…which could probably have been more appropriately titled How to Jump to Conclusions and Mess up Lives. Or Never Trust a Sinister Mamu. This is one Muslim social – a genre I have long admitted to being very fond of – which has been recommended to me so often, I’ve lost track of the recommendations. On the one hand, I wanted to see it because it has some lovely songs; on the other, the thought of watching Meena Kumari in one of her last few films – well, that wasn’t something I was really looking forward to with anticipation. But all those recommendations tilted the balance.
Bahu Begum begins with a song – Pad gaye jhoole, saawan rut aayi – which serves to introduce us to three of the main female characters of this drama [it also indicates that there’s something a little wrong with this bunch of young women – and the birds and squirrels of the neighborhood – if they’ve left obviously ripe mangoes still hanging from the trees].
But, I digress. Back to the women. The focus of this scene is Zeenat Jahan Begum (Meena Kumari, who with Pakeezah, Chandni Chauk, Benazir, Ghazal, and this one, should probably have been crowned Queen of the Muslim socials). With her is her dearest friend Bilquees (Zeb Rehman), and scolding them for getting drenched is Zeenat’s old nursemaid Kariman Bua (Leela Misra).
The house they live in, all peeling plaster on the outside and not a grand chandelier in sight on the inside, is evidence enough of the state of this household. As Zeenat teasingly admonishes Kariman Bua when the old woman asks if she should make khichdi: “Bua, khichdi nahin, pulao kaha karo. Aakhir kuchh toh nawabi ki shaan tapakna chaahiye khaane se.” (“Bua, don’t say ‘khichdi’; say ‘pulao’. Let some of the grandeur of our being nawabs drip from what you say”).
Zeenat’s father, Nawab Sultan Miyan (DK Sapru) is genteel and polished, but yes – woefully penurious, and incapable of eventual recovery. He has, in what probably appeared as an initial push at making some money, rented out half of the haveli to Achhan (Johnny Walker), but since Achhan hasn’t paid one naya paisa of the rent in all these months, that has come to naught, too.
Achhan’s being their tenant, however, has proved fortuitous for Zeenat, because the man she loves – and is loved by, Yusuf (Pradeep Kumar) is Achhan’s best friend.
Shortly after the monsoon song, Yusuf comes along, ostensibly to meet Achhan, but in reality for a quick tête-a-tête with Zeenat. [They make a somewhat astonishing couple, as far as looks go: Yusuf’s eye shadow is definitely darker than Zeenat’s…
though she comes close to rivalling him in the ‘formidable eye brows’ department].
Yusuf has met Zeenat several times already, but their meetings have always been these hurried and furtive types; he’s now getting restive, and with Achhan’s help [and a rather lunatic – but effective – plan, involving Yusuf dressing up as a ghost to frighten away Kariman Bua], finally manages to get a date with Zeenat. They meet in a garden, and Zeenat brings Bilquees along as chaperone [not that –as she assures Yusuf – she doubts his integrity. Actually, this is just a ploy on the part of the writer to make sure Bilquees knows what Yusuf looks like].
Yusuf begs Zeenat to marry him, and Zeenat shyly suggests he ask her father. Yes, of course; why didn’t he think of that earlier? says Yusuf, and decides to get down to business straightaway – by appealing to Achhan, asking him to speak to Yusuf’s Mamu (his maternal uncle), Mir Qurban Ali (Balam), to go to Nawab Sahib with a proposal on behalf of Yusuf. [Convoluted way of doing things, but anyway].
On to this Mamu, now: he is in charge of Yusuf’s considerable fortune until Yusuf gets married. [Idiotic provision in the will of Yusuf’s father, and Yusuf is too gullible to realise that this is not going to make Mamu jaan, who has been surreptitiously beating it up on Yusuf’s wealth all these years, to be kindly disposed towards Yusuf’s marriage. Whether to Zeenat or anybody]. Achhan, conscientious and loyal as ever, goes off to plead with Mamu, and Mamu – a wolf in sheep’s clothing – pretends that nothing will give him greater joy than to arrange Yusuf’s wedding with Zeenat. He assures Achhan that he will attend to the matter right away. Not, of course, with any intention of doing so.
The scene now shifts to another lot of people: Nawab Sikandar Mirza (Ashok Kumar, like Meena Kumari, a firm fixture in Muslim socials) and his younger sister, Suraiya (Naaz, looking very pretty). Suraiya’s dearest wish is for a bhabhi: her brother is much older than her, and ever since Suraiya was left motherless as a child, she has longed for a bhabhi to be a mother to her. Only, Sikandar Mirza hasn’t been very obliging all these years. Suraiya, now close to giving up hope, has begun to settle for jewellery instead. Where are the earrings you’d promised me?
So Sikandar Mirza, driven by filial duty [and completely unaware that fate waits around the corner, cudgel in hand], goes to the jeweller’s…
… where, as luck would have it, Zeenat too has come, accompanying Bilquees, who wants to select jewellery for her sister’s wedding. As luck would have, it, too, Zeenat — with her burqa turned up, revealing her face – is sitting right in front of the narrow gap between two curtains. Nawab Sikandar Mirza, sitting outside, happens to glance up, sees Zeenat, and is smitten (though she notices him and quickly turns away).
Sikandar Mirza is so smitten that he immediately collars an acquaintance and enlists his help in finding out who the unknown lady is. The man, following Zeenat, soon loses sight of the women, but has the good fortune to land up at Achhan’s home, where – in the presence of Achhan’s landlord (who, if you remember, is Zeenat’s father) discovers who Nawab Sikandar Mirza’s mysterious beloved is.
Things move very swiftly then. Soon, all of Sikandar Mirza’s acquaintances know that he wants to marry Nawab Sahib’s daughter, and a delegation, deputed by Sikandar Mirza, goes off with his proposal and many rich gifts to Nawab Sahib. Nawab Sahib is very taken aback and very flattered. And, of course, says yes. A thousand yeses. A proposal from the wealthiest and most respected Nawab in Lucknow is not to be sneered at. The wedding day is fixed for a week from now.
And now happen two crazy coincidences, one after the other, both of them highlighting the importance of not (a) eavesdropping; and (b) reading, into whatever you’ve heard, what you’d like to hear.
First of all, Yusuf – coming to visit Achhan – happens to pass by a curtained doorway through which he hears Zeenat’s father talking to Kariman Bua, telling her what a fine marriage proposal has come for Zeenat: such a very eligible man, so well-respected, so wealthy. Yusuf [who obviously has a pretty high opinion of himself] automatically assumes that this is him being discussed, and scurries off, delirious with joy, to thank Mamu for having been so good an intermediary.
Mamu quickly accepts all the gratitude Yusuf showers on him, and gives his nephew some news: there’s a business associate in Allahabad, from whom Rs 10,000 has to be collected – in person. Yusuf should go. Yusuf is reluctant. Unsurprisingly, he’d much rather spend time getting ready for his wedding; besides which, as he points out, he has plenty of money in any case; he doesn’t need any more. Mamu offers an excuse: he would like to give Yusuf a grand wedding present; surely Yusuf will not begrudge him that? Thus emotionally blackmailed, Yusuf agrees.
Meanwhile, back in her own haveli, Zeenat has discovered loads of fine clothing and jewellery lying on her bed; asking Kariman Bua what this is all about, she is told that her wedding has been fixed – and, as a result of a series of misinterpreted questions, answers, statements, and more eavesdropping, ends up under the false belief that her groom-to-be is Yusuf. More delirious joy ensues.
In the course of the next few days, Achhan, by some odd coincidence, discovers the truth: that Mamu has been bluffing all this while and Zeenat’s match has been fixed, not with Yusuf but with Sikandar Mirza. Achhan sets out to try and put a halt to the proceedings – but the wily Mamu, aided and abetted by his girlfriend Shagufta (Indira Bansal), manages to have Achhan clapped into jail on charges of stealing Shagufta’s necklace.
On the evening of the following Thursday, Nawab Sikandar Mirza arrives with a splendid baaraat at Zeenat’s doorstep. Zeenat’s father had already begged that no women be part of the baaraat – since there are no women at home to look after them [Kariman Bua doesn’t seem to count; neither does Bilquees]. Oddly enough, there is a bevy of richly clad females hanging about the place. This request therefore seems peculiar– until later in the film, when you realise it was a means of keeping away Suraiya, who by dint of being the groom’s sister, would have expected to spend all her time glued to the bride’s side.
The proceedings get under way, the men down in the courtyard, Zeenat in her room with Bilquees – until Bilquees decides to go and peer down at the groom. She rushes back at once to give Zeenat the horrifying news: Zeenat’s groom is not Yusuf!
Zeenat is, as is to be expected, close to collapse. There is some time, however, before the vakil and the witnesses will come to her door to ask for her consent to the nikaah. She will go to the dargah which has become her weekly (every Thursday, what a coincidence!) rendezvous with Yusuf. He will be there, he will help.
Bilquees tries her best to stop Zeenat, but fails. Zeenat scurries off dargah-wards, and Bilquees hurriedly gathers up some pillows, leans them against the headboard of the bed, and drapes some bridal finery over the entire lot [where did she get another shahi joda from? Did Zeenat order two sets of gold-embroidered red outfits for her wedding? Just in case?]. She then pretends – to anybody who tries to enter, which basically consists of Kariman Bua and some female guests [Allah knows who, considering Nawab Sahib’s request] – that Zeenat is a little unwell and would like to be left alone.
Zeenat, meanwhile, unaware that her beloved is away in Allahabad, wanders frantically about the dargah, trying to find Yusuf. She cannot, of course, and finally faints, right there. Fortunately, a group of women camping out at the dargah come to her rescue and take her aside, where they watch over her for the next few hours [a fainting spell that lasts a few hours? Frightening]…
…while, back home, poor Bilquees’s defences have fallen before Kariman Bua, who has barged in and discovered for herself what has happened. Barely has Kariman begun to wring her hands and screech than the vakil and the witnesses turn up outside the room, accompanied by Zeenat’s father. The vakil and his gang of witnesses stand outside while the vakil asks Zeenat if she will accept Nawab Sikandar Mirza as her husband, blah blah [it’s a long question; very long]. When there is no response, Zeenat’s father goes in to urge his ‘shy daughter’ (as he imagines) to answer.
With, of course, the expected result: he is horrorstruck to discover that Zeenat is missing. His nerves are all shot to pieces, what with Kariman’s frantic babbling and Bilquees’s tearful admission of being an accomplice – though, she repeats (and this Zeenat had promised too, if for some reason she was unable to find Yusuf): Zeenat should be back at any moment now.
She isn’t, and outside, the vakil has already asked his question twice and is getting restive. Nawab Sultan Miyan, desperate, falls at Bilquees’s feet, begging her – though he doesn’t say so – to at least say a proxy ‘yes’ on Zeenat’s behalf [this old man has obviously not been watching too many Hindi films. If he’d done his bit of movie-watching, he’d have had the presence of mind to utter a high-pitched squeak of “Haan!” and immediately follow it up with a rumbling “Bahut acchha, beti!” in his own voice].
Bilquees, taken aback to find Nawab Sahib falling at her feet, utters a startled “Huh?” which the vakil [either a little hard of hearing, or getting too impatient; possibly both] interprets as “Haan”’. He and the witnesses troop away, relieved and happy, back to the rest of the party, and the wedding is accomplished. Zeenat – without ever having been there – is now married to Nawab Sikandar Mirza.
Of course, when the doli arrives at Sikandar Mirza’s house and he reaches in to help his bride out, it’s to discover that the doli is empty. His first thought is of his own honour: what will people say? So, with the connivance of Suraiya, he spreads the word among all the waiting janta that Begum Sahiba is unwell [Zeenat is acquiring quite a reputation as an invalid, possibly a malingerer]. The doli is carried right into the zenana, and Suraiya takes over, pretending to look after a non-existent bhabhi.
But how long will this masquerade last? Nawab Sikandar Mirza’s honour and his standing in society are very important to him; he must not let it be known that his bride, far from never coming to his house, wasn’t even present at the wedding. Yet, what of Zeenat? Zeenat, coming awake at midnight in the dargah and realizing that she has let down her father and broken her promise? She is, as far as society is concerned, married. But she isn’t, not really, since she wasn’t even there. And her heart is still the absent Yusuf’s.
What I liked about this film:
The story, by Jan Nisar Akhtar (who also produced the film). It’s a fast-paced, engrossing story, with some unexpected twists and turns. And, a special mention of the good use of humour. There isn’t strictly a ‘comic side plot’ in Bahu Begum, but the shenanigans of Johnny Walker’s Achhan (and his fighting cock, Dilawar) provide a refreshing touch of light-heartedness to the proceedings.
The songs, courtesy Sahir Ludhianvi and Roshan. Hum intezaar karenge and Duniya kare sawaal toh hum kya jawaab dein were the ones I was most familiar with (although I had heard Pad gaye jhoole saawan rut aayi too) before I began watching Bahu Begum; I did, however, discover a couple of other songs that I ended up liking. One that I’d never heard before Nikle thhe kahaan jaane ke liye, but it turned out to be lovely: beautiful music, and wonderful lyrics.
What I didn’t like:
The ending – while not something I outright disliked – was not exactly what I’d wanted. I can see that, going by the unspoken rules of Hindi cinema, this was something I should have seen coming, but it wasn’t quite the resolution I’d have liked to the mess in which the characters of Bahu Begum found themselves.
Still, overall, a good film, with some fine acting (Lalita Pawar, too, appears in a small but important role in the latter half of the film), good songs, and enough to keep you engrossed for the duration of the film. Well worth a watch, especially if you like Muslim socials.
Oh, this is Ava’s favourite film!
I remember watching this on DD in the second half of the 80s. Can’t say I enjoyed it much, but loved the songs then and still love them, particularly the qawaalis!
Your asides had me laughing till my tummy ached.
Ashok Kumar used to say, the films,w here he didn’t get the heroine, fail at the box-office. So did this one, I think!
Thanks for the entertaining review
Haan, its my favorite. Meena, Pradeep Kumar and even Ashok Kumar look decidedly middle aged. But even so, the twists and turns in the plot are very engrossing. Then there is good diction, good dialogue, good music, lovely ambiance, lovely music, awesome dresses (All pure georgette dupattas with thin tille wale kinari), that jewellery. I can watch it any number of times.
I liked the situation Zeenat finds herself in at the end. On one hand, she can stay with Sikander Mirza. She respects him. On the other hand, she promised Yusuf to follow him up to qayamat. Sigh!
Meena and Ashok have such a crackling chemistry – they are always on the brink of love – but not able to be a couple for some reason. It happens in many films, Bheegi Raat, Chitralekha, Arti.
“But even so, the twists and turns in the plot are very engrossing.”
That was what really impressed me! One couldn’t predict where the film was going. Unfortunately, I began watching it one night, and could only see it halfway before it was time to sleep. Usually I have no problem with that; here, I had a hard time drifting off to sleep, because I kept wondering what would happen next.
And yes, I loved the rest of it, too – the diction, dialogues, costumes, Johnny Walker’s character.
When the film ended, I thought the same thing too: how come in all the Meena Kumari-Ashok Kumar-Pradeep Kumar films I’ve seen, Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari never get together? Here, I thought, there was especially good chemistry between them and I was really rooting for them – but I suppose one can’t fight the old Hindi film rule that a woman must end up with the man she first fell in love with. And it wasn’t even Sikandar Mirza’s fault; he didn’t know she loved another man; everything he did was in good faith.
I just love the twin qawwalis in the film – Aise me tujhko dhoond kar laaon kahan se main. The Roshan – Sahir combo was always amazing with qawwalies.
Yes, they were brilliant. Barsaat ki Raat is, of course, the gold standard. :-)
The qawwali (there’s actually only one, sung at the dargah, though it’s repeated, with different verses, on two occasions) is nice, isn’t it?
Glad you liked the review, Harvey – and that’s an interesting tidbit about Ashok Kumar’s films in which he didn’t get the heroine! Interesting observation, and now that I think of it, seems to be quite true, too. :-)
Hadn’t realised this was Ava’s favourite film, though of course I know that she likes it a lot; she was the one person I specifically remembered as having recommended this to me.
I remember discussing all these PPK – Meena – Ashok films where Ashok Kumar does not get the girl. Poor AK was left high and dry in ALL.
LOL! Poor man. And I’ve actually always liked Ashok Kumar more than Pradeep Kumar. In this film, particularly, I ended up really wishing she would be with him.
EXACTLY! But alas it was always PK who got the girl :(
Brilliant review……Your reviews make me curious and eager to watch the film. I also liked the tongue-in-cheek asides that make you smile and giggle a lot. I will definitely watch the film.
Thank you! Do watch the film – it’s very nice. It’s there on Venus’s Youtube channel. And a couple of other channels on Youtube as well.
Many people you say recommended this film to you, well! well!, I am surprised. Back then Bahu Begum, was quite a flop film. The songs of course were hits, nobody that I know of disliked the songs. The near unanimous verdict was that the trio of Pradeep Kumar, Meena Kumari and Ashok Kumar were just too old. Younger actors and actresses had already begun to make their presence felt and nobody liked to to see actors who were well past their prime in lead roles. I saw it much later in life on television and yes I had to agree with everyone, I definitely did not like seeing the old lead stars. Personally I felt Naaz looked very sweet in this film, someone as young as Naaz (in fact Naaz herself) and some other younger male actors would have given a freshness to the film.
I agree, Naaz looked very sweet and lovely. And yes, the three lead actors were a little long in the tooth, but as far as Ashok Kumar’s character was concerned, I thought that fitted him – the impression I got was that this was a man supposed to be middle-aged, long given up even on the thought of marriage (he even refers to Naaz as ‘beti; often, and thinks of her as much as a daughter as a sister). On the other hand, the Pradeep Kumar-Meena Kumari pair was certainly far too old to be believable: it required a suspension of disbelief to swallow their pairing!
As for recommendations, I am not one of those who think that only films that are hits should be recommended. (In fact, I can think of several top-grossers and critically acclaimed films – like Mother India and Guide – which leave me cold). I think if a friend whose judgment I trust recommends a film, it’s worth checking it out, even if the film was a flop. I am reminded now of that mega discussion about Bahaaron phool barsaao! :-D
Naaz is the only one in the film who looks age appropriate. A young girl who should be married off. Yes, Ashok Kumar is supposed to be older, but he does look a bit older than that ;) And the poor fellow was made to wear a soul patch.
Apart from that, if you consider the deportment and diction, they all score hands down.
That’s true – on deportment, diction, acting – there’s nothing to fault there. And I liked Lalita Pawar’s character a lot too.
Yes. I did too.
Yes you are right, it is not about a film being a flop or hit, some of my father’s excellent films have flopped and some of his not so good films have been hits, but personally as far as Bahu Begum is concerned, hit or flop, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But then as I always say pasand apni apni khayal apna apna.
BTW this reminds me of something funny, around this time there was another film which was a resounding flop, it was Dil Dya Dard Liya, it was such a poor adaptation of Wuthering Heights that people after seeing the film would say,paisa diya aur sir dard liya or paiysa diya aur saridon liya
Hehe! That’s a good parody of Dil Diya Dard Liya (thank goodness, I’ve never seen it). Reminds me of when my sister went to see Khoya-Khoya Chaand (which was really pretty slow-moving and boring, as it turned out) and came back, saying, “It should have been titled Soya-Soya Chaand“!
But I agree on this: pasand apni-apni. I remember we had similar views about Anokhi Raat.
Madhu, thanks for the smiles. (No, outright giggles!) And you just concretised (wait, is that even a word?!) a rather nebulous idea for a post that came into my head today.
Honestly? I must confess to liking this film. And the songs. But then, I have a weakness for Muslim socials, and this was a particularly good one, even with its flaws. The lead trio – Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari and Pradeep Kumar did quite a few films together, didn’t they? Your review makes me want to rewatch this one. :)
“And you just concretised (wait, is that even a word?!) a rather nebulous idea for a post that came into my head today.”
I was also thinking the same thing, re: what you say about the Ashok Kumar-Pradeep Kumar-Meena Kumari trio: so many films together. I didn’t much care for Aarti, and Chitralekha I’ve forgotten, but Bheegi Raat and this one are good.
Great review, Madhu! This is the last of the quartet of movies featuring the trio of Ashok-Meena-Pradeep with music by Roshan. Which of course means that all 4 have wonderful music but they were also all “interesting” movies and I liked all four films despite the long-in-the-tooth cast. Poor Ashok, he lost Meena to Pradeep in all four movies. :-)
“Poor Ashok, he lost Meena to Pradeep in all four movies. :-)”
Yes, such a pity! I didn’t much like his character in Aarti anyway, so I didn’t weep for him there, but I did so want him to get the girl in Bahu Begum – I thought Nawab Sikandar Mirza was a good character, and what happened wasn’t his fault…
I should rewatch the other films of the quartet. Have mostly forgotten them, except in bits and pieces.
Like Ava, one of my favourite films too. But my DVD must have been an older one. The colours were not so bright, and might I say garish.
Meena KUmari was quite light hearted in the beginning, and still looked beautiful. I remember that pulao dialogue where she calls khichdi – dal pulao. LOL.
Thanks for the review DO along with the humour. And yes, I want to watch it again :-)
Songs are fabulous especially ‘hum intezar karenge’.
Yes, the colours in this particular print are downright gaudy. But never mind, at least I got to see the film!
Talking of Meena Kumari’s light-hearted dialogues in the beginning, there’s a delightful one where she’s talking to Yusuf and overhears her father return. In a panic, she tells Yusuf to go, and he asks her, “Haan, par ab kahaan milenge?” and she responds, “Agar Abba ne dekh liya, toh jannat mein!”
I liked the movie quite a bit, some great work by Johny Walker. Ok, now you have an old promise to keep now that you have seen Bahu Begum! :-)
Aiyyo. I have forgotten what promise. Jolt my memory, Karthik, please. Life’s become so terribly hectic these days, I barely remember things from one hour to the next!
You are to review my qawwali post on my blog. :-)
Ah! Yes, I will. :-)
Listen to the music in the titles carefully, Roshan used it elsewhere.
O-kay… will do, later sometime today.
I tried seeing this on youtube but didn’t work. It’s not there I think.
Various channels have it.
Here is Venus Movies:
Narjis Vintage Movies:
The Venus Movies one is the full version, since it’s nearly 3 hours long; the other two seem to be an hour and a half long, so have been probably ruthlessly edited – unless this is only part 1 of 2 or something.
Great review! Your asides are an added bonus :) “[They make a somewhat astonishing couple, as far as looks go: Yusuf’s eye shadow is definitely darker than Zeenat’s…” :)
Always wanted to watch “Bahu Begum” for its fabulous songs……. Agree with you on the point that Ashok Kumar played “Nawab” with finesse(à la Buland Akhtar in “Mere Mehboob”) ,he should have been conferred the title of an honorary Nawab :)
In my opinion the character of Yusuf would be perfect for other actor rather than Pradeep Kumar.Rajkumar( à laMere Huzoor) or Rajendra Kumar were suitable candidates for it;as they had already acted in lead opposite Meena Kumari.Naaz was an excellent actress.Her performance in “Boot Polish” was outstanding,wonder why she was offered supporting roles rather than the main lead. Johny Walker always amuses me :) He belonged to the breed of comedians who never resorted to cheap humour or double entendre.
“he should have been conferred the title of an honorary Nawab :)”
LOL! Not to mention, he also played the Nawab in several other films – Pakeezah and Dharmputra, for instance. His Urdu diction was really good.
I also agree about Johnny Walker – his comedy always genuinely amused me. In this film, especially, I loved his character – Achhan is very funny (and his antics with his rooster Dilawar are hilarious!), yet never cheap or crass.
Talking about possible candidates for the role of Yusuf, yes – Rajendra Kumar or Raj Kumar might have been okay opposite Meena Kumari, but I think there was also a problem with her casting. I think she was too old to play Zeenat, too. Perhaps a Sadhana or a Waheeda Rehman? I don’t know…
“Perhaps a Sadhana or a Waheeda Rehman?”
exactly what I was thinking of :)
Great minds think alike. ;-)
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I can see that, going by the unspoken rules of Hindi cinema, this was something I should have seen coming,
Madhu, actually, you shouldn’t have seen it coming, no? Conventionally, shouldn’t she have stayed put where she was? Because, you know, hindustani naari and all that? I thought the ending was rather bold for the time.
But then, there’s the old trope about how, if you’ve fallen in love with somebody, you end up with them, no matter what. (I’m thinking Dil Apna Aur Preet Paraayi, Hariyali aur Raasta, Preet na Jaane Reet, Apne Hue Paraaye, etc). On the other hand, now that I look back at these films I’ve listed: in all of them, the hero is the one who ends up married to someone else (who conveniently gets bumped off along the way so that he can then come back to the heroine, who has waited chastely and patiently for him all this while…)
Then, if you come to think of it, in Bahu Begum, Zeenat is not – in reality – married to Sikandar Mirza. I mean, yes, society thinks she is, but not really, no? Not that that seems to make a difference in Hindi cinema. Look at Saanjh aur Savera, where Meena Kumari gets married to Guru Dutt under someone else’s name, even if she is the one doing the pheras.
Maybe, maybe not. Hindi cinema seems to have two sometimes contradictory rules for this:
(a) If you fall in love with someone, the love will be forever
and (b) If you marry someone (and they’re good, not the nasty or depraved kind), it’s for keeps – as in Dil Ek Mandir or Blackmail.
Great review, with greater asides! Unfortunately, those were the best part of this movie. Okay, the songs were good too, and so were the costumes, and Ashok Kumar was excellent, and I was rooting for him to get the girl. Meena Kumari and Pradeep Kumar looked way too old to be acting like young teenagers in love, and I wanted to shake that Pradeep Kumar in more than one scene. Acting like a lovesick Majnu, and then in that last scene, I really wanted to push him out of the screen. With a younger, more believable lead pair, this would have been a great movie, but with these two, I am not surprised it flopped.
Thanks for the great review, Madhu!
Thank you, Lalitha! Glad you enjoyed my review. Yes, I agree that with a younger lead pair, this film would’ve been great. I still liked it (mainly because I liked the story), but Meena Kumari and Pradeep Kumar should probably have been replaced by a Sadhana and Rajendra Kumar (or a Dharmendra? Manoj Kumar? I don’t know – Manoj Kumar was pretty good in the one Muslim social I’ve seen him in, though I don’t remember Dharmendra ever acting in one of these films).
My irritation with Pradeep Kumar began when he asked Zeenat what he should do, and how they can get together, and she had to tell him that he should ask for her hand in marriage. Such a dumb guy shouldn’t even be thinking of marriage! I also wondered if he made it a habit to wander the streets, singing ‘Hum intezaar karenge …’ and how did he find the right house?
“I also wondered if he made it a habit to wander the streets, singing ‘Hum intezaar karenge …’ and how did he find the right house?”
LOL! Well, if Mala Sinha and Co. could wander through most of the Middle East singing De daata ke naam tujhko Allah rakhe in search of Dharmendra in Aankhen – and succeed – then what is a piddling little city like Lucknow to a determined lover? ;-)
Lalitha, you do him grave injustice. He has been told by Achchan, no, that Zeenat was married off to Nawab Sikander Mirza? Now the latter is a wealthy man, well-known in the city. How difficult is it to know where he lives? Give the man some credit. (Even if he was a lallu otherwise!)
p.s. ‘Achchan’ made me grin; that is ‘father’ in Malayalam.
Ah, yes. Such a simple solution, actually. *slaps forehead*.
I must have seen snatches of the film on DD. Thereafter, I didn’t make any efforts to look for the movie. I always loved its music. Now, with your excellent review my curiosity is piqued enough to watch it.
I thought the end conforms to the theory. Meena Kumari was not under the veil, when the lady was thought to have said ‘yes’. So the Qaazi would have in any case ruled the presumed marriage void. Therefore, the lovers unite, otherwise the marriage would have prevailed over love – recall countless films from ‘Hindu socials’ to Muslim socials. In earlier era, Munawwar Sultana and Noorjehan, were the Meena Kumari, who had to sacrifice love for marriage in a number of films.
“I thought the end conforms to the theory. Meena Kumari was not under the veil, when the lady was thought to have said ‘yes’. So the Qaazi would have in any case ruled the presumed marriage void.”
True, I would have thought so too. But the conversations between Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari (and later, her conversation with Pradeep Kumar, which Ashok Kumar overhears) seem to suggest that whether or not she will stay on with her ‘husband’ is a matter of choice for her. It is, of course, but never does anyone mention that if she does decide to spend the rest of her life with Nawab Sikandar Mirza, she will actually have to marry him legally. (This is somewhat similar to what happens in Saanjh aur Savera: Meena Kumari’s character, who is posing as Guru Dutt’s wife, is very distressed at the thought that he will consummate the ‘marriage’ and keeps putting him off until she is actually able to go through a marriage ceremony with him – still under an assumed name!)
This sounds like a lot more fun than I remember! I watched this back in the DD days and have never revisited it – probably because our B&W TV hid the true colors of the film. With their matching tastes in make-up, Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari were bound to end up together. Dada Moni had no right to come between a couple clearly made-up for each other! ;-)
“Dada Moni had no right to come between a couple clearly made-up for each other! ;-)”
LOL! Well said! :-D
But why o why do you insist calling it a Hindi film when we all know it is in Urdu!
Good review though, especially your asides. Must admit the end was a shocker!
As for calling it ‘Hindi’, that’s because I can’t be bothered with maintaining so many lists of films I’ve reviewed – I’ve already got a ‘Hindi films’, an ‘English films’, and a ‘Films in Other Languages’ list each. If I start making ‘Urdu’, ‘Hindustani’, and ‘Sanskritised Hindi’ and ‘Khadi Boli’ lists as well, I may as well give up writing and spend my time doing that.
OK. Point taken. Keep writing!
The Qawaali was quite similar to ‘Jee Chahta Hai Choom Loon” from Barsaat ki Raat(1960). Well! the ending also disturbed me. How far is it right that you burn upon an emtire mansion just because you are taken aback in love? and also manier other people were inside it…nawab sikander would have managed to get them out and then commit suicide…if that was right accordinng to him.
Dilawarjang was an entertaining character and a lovely film.
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Yes, the ending is disturbing and not quite right to me too. Also just pretty unfair on Ashok Kumar’s character – but he never did win, did he, in any of the films in which he starred opposite Meena Kumari and Pradeep Kumar.
Also meena looks lovely but a little weary and I’ll…Probably alcohol and liver diseases…Her charm isn’t to that level as in other films.
I wonder if this film was a hit or flop? Do you know madhu??
I’ve no idea how it fared, Maitreyee. Sorry.
Also Helen deserves an applause for her dances. the girl has replicated the grace of old feudal-dayed dancers and performers
And in one of her two songs…Her costume(both the upper and lower garment) are quite similar to madhubala’s outfit in “Pyar kiya to Darna Kya”. The turquoise and red color replications and the cap with a feather as well. But to agreed upon…She’s no where close to anarkali !!
Justt a trivial bit of info…I wasn’t expecting the lady emit such brilliance as mostly I hv seen her in western performance(loads of them in 60s films). Her charm is admittingly excellent.