupke Chupke],he would again get the dialogues translated from the bangla original films.

            This actually helped the dialogue writers too as they could now concentrate on ‘how to say the thing’ rather than ‘what to say’,something which hrishida already supplied them with.It’s something like this-when you already know what message you want to give,you start to think how to convey it in most beautiful and effective way.[i think you will understand considering that you are a very good writer yourself].

            So,in this way,Hrishida ensured that the quality of his dialogues was top notch,both in it’s content and presentation,irrespective of who was his dialogue writer.

  12. You needn’t be blushing – I really did mean it, raunak! You know so much.

    I guessed it was something like that, what you mentioned about the dialogues of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s films. A director needs to be involved in just about every aspect of a film, and if the director is good and makes the effort, he can create a work of art.

  13. About Ratna and Arun:
    Arun does tell Kedar that he has guessed who wrote the letter
    (in a scene before he leaves the hospital). He doesnt
    mention names but it is clear from the conversation, he thinks it is Ratna.
    His anger at Kavita really has nothing to do with Ratna’s writing
    the letter but with the way Kavita acted- somewhat wilfully
    when she had every reason to think well of him.
    This appears to me one flaw in the plot – Kavita’s acting
    somewhat out of character, just because the story needed it.
    It could have been arranged so that the Principal receives the letter
    from someone else and Arun thinks Kavita has complained.

    The movie is really lovely and the trick of mixing hate and love
    and confusing the recipient is really very effective and ofcourse also gives opportunities for Sadhana to display her skills.

    I have watched portions of it many times and have promised
    myself I wont watch it again. I usually have difficulty keeping
    my promises though.

    H.Narayanan

    • I remember that scene in the hospital with Kedar, though I didn’t recall Arun saying that he guessed who wrote the letter.

      I also don’t think that Arun’s anger had as much to do with Ratna’s writing the letter – after all, he did know that she was infatuated with him, and might have been jealous of Kavita. I agree that it’s more a question of feeling hurt (betrayed?) that Kavita should have acted in this way. I think there’s a hint of why she did it – she’s goaded on by her classmates; they egg her on to complain to the principal. But I’d have expected that someone who seems as srong-willed as Kavita would have been able to withstand peer pressure in that way. Perhaps the alternate treatment you suggest would have worked more believably.

  14. Thanks for the detailed, fun review. It’s amazing:)
    A little more than two years ago, I was looking for a special film starring Shashi Kapoor and Sadhana.They looked so good in Waqt though they were cast not opposite each other.
    And then I found this cool review and some others done by wonderful bloggers. Many thanks ♥

  15. Film is good, enjoyable and entertaining. Shashi and Sadhana have done a wonderful performance but I didn’t liked the acting of Praveen, she is irritating her dialogue delivery is very bad, she also irritated me in professor but the good thing is that she had a very minor role in both these two movies.

    • I didn’t mind Praveen Choudhary too much in this film because I thought she did a good job of portraying the character – and Ratna isn’t a very likeable character anyway: immature and selfish.

  16. Was watching this movie after reading your review. I usually read your first paragraph and then the like vs did not like. This way I can see the movie without knowing about it much. Had to stop it mid-way to comment that this is such a well directed, acted and “subtle” movie, so unlike Bollywood. This should have been made in US. Sorry, but It is no surprise that it is not that popular or well known, which reflects the common taste.

    • Just realized. This is a Bimal Roy movie. I know he is a legend but had actually not seen his movies. Not surprised now. I need to see them all now. And Sadhana is “oh my god”… can I go back to 60s somehow

      • I’m so glad you liked Prem Patra. :-) Yes, it is a Bimal Roy film, and one of my favourites. Not just of Bimal Roy’s works, but of that period of Hindi cinema in general. It’s understated, it’s about everyday people, it’s easy to relate to (incidentally, the Bengali film on which Prem Patra is based – Sagarika – is nowhere close to as good, despite starring Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen.

        I know Bimal Roy tends to often be identified by his ‘bigger’ movies, the tragic Do Bigha Zameen, for instance, or (at the opposite end of the spectrum) Madhumati. But he made several films along the lines of Prem Patra, using very everyday, very likable, characters in quiet and memorable little films. I especially like Parakh, Majhli Didi and Parivaar in that category of his films.

        • I was worried at the end that because it is a movie by a big director with all the realism and tragedy would Arun get married to the real Tara. Thank god that it got sorted. The tiger scene could have been made part of the story where Kedar would tell Tara that Kavita likes Arun (hence she stops being interested in the letters). They could have avoided the folk dance scene (don’t know… may be there was a political reason in 62 to show it). Also, I cannot believe people think of Sadhana as just a fashion icon and without a filmfare award to her name. Parakh, Prem Patra, Asli Naqli and Gaban are as if done by some other actress vis-a-vis Aarzoo, Waqt and mystery trilogy.

          Trivia: My father says he was on the lakeside with his friends in Udaipur (my hometown in India) during the shooting of Mera Saaya scenes. Hence, that is my favorite movie of hers.

          Finally, the Shemaroo print on YouTube is so good.

          • Interestingly, a lot of Bimal Roy’s films have very sweet endings. They may be ‘realistic’ films in other ways, but they don’t do you out of a happy ending. :-) Even Do Bigha Zameen – one of his grimmest films – has a hint of hopefulness in its end.

            Sadhana was an exceptionally versatile actress. I haven’t seen Gaban yet (but mean to, as soon as I’ve read the book, which also I mean to…). Looking forward to that.

            That’s an interesting anecdote about Mera Saaya! Must have been interesting for your father and his friends. I really liked Udaipur, by the way – visited it for the first time a couple of years back, and loved it. So very beautiful.

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