Kalpana (1960)

Though I’d heard of this film – and loved one of its songs (As-salaam-aaleikum babu) – I’d not been too keen on watching it. Firstly, Ashok Kumar is not really my idea of a dashing leading man. Secondly, I’m not a great one for the Travancore Sisters. At the risk of being labelled an iconoclast, I’m going to admit that dance is not generally a big thing for me – I’m awful at any sort of dancing myself, and I don’t have much of an eye for watching it, either. Plus, there’s the fact that both Padmini and Ragini have horrid Hindi accents, which means that when they’re playing Hindi-speaking characters, they are not exactly very believable.

Then Richard reviewed Kalpana, and I got to know a bit more about the film. And then, to add to it all, Tom Daniel praised it too. So, I ended up watching Kalpana. It turned out to be – surprise, surprise – much more engrossing than I’d expected it to be.

Ashok Kumar and Padmini in Kalpana

The story starts in Kashmir, where Amar (Ashok Kumar), a painter, has gone with his servant D’Souza (Sunder, in quintessential ‘benign Christian’ mode).

Amar makes a painting, watched by D'Souza
Amar spends his days painting the beautiful vistas around – and one day, thanks to D’Souza, notices a graceful addition to the landscape.

A woman on the horizon
This turns out to be a girl (Padmini), who lives with her mother Kishoribai (Achla Sachdev) and seems to spend much of her time dancing in gardens, singing about how beqaraar (restless) she is. Amar encounters his elusive muse one day, and when he tells her – no doubt trying to be poetic and complimentary – that he recognises her and that she is his kalpana (literally, imagination), she seems distinctly worried, and even close to panicky.

Amar introduces himself
…which is nothing to what transpires when she goes home to her mother and tells her about Amar. Kishoribai is thoroughly distressed (and what a mistress of distress Achla Sachdev was!) There is some very anxious discussion of what will happen if the mother and daughter are discovered, and we learn that the daughter’s name is Kalpana. Ah. So that is why she lost her wits when Amar claimed her as his kalpana.

Kalpana with her mother
He now sets out to do precisely this. They go on long walks together and gaze dreamily into each other’s eyes, and it becomes increasingly clear that love is not just in the air, it’s crystallised.

One day, though, just before Amar is to come and visit them, Kalpana arrives home to find mummy in a state of acute anxiety. A telegram has arrived, that Thakur Sahib will be coming. Oh no! So the two of them pack up and leave, and Amar arrives to find a mysteriously locked home.

Amar arrives at a deserted house
He is left nursing:
(a) a broken heart (well, actually probably not; he doesn’t seem especially perturbed about his girlfriend’s disappearance), and
(b) a half-finished canvas on which he’d painted a portrait of Kalpana’s.
[It looks rather creepy, doesn’t it, just that head with its closed eyes? As if it was a painting of someone who’d been guillotined. Ugh.]

A rather creepy portrait
Amar too packs up and goes home to Bombay, where he’s the principal of an arts centre called the Bharti Kala Kendra. On the train journey back, a sleeping Amar wakes up one night to find that the (previously empty) berth above his has been hijacked by a girl named Asha (Ragini). Asha, we learn, is a dancer, and very cocksure.

Amar meets a cocky girl on the train
By the time morning dawns and Amar wakes, Asha’s gone. He, however, meets her again very soon after – she turns up at the Bharti Kala Kendra to apply for a job as a dance teacher. Thanks to Amar’s goodwill (which is very generous of him, since she’d been rather cocky and even downright rude on the train), she manages to get the job. Amar seems fond of her in an avuncular sort of way…

Asha gets a job - and feels very embarrassed
… and even takes her home to meet his mother (? Who is this actress? She gives the impression of being much younger than she’s pretending to be) and his little daughter Munni (Baby Farida). Munni’s mother – Amar’s wife – had died when Munni was only three days old, and ever since, Munni has been asking Amar where her mother is.

Asha is an instant hit with both Munni and Amar’s mother.

Asha comes to Amar's home...
Over the following days, through a convoluted series of events involving that guillotined-head painting, D’Souza, Amar’s mother and Munni all convince themselves that Asha is the girl Amar had met in Kashmir and fallen in love with. Amar’s mother is especially delighted, because now Amar will get married again and Munni will have a loving mother and all will be well.

And being the interfering sort so many screen mothers in Hindi films are, she even meets Asha – in Amar’s absence – and tells her outright how happy she is about Amar and Asha’s relationship. Asha, who’s already pretty deeply in love with Amar, is all blushing joy when she gets what she thinks are her future mother-in-law’s blessings.

... and is presumed, by his mother, to be his sweetheart
Amar, of course, knows nothing of what’s being cooked up behind his back. In the meantime, one day he receives an invitation to a dance performance at a theatre and goes there to find that the dancer is none other than his true love, Kalpana!
They meet after the performance, and though she’s as loving and glad as ever to see him, Kalpana still doesn’t tell Amar why she had to leave Kashmir in such a hurry. Amar, oddly enough, also doesn’t seem too curious.

Kalpana resurfaces
They continue from where they’d left off. Kalpana’s mother is finally introduced to Amar. At Kalpana’s home, just as they’re settling down to tea, a phone call – from someone called Jauhar – sends Kishoribai into a tizzy, and she insists on Amar and Kalpana getting out of the house. Jauhar, apparently, is not the sort of person she’d want Amar to meet.

A phone call is received
Unlike Amar, though, we have already met Jauhar (? IMDB credits him as Iftekhar, but this is no more Iftekhar than I am). Jauhar is the man who’d one day come to Kalpana’s green room after a dance performance and had been pestering her for money. Although neither of them says it outright, it’s obvious that Jauhar is blackmailing Kalpana.

Kalpana with Jauhar
But why? What is the deep dark secret that Kalpana and her mother harbour? Who is the mysterious Thakur Sahib, the very name of whom drives the two women away from Kashmir to the other end of the country? And what will happen to this rather convoluted love triangle?

What I liked about this film:

I never thought I’d end up saying this about any film, but here goes: Padmini. She is lovely, her dancing is par excellence, and her acting is very good. And the accent that I’m always cribbing about? It’s barely there – not enough for it to interfere with her characterisation of Kalpana, at any rate. I wonder if the director, Rakhan, had much to do with that – did he (or rather someone delegated by him for the dubbing) spend hours coaching Padmini and Ragini (who also has only the mildest of accents)?

Padmini in and as Kalpana
The music, by O P Nayyar. I’ve already mentioned As-salaam-aaleikum babu as among my favourites from this film; others include the famous classic duet by Manna Dey and Mohammad Rafi, Tu hai mera prem devta, and the typically O P Nayyar solos, Oh ji saawan mein hoon beqaraar, Phir bhi hai dil beqaraar, and Aana aana atariya pe aana.

And, the dancing. Both Padmini and Ragini are fantastic. Even someone with two left feet (yours truly), ended up muttering to herself: “What grace! What flexibility!” and “How on earth did she do that?!”

What I didn’t like:

The story and scripting of this film aren’t among the best I’ve ever seen. Initially – while the secret behind Kalpana and Kishoribai’s occasional bouts of panic remained a secret – it looks like it’ll turn out to be a suspense film. That, of course, considering I’m such a devotee of the genre, had me sit up, all agog. Then, slowly, the truth began to dawn: this isn’t a suspense film, not by a long stretch. It becomes obvious, fairly early on, what that deep dark secret is (it’s a different matter that I kept telling myself that it couldn’t be that; there had to be more to it).

What’s more, the film suffers from the (alas, far too common) fault of starting off all bubbly and joyful, and then degenerating into the most insufferably depressing and morbid melodrama ever. En route, there are odd little details that are left hanging in mid-air, weird questions that are left unanswered: what, for instance, is really the point of the striking resemblance between Kalpana and Asha? (A fact, by the way, that is mentioned more than once in the film). I expected them at least to be long-lost sisters.

And why does the Thakur actually spend so much time and energy trying to track Kishoribai and Kalpana across the country? Even though the explanation is explicitly stated, it sounds thin to me – a man this rich, this arrogant, getting so desperate about this girl? I’d have expected a man of the Thakur’s ilk to give up and go away in a huff after a while.

No, not a great piece of writing or film-making. But yes, the dance and the music are awesome.

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56 thoughts on “Kalpana (1960)

  1. Excellent review, Madhu. I was chortling away at your witticisms.

    I have seen a lot of Padmini thanks to Tom, and I must say, I am her fan. I have seen her do deep back bends, and many such lovely dance moves. You know about these if you have seen the wonderful song from Pardesi that she danced to, “Na dir dim”

    She was definitely a good actress and a wonderful dancer. I have not seen too many complete movies of her, so I can’t say much about her accent.

    One movie of hers that I have really been meaning to watch is the Gemini Ganesan, Vyjayantimala, Padmini starrer.Raj Tilak. I really must do it.

    Here is a fabulous dance from that movie.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAfX_sbQrdM

    • I don’t really care for Padmini as an actress (except in Kalpana, where I thought she was excellent) – but then I guess that’s partly because her diction puts me off, mostly. Like Leela Naidu, who also could act very well when she was comfortable with the language (as in The Householder). But Padmini was one fantastic dancer. I’ve just been watching the Raj Tilak song you linked to – wow! She is superb in that. And in Na dir deem. She was lovely in that.

  2. Agree, agree and agree on all counts–dance of this kind leaves me cold. Perhaps “Indian culture” fails to move me? In any case, your review, in which you admit changing your mind, is full of some lovely touches–mistress of distress! — and a pertinent observation on the creepiness of the painting. On that note, not one film has managed to get a good artist to draw, except perhaps R K Laxman’s cartoons in Mr and Mrs 55.

    • I suppose, as far as I’m concerned, one reason why I sometimes can’t truly appreciate classical Indian music/dance (I don’t usually have a problem with folk versions) is that I’ve never taken the trouble to actually understand what’s going on. Mea culpa. And I’ve actually appreciated some dance performances – a recent Kathakali one, for instance – simply because expressions and gestures, etc, were explained to me.

      I agree totally re: the awfulness of art and sculpture in Hindi cinema – look at stuff like Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne or Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi: frightful works. I can’t think of any film other than Mr & Mrs 55, too, that had good art. But Laxman is Laxman! :-)

      • Rather a serious omission, considering its probably his best song from the film, of course you are entitled to your taste, but I would have thought like many others that it deserved a mention, to say the least.

        • If you read my other reviews, you’ll see that I always mention only the songs that really appeal to me. If a song doesn’t float my boat (and nobody can bully someone into liking a song), I won’t mention it.

          Besides, this is my blog, you know. Telling me that I made a ‘serious omission’ is hardly going to make me turn red with embarrassment and go off to correct that. It’s all a matter of taste. What you like, I may not, and vice-versa. Let’s agree to disagree.

  3. Lovely review, Madhu.

    I saw this movie only a couple of years ago but such is my memory now that I don’t quite remember how it ended. :-)

    I do remember being pleasantly surprised overall – but then I’d started with rather low expectations from it. :-) I think what I liked most is that it had more of a storyline than I’d expected – although the story could have been far more gripping, no doubt. It had potential – but the second half became weepy. I remember a mujra-type song too in the second half – part of the weepiness.

    Also, I did like Ragini’s chirpy, spunky character in the first half, especially in the train, even if she was a bit rude. Anyday give me such characters to weepy characters. :-)

    And where would Hindi movies be without miscommunication / lack of communication? I don’t think many movies would be made at all if everybody communicated clearly to everybody else. :-)

    And oh yes, songs were lovely.

    • Thank you, Raja! Truth to tell, the weepiness in the second half – especially near the end – was what put me off really liking the film. If it had been less weepy and melodramatic, I think I’d have liked it a lot more.

      And where would Hindi movies be without miscommunication / lack of communication?

      Where, indeed?! The world’s largest cinema industry would wither up and die. ;-)

  4. Nice review! The plot seems quite intriguing.Padmini was indeed a good actress besides being a superb dancer.She worked with Raj Kapoor in quite a few films such as Ashiq (1962)

    and of course in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai(1960)

    Ragini,her sister who died quite early had also done a couple of films in hindi such as Yeh Dil Kisko Doon (1963) with Shashi

    She also did a film with Kishore Kumar which I am not able to recollect……………..

    • Oddly, though I’ve seen films of both Padmini and Raagini, I haven’t seen the ones whose songs you’ve linked to (no, not even Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai – mostly because I’m not an RK fan).

      I had a look at IMDB to try and find which film Ragini did with Kishore Kumar, but there’s no mention there. Not that IMDB is infallible, of course. If you remember, do let me know.

      • i dont think ragini acted with kishor kumar,
        but padmini acted with kishor kumar in two films:- aansoo aur muskan 1970 and Raagini 1958, the film ragini was also produced by ashok kumar and directed by ralhan (same as kalpana). It has memorable songs like man mora bawra, main bangali chokra etc (film has ashok kumar, kishor kumar, padmin,jabeen)

        • Thanks for that information! Now that you mention it, I have seen Kishore and Padmini together in Main Bangaali chhokra, when Anu listed it in a post on her blog. Delightful song! I must look out for Raagini, now.

  5. Wonderful review. Thank you for the same. Padmini is a superb dancer and ofcourse good actor too. Her niece shobana takes after her both in acting and dancing. Amar deep,jis desh me Ganga ……… Mera naam joker movie with dharmendra shammikapoor made her famous in hindhi Cinima .down south she is a super star. Her sisters Ragini.and Lalitha are not as papular as padmini. I remember Lalitha playing chendra mukhi in Telugu ‘devdas’

    • I don’t recall seeing any films of Lalitha’s, though I have seen clips of songs that feature her. Devdas seems to have been one of those books that have been made into countless adaptations. I’d thought I’d heard of most of them (even if I’ve seen only two), but this list on Wikipedia is quite impressive:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devdas#Film.2C_TV.2C_and_theatrical_adaptations

      One film of Padmini’s that hasn’t been mentioned yet – and for which she actually got a Best Supporting Actress award – was Kaajal. She was very good in it.

  6. hehe. Liked your observations, especially about Achla Sachdev (and what a mistress of distress Achla Sachdev was!) :-D

    I have always liked Padmini, both as an actress and especially as a dancer.
    I love, love, love classical dances even though I not only have two left feet when it comes to dancing but they also turn to wood under such circumstances. BUT I have an eye for them. :-)
    Thanks to Tom I have a DVD of Padmini’s songs which include quite a few of her dances. It’s a pleasure to watch it.

    I saw this film a couple of years ago, and loved the songs and all that you ‘liked’ as well.

    • Thank you, pacifist! Achla Sachdev did manage to be quite convincingly distressed, didn’t she? I remember watching Pavitra Paapi years ago, and the one thing about that film that really stayed with me was Achla Sachdev’s distress. ;-)

      I have two left feet, and find it difficult to appreciate much dancing, unless it happens to be really good. But I’m learning, slowly and surely, to pay more attention to dances. I still can’t dance, and am unlikely to ever watch a film just for its dances, but I’m beginning to admire good dancing.

    • :-D

      It’s not as if I don’t like Ashok Kumar, though – I think he’s a great actor. But he looks (to paraphrase Mukul Kesavan) “like an almirah wearing a dressing gown”. Not exactly hero material, for me. ;-)

      One Ashok Kumar film that I’d recommend (if you haven’t already seen it) is Ek Saal – very nice.

  7. Madhu, lovely review. But it seems worth giving a miss with all the elongated melodrama. One can always see the wonderful dances and songs on the YouTube. I was surprised that neither you nor Richard mentioned the best song of the movie Bekasi had se jab guzar jaye.

    • I’ll have to admit that by the time Bekasi had se jab guzar jaaye came, I was so heartily sick of all the melodrama and weepiness, it barely registered! But yes – I agree that it’s a lovely song. And a good example of how underrated OP Nayyar was; too many people seem to think him capable of only a particular style of song.

  8. Lovely review as usual, Madhu, and I agree with you about the plot being peppered with red herrings that seem to go nowhere. Laughing at …this is no more Iftekhar than I am!

    About the Thakur and why he keeps following her around – men of his ilk cannot hear ‘No’; it is like a challenge and it is his very arrogance that makes him want her; how can a woman, any woman reject him? By god, he will have her! Unfortunately, I have seen this in action, and it is not a pretty sight. :(

    About Padmini’s accent – was it ever so bad? I don’t remember being turned off by it (In fact, I thought she had a much better enunciation of Hindi than did Hema Malini, for instance; our Dream Girl still talks with a very thick Tamilian accent.) and I’ve seen quite a bit of her films. I’ll take your word for it, though. What I didn’t like about her films (and Ragini’s) was that they were usually the melodramatic kind, the ones that the South Indian industry delighted in transferring across its borders. But oh, what a dancer! What a fantastic dancer! She was probably the best of the South Indian imports, even including Vyjayanthimala.

    • how can a woman, any woman reject him?

      Hmm. Yes, you probably have a point there. It just seemed to me a little hard to believe that he’d be chasing her across the length and breadth of India in a way that would only make it appear that he was so desperate… but yes, now that you mention it, it could be his very arrogance that makes him do it.

      I’ve seen Padmini in Pardesi and Singapore too, and in both films, her accent was very pronounced – much more so than in Kalpana. Somehow, even though Hema Malini has a really thick accent in her interviews, I tend to not find it intrusive in films.

      More than Vyjyanthimala, though, I think among the South Indian imports, the best was Waheeda. :-) Fantastic actress, great dancer, and so very beautiful.

      • I didn’t say Vyjayanthimala was the best. :) I said Padmini (in my opinion) was the best. As an all-rounder, I agree Waheeda wins the competition hands down – actress, dancer and yes, so very, very beautiful. Purely as a dancer, though, I think Padmini had everyone beat. Again, my opinion, though I’m sure Richard will agree. :)

        Just to beat an already dead equine [grin], I think more you have been accustomed to getting everything you want, the more you are apt to chase something that doesn’t just fall into your hands. It becomes a sort of an obsession – to bend someone to your will. As I said, I have seen that play out – the ‘thrill of the chase’ (ugh!) and it is not pretty at all.

        • I didn’t say Vyjayanthimala was the best. :)

          I don’t know what I was thinking of! I did read your comment correctly, but made a typo in my own comment – probably because, in the back of my mind, I was disagreeing with you and thinking that I liked Vyjyanthimala more than Padmini! In any case, I am totally not qualified to pass judgement on people’s dancing skills. All I can see is that there’s a world of difference between any of these ladies we’ve mentioned, and Nargis dancing to Ghar aaya mera pardesi. ;-)

          • Oh, god, Madhu! You had to mention that! I was thinking of just that when I wrote my response to your comment; actually, if you watch Lamhe and watch Sridevi imitate that action in the parody, it underlines just how bad it really was!!

  9. This post must be acting like a balm on Richard’s heart! :-)

    What I’m always surprised is how this stalker guys are always successful in Hindi movies!
    I like Padmini, but haven’t seen much of Ragini.
    Nice review, Madhu!

    • Fortunately, the stalker here is not the hero. That is what is really creepy – when it’s the hero who’s doing the stalking, and his stalking ends up making the heroine fall in love with him. :-(

      Thank you for the appreciation, Harvey!

  10. I share your opinion of Padmini and Ragini, Madhu. Not only was their Hindi accent awful, but they also had rather unpleasantly masculine voices. Unlike you, I’m afraid “Kalpana” did nothing to change my mind about them. :-) Though to be fair, that’s more because the movie turned into a ridiculously morose and melodramatic mess in the second half.

    • Such a relief to find somebody agreeing with me, Shalini! I don’t mind their voices (very high-pitched and shrill voices don’t appeal to me anyway, so I prefer altos to sopranos), but the accent jars on me. Maybe I should try and get hold of some of Padmini’s non-Hindi films, where the accent will not just not matter to me, but will be in place anyway.

      • Suchitra Sen had a horrible bong hindi accent but she was an excellent actress and that did not deter people from enjoying her movies or performances. Same with Padmini et al – their accents may not be good but they were good performers in terms of dance and acting. Many actors and actresses are from different regions in India acting in hindi films – their accent should not be a main criteria

        • To each his/her own. For me, it’s not mere emotive skill that makes for acting – it’s the entire package. If someone’s accent is not suited for the role, it’s going to be unconvincing. For example, it would be silly to cast Dara Singh – with that very pronounced Punjabi accent – as a South Indian.

          By the way, I do find Suchitra Sen’s accent gets in the way of my enjoying her Hindi films. I prefer her Bengali films.

  11. Madhu, as I said on Facebook, a very nice review (and thanks for the reference, too!). I particularly appreciated some of your amusing observations – e.g., how the image in the painting resembled a guillotined head (as I mentioned on Facebook), and I love the reference to Achla Sachdev as a “mistress of distress”!

    I agree that the film followed a familiar pattern in old Hindi films of starting out kind of joyful and ending up very depressing. But I don’t think it was “the most insufferably depressing and morbid melodrama ever.” On that front, it was probably easily surpassed by every other film from the late ’40s and early ’50s that starred Dilip Kumar.

    Regarding a comment of yours that Waheeda Rehman was the best southern-import dancer, sorry, but IMO, no way. :) Padmini is my favorite (in case you didn’t know) and was the most beautiful. I could almost agree with Anu that she was the best. But depending on what determines the best, I think maybe Kamala Lakshman was the best, with Padmini coming in at number 2. Kamala seemed to invest her dancing with superhuman athletic abilities that went far beyond Padmini’s, but she was also so graceful that you never could come away from one of her dances thinking of her as a mere contortionist. :) But, come to think of it, I can’t remember any Hindi films I saw for which Kamala was imported as a heroine; she was mainly brought in as a dancer, with a few small acting roles.

    By the way, you mentioned seeing clips of Lalitha but not films… Yes, I’ve seen a ton of dances with her. She was apparently the sister who danced with Padmini regularly early on, when Ragini was still too young to have such a big role. I don’t think I watched any of those early films all the way through (tried to, because some of them are online, but you know, Tamil without English subtitles…) There were quite a few good Padmin-Lalitha dances that came out in 1948. Here’s one:

    Coolone160, I can think of only three films in which Padmini worked with Raj Kapoor. You showed clips from two of them. (I saw Jis Desh… and loved it; I could never find Ashiq, but have seen most of the songs.) The third film is Mera Naam Joker. Oddly enough, the song that I think is the best was completely omitted from the DVD that I had, and I had to find it on YouTube. (Unfortunately, I know that Tom didn’t see this one either before he made that DVD – because I sent him the Mera Naam Joker DVD that omitted it. That DVD actually had a few problems – oh, well.)

    And finally, re. Shalini’s comment… That is strange; it never occurred to me that Padmini’s voice could be considered unpleasant or masculine(??). I have found her voice to be quite sexy, just like the rest of her.

    • Thank you, Richard. For the appreciation, those links,and the information. Kamala Lakshman had completely slipped my mind when I was commenting about South Indian dancers; though I did think fleetingly of Sai and Subbulakshmi – but, as you pointed out in the case of Kamala Lakshman, more as dancers, not big-time actresses.

      My remark about the film being unrelentingly melodramatic and morbid was written right after I’d finished watching it, so I was feeling especially annoyed. Yes, of course you’re right; the vast majority of Dilip Kumar’s films from the 40s and 50s are far more depressing than this one. What irked me here was that it started off being so pretty and romantic, then deteriorated into such tragedy. The stark contrast between the two halves of the film got on my nerves.

      As far as Waheeda Rehman versus Padmini are concerned… let’s agree to disagree! :-)

    • Richard, the song you mentioned above from “Mera Naam Joker” is omitted from the DVD perhaps because the film is 4 hours and 15 minutes long! Although I have watched it on TV when the satellite channels air the film…….

  12. A wonderful review. Although this film will not find a place in the list of my favourites. But I will like to remember it for its superb classical and other dance and song numbers. I never get tired of watching the dance duet between Padmini and Ragini in this film and the duet between Padmini and Vyjyanthimala in Raj Tilak and both of them are among my top dance performances in Hindi films.

    • Thank you, Venkataramanji. I agree with you that this film should be remembered for its songs and dances – they are by far the best part of the film. Now I must try and get hold of Raj Tilak too, considering this is the second mention of the film among the comments for this post. The dance to which Ava linked in her comment is superb.

      • Madhu, Raj Tilak was the Hindi version of the Tamil film Vanjikottai Vaaliban with the same cast. (It was shot simultaneously.) Made by SS Vasan, it had all the staples of his cinema: great dances, opulent sets, a total visual spectacle, in fact. Its music was scored by C Ramchandra. It took a lot of inspiration from The Count of Monte Cristo though ‘inspiration’ was all it was. It was thoroughly indigenised, and there were more than enough changes to make it a perfect raja-rani kahani. Definitely worth a watch.

  13. Interesting review and comments.I’ll look out for this film.
    I like Padmini both as an actress and dancer and don’t mind her accent. Actually the only accent from South that I never liked was of Hema Malini, there is a film called Razia Sultana where she plays the title role, seemed the wrong choice due to that accent, IMO. The choice of ‘dark skinned’ Dharmendra was equally bad.
    Compare that to Rekha , I don’t think anyone has mentioned her yet here. Can’t remember anyone criticising her ‘accent’. She specially learned Urdu for Umrao Jaan , isn’t it? Wonder why Hema didn’t do the same or rather improve her accent.

    • Even though Razia Sultan was a big success when I was a kid (and I still love that song, Ae dil-e-naadaan), I never got around to seeing it.

      Now that you point it out, it does seem surprising that no-one mentioned Rekha, but that’s probably because I (at least) was thinking only of women who acted in the 50s and 60s – and Hema did debut in the 60s. Rekha came in later, though not much. I agree that she is another South Indian actress whose accent I cannot fault – her Hindi (and Urdu, in Umrao Jaan) are excellent.

  14. i havnt seen this movie but, i have heard that movies of that time were really good.
    i really appreciate ur article and want to came back for more.

    • ” i have heard that movies of that time were really good.”

      They were! The ratio of films that had everything good – acting, music, direction, stories – was much higher back then than it is today. :-)

  15. As usual I am late, what with too many things to take care of couldn’t make it earlier. I like Ashok Kumar but I only liked him as a hero when he was young enough to play one. He went on playing the leading man even when he was quite old and therefore I remember I just did not feel like watching this film when it was being shown on TV long ago. I do like Padmini and Ragini as dancers but as actresses I would give them a miss. Now having read your review I think I wouldn’t mind seeing it.
    By the way something you have written has made me realize that I have to write about it in my blog. What about? Well I will not keep you guessing it is about Padmini being coached at the time of dubbing that you have mentioned in your post. Well I will take up this bit about dubbing in my blog, what about dubbing? well just wait and watch. Let me clarify though it is not about Padmini or this film—- Shilpi

    • I know what you mean by Ashok Kumar playing the leading man even when he was quite old – Howrah Bridge and Ek Saal are examples, for me. Somehow, though, even in earlier films (like Mahal or Kismet), I could never think of him as the dashing hero – not the sort of person Dev Anand or Shammi Kapoor (or a lot of others, including Dilip Kumar in films like Aan) could be. Ashok Kumar always seemed older than he was – a little like Om Prakash. :-)

      I am looking forward to reading what you have to say about dubbing, Shilpi!

  16. Padmini and Ragini were great dancers no doubt but their acting and mannerism were very theatrical and rather fake, they tend to overact and used too much makeup and dressed in a very south Indian fashion with flowers/gajras in their hair even when the character did not demand . They appeared rather buxom and voluptuous even when playing young women roles. B.Saroja Devi (Sasuraal ) also somewhat resembled them and they all sometimes looked like Vyjantimala (who had shed her south Indian accent very fast). Vyjayanthi , Padmini and Raagini also acted in a movie named “AMARDEEP ” with Dev Anand and had some lovely dances and beautiful songs.
    To this Day ” Lovely Hema Malini” somehow still carries her accent even when she speaks English.
    Waheeda Rahman and Rekha are two great Imports from South who spoke “URDU/Hindi” in such a chaste and poetic manner and to this day Waheeda caries herself with so much grace.and dignity.

    • I agree. Waheeda Rehman is an especial favourite of mine, and I like Vyjyantimala too; Rekha is okay; liked her a lot in Umrao Jaan and some of her other 80s’ films. But Padmini, Ragini, B Saroja Devi, Hema and Jamuna (Pandari Bai too) just couldn’t shake off the accent well enough to be terribly convincing when they played (as they invariably did) North Indian characters. Hema, for me, is so pretty in her early films that I tend to forgive her accent, though! ;-)

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