Bahurani (1963)

Inspirations to watch (and review) films come to me from all over. Friends and relatives are occasionally badgered to suggest genres; blog readers’ requests and recommendations (some of them, alas, long-pending) are taken into consideration. And, sometimes, I get inspired by the most outlandish of things. For instance, this film—which I first watched years ago, on TV—jumped to the top of my to-watch list because one day, while washing up in my kitchen, I was reminded of Mala Sinha.

[And no, not because I happened to be scrubbing a colander].

Mala Sinha in and as the Bahurani

It just so happened that I noticed the brand name on my new frying pan—Alda—and remembered that Alda is Mala Sinha’s real name. Alda Sinha didn’t like her first name because her schoolmates insisted on distorting it and calling her Dalda instead, so she changed it.

I cannot make up my mind whether I like, love, or am indifferent to Mala Sinha. I adored her in one of her first films that I watched—Aankhen—but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I find Aankhen itself delightful in a campy, totally OTT way. I liked her restrained, nuanced acting in Pyaasa very much, and she was excellent in Gumraah, Mere Huzoor and Dillagi—among other films. On the other hand, in films like Maya, Jahanara, Ujala, and Dil Tera Deewaana, I’ve often found her too melodramatic for my liking. Or, at times (when the character she’s playing is supposed to be the bubbly type), just plain old grating on the nerves.

So, having been reminded of Mala Sinha, I decided to rewatch a film that actually showcases her acting ability, is about a strong female character, and is (despite being pretty melodramatic in places) not a bad watch.

Mala Sinha with Guru Dutt in Bahurani
Bahurani begins in the village of Shyampur, where a bull runs amok and goes careening through the village, scattering terrified villagers like confetti. Everybody races off in a panic, leaving a baby sitting bang in the path of the bull.
Fortunately for the baby, help arrives in the nick of time. Padma (Mala Sinha), the strong-willed daughter of the village vaid, runs forward and lifts the baby out of harm’s way—and proceeds to give the bull a talking-to. The bull complies and sits down docilely enough.

Padma puts a bull in its place
Quite a girl, this one. Or a miracle-worker, at any rate.

The scene now shifts to the house of the local zamindar (Nasir Hussain. You know there’s much angst and weepiness coming when Nasir Hussain plays a wealthy member of the landed gentry). Zamindar Sahib’s elder son, Raghu (Guru Dutt) is playing with his toys, along with his friend and servant Sukhia (Mukri) and his doting daai maa (Protima Devi).
Raghu, you see, has never quite grown up in mind. He lisps, cannot think beyond his toys, and has been saddled [for reasons I have been unable to fathom] with a frightful wig.

Raghu plays with his toys
Poor broken-minded Raghu is also saddled with a thoroughly nasty younger half-brother, Vikram (Feroz Khan). Vikram no sooner sees Raghu than he pulls out his whip and starts lashing out at the ‘paagal’ (as Vikram and most other people seem to regard Raghu). Raghu is, unsurprisingly, quite terrified of Vikram.

Raghu and Sukhia get a nasty shock
Vikram’s mother, Zamindar Sahib’s second wife Rajeshwari (Lalita Pawar, as evil a stepmother as ever set foot in a filmi household) is devoted to her vile offspring and loathes Raghu. Raghu’s only friends seem to be Sukhia and daai maa—even Zamindar Sahib seems to be one of those hands-off fathers who doesn’t have an inkling of what Raghu’s life is like, caught between toys and a whip-wielding Vikram.

Rajeshwari and her husband, the zamindar
Vikram’s cruelty knows no bounds. One day, out riding, he comes upon a group of peasants toiling in the fields. His angry yelling about them being lax in their work (and therefore, in paying taxes to the zamindar) makes one peasant (Nazir Kashmiri) speak up. Vikram lashes out with his ever-present whip at the man, who is rescued by Padma. She helps the peasant up, gives Vikram a piece of her mind, and basically tells him what he can do with that whip of his.

Padma faces up to Vikram
Sukhia has been witness to this episode, and scurries off homeward to tell Zamindar Sahib all about it. Also present at the narration of this incident is the zamindar’s Diwan (Shiv Prasad). Both men are quite intrigued by what Sukhia tells them, and Zamindar Sahib insists on going to Shyampur to meet this feisty girl for himself.

Sukhia tells the Zamindar and his Diwan about Padma
…and, having met her and discovered what a gem she is, tells her father (Badri Prasad) and Padma that he’d like her to marry his son. The vaid is too much of a wimp to refuse Zamindar Sahib (and probably thinks it’s a great honour, anyway). What surprises me, though, is that Padma—who has met Zamindar Sahib’s unpleasant son—doesn’t protest or look at all reluctant. [Perhaps, like too many women who are in for a rude shock, she thinks she can change the man once she’s married to him].

The Zamindar decides he wants Padma as a bahu
Zamindar Sahib hasn’t taken his own wife, Vikram’s mother, into consideration. Rajeshwari sees red when she learns what her husband has planned. No; she will not let him force Vikram into marrying a nobody like Padma. Zamindar Sahib tries to plead, argue and reason, but she doesn’t budge. And when he tells her it’s a question of his honour—he’s given his word—she suggests he marry Padma to his other son, Raghu. Raghu? Zamindar Sahib is horrified, but ends up agreeing that it’s the only way to save face.

Rajeshwari refuses the match
So the baaraat that arrives at Vaidji’s doorstep is Raghu’s—he is accompanied by his father, Diwanji, Sukhia, and a few others. Neither Rajeshwari nor Vikram come for the wedding. Neither Vaidji nor Padma realize, until the ceremony is well under way, that something is wrong with the groom. Vaidji is unable to come to terms with this, and it’s only when he overhears people gossiping that he’s “sold off his daughter to a paagal” that he yells to Padma, telling her to stop.

Vaidji tries to stop the wedding...
Padma, though, refuses to stop. She has already read out the mantras; for her, there is no difference between the first phera—which she has already taken—and the seventh, which she is yet to take. She will marry the man she has already accepted in her heart as her husband…

... and Padma refuses to withdraw
…even if it means that, when she reaches her new home, her mother-in-law’s welcome is distinctly huffy. And even if it means that her husband has not the faintest idea of what is expected of him. He sees that she is kind, and her kindness elicits a response which is rather like that of a child for a mother: Raghu confides in her about how badly Vikram treats him. He even shows her the scars of whiplashes on his back, and Padma is horrified.

Padma sees proof of Vikram's brutality
She ends up spending her suhaag raat patting Raghu to sleep and singing him a lullaby—and vowing to teach Vikram a lesson.

Soon after, Raghu introduces Padma to daai maa, and it is from daai maa that Padma comes to know the truth. When Rajeshwari married the zamindar and came to this house, she couldn’t be bothered with having to look after a toddler, so she began dosing his milk with opium. Raghu has spent all his childhood in an opium-induced haze, which is why he’s more or less remained a child, at least mentally. [Why that opium doesn’t seem to have affected him physically is left unexplained].

Daai maa reveals the truth
Padma sends for a doctor to examine Raghu. Vikram, hearing of this, comes storming in and intercepts the doctor as he’s leaving the house. Many threats and much bullying follow, but nothing comes of it—the doctor has already finished examining Raghu and has prescribed medication. And Padma, being the daughter of a vaid, is rigorous in ensuring Raghu takes his medication on time.

Padma looks after Raghu
She also begins to teach him the alphabet—a painstaking process, since Raghu has a hard time with it, and becomes frustrated and childishly rebellious. Also, like a child, he sometimes becomes very affectionate—and Padma finds herself in a distressing dilemma. She has tried hard to suppress anything but a sort of maternal fondness and sense of responsibility towards Raghu; his affection (which is totally non-sexual, as she knows) catches her unawares and rattles her, leaving her battling her own emotions.

... and is occasionally rattled by him
In the meantime, other things have been happening. Vikram has become besotted with a tawaif named Chanda (Shyama, pretty much wasted in a role which requires her to do very little except dance, simper and lip-synch to a mujra-qawwali).

Chanda, Vikram's beloved
Chanda’s mother (Manorama) and ex-paanwallah father (Agha) have got it all figured out. Raghu, as everybody knows, is nutty as a fruitcake; the heir to the zamindari (and all its concomitant wealth) is, in effect, Vikram. If Chanda can snag Vikram, the entire family can live in luxury the rest of their lives. They, therefore, start scheming and plotting…

Chanda and her parents plot
…not that it’s needed, because between them, Vikram and his stupidly doting mother are anyway doing their best to bring about the downfall of the family. He keeps going to her, begging for large sums of money to finance his debauchery; and she is too blind to see any harm in giving him what he asks for.

Vikram and his mother
Meanwhile, behind closed doors (which Padma has slammed shut to keep out prying servants), Raghu is making swift progress with his studies. As time passes, we see him going through piles of books, his hair and beard growing, and [in one of the cheesiest visual metaphors for the dawn of knowledge that I’ve seen], becoming enlightened:

Enlightenment dawns
What will be the result of this? Some people are going to be surprised, of course. Some will be not so happy. In the long run, the consequences will be sorrowful for some [and will allow some unknown artist of questionable talent to try and pass off a portrait of what looks like Madan Puri as Nasir Hussain].

A portrait that looks nothing like Nasir Hussain
What I liked about this film:

Mala Sinha as Padma. This is one film in which I really liked Mala Sinha, because she gets to act without being melodramatic—and part of that credit must go the script (by Inder Raj Anand), because the characterization of Padma is so good. She is a strong-willed and smart woman, yet without arrogance or pride. She has the guts to stand up to her own father-in-law and show him his own faults, yet when he admits to them, she has the grace to let him know that it is not she who has won, it is truth. Padma is a rare combination (in Hindi cinema) of a woman who refuses to be turned into a doormat, yet remains dignified, gentle, sweet and wise through it all. Mostly.

Mala Sinha in Bahurani
Inder Raj Anand also does a good job of showing occasional shades of grey in characters. For instance, in one poignant scene, when Rajeshwari’s husband accuses her of being a bad stepmother, she replies, “What was I to do? When you married me and brought me home, everybody about me whispered, ‘She is a stepmother. She will ill-treat the child.’ They expected me to treat Raghu differently!”  [This sounds more like an excuse, written thus, but Lalita Pawar manages to imbue it with a sense of reluctance and helplessness that shows her as being not quite the black-hearted villain Rajeshwari appears at first glance].

The songs, written by Sahir Ludhianvi and composed by C Ramachandra. If you thought C Ramachandra was good only for Western-inspired music, this may come as a revelation: of all of Bahurani’s songs, the only one which has the frothy feel of a typical Chitalkar composition is Umr hui tumse mile. The rest—from the touching lullaby Main jaagoon saari rain to the qawwali Yeh husn mera yeh ishq tera—are all very different, and good. Another good one is Balma anaari man bhaaye.

Interestingly, in a film where I didn’t think there’d be much scope for a dyed-in-the-wool communist anthem, Sahir manages to sneak in one song—Bane aisa samaaj, mile sabko anaaj—which pulls no punches when it comes to supporting the rule of the millions.

What I didn’t like:

Oh, the melodrama in the last couple of scenes. Truly cringeworthy, but thankfully not due to Mala Sinha—Padma manages to retain her dignity, even if she does come close to losing her temper.

Little bit of trivia:

Bahurani was remade in 1981 as Jyoti, starring Hema Malini, Jeetendra, and Vijayendra Ghatge.

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68 thoughts on “Bahurani (1963)

  1. Good review (every single aside in italics had me giggling)! I don’t think I have ever seen it, and maybe never will, due to a totally unwarranted allergic reaction to Mala Sinha.

  2. Feroz Khan in a villainous role?Quite intriguing;must see the movie.I like Mala Sinha despite her OTT and melodramatic roles :) .She is just superb as an erring wife in “Gumraah” .She also displays her humorous side and comic timing in “Himalay Ki God Main’……………….

    • Yes, Gumraah is one of Mala Sinha’s best roles – and the film had wonderful songs too. I must see it again someday.

      Feroz Khan actually seems to have done a few of these not-very-nice roles. Even in Aadmi aur Insaan, he’s an unscrupulous businessman who tries to ruin his own best friend over a girl. Similar state of affairs in Upaasana (where he stars with Sanjay Khan and Mumtaz), though he’s not quite so evil in that.

      P.S. If you don’t mind watching Bahurani online, it’s available on Youtube:

  3. Like Bawa, I giggled at all your asides, and, being equally allergic to Mala Sinha, I will pass on watching this again. (I remember watching it on DD in the Jurassic Era.) I will never understand Hindi film heroines – here is one film where the father is telling her to not continue with the shaadi because he does not want his daughter’s life ruined, and she has to come up with that silly excuse. Especially since she cannot have thought of him as her husband at all – wasn’t she supposed to marry the younger brother? Aaaarrrgh!

    Good review, though, Madhu. (And that has to be said? Why? [grin])

    • Yup, that was quite puzzling – why, having been offered a choice, Padma did not take it. But, then, it was puzzling that she accepted a marriage to a boor like Vikram in the first place. Her first encounter with him shows him up in a very poor light, and it’s obvious that she’s disgusted by him, so I’d not have expected her to say yes. Especially not, given that she’s been made out to be so outspoken.

      Whatever. I found it a fairly entertaining film, though I can’t understand why Guru Dutt acted in this, or in Saanjh aur Savera

  4. For somebody like me who has contradictory feelings towards Mala Sinha, you make me want to watch this film! All the accompanying comments in italics had me laughing as well.
    This was one of the favourite films for an aunt of mine, whose choices for Hindi cinema were as contradictory as my feelings towards Mala Sinha. So it might not be a bad film altogether! But more than that the couple of scenes you describe like the wedding scene and Lalita Pawar’s grey shades, make it sound really good!
    Thanks for this highly entertaining review Madhu!

    • There’s also an interesting scene with Feroz Khan, that shows he isn’t as wicked as he’s made out to be, either. And, even otherwise, it’s quite an entertaining film. Nowhere as melodramatic as a lot of the other ‘family dramas’ churned out by South Indian production houses (this one is a South Indian production too). And Mala Sinha, since your feelings towards her are contradictory (by which I’m guessing you do like her, sometimes), is good. :-)

      Watch it on Youtube, if you get the time.

  5. The review is entertaining, but watching the movie. Not sure.

    I don’t mind Mala, she is ok in many films.

    Why did the opium not affect Guru Dutt physically? arrey hamari pacifist ka kya hota?

    • True, true! Where would our dear pacifist be if Guru Dutt had been physically affected by his opium addiction? ;-) (Incidentally, he does look rather good when he overcomes it and emerges clear-headed and intelligent). Good acting, too – his expression is completely different from when he was, in effect, still a child.

  6. Well once again I am feeling a bit helpless because mum is no longer with me, I would have given you all the info regarding this film. Bahurani is itself a remake of a very old film Swayamsiddha. The word I think means self-reliant. I have seen the Mala Sinha version, but I cannot remember whom they have credited the story to. There was a very old Bengali film also called Swayamsiddha and I think it is based on a a Bengali novel of the same name. Mum would have been able to give me the details.There was Hindi version film it was made in 1949 and had Shanta Apte in the lead. Several versions of this film were made over the years. I think the makers of Bahurani were maybe trying to pass it off as their original version, that is if they have not credited the original Bengali writer. Shanta Apte was quite good in that version, I still remember her, acting, I had seen the film on Doordarshan. Inder Raj Anand definitely had lot of ‘insipiration’ to fall back on—- Shilpi

    • I can always count on you to add value to a post! Thank you so much, Shilpi. The thought had crossed my mind that this film may be a remake (don’t ask me why I should have thought that; I don’t know), but I didn’t bother to follow up on that. I’ve just rewatched the opening credits, and yes, they don’t give any credit to the original version either.

      By the way, I searched around for Swayamsiddha and found this film, from 1975, on Youtube:

      Is this the one you were talking about? It’s not very old (well, not by the standards we seem to use!), but still.

      • Thanks Madhu and no, this one is a much later version, this one had Ranjit Mallick and Mithu Mukherjee, who were the stars of the 70s, the one I am talking about should be the late forties, the Shanta Apte Hindi version itself was 1949 and it came after the Bengali one. I was trying to read the credits in this one to find out the story writer’s name, unfortunately, the credits appear to be a bit smudged and stylized and I have little trouble reading stylized Bengali. I find it difficult to decipher the letters of the Bengali alphabet when they are in a stylized form. By the way, Bahurani is more or less a scene by scene copy of the original, right from the beginning. In fact Shanta Apte was very good in that role.

        • Yes, I believe this film was from 1975 or so.

          I would love to watch the Shanta Apte version. I’ve seen her only in a few scenes (and part of a song) from Manoos, and I loved her. If you remember what the name of the film was, do let me know!

          • P.S. I discovered – thanks to a comment further on – the name of the Shanta Apte film. It is Swayamsiddha. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be available, though there are some songs – audio only – on Youtube. Here’s one, in Talat’s voice:

                • Yes the novel is Swayamsiddha by Manilal Gangopadhyay,a very promising writer, who unfortunately died very young. Manilal was Tagore’s grandson-in-law. His brother Motilal was a writer too.

                  The first film version of this novel was by Naresh Mitra in 1947. That film was in bangla and was a big hit. Two years later it was remade in Hindi by Samar Das with an incredible performance by Shanta Apte . The film flopped though. But it did won great acclaim.

                  In 1955, came the great Telugu classic ‘Ardhangi’ starring Savitri And ANR. I haven’t seen the first two versions of this novel, but i have seen Ardhangi, which i found to be better then Bahurani. Anyways, the super success of Ardhangi lead the south indian producer to remake the film in hindi as bahurani. And Bahurani too hit the bull’s eye at the BO.

                  As for Guru dutt doing this film, i think the basic reason was in Bollywood, nobody could play the Bengali Babu type of hero better than Guru Dutt. Sahib biwi aur ghulam, Sautela Bhai, Bahurani and even Pyaasa to a great extent, bear testimony to this fact. Incredibly , all these four films had their inspiration from Bengali Literature. And Guru Dutt, Like Dev Anand was known for his literary tastes in cinema.

                  • That’s an interesting insight into why Guru Dutt played that role, and now that you say it, I agree. He does do the Bangali babu well. Of course, there were people like Pradeep Kumar and Biswajeet (the latter in somewhat later years) and Ashok Kumar, but Guru Dutt somehow personified that figure…

                    Now I want to watch Ardhangi!

                    • Pradeep Kumar and Biswajeet were never convincing as bangali babu type hero in their films. Their forte was the royal prince and the boy next door\spooked hero, respectively. Outside of their comfort zones , both of them looked uneasy and uncomfortable ( both for themselves and for the audience). As far as Ashok kumar is concerned,like dilip kumar, he is too great an actor, who can pull off any role. But even he didn’t do the Bengali babu stuff so consistently as Guru Dutt. The only actor who did the bangali babu role better than GD, is unsurprisingly Uttam Kumar. But then UK, rarely did Hindi films in his heydays.

  7. Well, I like Mala!!! She was really beautiful.
    But, if the colander didn’t remind you of Mala Sinha – what did? *very curious*
    :-D

    I liked her in Do Kaliyaan too, in addition to the films mentioned by you.
    As for the film. I saw it some years ago, and thought it was good to see the ‘strong’
    woman charactrer here.

    >[in one of the cheesiest visual metaphors for the dawn of knowledge that I’ve seen],

    The picture doesn’t explain much,, and I can’t seem to remember what. Was it light?? Entering his head?

    Very entertaining review Madhu. Thanks so much. :-)

    • Thank you, pacifist!

      I did explain what reminded me of Mala Sinha. It’s written below the first screenshot – a frying pan with the brand name Alda. :-D

      It’s been many years since I watched Do Kaliyaan, so I don’t remember much of it, except the very basic gist of the film. Another film where I thought she had a good role (though not without its flaws) is Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi. I should try and get hold of some of her Bangla films…

      Yes, you’re right about the light in that picture – it’s actually a lit lamp, a chiraagh, which flickers into a flame and starts burning brightly, superimposed against his head. Rather corny.

  8. I watched this movie some years ago and quite liked it. Despite the sort of silly filmi-paagal idea of arrested development, Guru Dutt’s performance is touching and sympathetic; he is genuinely loveable, not just pitiable. And I enjoyed the way Mala Sinha’s character embodies difference facets of Mother Goddess as the movie’s arc progresses. I can’t remember much about the movie beyond what I wrote in my own review of it, just that I enjoyed it and would not mind seeing it again some day.

    carla (filmigeek)
    http://filmigeek.net

    • There is no doubt about Guru Dutt’s calibre.He was indeed ahead of his times;who could forget his masterpiece Pyaasa,Kagaz Ke Phool.Its a pity that he did not live too long,else we could witness a totally different genre of cinema today…………

      • Though I’d say his acting and his direction are two separate fields – and very distinct. The films you mention (and I’d add Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam to that list) are indeed superb examples of his skill as a director/ghost director (?). On the other hand, he also was a fine actor even when he was not the director – for example, in this film. On the whole, though, I find the films he directed as being more impressive than the ones in which he merely acted (Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam is an exception, though – as I indicated above – many feel that it was ghost-directed by him).

    • I agree about Guru Dutt’s performance being a good one (one reason why I preferred him to Jeetendra, who turned the character into somewhat of an idiot child). Guru Dutt manages to show a touching faith in the people who do care for him – and even when Raghu appears to be simple-minded, he’s really rather like a little kid, immature and innocent – not moronic.

      I must go and read your review. Thanks for telling me – I hadn’t known you’d reviewed it too!

  9. I’m not the least bit ambivalent about Mala Sinha – can’t stand her. :-) And since Guru Dutt isn’t a favorite either, Bahurani” didn’t really work for me. But “Bahurani” reminds of another, more interesting, movie featuring the Guru Dutt, Mala and Feroz trio – Suhagan. I recommend it, if you haven’t seen it already. It’s not an “enjoyable” film but flirts with ideas and themes that no other Hindi film that I know of does.

    • Shalini, Suhagan had Feroze Khan in it? Are you sure? Isn’t that the one with Guru Dutt/Mala Sinha/Geeta Bali? Or am I thinking of something completely different?

      • I have seen a Geeta Bali Suhaagan, but no Mala Sinha or Guru Dutt in it. Terrible film about a woman who gets married, then (because they have financial problems) goes out to work – as an actress, if I recall correctly. Husband and society kicks up a huge row about how she’s a fallen woman, blah blah, and the film ends with the message about how a woman’s place is in her home, not out working.

        Blech.

    • Nah, haven’t seen Suhaagan – at least not the one you’re talking about (the one I have watched starred Geeta Bali, and was horrible). Will look out for Suhaagan; thanks for the recommendation, Shalini!

      • Since there seems to be a confusion about this Suhaagan 1964, starring the same people as Bahurani, here’s a song from it.

        They shouldn’t consummate their marriage for GD’s health reasons, Guru Dutt doesn’t know – only Mala Sinha.

        • Thank you for finding this, Pacifist! Now I want to watch it. :-)

          Reading your comment made me think: how many films did Guru Dutt act in where his character couldn’t consummate the marriage for some reason or the other?

          Bahurani – opium and its after-effects
          Suhaagan – whatever
          Saanjh aur Savera – reluctant bride (who does so because she isn’t actually married to him)
          Mr & Mrs 55 – annoyed bride who thinks he’s married her for money

          Interesting.

            • Now I remember! Someone had reviewed it (was it Sharmi?), and we had a discussion, Madhu, on why the marriage couldn’t be consummated. I think it was you who told me the reason. Or I have this all wrong, and someone posted a song from the film (was that you, pacifist?) and I remember asking why the heck she was crying during her suhaag raat… and was told it was because, etc., etc., etc.,

              (I have probably confused everyone with this comment. :( )

          • Poor Guru Dutt, the subject of such indelicate talk. :-D Anyway, in “Suhagan” he has an accident on his wedding day that results in irreversible injury to the um family jewels. No one tells him of course, so he spends the movie furious that his wife shuns his touch and Mala spends the movie taking cold showers.

  10. I was scrolling down, saw the tag “guru dutt” and was like, WHOAH. MUST READ. Because I thought I’d watched almost all of Guru Dutt’s movies except for Sanjh aur Saavera, and I never had any idea this one existed! Gah!
    It sounds very melodramatic, especially the bit about the opium. But I might still watch it, as long as the evil stepmother gets punished in the end :D Is Guru’s acting in this worthwhile, do you think? I am not allergic to Mala Sinha, although I have no great love for her. (I’ve only seen her in Pyaasa, and she was okay)

    • ‘as long as the evil stepmother gets punished in the end’ ,
      well, I am another one who wants to see that happening in such films :)

      • :-D

        There could be other satisfying solutions to that!

        Oddly, though I started off hating the evil stepmother, the way her character progresses (and Lalita Pawar’s acting added to the mix)… it made me more sympathetic to her. I didn’t condone what she’d done, but I didn’t feel annoyed at what happened, finally.

    • Oh, yes. Guru Dutt’s acting is very good in this. And while Mala Sinha’s acting in Pyaasa was good, she wasn’t a very likeable character there (not that that really matters). In Bahurani, her acting is good, and her character’s a great one too. Do watch – it’s entertaining, despite the melodrama in the last few minutes.

      And I can’t tell you what happens to the evil stepmother, because that would be a spoiler. But I’ll say this much: it’s a happy ending. ;-)

  11. Somehow I have always ignored this film. The review makes me want to watch this. Also, unlike the others I like Mala Sinha a lot.
    But I have watched and really liked ‘Jyoti’ , and I happen to be one of those ‘minorities’* who don’t like Hema Malini that much. People dis Sridevi , but do they know Hema did worse films with the same Jeetendra and others? maybe those were not ‘hits’. I didn’t like Jaya Prada and Madhuri Dixit some years ago either but that has changed. Not the case with Hema inspite of those films with Dharam which I like.
    *As a minority, I also find Meena Kumari , Waheeda,Nutan and Nalini Jaywant more beautiful than Madhubala.,just saying :))

    • I am also part of the minority who doesn’t like Hema Malini much, Chris! I think she’s very pretty in her early films, but it’s not as if I adore everything she’s in. In fact, I probably can’t remember a single film of hers that I actually adore

      I don’t remember much of Jyoti, though I do recall that I watched it not too long after Bahurani, so I was able to compare the two films, and came away thinking I liked Bahurani better. One reason probably was that I’m not a Jeetendra fan, especially not Jeetendra that far into his career!

      “As a minority, I also find Meena Kumari , Waheeda,Nutan and Nalini Jaywant more beautiful than Madhubala.,just saying :))

      Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder! :-) By the way, I find all these women utterly gorgeous.

  12. I forgot to add , I find the ‘plot elements’ of this film (and Jyoti) also in ‘Beta 1992’ starring Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Aruna Irani who, believe it or not, was the reason I watched the film after seeing the trailor!

  13. “Bahurani” is remake of Bangla film “Swayamsidhaa” (1947) directed by Debaki Basu (1898-1971). Nivanoni did the Mala Sinha role. Uma Goyenka, Deepti, Gurudas, Naresh, Partho… did the other main roles. In 1949 Shyam Dass directed hindi version of it with Shanta Apte, Samar Roy, Molina, Bipin Gupta, Hiralal…. The film is adapted from Manilal Baneerji (1886-1963)’s 1937 novel of same name.

  14. Thank you for the lovely post Madu. I think the story of Bhahu rani was originated in Bengali went to south and then to hindhi. Ardhangi is Telugu Bahurani made in fifties Akkineni Nageswara rao Savitri and Jaggaiah played the roles of Gurudutt. Mala sinha andFeroz khan respectevely. Despite her shaft stature mala is a very good actor but she is no match to Savitri.

    • Thank you, Epstein!

      And yes, Shilpi and Sazzad Qadir, in their respective comments, have mentioned the Bengali origin of the film. I will keep an eye out for the Telugu version – I do hope I can find a decently subtitled version of it. That is my main worry with most regional films. It’s so sad that so many good films are restricted to a very limited audience because nobody is willing to take the trouble of subbing them.

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