Baadal (1951)

The last Hindi film I’d reviewed was the Sanjeev Kumar swashbuckler Baadal. When I’ d begun watching that, I wondered briefly if it would be a remake of the Premnath Baadal, a film I’d seen too long back to remember much of. As it happened, while the later Baadal did borrow some of the basics—the rebel hero who falls in love with a noblewoman whom he should probably be hating instead—it is actually a very different film. Premnath’s Baadal, for one, is no poet, and instead of borrowing from The Three Musketeers, this Baadal is explicitly stated as having been inspired from Robin Hood.

Baadal (Premnath), when we meet him, is a strapping young villager [and Premnath sure looked very strapping in his heyday] who’s hauling hay for someone who pays him a small sum for the work. When the two of them—employer and employee—hear hooves thundering by, they remark that that’s Jai Singh and his men. Not a good sign, for Jai Singh is the local jagirdar’s man. Where there is Jai Singh—always eager to suck the lifeblood of the peasantry, after having snatched every last anna they possess—there will be suffering.

Baadal hurries home, and finds Jai Singh (Hiralal, who also played the baddie in Sanjeev Kumar’s Baadal) there, harassing the life out of Baadal’s poor, ill father. Even after Baadal hands over the money Jai Singh is demanding, Jai Singh isn’t satisfied.

A brawl breaks out between the two younger men, and in the fisticuffs that follow, Baadal’s dad receives a blow which sends him reeling. He hits his head, is concussed, and dies.

Baadal is one of only two people who attend the cremation of the old man. The rest of the villagers are too scared to defy Jai Singh, says Maina (Purnima), who is the other person who comes to the funeral.

She comforts Baadal, and since Baadal’s home and other possessions have all been taken away by Jai Singh [talk of adding insult to injury…], Maina takes Baadal to her home, where she lives with her brother Himmat (Agha).

She doesn’t merely feed Baadal and console him; Maina also sings him a song, egging him on to rise up against the injustice he sees around him. So Baadal, with the help of Himmat, soon becomes a Robin Hood-like character, who goes about terrorizing Jai Singh and his men as they go about terrorizing the countryside. [Where paupers like Baadal and his gang get the capital to set themselves up with horses, weapons, and a fancy Cossack-like outfit for Baadal is beyond me].

Baadal begins his vendetta by going up against Jai Singh himself, bursting into the palace, holding a sword to Jai Singh’s throat and spewing threats at him, before escaping. Jai Singh is thoroughly peeved, and soon announces to all the janta that Baadal has been hereby declared a rebel. If he’s found, he will be captured and executed.

Baadal, being Baadal, is not deterred by this declaration. Soon after, encountering Jai Singh trying to get fresh with a reluctant girl, Baadal comes to the girl’s aid. Because he’s in disguise [a flimsy moustache, coupled with the end of his turban, covering the bottom of his chin], Jai Singh—who seems to suffer from a severe case of myopia and/or prosopagnosia—doesn’t recognize him as Baadal.


Baadal happily relieves Jai Singh of some money, which eventually he passes on to the poor. The poor are all very happy, and Maina leads them in a song and dance which

(a) celebrates the general goodness of Baadal and his rebellion
(b) helps establish, for those who haven’t cottoned on to it yet, that Maina has fallen for our hero

We are now introduced to Jai Singh’s boss, the jagirdar. This man [an actor I haven’t been able to identify, partly thanks to those patently fake masses of hair] is a weak-willed, spineless sort who has absolutely no hold over Jai Singh. Baadal breaks into his palace and holds him up—at sword’s point—to get money, which the jagirdar hands over without any resistance. In any case, these days the jagirdar is busy fluttering about, worrying that his daughter Ratna, who’s gone to her nanihaal, has not yet returned. With Baadal on the move, Ratna may well be in danger.

… and she sure is. Himmat and a bunch of his colleagues attack Ratna (Madhubala) and her entourage [why, I haven’t been able to fathom, unless it’s just as a means of keeping their hand in]. Himmat, happening to glance into the carriage, sees Ratna and decides to kidnap her.

To Himmat’s surprise, Baadal is furious that Himmat has abducted a girl. Even if the girl is the jagirdar’s daughter. Baadal’s grouse is with the jagirdar and Jai Singh, not the girl.

Baadal therefore dons his disguise and instructs Himmat to come and pretend to fight him, Baadal, when he frees Ratna.

Ratna is surprised to find herself accosted by a stranger who leaps into her prison, tells her to follow him out, and then proceeds to fight Himmat, who appears on cue. Baadal, calling himself Baaga, quickly disarms Himmat and ‘rescues’ Ratna. This brief interaction has been enough for both of them to pretty much fall in love, so when ‘Baaga’ offers to escort Ratna home, she happily agrees. This allows for some pretty views of countryside, Madhubala, and Premnath, plus the chance of a song.

They get to the village, where Baadal guides Ratna’s horse to Maina’s home. There, he stops long enough to let Maina know that he’s masquerading as Baaga for Ratna’s benefit. This done, and Maina having agreed to play along, Baadal goes to the jagirdar’s palace to drop Ratna off.

The jagirdar, of course [thanks to Baadal’s disguise, in case you hadn’t noticed] doesn’t recognize ‘Baaga’ and is very grateful to him for having brought Ratna home. Ratna is very grateful too, and is busy batting her eyelashes at Baadal while Daddy showers him with praise.

The long and the short of it is that soon [too soon for credibility, actually] Ratna and Baaga/Baadal are singing duets and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes, while Maina, peering in through the railings at them, is heartbroken. She’s too good a girl to grudge them their love, though, so Baadal’s secret—that he’s really the rebel Baadal, not Baaga—stays safe with her.


Meanwhile, in the capital, word has reached the Maharaja of Baadal’s doings. This is worrying, so the maharaja sends a missive to the jagirdar, ordering him to capture Baadal. The jagirdar, who’s prone to fret, is busy pulling his hair out when Ratna prances in, and seeing Daddy in a flap, asks him what’s wrong. When she discovers what’s wrong, Ratna offers the perfect solution: Baaga, after all, had rescued her from Baadal’s den. Baaga can go and capture Baadal.

So, with nary a thought for her beloved and his life, Ratna goes off to Maina’s house—which, she knows, is also Baaga’s—to beg Baaga to capture Baadal. Baaga isn’t home, but Maina is. Ratna tells all, and Maina promises to go fetch Baaga.

She hurries off, and Ratna, all alone, suddenly finds herself assaulted by none other than Jai Singh, who has followed her in here. Jai Singh has been telling Ratna on and off how much he loves her and how much he wants to marry her. Ratna has been giving him the cold shoulder, but when she tries to do that now, Jai Singh pounces on her and tries to have his way—

—except that the Cavalry/Marines/Cossacks arrive just in time, in the form of Baaga [I’m calling him that, because he’s in disguise right now, moustache in place]. The two men fight it out, and with all that rolling about and bashing each other up, Baaga’s moustache gets ripped off.

Ouch.

In one fell swoop, Baadal has not only had his identity revealed to his arch-enemy, but is also less one girlfriend, who feels horribly betrayed. And worse is to come before the happy ending.

What I liked about this film:

The generally straightforward, fairly balanced script. There is very little in the way of distraction here from the main story, which is of Baadal’s rebellion and the consequences of it. True, there is a romance, and there is the ‘other woman’ who (not being a vamp) quietly watches on, suffering all the while, as the man she loves falls for another. There are even a few brief comic [or non-comic, however you regard them; I didn’t find them especially funny] scenes featuring Himmat. But the comedy and the love triangle don’t take up much time (the romance, at least, mostly plays out through songs), so the script can focus on the swashbuckling. While this may give the impression that this is some sort of proto-Dara Singh flick, it isn’t: it’s far more coherent, less complicated, and just generally more enjoyable than films like (say) Faulad, Rustom-e-Hind and Rustom-e-Rome.

Some of the songs, by Shankar-Jaikishan (Baadal was one of their earliest films; they had first partnered as composers in Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat, 1949). My favourite of all the songs in Baadal is the lovely Ae dil na mujhse chhupa, which begins softly and sadly before turning into a peppy romantic song.

And, how could I not mention the lead pair? Premnath is handsome, and Madhubala is pretty—not as beautiful yet as she was to be in later films like Howrah Bridge and Kaala Paani, but still beautiful. Both, singly as well as together, are very easy on the eyes. The rumour that they were, offscreen, also in love probably accounts for the chemistry that shines forth now and then (when it’s allowed to, considering the script doesn’t allow for much romancing).

What I didn’t like:

The plethora of songs. Yes, some of them are good, but there are just too many of them, and they keep getting in the way of the script.
Plus, as I’ve mentioned in the course of this review, there is some stuff that requires a willing suspension of disbelief: Baadal’s horribly idiotic ‘disguise’, for instance.

But. There’s eye candy, there’s a fairly interesting script, there’s a decent amount of entertainment. It’s fun.

Note: If you decide to watch this on Youtube, avoid the version on the CineCurry Classics channel (which is the SEPL version); the last quarter of the film has the reels all jumbled up, so it doesn’t just take some thinking to get the order of events straight, it also—of course—takes away from the enjoyment of the film.

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12 thoughts on “Baadal (1951)

  1. Sounds like fun; this one has been on my ‘to-watch’ list for so long, but your review makes me want to watch it right away.

    It appears that you did generally like the film, despite its flaws – your asides aren’t as scathing as they usually are. :)

    • Yes, it’s a fun film, very easy watching. Frankly, a lot of Indian swashbucklers – especially those Dara Singh ones – grate on my nerves. This one did have its shortcomings, but it was far better than most. Do watch it, Anu, if you can get hold of it. As I’ve mentioned, it’s there on Youtube, but the version I watched had the last few reels all jumbled up. :-(

  2. hi,
    as usual nice review!
    “Madhubala Hai To Kuchh Bhi Chalega” would have been my attitude, if i were born in that period!
    but this isnt “kuchh Bhi”
    it looks ok!
    My favourite song from the film , is also Ae dil na mujhse chhupa.
    very nice, melodious, soft song.
    it reminds me the song “ille Belle aare” from kali ghata
    of course, “ae dil na ” song is the earlier one, by same MD.
    :-)

    • Oh, yes. This isn’t kuchh bhi! :-D Kuchh bhi would be something like Rail ka Dibba (which, despite Madhubala and Shammi Kapoor, was a dud). This one is quite a lot of fun, pretty enjoyable.

      I don’t remember Ille belle aare at all – must check it out. Thanks for telling me about that!

  3. Hi Madhu,
    The minute I read your review of Sanjeev Kumar’s Badal, I had a feeling that Premnath starrer Badal would be next. Guess my joy when I landed on your blog today.

    I searched for the movie on youtube but all the versions of the film I can find run only for an hour and 51 minutes, 20 minutes of footage in the middle is missing. Do you have DVD or VCD of the film that has the missing elements.

    • No, I don’t have a VCD or DVD – I watched it off Youtube too (the Cinecurry channel). That’s 1:51 too. I didn’t realize 20 minutes was missing, though there are some cuts here and there, like scenes seeming to be chopped off, but not illogically – so perhaps that was why it didn’t jar. What did jar was that the last few reels (or whatever) have been put into the wrong sequence, so scenes which should come later turn up before, and vice-versa.

      I have a feeling whichever company did the video production, putting it on VCD, edited out the missing scenes and jumbled up the last half hour. Probably gone forever. :-(

      • I am a little disappointed that you didn’t notice that “Do din ke liye mehmaan yahan” was missing from the movie. I saw the movie last month on Shemaroo’s Sadabahar Hits channel that airs on Airtel Digital TV. It ran for 131 minutes but the version they have put on YouTube is only 111 minutes. If they have access to the entire movie then why not put it all out.

        Anyway, here’s a recap of what you missed. Maina leaves and Ratna breaks into ‘Do din ke liye mehmaan yahan’. But Ratna is not someone who sits backs and weeps forever. She sends her father to the Maharaj to put an end to the conflict by granting pardon to Badal. But, as expected, the Jagirdar mumbles and fumbles infront of the Maharaj, failing to get Ratna’s point across to the king.
        Ratna hatches another plan to bring peace to the land. She convinces Badal to surrender and her father and Jai Singh to grant pardon to Badal so that he is no longer an outlaw. Himnat shouts “It’s a trap!”, But Badal pays no heeds. He surrenders and is bought to the court, where the Jagirdar and Jai Singh renege on their promise and send Badal to prison. Ratna pleads but to no avail. She tries to break Badal out of prison but Jai Singh intercepts them. She puts poison in her ring and cries her heart out in ‘Rota hai mera dil’.

        That’s all folks.

        • Ah, I see. Thanks for filling me in on that.

          “I am a little disappointed that you didn’t notice that “Do din ke liye mehmaan yahan” was missing from the movie.

          Because I didn’t know this song – which I don’t recall at all – was in the film. To be honest, it’s been so many decades since I first saw Baadal, I’d forgotten which songs were a part of it.

  4. Premnath and Madhubala look so fab together. I have heard that Premanth withdrew gracefully when he found out about Madhubala’s growing attraction for Dilip Kumar who was his friend.

    This movie has long been on my wishlist and your review has reawakened my interest. And to strike a different note, my favourite song is “Mein Rahi Bhatakne wala hoon…”. Love it.

    • “I have heard that Premanth withdrew gracefully when he found out about Madhubala’s growing attraction for Dilip Kumar who was his friend.

      That is sweet. :-)

      Do watch if you get the time – it’s a fun film.

  5. I saw the Sanjeev Kumar Badal on Doordarshan. I do not remember whether I enjoyed it or not. This much I do remember is that I always enjoyed the fairy tale like costume dramas (as these films used to be described those days) that used to be shown on Doordarshan. I guess this Badal inspired, as you say, from Robin hood should fall in that category. I will however give this a miss as I did not like Premnath in his later years so I am not able enjoy his early films too.
    You know I used to love watching Gemini Ganesan’s films like Devta, these were very much like fairy tales. Devta is there on You Tube, you might want to take a look. I have forgotten most of it, but I remember I enjoyed it back then. I am old now but I still enjoy fairy tales. Another film in this category that I would recommend is Alladin aur Jadui Chirag.You will see a very, very young Meena Kumari in this film. I remember while watching on Doordarshan I enjoyed the special effects, I was actually amazed considering the fact that this film is very old. This is also available on You Tube.

    • I am not a fan of Gemini Ganesan, so I shall give Devta a miss. But Alladin aur Jadui Chirag sounds right up my street. Thank you for pointing me to it, Shilpi! I’ll bookmark it and try to watch it as soon as I can.

      Incidentally, one of my favourite ‘fairytale’ films happens to be one which also stars Premnath – Aab-e-Hayat. I loved that one, it had so much adventure (and some good songs, too). Plus. much prettiness in the form of Ameeta, Smriti Biswas, and Shashikala in the only heroine role of hers that I’ve seen.

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