Parakh (1960)

The last Hindi film I reviewed was a Bimal Roy production – and it left me feeling very disappointed. To get over that (and to remind myself that Bimal Roy’s films can generally be counted upon to be good), I decided to rewatch this one, an old favourite that reinforces Bimal Roy’s style of film-making: everyday stories of life, real life, with all its joys and sorrows and mundane happenings.

Parakh begins in a tiny village in the countryside. Radhanagar is typical rural India: there are the fields; the pond where the women come to draw water and gossip; the huts; the grand haveli of the zamindar; and the railway line that passes a few miles away.
It is from this railway line – with a train chugging off into the distance – that we first see Radhanagar’s postman, Haradhan (Motilal) lugging a sackful of mail back to the post office in the village.

Haradhan, despite his obviously down-at-heel appearance (he has a game leg, and his clothes are full of holes), is a cheerful man who shares an easy camaraderie with his boss, Nivaran Babu (Nasir Hussain), the postmaster of Radhanagar. In the course of a chat – while Haradhan sorts the mail and Nivaran stamps the letters – we discover that Haradhan has been the postman at the village for only a few months. And in those months, he’s never seen a letter come for Nivaran Babu. Why, he asks? Everybody receives letters, or money orders: how come Nivaran Babu never gets any mail?

Nivaran shrugs it off by saying that he’s small fry; why will anybody write to him?

Next, we get to meet some of the other people in the village. There’s Nivaran Babu’s wife (Leela Chitnis), who seems to be pretty sickly and spends much of her time lying and groaning in bed.
Her offspring include a little son and two daughters. The elder daughter’s wedding, three years earlier, has resulted in Nivaran Babu being in debt to the tune of over Rs 2,000. The moneylender has now decided to call in the law, and Nivaran Babu is very worried because there’s no way he’s going to be able to pay off the debt.

Nivaran Babu’s younger daughter Seema (Sadhana, in one of her earliest roles) is still unmarried and lives with them. She, like all of Nivaran’s household, is very attached to Haradhan – he is ‘chaacha’ (uncle) to her, and her affection for this postman, who always appreciates her cooking (he eats at their house), is sweet.

Seema is in love with Professor Rajat Sen (Vasant Choudhary).

Rajat is the village school teacher, an earnest young man who tries his hardest to improve the lot of the villagers. It’s an uphill battle, because the only people around who have the money to do anything are the very ones who are too greedy to spend their money on philanthropy. So Rajat invariably ends up leading a group of his students into projects where their labour will be useful…

…like silting up a stagnant pond that is likely to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
This brings Rajat up against the hard-of-hearing, wealthy, and unprincipled Bhanju Babu (Asit Sen), who owns the land around the pond. Bhanju Babu is miffed at Rajat’s attempts to fill up the pond. He still doesn’t know that Rajat and Seema are in love with each other; that will come as an even greater blow, since Bhanju Babu has an eye on Seema for himself.

Encouraging Bhanju Babu in his endeavours to woo Seema is the slimy village priest, Tarkalankar (Kanhaiyalal). Tarkalankar has been advising Bhaju Babu to offer to pay off Nivaran’s debt in exchange for Seema’s hand in marriage. This sordid exchange has been proposed to Nivaran, and he has turned it down curtly, but Seema’s mother is inclined to agree to the match. At least Seema will live in comfort, she says.

In the midst of this, one day, a surprise. A letter arrives for Nivaran. Nivaran is pretty certain that it’s just the legal notice he’d been expecting; but Haradhan urges him on to open it, and at least have a look…

… and Nivaran Babu gets a shock.

The letter is from a stranger named Sir Jagdish Chandra ‘JC’ Roy. JC. Roy originally belonged to a family from Radhanagar, but about thirty years earlier, when JC Roy was a child, his parents left the village and migrated to the city. In the city, JC Roy’s father prospered and made a fortune. He is now dead, but JC Roy’s mother has decided she wants to donate Rs 5 lakhs for the development of Radhanagar.

And that isn’t all; enclosed, along with the letter, is a cheque for the full amount.
Now comes Nivaran Babu’s role in all of this. JC Roy and his mother think the postmaster of Radhanagar would know the inhabitants of the village best, so they’ve decided he should be the one to decide the most trustworthy representative of Radhanagar.

Nivaran Babu is flabbergasted. This is all too great a responsibility. So he scurries off to the large haveli of the local zamindar, Taandav Tarafdar (Jayant).

At the zamindar’s haveli, Nivaran Babu mentions that he’s received a letter, but does not explain what it’s about. He merely requests an audience – along with four other prominent residents of the village – later that evening. Taandav agrees, in a somewhat supercilious way…

…and that evening, Nivaran Babu, at Taandav’s haveli, reveals the letter. Present are Taandav himself; Bhanju Babu, the temple priest, the school teacher Rajat Sen, and the local doctor (Rashid Khan).
The immediate reaction of the majority is that Taandav, being the zamindar, should be given the money. Rajat, however, intervenes. JC Roy’s letter states categorically that the most capable and most honest man of Radhanagar is to receive the money. How will that be decided?

Rajat suggests a democratic solution: at the end of the month – 25 days from now – an election should be held. All the villagers should vote for whom they feel most worthy of taking charge of the Rs 5 lakhs.
Willy-nilly (since all the ‘great men’ gathered around privately think each of them is the only worthy inheritor of that wealth), they agree.

And then begins the fun. Doctor sahib and his compounder Keshto (Keshto Mukherjee), who have all along been squeezing every last anna out of the poorest of the villagers – down to refusing to treat people if they don’t have money – change their clinic to a charitable one. All poor people will be treated free of cost, proclaims the doctor. He even goes on special rounds, out of his way, to see the very ill daughter of a low caste man whom he’d shoved out of the clinic just before the letter arrived.

The others – Bhanju Babu, the priest, and the zamindar – are quick to follow suit. Within a few hours, Bhanju Babu is overseeing the digging of a tube well. The priest (when he’s not praying fervently for the money to fall into his lap) is warmly welcoming, into the temple, lower caste worshippers whom he’d earlied scorned and scolded…

…and the zamindar has made a landmark announcement: he is giving up his claim to Rs 10,000 worth of taxes that the poor villagers have not been able to pay. When a peasant tells the zamindar that they don’t even have the money to buy seed to plant more than one field, the zamindar even instructs his steward to have seed bought and distributed to the peasants.

And the zamindar’s glamorous young sister-in-law, Ajanta (Nishi Kohli), who’s just arrived from the city (and has taken a liking to Rajat) realises that if her brother-in-law wins, he can finance a trip to America for her. So Ajanta too joins the battle, advising the zamindar on how he can best hope to woo the people of Radhanagar.

In the meantime, Nivaran Babu’s assistant, the postman Haradhan, has taken leave and gone to visit his mother (Durga Khote). And we, the audience, are made privy to a secret the people of Radhanagar don’t know: that Haradhan is, in reality, the Sir JC Roy who had sent that letter to Nivaran Babu.

How will this play out? Who will win the election? Will the poor of Radhanagar get their due, or will it all be just a way for one of these men – Bhanju Babu, Taandav Tarafdar, the doctor, and the priest Tarkalankar (not to mention Rajat, who has also been nominated) to lay their hands on the money?

Parakh is vintage Bimal Roy: a prime example of the sort of film Roy was so good at creating. The people here are not the larger-than-life characters that dwell only onscreen; they’re people you can identify with, with dilemmas you can understand, weaknesses and flaws you can relate to. It’s never terribly tragic; nobody is an outright villain (or at least they’re villains in the “bullies are cowards at heart” way); and the happinesses are the small things – the hot cup of tea, for instance, that Nivaran Babu asks for only when he has something very special to celebrate.

There is humour (mostly satirical); there is romance (and that too the sweet, friendly type, not the stalker-ish behaviour that was becoming so popular in Hindi cinema by 1960); and there is a neat little lesson about the ills of corruption.

What I liked about this film:

The acting, the direction, the cinematography, the story (by Salil Choudhary). And the gently sarcastic way in which Bimal Roy manages to tell the story of temptation and how it works on people: the lengths people will go to for gain, for example. All at a level we can see.

But it’s also, eventually, a reflection of what happens at a higher level: in state-level, national, or even international politics, where vast sums are given out, ostensibly for development – but where do they go? Not that Bimal Roy talks about that, but the story that takes place in Radhanagar is, after all, the story of India too. Perhaps the story of any community in the world.

The music. Salil Choudhary is one of my favourite music directors, and while Parakh doesn’t have too many songs (unlike, say, Madhumati), it does contain one of my favourite Salilda songs: the lovely O sajna barkha bahaar aayi. Two other especially good songs from the film are Mila hai kisi ka jhumka, and Mere mann ke diye. The latter two also are notable for their wonderful lyrics, by Shailendra (who also wrote the dialogues of Parakh).

Sadhana. One of my all-time favourite actresses, and so very pretty in a girl-next-door way here.

And, because I could not possibly put it better than Banno has, here’s a brief blog post from her that brilliantly shows one of Parakh’s greatest strengths: its ability to show so much with so little.

What I didn’t like:

There’s nothing I’d say I disliked about Parakh, but I’d have been happier with someone other than Vasant Choudhary playing Rajat. He isn’t bad, but he didn’t quite float my boat.

And the introduction of Ajanta (a short-lived story, as it turned out) could’ve been done without. It seemed like a deliberate insertion of glamour, and the chance to put in a nautanki song. Again, not bad, but dispensable.

So much to like, and nothing to really dislike? That’s why I’ve seen this film more than once. And will see it again.

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66 thoughts on “Parakh (1960)

  1. “There’s Nivaran Babu’s wife (Leela Chitnis), who seems to be pretty sickly and spends much of her time lying and groaning in bed.”
    Even Bimal Roy couldn’t save Leela Chitnis from her TB-fate! Bechari!

    “There is humour (mostly satirical); there is romance (and that too the sweet, friendly type, not the stalker-ish behaviour that was becoming so popular in Hindi cinema by 1960); and there is a neat little lesson about the ills of corruption.”
    These are the things we love about Bimal Roy, don’t we? his disciples Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Gulzar learnt it well.

    I have been wanting to see this film for such a long time. The last time I saw this was on DD in the early 80s and can only faintly remember certain things!

    Wonderful review, Madhu! Lovely!
    thank you very much for it!

    • his disciples Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Gulzar learnt it well.

      Yes! And Basu Bhattacharya – he was one of Bimal Roy’s assistants for Parakh. Much as I love those completely OTT entertainers, these sort of films have an endless charm about them that never fails to endear them to me. Prem Patra was in the same league. And Sujata

      Glad you liked the review! You must rewatch the film – it’s lovely.

      • Basu Bhattacharya married his daughter, I think. In the 80s I read that it was an unhappy marriage. I think their son also tried his hand at acting.
        Bimalda’s daughter (Rinku, I think was her name) recounted in that interview, how her father requested her to record the sound of birds chirping (or was it falling rain). She was small at that time and felt very responsible for it.

        • That’s a cute anecdote about Bimalda asking his daughter to do the recording of those everyday sounds. One thing that I really like about the lead-up to O sajna barkha bahaar aayi is the sound of the rain – including the dripping of water from the leaves, and the sounds of toads and frogs. Something so homey about it.

          • “O sajna barkha bahaar ayee” was an absolute masterpiece by Salil da. One of Lataji’s best songs, as you say. I’m glad you brought attention to the sounds of raindrops dripping off the leaves & the voice of frogs, I had’nt noticed that before, though my own favourite is “Mila hai kisi ka jhumka”, it’s just so tender & sweet – just like Sadhana herself ! Another wonderful song with the combo of Bimal Roy, Salil da & Sadhana is the song in “Prem Patra” , “Ab aur na kuch bhi yaad rahi, na teri wafaa, na meri jafaa”, Sadhana looks so lovely there also, her lip-synching is amazing & the number’s been beautifully picturised. Watch it again, do !

            • Yes, Mila hai kisi ka jhumka is a really lovely song as well. In more recent years (since I wrote this post), I’ve also developed a special fondness for Mere mann ke diye. So poignant and lovely.

              I do like Ab aur nahin kuchh bhi yaad haiPrem Patra happens to be one of my absolute favourite Sadhna films! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen it. :-)

  2. It is a coincidence that I was just watching this ‘rare’ famous film called Devdas on YT, the first major film in Bimal Roy’s career.It is the KL Saigal version.

    Bimal Roy remade it later , I consider that film the best ‘hindi’ version of the original novel. Well,Atleast I ‘forgot’ that there are other versions after watching the Dilip Kumar film.
    As you say , In this film Parakh , like almost all of Bimal Roy directed films (except Yahudi), it is difficult to find flaws in them. only the music may be less popular in some of his films.
    p.s. I haven’t watched Ashok Kumar starrer Parineeta or its newer version.
    This review is brilliant as usual, maybe it is a little longer than the other reviews. But I like that, this film deserves to be better known like the Nutan starrers.

    • That youtube channel also quite a few obscure films of the early 50s.like Shammi Kapoor’s some early films (there is one with Geeta Bali!). Quality is er…. just about manageable. they are supposed to be ‘official’ I think. I can’t believe an old classic film which is quite famous even today is only available in that print. I googled and found out that there was just a VHS till now.probably the source of the above video.

      • Which is the one with Geeta Bali? Please tell – I’ve been longing to see one of Shammi Kapoor’s films with her! I noticed Raat ki Raahi there, and Rangeen Raatein (plus a clutch of other old films that I want to watch or rewatch). Thanks so much for this link. Much excitement here. :-D

    • Yes, somehow Yahudi isn’t one of my favourite Bimal Roy films – actually, come to think of it, I’d forgotten it was Bimal Roy. In my mind, it’s a Sohrab Modi film.

      Thank you, glad you liked the review! It had to be longer, I guess, because I had so much to say about the film, besides the synopsis. I certainly agree about it deserving to be better known. It’s a real gem; such a lovely little movie, but with actually such a deep (though subtle) message.

      And a very special thank you for that link! I haven’t yet seen the KL Saigal Devdas, though the Dilip Kumar one I found just too depressing… great music, though, and a fantastic performance from Motilal in that too.

  3. That is a lovely post Madhu. :) Now I really want to see the movie. I agree, the early Sadhana is just so beautiful.

    I agree with your sole dislike too, the hero could have been someone dreamier.

    • Thank you, Ava! This is one film I think you’d really like – it’s classic Bimal Roy. :-) I’ve discovered that it’s on Youtube as well, and a fairly good print too:

      Even though I didn’t much care for Vasant Choudhary as Rajat, I’m actually wondering whom Bimal Roy could’ve chosen instead of him… since it’s not really a lead role, I doubt if any of the big stars of the day would have taken it on. But maybe one of the very young actors who were trying to get a break at the time would’ve been good. A young Dharmendra, I think, or even Manoj Kumar.

  4. One of my favourite films, Madhu, and for all the reasons you mentioned. It is all so, so ‘real’ – haven’t we all met men and women like these? Thank you for cheering me up.

    There’s Nivaran Babu’s wife (Leela Chitnis), who seems to be pretty sickly and spends much of her time lying and groaning in bed.

    A bit superfluous, the description, don’t you think? :) All you had to say was <iThere’s Nivaran Babu’s wife (Leela Chitnis) and I (and most avid watchers of Hindi films) would have known at once that she would be moaning and groaning in bed! :)

    • Heh. I agree about Leela Chitnis – one doesn’t need to explain anything about the characters she plays. While I was watching Parakh, there was this scene where Seema sits at her ill mother’s bedside and fans her… and I had this sudden recollection of nearly 10 years later, in Inteqaam, where Sadhana again played Leela Chitnis’s daughter, and was again looking after her ill mother. :-)

  5. “…..but I’d have been happier with someone other than Vasant Choudhary playing Rajat. He isn’t bad, but he didn’t quite float my boat.”

    Heh heh, precisely why I couldn’t love the original Bengali version of ‘Khamoshi’ (i.e. ‘Deep Jwele Jai’) since he did Rajesh Khanna’s role despite the stunning Suchitra Sen. God bless the Punjabi men – Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand RULE my shallow heart :-)

    I’ve been revisiting yummy B&W Dev saab and coming back and checking your reviews of those. It’s been a wonderful last few days! Now on to ‘Parakh’ and the beauteous Sadhana. Thanks for another lovely write-up.

    • Ouch. Deep Jwele Jai was on my to-watch list. Suddenly, it’s gone down a few notches. It’s not as if Vasant Choudhary is a bad actor or even terrible looking – it’s just that when you compare him to people like the ones you’ve named (and Shammi Kapoor! – another Punjabi)… well, no. There’s no comparison, really.

      Hmm. Now you’ve made me want to see another of those B/W Dev Anand films. I’ve got a bunch lying around waiting to be seen. Will do. ;-)

  6. Now I remember why I couldn’t recall much of the story. When the film was aired on DD, the part of Bombay, where I lived had a power failure.
    After reading your review I had to watch it today.
    Such a nice film!
    Although I was a bit surprised by the choice at the end. We need to watch such films at least once a week!

    • Yes, I remember being a bit surprised by the end the first time I watched Parakh, but now that I’ve rewatched it, I can see it coming – he emerges as the logical choice, you know, because despite so many pressures, he remains true to himself…

      I wish people made more films like this.

    • Ah, this is nicely done. I admit I don’t usually like colourised versions either (I watched Hum Dono when it was re-released a couple of years or so back, and thought the colourisation was awful). But this one’s nice, relatively realistic.

  7. Wow…this sounds like a really delightful film. I haven’t seen this one, but will soon remedy that :) The song “O Sajna, barkha bahaar aayee” and the effervescent Sadhana will be sone pe suhaga. Thanks for the wonderful review.

  8. Such a well-written review, Dusted Off. And thanks for linking to my post about ‘Parakh’. Sadhana was so sweet in this film, though I agree with you about the hero. :) A really well-made film, and definitely, one that can be watched again and again.

    • Banno, you don’t need to thank me for linking to that post – it just goes to show how great your post was, that it should’ve stayed in my mind so long after you wrote it. Thank you!

  9. This is a great review, and I like two songs (O Sajana, Mila Hai); so I must see this movie.
    I have to admit that I had dismissed this movie as probably un-interesting, cannot really explain why; but thanks for the review. It certainly makes it much more interesting and watchable.
    Really liked —
    “But it’s also, eventually, a reflection of what happens at a higher level: in state-level, national, or even international politics, where vast sums are given out, ostensibly for development – but where do they go? “

    • Thanks, Samir. And especially for that quote. I hadn’t thought about it the first time I watched Parakh – then, it had seemed only like a tale of a village. Now, when I saw it again, I realised that it’s such a good reflection of what goes on at a higher level, everywhere… people tend to let their greed (or sometimes, even their desperation) govern their actions. It seems, sadly, to be more the norm than the exception to grab whatever you can, whether or not you are entitled to it.

  10. I would like to amend that — “cannot really explain why”. This movie appeared to be a slow, no entertainment, not much happening type of movie; and hence the “shallow” part of me was not interested :)

    • Heh. I can understand.

      It’s not slow, actually – or, I didn’t find it slow. Because there are so many characters, the scene changes quickly and the film doesn’t drag. And a lot does happen! Give it a try, I’d say.

      • I did watch it, thanks for a really great recommendation :) Not only is it all what you have written, but I will go so far as to say that Grade A Masala entertainment lovers will not be disappointed.
        This is one those rare ones that mix both entertainment & message !!!

        • I’m so happy you liked that, Samir! :-) I must admit I am sometimes wary of recommending a film very highly, because it’s backfired on me in the past – someone actually ‘shouted’ at me on a post to tell me everything that was wrong with a film I’d recommended.

          But, back to happier things… I’m glad you liked Parakh. I think it has a lot of charm, plus it never gets terribly morbid and hopeless – probably because the real JC Roy is revealed to the viewer early on in the film. And it has a fair bit of humour too.

  11. Havent watched the movie….so enjoyed the review…have watched o sajna countless times…Sadhna looks so beautiful even without her famous Sadhna cut. One complaint though..Salil Choudhry is widely respected as a great composer of hindi films…dont know how many scores have been composed originally for hindi movies…even o sajna is set to bengali na jeyo na…

    good topic for research…and i think it goes for most of the bengali music directors…

      • *hanging head sheepishly* Not composted. ‘Composed’. (I’m sure Salilda would be turning over in his grave at having his compositions compared to common garden variety compost’.)

        Put it down to a headache, lack of light and fat-fingers-on-keyboard syndrome!

          • Madhuji: I’ve been “lurking” around your blog for sometime now and am finally gathering the courage to post something…. Salil Chowdhury is one of my favorite composers and he has composed films, not just for Bengali, Hindi and Malyalam movies, but also for Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Assamese, Oriya and Marathi…. Music truly transcends all artifical barriers….

            • Hi Ambrish, thank you for commenting! Yes, I have a soft spot for Salil Choudhary too – one of our best music directors, as far as I’m concerned. He was consistently superb.

              • I am not very sure whether “Parakh” had had a Bengali version, but it is one of those films wherein almost each of the song has Bengali version. In fact, some of the Bengali versions sound sweeter than their Hindi counterparts, but Hindi ones seem to have been set to a better orchestration.

      • composted=composed…if this is a big issue for you,then I think people like us should not come here , write and enjoy such nice articles coz now onwards I will be very conscious of my spellings and grammer and so on…we love your writing,style everything so dont make us feel inferior..regards..

        • ??

          (I’m a bit confused here. Anu happened to make a typo in her comment, then added a second comment to poke fun at her own typo. Are you implying that I had something to do with making you – or anybody else – feel inferior?)

          • no not at all…i was also making fun of myself ..reading posts of both of you i understand that you are journalists/writers..and if people like you(I mean Anu here) who write so beautifully,take a spelling mistake so seriously where should people like me hide..jinki spellings aur grammar ka bhagwan malik hei…

            • Oh, that is because both Anu and I write for a living. After a while, it becomes engrained, I think – you automatically notice errors. I wouldn’t expect other people to not make typos (especially not in comments on a blog! – that’s forgivable). :-)

    • Thanks for that video – lovely, even though I could understand only a few words here and there.

      Personally, I would not regard Salil Choudhary as a ‘great composer of Hindi films’. I think of him as a ‘great composer‘, period. After all, music, unless it’s put to words, is irrespective of language, isn’t it? So, whether he composed a song for a Bangla song and later reused it in a Hindi song, is fine with me… as long as he composed it and didn’t just lift the tune as is from someone else’s work.

      • My comment was also confined to ‘Hindi’ music. Otherwise I like his songs very much despite having a grudge that he used rafi very rarely. And incidentally i like some of his bengali originals more than the hindi ones.I read somewhere that you are originally from Assam so thought you understand bengali as well. so was a bit surprised that you could understand only few words of na jeyo na…sorry…i found both the languages very close..infact during my one year stay in Guwahati, it was my bengali which enabled me to mix with locals…

        • I was born in Assam (because my father happened to be posted in Assam that year), but I’m not originally from Assam, that’s why I don’t understand Assamese, or even too much Bangla…

  12. Hello Madhu,
    What a pleasure to plunge once again into the charm of this very pleasant movie with its little and big things as you so rightly say! It does indeed make a difference, then, when Bimalji is at the wheel!

    • Yves, so good to ‘see’ you here! Yes, it does make a huge difference when Bimalda is at the wheel himself, doesn’t it? He had a certain finesse – no matter if he’s doing a rather tragedy-ridden romance like Bandini, or a supernatural like Madhumati – or this. He’s a master throughout.

    • Yes, I heard. Sad – he will be sorely missed. Somehow, there was always something so sincere and kind-hearted about the characters he played, I ended up thinking he must be pretty much the same in real life too.

      RIP, Mr Hangal.

  13. This is a wonderful movie. I had seen it during my college days on television. It is so gentle and reminds you of his Sujata. Sadhna looks so natural and earthy, before she was made a glamour doll by others

    • Yes, Parakh (and even Prem Patra, to some extent – though that is almost completely just a romance) do bear a resemblance to Sujata, in their treatment. All hallmark Bimal Roy films.

  14. Thanks for reviewing this film, DO. I remember going through your list once to read your views on it, and was disappointed not to see it listed (see, how much your opinion about a film means :)

    And yes, I think along the same lines as you do :-D

    This is one of my favourite genres – a village, with a host of characters, lovely lovely music. I haven’t been disappointed, yet, with Salil’s music.

    As for Rajat and his looks – let me put it this way – he blended so well with the surroundings that he fit in right there. A good looking hero would have stood out, and the film would not have been so simple anymore. But yes, I won’t tell a lie, I too wanted a handsome hero inspite of knowing it would be all wrong for the film’s atmosphere and good health.

    Thanks once again for the review.

    • “(see, how much your opinion about a film means :)

      Pacifist, that is sweet of you! Thank you.

      Yes, you’re right re: Rajat. Since he wasn’t the central character (in fact, I’d say there was no single central character in the film), the simplicity of Rajat was important to not make him stand out. Even then, when there’s a heroine as pretty as Sadhana, she deserves someone slightly better than Vasant Choudhary!! ;-)

  15. I havent seen this one either! Have a long weekend coming up, will try to watch it then.
    I love these kinds of movies where we can relate to the characters, where the sets and characters are not larger-than-life but rather more human. It makes the story real and creates that connection immediately.
    O sajna barkha bahaar aayi is a big time favourite and Sadhana looks so beautiful in the last screen-cap (she does otherwise too).

  16. “Parakh” is a classic period movie, ingrained in the then social milieu of Bengal.
    We used to read [Gujarati translations] of Sharatbabu in our adolescent days – some 40 /45 years back and would be fascinated by the idealism portrayed in those stories. However, when I read these stories now, what I have carefully ink out is the literary value of these stories and leave the social content aside. Somehow, it seems rather difficult to connect with that social ecosystem today.
    I also feel the same way about the films set in our country’s social milieu of first half of 20th century.
    In this regards, some films are so heavily dependent on its social fabric that not being able to get connected with social settings of that period leaves me a tad dissatisfied on re-watching those films. The other elements of the film are not equally strong and appealing.
    Biraj Bahu and old Parineeta would stand in those categories. I have seen new Parineeta, but I was not ready to accept the story in its new technical incarnation. So I need to re-visit both versions.
    “Parakah” has stood this test with me on re-watching after a period of almost 40 years.

    • I think it’s a question of how a film is handled, how it’s directed, written, acted, etc, which makes it able to stand the test of time. I haven’t seen the old Parineeta (or Biraj Bahu), but a film like Dahej, or Suhaagan (Geeta Bali) is the sort of film that it would be very difficult to relate to in this day and age. I am quite flexible when it comes to being able to ‘transport’ myself into another period, but Suhaagan was just too difficult to relate to. Not in milieu so much as in concept. On the other hand, a film like the Chandramohan-starrer Roti, or even Andaaz (the Rk-Dilip Kumar-Nargis one) don’t feel too dated, perhaps because the focus is more on the story than on the setting.

  17. Parakh has all the ingredients of a good Bimal Roy movie: smooth, clean, and very often lovely cinematography, smooth flow of the story and some good character-sketches. And of course, memorable music from a veteran music-director like S. D. Burman or Salil Chaudhary. Lata’s all three songs are also representative of the vintage Salil Chaudhary. Parakh has lovely pieces of sitar plating, with very able support of other instruments like flute etc that make the song extremely melodious. Mila hai kisi ka jhoomka is also a typical Salil creation with that typical use of double flutes and a very lilting rhythm.

  18. Excellent review!! ‘Parakh’ is one of my favorite movies of Bimal Roy…..Lovely music by Salil Chaudhary and melodious songs lke “Mila hai kisi ka Jhumka”,”Mere Man Ke Diye” and of course “O sajana ” make it my all time favorite….Last but not the least my favorite actress Sadhana. It was the first movie of her which I saw……Her simplicity,elegance,flawless emoting won me over…The next film of her I watched was
    “Mere Mehboob”;and was spellbound by her performance and charm!
    “There’s Nivaran Babu’s wife (Leela Chitnis), who seems to be pretty sickly and spends much of her time lying and groaning in bed.” :) The only instance I can recall when she was not bed-ridden/suffering was in Waqt where she played a rich socialite mother of Sadhana…..

    • Yes, Leela Chitnis’s character in Waqt was very different from her usual. ;-) But then, so was she in Sangdil – not a rich socialite, but not decrepit and long-suffering, either.

      And Parakh is such a lovely movie. I like its gentleness, and the fact that it says something important without beating us over the head with its message.

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