Deep Jwele Jaai (1959)

It’s sad that, over the past year or so, barely a month has passed without my having to post a tribute to yet another film personality who’s passed on. Last month, with Eleanor Parker, Joan Fontaine and Peter O’Toole passing away within days of each other, I thought it couldn’t get worse. And I hoped that 2014 would be better.

But, alas. We say goodbye to yet another luminary of the film world. This time, the beautiful and very talented (not to mention wildly popular) Suchitra Sen (April 6, 1931-January 17, 2014), who made a mark in Hindi cinema even in the few films she acted in (Bombai ka Babu, Devdas, Mamta and Aandhi being the best-known), but ruled Bengali cinema.

Suchitra SenFrom 1953—when she debuted in Shaare Chhuattar—to 1978, when she acted in Pranaye Pasha—Suchitra Sen was the darling of millions, both Bengali and not. At Durga Puja, idols of Lakshmi and Saraswati were modelled with her face; Raj Kapoor tried (unsuccessfully) to sign her on for a film; and she was the first Indian actress to win an International Award (at the Moscow Film Festival, for her role in Saat Paake Bandha).

To pay tribute to Ms Sen, I was tempted to try and track down one of her Hindi films (Mamta was a favourite). I decided, eventually, in favour of a Bengali film: Deep Jwele Jaai (‘To Light the Lamp’), simply because I prefer Suchitra Sen in Bengali films. While I admire her acting in Hindi films, I tend to get the impression she struggled with the diction—but in Bengali cinema, she was in her element. And in this film, she is certainly the focus, as the tormented nurse in a psychiatric hospital where an experiment goes horribly haywire.

Suchitra Sen with Basant Choudhary in Deep Jwele Jaai
(Deep Jwele Jaai was directed by Asit Sen, who went on to remake it in Hindi as the Waheeda Rehman starrer, Khamoshi.  If you’ve seen Khamoshi, which is pretty much an exact copy of this film, you might want to skip the synopsis that follows and go straight to the ‘What I didn’t like’ section).

The film (based on a story by Ashutosh Mukherjee) begins at a psychiatric hospital where Radha (Suchitra Sen) works as a nurse. We first see her standing in the hospital, looking down at a car far below. A man gets in, obviously unaware that she is watching from above. Radha looks on, watches the car drive off, and goes to her room, where she sits down at her desk, opens her diary, and writes that today Debashish has gone. And that she has smiled and pretended that all was well.

Radha watches Debashish leave
Light is shed on this somewhat enigmatic episode in the next scene, where a meeting is in progress at the hospital. Colonel Dr Mitter, the chief psychiatrist (Pahari Sanyal) presides. It is mentioned that now that room #24 is vacant—with Debashish having been discharged—the room can be given to any one of the patients who are in line for it. Dr Mitter is adamant that he wants to do more research into acute mania, which was what Debashish suffered from (and was cured of). Is there any similar candidate in the list of patients in line for the room?

A meeting of the doctors
There is, says Dr Mitter’s junior, Dr Ghosh. There’s a man, a writer named Tapas Chaudhury (Basant Choudhury, whom Hindi film viewers will remember as Sadhana’s co-star in Parakh). We are shown a glimpse now of Tapas Chaudhury, who goes more than a little mad when he’s taken to see a stage performance and later assaults the dancer in the green room, accusing her of being an accomplice of Sulekha’s.

Tapas loses his mental balance
Tapas is dragged away, and many apologies made, by his friend Mitroda (Tulsi Chakraborty). A brief flashback—with the aforementioned Sulekha—shows us why Tapas is in the state he is in. Sulekha used to be Tapas’s girlfriend. She jilted Tapas cruelly and Tapas, unable to bear the strain of losing the woman he loves, has now (mentally speaking) gone off the rails.

Sulekha jilts Tapas
And so Tapas Chaudhury is admitted to the hospital.

Dr Mitter summons Radha (who, through a series of brief interactions with other patients, we see as a caring and well-liked nurse, good at her job and with an excellent bedside manner). He informs her of Tapas’s condition, and tells her that he wants her to take on Tapas’s case, as she had with Debashish.

Through this conversation, and the previous discussion among the doctors, it becomes clear that Dr Mitter is propounding what he believes will be a breakthrough in the treatment of acute mania. He talks at length of the auto-erotic state, of the Oedipus and Electra complex, and concludes that a man, driven mad because of the emotional trauma caused by a failed love (as in the case of both Debashish and Tapas) can be healed if he is able to perceive a maternal and romantic figure in another woman.

Dr Mitter talks to Radha
This was the experiment Radha had been part of with Debashish: she had been called upon to act a part—to be that female figure. She had succeeded, and Dr Mitter now wants to use her again in the same experiment, this time with Tapas.

But for Radha, even if Dr Mitter could not (and still cannot) see it, that acting with Debashish had become reality. She had fallen in love with him, and while her love for Debashish had cured him, he had gone away, unaware of her true feelings.

... and is annoyed to be refused
To go through all of that again—to pretend a love for a man, to put her emotions on the line (even if in this case she really is pretending)—is impossible. Radha knows it. She can never love another man; to her, Debashish remains the only one. Everything around her reminds her of him: a tune that runs in her head, a long-ago book that she had intended to gift him but hadn’t, because that was the fateful day she had found out that the very girl who had jilted Debashish had come back to him, and they were to get married…

Radha remembers a sad day
Radha refuses Dr Mitter. He is puzzled and annoyed, but does not push her. Instead, another nurse, Beena (? who is this actress?), who had observed Radha’s handling of Debashish’s case, is assigned to Tapas. Beena agrees, but as the days pass, it becomes obvious that she’s making no headway with Tapas. He firmly believes that she has been sent by Sulekha, and so he refuses to trust her. He does not eat, and his condition begins to deteriorate even further.

Beena is rebuffed by a suspicious Tapas
Until one day, Tapas suddenly loses his temper and lashes out—just as Radha happens to be in the vicinity. She comes to the rescue, and there’s an instant connect. Tapas is accepting of Radha; he trusts her, and she realises it. Realises, too, that what Beena has been unable to do, she, Radha, can accomplish. So, driven by her own conscience and her dedication to her profession, Radha goes back to Dr Mitter and tells him she will take on Tapas’s case.

Radha manages to build a rapport with Tapas
All in a worthy cause, and we soon see the very positive changes in Tapas. But at what cost to Radha? This is a woman who is in love with another man—a man who doesn’t even know how she feels about him, a man who is going to marry another woman—and yet she must pretend to love Tapas. What will come of this?

Radha begins to fall apart, even as Tapas draws close
What I liked about this film:

Suchitra Sen. Deep Jwele Jaai is, in every way, her film. As Radha, she begins the film sad but keeping on a brave face as Debashish exits her life. To those around her, she seems normal, smiling and going about her work—but the mask slips when she is alone, when a remembered tune brings back memories of Debashish.

As the film progresses, we begin to see other aspects of Radha’s personality, and Ms Sen makes each one of them immensely believable.  There is the Radha (shown in flashback) who was deeply in love with Debashish and convinced that he returned that love: a girlish, bubbly Radha, teasing and effervescent, so very obviously in love.

And there is the Radha, as the story progresses and she realises how Tapas is beginning to feel about her, who slowly crumbles. At first, her tears come only one at a time, hidden from others and in her bed at night. By the end…

Suchitra Sen as Radha in Deep Jwele Jaai
This is, all in all, a brilliant performance which deserves all the accolades it gets.

The music, by Hemant (who also composed the score for Khamoshi). While Aeimon bondhu aar ki… sister (sung by Manna Dey) is delightful and Aar jeno nei kono is melodious, it’s Ei raat tomaar aamaar (sung by Hemant himself to a tune Hindi film song lovers will recognise as that of Yeh nayan dare-dare) which is simply haunting in its beauty. Shilpi Bose tells me that the man playing Debashish (who is only shown from the back, and in one scene, slightly in profile) was the director, Asit Sen, himself.

What I didn’t like:

Shall I be nitpicking? There’s a scene where Radha comes to know that Debashish will be coming to the hospital. She’s very excited, bubbling over with joy, dressing up and rushing off to meet him—only to discover that it isn’t him; it’s a friend of his, and with no very plausible reason for having come to the hospital, either. It serves to show us what effect Debashish still has on Radha, but otherwise, it’s pretty weak.

Other than that (and Dr Mitter’s admittedly dubious experiment), nothing.

Deep Jwele Jaai isn’t a happy, cheery film, but it’s a beautiful, heartbreaking film about human relationships and emotion, about people not seeing what is in front of their very eyes, or seeing what they want to believe—and how what they want to believe, but which is not true, can wreak havoc in their lives. The scripting is good, the characterisation excellent, and the acting superb.

Comparisons, comparisons:

Khamoshi (1969) was the Hindi remake of Deep Jwele Jaai, and since it too was made by Asit Sen, it’s hardly surprising that there’s very little difference between the two films. Down to some of the frames, even. There are some differences, but most of them too minor to notice.

Waheeda Rehman with Rajesh Khanna in Khamoshi
Where the two films struck me as different is in their tone. Deep Jwele Jaai is palpably less melodramatic than Khamoshi (not that Khamoshi was melodramatic, but that gives you an idea of how understated Deep Jwele Jaai is). Basant Choudhury is a more restrained actor than Rajesh Khanna, and Pahari Sanyal’s Dr Mitter, while being self-centred and blindly devoted to his work, comes across as a somewhat kinder and less ruthless man than Nasir Hussain’s doctor in Khamoshi.

This subtlety is manifested in other, smaller ways (perhaps Asit Sen felt things had to be more ‘in your face’ for Hindi audiences as compared to Bengali ones?) For instance, there’s a scene where Tapas’s (in Khamoshi, Arun’s) dear friend comes to the hospital, summoned by the chief psychiatrist. He arrives, and the chief’s assistant—who doesn’t know this man—mistakes him for a lunatic, and Tapas’s friend mistakes the doctor for a lunatic. In Deep Jwele Jaai, when the chief arrives and solves the mystery, the two men involved grin in understanding at each other, and leave it at that. In Khamoshi, each of them admits to the chief what he thought about the other, and all of them have a laugh over it.

The doctors and a guest have a laugh
Or there’s the scene where Tapas/Arun is sitting, with Beena opposite him while she butters a slice of bread for him. Seeing the butter knife in her hand, Tapas/Arun goes a little mad. This, in Deep Jwele Jaai, is shown somewhat subtly; the knife is obviously the focus of the frame, since Beena is using it and Tapas is staring at it fixedly:

A scene from Deep Jwele Jaai
In Khamoshi, while that does happen, the camera focuses twice only on the knife, making it very apparent to even the most unobservant of viewers that this is what is attracting Arun’s attention.

A frame from Khamoshi
Which is the better film?

Both are very good, and the acting of both Suchitra Sen and Waheeda Rehman as the respective leads is impeccable. But Deep Jwele Jaai is, in my opinion, a somewhat more real, more subtle film. And that is why it gets my vote.

RIP, Ms Sen.

Note: Deep Jwele Jaai is available, with English subtitles, on Youtube. It’s in twelve parts; here is the first one.

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47 thoughts on “Deep Jwele Jaai (1959)

    • That’s a coincidence! But, then, just yesterday when I visited your blog, I was wondering if you might possibly find the time to review a Suchitra Sen movie one of these days…

    • Yes, Aandhi seems to be the one most people (at least those who aren’t Bengali) know Suchitra Sen through. I first watched it only a couple of years back; a good film.

  1. I had seen this film long, long ago, at the time Anokhi Raat was under production. Hemant Kumar was toying with the idea of remaking the film in Hind,i so the film was being screened in Mumbai, people wanted to have a look at it, it was a private screening. I still remember that day my father was shooting for Anokhi Raat at Mohan Studios located in Andheri a suburb in the north of Bombay. When my father realized that the film was going to be screened at Modern Studio, which was located right next to Mohan Studios, my father called up my mom asking her to join him, I remember my mum taking me along. Most of the people who were seeing the film were unit members of Anokhi Raat, the moment Asit Sen came on screen everyone started whispering Asitda. In the Bengali version you almost do not see Asit Sen’s face, those of us who knew him were able to recognize him, but in Khamoshi, you see a little more of Dharmendra’s face.
    As far as the differences in the two versions, I remember those days everytime a film was remade in Hindi the filmmakers always discussed how they had to do away with subtleties for the Hindi film audience, their contention always was that the audience need a little more explanation, hence the obvious in your face scenes. Fin In the Bengali version the film ends with Suchitra going to the hospital room, when the Hindi version was being made the makers felt, this would be too sad, the Hindi audience would want a happy ending so you have Rajesh Khanna rushing to the door and saying, Radha mai tumhara intezar karunga
    BTW Basant Chowhury was also from Nagpur both he and my father acted in plays together in their Nagpur days. He was not proficient in Hindi but was keen on a film career so he went to Calcutta and got a break in Bengali films. My father came to Bombay a sometime later.

    • I had no idea Basant Choudhary was from Nagpur. I really liked him in Deep Jwele Jaai, not so much in Parakh – even though the lack of proficiency in Hindi wasn’t too apparent in that film.

      Thank you for that anecdote about watching this film when Anokhi Raat was being filmed, Shilpi. (Oh, how I envy you!) That must have been quite interesting. I did note that except for one scene, one never really does see Asit Sen’s face, and even in that scene, it’s barely even a profile. I tried searching the net to see what Asit Sen looked like (just curious), but no luck, sadly.

      I remember reading that the “Radhamain tumhaara intezaar karoonga” dilaogue was put in to make it not an outright sad end, but somehow I never interpreted it as meaning that there was hope. I first saw Khamoshi as a child, and even back then, my first thought was that she’s gone mad, now there’s no hope. Ever.

      • These things used to be discussed at home, you see Khamoshi’s cinematographer was Kamal Bose who was my father’s very close friend, more like an elder brother, the relationship began right from my father’s first film Apradhi Kaun. He was a regular visitor to our home and he would talk about all these changes and how the end had been changed a bit to sort of instil some hope in the mind of the audience.
        Another thing today Mohan Studios and Modern Studio no longer exist, these studios remain just memory of my sweet past.

          • He took the place of the tauji my brother and I never had, he was just like an elder brother to my parents. There is something else too, when I was 2 my parents had, as is the custom, decided to get all my hair chopped off. Uncle was aghast, for he loved my curly locks, he came home armed with his camera to click a string of my pictures while I still had that hair on my head, well it was like having my portfolio shot. I still have those photos, rather cute if I may say so myself.

            • Oh, now you’ve made me want to see! Please share, no, Shilpi? Even if you send me – in a Facebook message – just one photo. I’d love to see little Shilpi, pre-mundan. You must’ve looked really cute. :-) Please, please!

              • As you know I have now come to nearly the end of my father’s blog, I have just finished a post for my food blog, after publishing that, I will start work on my post on Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Anupama. Thereafter I was toying with the idea of doing a sort of round up of my father;s career, with some more memories and most importantly my brief association with the film industry. Seeing your interest I was thinking should I do that post and post those pics in that post? I had interviewed Kamal Bose for Screen, I could talk a bit about him and the pics would sort of fit in. I think that would be a good conclusion to the blog. What do you think? If you think I am on the right track I will go ahead. BTW the cover photo that you see on facebook that is the one of my father with me and my brother was also shot by Kamal Bose.

                • Oh, yes, Shilpi! That sounds wonderful. I would love to read that post (and see those photos). And now you’ve got me so impatient, that I don’t know how I’ll last out till you do that post. :-)

                  That said, I have to admit my heart sinks at the thought that there may only be a limited number of more blog posts on your blog. It’s become addictive – I always read your posts with so much interest.

                  • Thank you so much Madhu, well it has to come to an end, after all my father did not live that long. Thanks to your interest I am all charged up, otherwise I was thinking of ending the blog with my post on Anupama and Satyakam but now I will have the post that I mentioned above. Please bear with me, I am just not able to give time to my blogs.

    • That’s interesting!

      Aside: I first remember watching Pahari Sanyal not in a Hindi or Bengali film, but in an English film – The Householder. Even in Deep Jwele Jaai, he does speak quite a bit in English, and his English is always very polished, the diction just right.

      • Luku Sanyal used to also read the English news on Bombay Doordarshan, later however everything shifted to Delhi and then the Hindi and English news was taken over by the Delhi news readers, which reminds before making her film debut Smita Patil used to read the Hindi news on Bombay Doordarshan.

  2. I thought of you when I read the news of Suchitra Sen’s demise, Madhu, remembering the conversation that we had about the deaths of actors and actresses. I was hoping you would post a tribute, and I’m so glad you chose one of her Bengali films. (I must confess to not liking her much in her Hindi outings – she seemed rather stilted.)

    Deep Jwele Jaai is a far subtler film, and like Shilpi says, it seems that one always makes the HIndi versions far more ‘in your face’ so to say, explaining things that are left to imagination in other languages. I see that often when Malayalam films are remade in Hindi; to me, the original simplicity is sacrificed.

    A beautiful review of a beautiful film, and a fitting tribute to a great actress, and a true icon of Bengali cinema. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Anu – I’m glad you liked that. I’d been hoping to be able to get hold of a subbed version of Harano Sur or Sagarika, but since I couldn’t manage that in the time I had, I decided to settle for Deep Jwele Jaai, especially as it has been recommended by several people. I’m glad I did it, too. Excellent film, and I love the subtlety of it more than I did the more spelled-out version that was Khamoshi.

      I find it interesting, too, to see the difference in Suchitra Sen’s and Waheeda’s Radhas. Suchitra Sen’s is a more controlled, less obviously emotional character, I think – she remains smiling and you only see the sadness in her eyes now and then when she’s alone or sinks into a sudden reverie. Waheeda’s Radha is rather more obviously sad all through the film.

  3. A very good tribute to this great actress of our times.
    Before I saw a Bengali film of hers, I knew her only from her Hindi films, where she seemed to be restricted in her dialogue delivery. And thus was left wondering about the general praise one which heard about her. But in the Bengali film, which I saw on TV in the late 80s, I forget the name, saw her really in her element. Wonder which film was that. I only remember her and not the story.
    I liked Khamoshi, when I saw it ages back. And I have heard paeans of praise for the original. But never came around to watch it.
    Thanks for this touching post.

    • I agree with you, Harvey, about Suchitra Sen’s ‘stilted’ dialogue delivery in Hindi films. I, too, had seen only her Hindi films till a few years back. And, while I thought she looked lovely (especially in Bombai ka Babu), I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Then I saw a few of her Bengali films, and I realised. Deep Jwele Jaai, especially, is – of all her films I’ve seen so far – a fine showcase of her acting ability, She’s really, really good. Stuart and other die-hard Waheeda fans will probably kill me for this, but I’ll have to admit that I think Suchitra Sen’s Radha was a better one!

  4. Whenever a Bengali movie has been remade into Hindi I have always preferred the Bengali version, perhaps because I am a Bengali. I have always related to the more restrained acting of the Bengali actors. Hindi remakes perhaps have more at stake financially, so they usually have more dramatic acting or more tedious comical situations. Even the songs are over-orchestrated. The production values In Khamoshi are certainly better, but on the whole I prefer Dweep Jwele Jai despite being a big fan of Waheeda Rehman and Rajesh Khanna and not a big admirer of Suchitra Sen.
    Suchitra Sen was, in my opinion, a very one-dimensional actress. Her close rivals, Sabitri Chatterjee and Supriya Devi, were more versatile and better actresses. I liked many of Suchitra’s movies but they were usually for her co-stars than her. The only exceptions I can think of are Dweep Jwele Jai and Saat Pake Bandha. Her dialogue delivery was stilted even in Bengali movies. She knew how to look glamorous on the screen. I prefer her acting in some of her earlier movies when she was more free. Once she became a star she would try to control the camera angles and close-ups. No wonder she refused to act in Satyajit Ray’s Devi Choudhurani when the role was offered to her knowing very well that Ray would not brook any interference.

    • Soumya, thank you for those insights – that made for interesting reading. I’ve watched only a handful of Suchitra Sen’s Bengali films (and, since I understand only snatches of Bengali – one word here, one there – I would never have been able to tell whether her dialogue delivery was any better than it was in Hindi cinema).

      “Once she became a star she would try to control the camera angles and close-ups.”

      Ah. :-) Same old, same old. Not an uncommon problem, no? Many examples of in Hindi cinema, too.

      Thank you for the Saat Paake Bandha recommendation. When I heard she got the Moscow Film Fest award for it, it made me want to watch it; now even more.

  5. I had watched quite a few Bengali films in which Suchitra acted opposite Uttam and Ashok Kumar.I had seen “Deep Jwele Jaai” before seeing its Hindi remake
    “Khamoshi”.Suchitra Sen gave a outstanding performance in it.Her expressions,the grief which she faces after being used as a “guinea pig” of her senior’s research into acute mania;are so convincing and heart wrenching.The look in her eyes in screenshot #12,just goes to show her dilemma. In “Bombai ka Babu” her puzzled look as she couldn’t comprehend why her “brother” is behaving with her in such a way,shows her excellent skills as an actress.Her eyes were expressive enough that she didn’t needed much words to express her emotions.I agree with you that her portrayal of Radha is far superior than Waheeda Rehman’s.
    With due repect to Waheeda, on the scale of 1 to 10 I give Waheeda’s Radha in Khamoshi 8/10 as against Suchitra sen’s Radha 10/10
    Thank you for this superb post on one of the brilliant actress of Indian Cinema!

    • “With due repect to Waheeda, on the scale of 1 to 10 I give Waheeda’s Radha in Khamoshi 8/10 as against Suchitra sen’s Radha 10/10

      Yes, I agree completely, coolone160! Even despite the fact that Waheeda Rehman is one of my favourite actresses, I’ll admit that Suchitra Sen’s portrayal of Radha was more appealing to me – possibly because it’s more understated, less obvious. It invites the viewer to wonder what’s going through Radha’s mind (at times, for instance, it almost seems as if she is falling in love with Tapas). In Waheeda’s case, the emotion is there for everybody to see and recognise instantly.

  6. Agreed. Madam Sen was outstanding in DJJ … However, there are many up there with DJJ like Harano Sur, Saptapadi, Saare 74, Kamal Lata [www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI-U695n4a4], Alo amar Alo that are etched in Bengalis’ minds – some pics of these [http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bengali/movies/15-of-Suchitra-Sens-best-A-retrospective/photostory/28947514.cms]

    The Greta Garbo of Bengal was indeed an unmatched heroine in her prime and next.

    Just my 2 pennies.

    • And a very valuable two pennies, too! Thank you – you’ve given me a number of recommendations. Harano Sur, Shaare Chhuattar and Saptapadi were already on my to-watch list; now I’ll add Kamal Lata and Alo Amar Alo to it, too.

  7. What a touching tribute! Other than her Hindi movies, I have not seen her in Bengali movies, so it was interesting to find you saying that she was better than Waheeda in this movie. Khamoshi itself was. Too depressing for me , so this movie is not one that I am likely to watch, so it was good that you have reviewed it and saved me the depression! As each one of the greats of the celluloid world have departed, it has served to show how values and abilities have been changing over the years, and makes me appreciate the old stuff more. I also am thankful for all those like you who take the time to showcase the greats from the past.

    • Hehe! :-) Yes, Lalitha – Khamoshi is very depressing, certainly not the sort of film I’d watch for laughs. In fact, after having seen it once as a teenager, I didn’t see it again till a couple of years back, when I reviewed it. I just couldn’t muster up the courage!

  8. Very nicely written..:)
    Stumbled on your blog while searching for best of Hemanta Kumar’s music.

    Being a South Indian, who hardly watches any movies, Suchitra Sen was an unusual fav. (Many folks down here don’t even recognize her!)
    Very few films did justice to her talent. Aandhi was one of them. I happened to watch it and was so in love with Suchitra Sen.
    I wrote out this in my blog http://dimpsdawns.blogspot.in/2012/06/aandhi.html in her tribute.
    Suchitra Sen’s personality and the way she carried herself was evident on screen. She may not have been the greatest actress but her beauty and charm were ethereal.
    I ended up watching many bengali movies of hers, after this.

    I loved your comparison and the insights given in some of the comments above : on the differences in the Hindi and original regional version of the same movie.
    Mrs.Sen’s Uttar Falguni (in bengali) and Mamta (in hindi) was another example of Asit Sen’s bengali to hindi frame-by-frame migration :) Of course, the latter got a big boost because of Ashok Kumar. As expected, the former was subtle and understated :)

    Have been reading quite a bit of her – whatever little snippets that the media manages to extract and beautiful tributes like yours’ really keep her memories alive.

    • Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting! I’m off to read your blog post after this. :-)

      I can’t say I’ve seen very much of Suchitra Sen’s acting. Among her Hindi films, I’ve seen Aandhi, Bombai ka Babu, Mamta, Devdas and Sarhad; and among her Bengali films I’ve seen Agnipariksha, Chaowa-Pawa and this one. Not a lot. She’s gorgeous, but I do think her acting ranges from the average (in Bombai ka Babu or the other two Bengali films I’ve mentioned) to excellent (Deep Jwele Jaai.

      Interesting to note that she seems to have acted in a fair number of Bengali films that were remakes or were remade – Harano Sur, Deep Jwele Jaai, Sagarika, Agnipariksha, Chaowa-Pawa – and now you tell me, Uttar Falguni. I must look out for that. Thank you!

      • I too haven’t seen tooooooooo many. Just a few of them cuz its difficult to find black and white bengali movies with sub-titles.
        But she sure had a charm!
        What really intrigues and fascinates me is the decision she took: of going into hard-core seclusion after reigning as superstar for 3 decades.

        • Yes, like Greta Garbo. ;-) I suppose there could be various reasons for retreating into near-complete seclusion like that. For instance, someone who’s very vain about their looks might be horrified to find that they can’t stem the tide of age any more, and want their fans to remember them only as they were in their prime. For others, it might even be a case of burnout.

          Who knows? I’m just surmising…

  9. The only film of Suchithra I have seen is Bombai ka babu. She is very beautiful and fine actor. Savithri of south acted the role played by suchithra and waheeda.some critics say Savithri excelled both.since south films are not as popular as Hindi and Bengali films Savithri was never mentioned in comparison
    Thank you for your touching.
    Perhaps another is in line if you care to
    Telugu industries doyen Akkinene Nageswara Rao passes away today.he is the greatest actor and has 75 years of longest career.

    • Yes, I’d heard that Deep Jwele Jaai was also remade in Telugu. I wanted to see the film, but it seems to be almost impossible to get hold of old Telugu films (or for that matter, just about any old non-Hindi film, except posisbly Bengali) with English subtitles.

      That is the reason why I can’t even review an ANR film. I wanted very much to do so, but even very major films of his don’t seem to be readily available with subtitles. I searched. :-( I even looked to see if I could find the Hindi-dubbed version of Suvarna Sundari, but no luck.

      Anyway, I shall (at least for the time being) have to content myself with this lovely song from Suvarna Sundari, Kuhu-kuhu bole koyaliya:

      • The actress in the song was Anjali Devi another great actor and she is the wife of music director Adi Narayan Rao. Anjali Devi died in the first week of this month at the age of 84
        RIP for both ANR and Anjalidevi
        Madhu , I hope you soon procure a film featuring ANR so that lakhs of ANR fans across the globe will be happy
        Thank you

        • Yes, I had heard that Anjali Devi too had passed away recently. Sad… even more reason, then, to try hard to get hold of a copy of Suvarna Sundari!

          It’s such a pity that so few old regional films – including highly popular ones as well as award-winning films – don’t seem to be available with subtitles. :-( When last year I decided to devote one month to Indian regional cinema, I did quite a bit of research, and came across the names of what sounded like amazing films, including a Konkani one which had won the National Award, plus loads of mouthwatering mythologicals and historicals and crime thrillers… and none of them available with subtitles. Such a shame.

  10. Thank you Madhu for this beautiful review. ‘Deep jwele jaye’ is on my watchlist for quite some time. I recently saw another Bengali original that was remade in Hindi by Asit Sen – ‘Uttar Falguni’ the original of ‘Mamta’. Suchitra plays the lead in both the movies but I think Mamta was better of the two because of two factors – Ashok Kumar and Roshan. Where ‘Uttar Falguni’ scored was in showing us a more youthful Suchitra. The difference of just about four years in unfortunately quite perceptible on the screen.

    Suchitra Sen is one of my favorite actresses and the gold standard of feminine beauty – ahead even of Madhubala. It is a pity she chose to end her career so early.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked the review. You should certainly watch Deep Jwele Jaai (especially since it’s so easily available – on Youtube). It’s a great movie.

      Thank you, also, for the recommendation of Uttar Falguni. In the comments above, somebody else also recommended it and said it was the original Mamta. I must see it.

  11. I don’t think Suchitra Sen ended her career prematurely. She was in movies for close to 25 years and I think that is a record. It was a revelation that her daughter made her debut in Hindi films when she was 34 years ! By the time she acted in Aandhi, Suchitra Sen was 40+ and there are some actresses who just do not want to shift to character roles and prefer to quit when there is some aura around them rather than be reduced to play outlandish roles (like Shyama did in all those south movies being paired with the likes of Kader Khan. Case in point – Sridevi’s Masterji).
    Sadhana, Vyjayanthimala, Suraiya, Nimmi, Suchitra Sen – all chose to retire even though they had the talent to carry off character roles.

    Even Gulzar it seems had approached Suchitra Sen earlier but she placed a number of changes in the script and Gulzar ran away. Mercifully when Gulzar met her again for AANDHI, Suchitra Sen assured that she would not interfere this time and the result was a classic movie.

    I do agree with Madhu that the very thought of Khamoshi and the hospital rooms and the wards gives a sinking feeling and creeps.

    • That’s an interesting point you make, Bhagyalakshmi. I do agree that it’s very likely Suchitra Sen wanted to be remembered in a certain way and so she retreated from the limelight even though she could have carried off (as she did to some extent in her role as the mother in Mamta) character roles as well.

      Among the other actresses who retired young, I’d also include people like Nalini Jaywant and Nanda…

  12. Great film…In my view, one of the best indian films ever made. Asit Sen, the director , was gem of a filmmaker who never got his due, though he made classics like Uttar Phalguni( Hindi-Mamta), Chalachal (Hindi-Safar),Deep jele Jai (Hindi-Khamoshi), Anokhi Raat, Panchatapa,Swaralipi,Swayambara (Last three in Bengali)..

    Coming Back to Deep Jele Jai, It was also remade in Telugu in 1960 as Chivaraku Migiledi. It ranks among the best telugu films ever and Savithri ‘s performance is this film is usually considered by many to be her best. Ironically,inspite of being highly acclaimed, Chivaraku Migiledi flopped at the box-office.

    A tamil remake of DJJ too exists but right now, its name is escaping my mind. Other language versions of DJJ too might exist though i am not sure.

    Coming back to the telugu remake, two Hemantda’ s songs were also retained from the bengali one.. Here are they-

    1) Sudhavol Suhasini

    The bangla Original Ei Raat Tomar Amar

    Of course it was later reused by Hemantda himself in Kohraa as yeh nayan dare

    2) Ainavaru Naakevaru

    The Bangla original Emon Bandhu aar ke ache with its hindi version in khamoshi -dost kahan koi tumsa

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