Parineeta (1953)

Sometime during the 1990s, I pretty much stopped watching contemporary films. By then, there were a few channels on TV that regularly aired old films, and that was enough for me—in any case, I was in a job so time-consuming that I barely got time to sleep, let alone watch films. For several years, I watched a handful of films that were the current rage. As it was, the songs rarely appealed to me; I didn’t much care for a lot of the people who seemed to be the hottest stars; and some of the biggest films—or so I gathered—were action blockbusters, not really my idea of fun.

And then I watched Parineeta. The 2005 one, which marked the Hindi film debut of one of my favourite present-day actresses. It also proved a turning point for me with reference to Saif Ali Khan, whom I didn’t like before, but began to like (in some roles) after this one. It’s one of the few films in which I’ve not minded Sanjay Dutt. Plus, it has perhaps my favourite score of any film from the 2000s so far.

It wasn’t till much after I’d seen Parineeta—perhaps a few years—that I discovered that there had been an earlier Parineeta as well. Made by Bimal Roy, and starring Meena Kumari and Ashok Kumar. Just those three names in themselves are enough to make me watch a film. And a film based on a novel by Sarat Chandra, no less? I realized it was high time I watched this.

Parineeta is centred round two adjoining households, one occupied by the wealthy Nabin Rai (Badri Prasad) who lives with his wife (Protima Devi), his two sons (of whom the younger one, Shekhar, is played by Ashok Kumar) and the elder son, Avinash’s, wife. Shekhar is studying to be a lawyer, and his parents are trying to find a match for him.

Nabin and his family live in a grand mansion befitting their wealth and status. The home next door is far more modest, and is occupied by Gurucharan (Nazir Hussain), his wife, their children, and Gurucharan’s niece, Lalita (Meena Kumari). Gurucharan’s wife, Lalita’s maami, is a strident woman, overworked and trying to make do with very little, but occasionally snapping under the pressure.

But things are not unbearable. Whenever she has the time, Lalita runs off to Shekhar’s room, to study. Shekhar has been teaching her (English, among other subjects) and even when he’s not around, Lalita sits in his room and labours over her books. When he is in his room, the relationship between these two comes forth as an interesting one of a happy and comfortable camaraderie: he teases her, she teases him back. She calmly borrows a few coins from his wallet and wonders when she will be able to repay this debt; he—somewhat mysteriously, to Lalita—replies that the debt is being paid.

Meanwhile, other developments are taking place. Gurucharan, who is in debt to Nabin Rai (he had to mortgage his house to pay for the wedding of Lalita’s elder sister), is now being badgered to clear the debt or vacate the house. Gurucharan is in a flap; what will he do? With this family to look after, his little daughter Anu to be educated, and both Lalita and his own elder daughter Malti to be (sometime) married off, the meagre salary he gets is far from adequate.

But, little known to both Gurucharan and Lalita, she has acquired an admirer. Lalita’s friend and neighbour Charu (?) has her uncle Girin (Asit Baran) visiting from Munger. When Lalita goes to visit Charu, Girin notices her and is smitten. So smitten that it doesn’t escape the notice of his brother-in-law, Charu’s father (SN Banerjee), though Charu’s mother (Manorama) is completely oblivious.

Lalita herself doesn’t have a clue about Girin’s feelings, or that he has engineered a ploy whereby not just Charu’s family, but Lalita and Anu should all go to the theatre together. Lalita, all decked up, comes to Shekhar’s room to borrow money for the theatre jaunt, and is surprised when Shekhar seems huffy about it. He doesn’t say it in so many words, but Shekhar obviously does not like the idea of Lalita going off with this lot.

And Lalita, thrown off-balance by Shekhar’s reaction, is suddenly no longer eager to go out either.

Surely it cannot be that Shekhar harbours feelings for Lalita? After all, when Shekhar’s parents pinpoint a match for him—and a very fine match too, the family extremely wealthy and well-placed—Shekhar makes no objection. Though, when he does go with his elder brother Avinash to ‘see’ the girl in question, he comes back and has very little to say about the girl, except that she was laden down with jewellery… his mother and bhabhi realize that Shekhar didn’t like her.

Lalita, who had been excited about Shekhar’s going bride-hunting (or bride-viewing), to the extent of even suggesting what he should wear for the occasion, teased him about the girl. It had never appeared that Shekhar could have turned down a prospective bride because he loves Lalita instead, and Lalita’s innocent teasing of Shekhar, the completely natural, unaffected way in which she goes about him and his belongings, borrowing money, settling his cupboard, aware of every piece of clothing he owns—she comes across more as a younger sister, perhaps, than a love interest.

That, however, might have something to do with the way even Shekhar’s mother treats Lalita: Lalita has been in and out of their house ever since she was a child. She helps with the housework, sitting and cutting vegetables with Shekhar’s mother and bhabhi, chatting, running errands. Lalita and her cousins use a connecting passage between the two houses to come and go as they please, and when Shekhar’s mother plans a trip to Madhupur, Lalita is invited to come along too.

Lalita, now beginning to feel a little awkward around Shekhar, is still oblivious to Girin. Girin has already been warned—in a jovial, joking way—by his brother-in-law: he shouldn’t hold out any hope of attaining Lalita, because her family are orthodox Brahmins, and Girin, for all that he’s pretty well-off, is a sudra, after all.

Girin does not let that deter him. He soon goes off to visit Gurucharan, introduces himself (he hardly needs to; Gurucharan already knows about him), and is given a warm welcome by Gurucharan.

Gurucharan and young Girin grow so comfortable with each other that Gurucharan even confides in Girin that he wants a good groom for Lalita. Will Girin help him find one? And Girin (perhaps hoping that, by actively participating in this endeavour, he will be able to stall other prospective grooms?) agrees readily.

Of course, as soon as they’ve gone to meet the first potential groom, Girin shoots down his candidature: not handsome enough for Lalita. Shekhar, who has learnt of Girin’s growing intimacy with Gurucharan, comes visiting, and his dislike and suspicion of Girin is obvious, even though he’s genteel and polite all the while.

One day, Girin comes to meet Gurucharan. When he discovers how distressed the older man is because of the debt that’s weighing down on him, Girin offers to lend Gurucharan the money—three thousand rupees—to pay off Nabin Babu. No, no interest or anything; Gurucharan can return it as and when he is able to.

This momentous decision has several repercussions. First, it makes Gurucharan very grateful to Girin: he had never expected such magnanimity, and this is a colossal weight off his shoulders.

Secondly, it allows Gurucharan to finally stop cringing and cowering in front of Nabin Rai. He is able to hand over the money and clear the loan (though, as requested by Girin, Gurucharan does not divulge the name of the man who’s lent him the money). Gurucharan gets the precious papers of his house back. He also gets back his self-respect and enough spine to finally hit back at the nasty Nabin Babu and tell him what he thinks of his high-handed ways.

Anu, blabbermouth that she is, tells Shekhar how Girin has bailed them all out by his generosity, and the knowledge of it makes Shekhar uneasy. Gurucharan should have come to him if he was so in need. Shekhar also realizes that by doing this, Girin has further endeared himself to Gurucharan and his family.

A few days later, little Anu is busy organizing her doll’s wedding, and Lalita helps out, making garlands. Amidst all the hustle and bustle—these little girls take their dolls’ weddings seriously—Shekhar teasingly asks Anu for a garland for himself too, and Lalita ends up being sent to Shekhar’s room with it. She playfully flings the garland around his neck, and Shekhar, suddenly altered, asks her if she realizes what this means. Today is a day very auspicious for weddings. An exchange of garlands today between a man and a woman can mean only one thing.

And before Lalita has even had the opportunity to process all of this, Shekhar has put the garland around her neck.

Lalita is bewildered, shocked—and finally, ecstatic. There is a demure shyness between them, even as Shekhar confesses his love for her. Lalita bends to touch his feet. She is his bride now, never mind that nobody else knows of it. But everything turns topsy-turvy soon after. Because of Gurucharan’s continuing ill health (brought on, no doubt, by stress), Lalita has had to back out of accompanying Shekhar and his mother to Madhupur. They, however, do go, and while leaving, Shekhar quietly hands Lalita the keys to his room: if she needs money, she should take as much as she wants.

Shekhar goes off to Madhupur, and while he’s gone, all hell breaks loose.

What I liked about this film:

Bimal Roy’s classic style of storytelling, which also shines through in films like Parakh and Sujata: quiet, everyday people, with their everyday problems, their everyday sorrows and triumphs. While there are signs of the distress faced by Gurucharan, there is also the fact that his situation isn’t overly dramatized—it’s not as if (as happens in the majority of Hindi films) his entire family is reduced to begging. In fact, Lalita (who is perhaps the most diligent and concerned of the lot) actually has enough free time to go play cards with Charu and her family, or study at Shekhar’s. And there is certainly enough at home for Anu to organize a wedding for her doll…

There are other ways in which this balance shows itself. The evil is not unmitigated evil. The misunderstanding that arises is ironed out not through histrionics but by a gently touching resolution (and the uncomfortable news, when broken, is received in the right spirit—again not with over-the-top shrieking or emotional blackmail or other reactions so loved by Hindi film makers).

This restraint shows itself most prominently in Shekhar and Lalita’s relationship too: it’s not unusual that two people who’ve known each for so long and who’re so much together should eventually develop feelings for each other, and that they shouldn’t—like your average filmi couple—burst into song and dance about it. That love happens, and quietly, is a refreshing change from the usual rather more vocal style of cinema.

The acting, especially of Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari (who won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for this role; Bimal Roy won the Best Director Award for the film), is excellent: understated, restrained in all ways. And, as in many other Bimal Roy’s films, silence plays a key role. Much is said by way of expressions.

Finally, the music, by Arun Mukherjee. Chali Radhe Rani, in both versions, and Gore-gore haathon mein mehendi rachaake are especially good.

There was nothing about this film I outright dislike, so I’ll go straight on to the comparison.

Comparisons, comparisons:

Parineeta, as most would know, was based on the novel of the same name by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. It was originally published in 1914, and is a short, intense little book about family and romance and duty and misunderstandings. Bimal Roy (like his protégé Hrishikesh Mukherjee) was very good at adapting Bengali literature for the silver screen, and this adaptation is a good one. Since I’ve recently read both the novel (in a Hindi translation) as well as rewatched the 2005 Parineeta (and watched one version—the 1976 Sankoch—which I’d not even known about), I thought it appropriate to compare the 1953 Parineeta with both its source and its remakes.

The 1953 Parineeta is very faithful to the novel—down to exact scenes, like the one where Lalita wonders how she’ll repay the debt she’s incurring due to her borrowing from Shekhar. There are some departures from the book, like the two deaths that occur in the course of it: the reasons for the deaths, and when they occur, are different from what Sarat Chandra wrote. And Bimal Roy makes three important (and I think relevant) changes to the characters. First, in the book, Lalita is thirteen (the book itself stretches across four years, so by the end, she’s seventeen); in the film she is certainly older, and the film doesn’t appear to span such a long period. Secondly, in the book, Girin is an ‘outcast’ (so to say) because he’s a Brahmo Samaji, not because he’s lower caste. Thirdly, the character of Malti is introduced in the film; there’s no such person in the book.

All three changes make sense. A thirteen-year old romantic heroine wouldn’t be acceptable in the 1950s. More non-Bengalis would understand that a man from a lower caste would be shunned, rather than that a Brahmo Samaji would be shunned. And Malti, as someone approximately Lalita’s own age, fulfills an important role in the film.

All in all, one of those very satisfying adaptations of a good book. A film that understands the ethos of its source, and portrays it well.

Now, on to another adaptation. Twenty-three years after Bimal Roy made Parineeta, fellow Bengali Anil Ganguly remade it as Sankoch, starring Jeetendra as Shekhar and Sulakshana Pandit as Lalita.

In its basics, it’s pretty much a copy of Parineeta, down to the placements and tones of the songs. There are some differences, such as Girin being named Girish in this version, and the entire setting shifted to what seems to be Bombay (Girish’s home town is Goa here). The biggest difference is an insertion of some very jarring comic side plots: Girish’s sister (Aruna Irani) and her failed-musician-husband (IS Johar) along with his side kick (Keshto Mukherjee) have a lot of cringeworthy scenes devoted to them, and there’s a terrible ‘comic’ scene when Shekhar goes to ‘see’ a prospective bride, played by Preeti Ganguly in an idiotic dress.

The main problem with Sankoch is that it’s too loud. There’s a quietness, a control and restraint about the original Parineeta that is missing from this version. The background music jars; Lalita and Shekhar lack the dignified mien that characterizes them in the earlier film; and the forced comedy is embarrassing.

And, the latest adaptation, the 2005 Parineeta, starring Saif Ali Khan as Shekhar, Vidya Balan as Lolita (her name is pronounced the Bengali way, but sadly, almost none of the non-Bengali actors are able to get the pronunciation exactly right), and Sanjay Dutt as Girish. This version is a very far cry from both of the earlier ones. It’s set in 1962 (and there are lots of anachronisms—like Saridon, an Elvis Presley album that wasn’t yet released, and women’s clothing that wasn’t quite true to style). Lolita is not a shy stay-at-home girl; she’s a PA to Shekhar’s father, who is a greedy big businessman. Shekhar isn’t a lawyer; he’s a musician. Girish lives in London. It’s all adjusted to appeal to a 2000s audience, sexed up (literally), with peppy music, a working girl heroine (why Lolita continues to borrow money from Shekhar is a mystery that isn’t explained).

This rewatch made me change my opinion about the 2005 Parineeta. I still think it’s a pleasant enough film—the music, for one, is excellent; and Vidya Balan is both gorgeous as well as talented—which, of course, she’s proved even more in the years since. But there’s a certain over-the-top feel to the film that jars, especially in contrast to the very subdued tone of the 1953 Parineeta. In 2005, Shekhar’s father is an outright villain, going about calling Lolita foul names, slapping Shekhar, and just generally being a complete boor, not just the somewhat greedy and almost petulant moneyed man of 1953. Shekhar, through much of the film, also is hot-headed and free with his fists (he slaps Lolita pretty hard in one scene). The climax is tailored to cater to an audience that is expected not to appreciate a quiet finis, but wants tamasha. This is glossy, vivid, colourful, happening Parineeta.

I vastly prefer the 1953 Parineeta, with its soul and its dignity, its understated dialogue and very real behaviour.

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54 thoughts on “Parineeta (1953)

  1. Hello Madhu,
    It’s been so long since I’ve had a chance to even read your posts, I could see them in my mailbox and made a mental note to read them later, but my new job turned out to be much more time consuming than I initially thought. Anyway, I had watched this movie, also as you say, seeing the cast, in fact, I’ve actually not watched the later ones you talk about :-P. I realised more recently about the existence of a Bengali film made in the late 1960s with the same title and same story starring Soumitra Chatterjee in the role of Shekhar and Moushumi Chatterjee (this may have been her debut movie?) in the role of Lalita. Being a Bengali movie, Girin is indeed shown to be a Brahmo Samaj convert, I think Samit Bhanja played the role. Again, the reason I watched this movie was because of Bikash Roy, who played the role of Lalita’s uncle. I’ve always been somewhat of a fan of the late actor and tried to watch all his movies I can lay my hands on :D. Anyway, from what I hear about the later movies (the Jeetendra one and the Saif Ali Khan one), I’ll not watch them, the two earlier ones were too good :-).

    • Thank you so much for telling me about the Bengali Parineeta! Even before I replied to your comment, I went off searching for it on the net. Found a copy on Youtube, but sadly, it isn’t subtitled. I will keep an eye out for it, and keep checking if a subbed version surfaces sometime. I am a fan of both Soumitra Chatterjee and Moushumi Chatterjee, so that’s certainly a film I would like to watch.

  2. A good review!
    When I watched the 2005 film, I was aware of 1953 movie. And I was sure it would be a good movie. I remember 2005 movie mainly for its songs, which were good.
    The intimate scenes between Sanjay datt and Vidya were completely unnecessary for the understanding of the story. I was sure the 1953 version would not have that kind of unnecessary scenes.
    I haven’t watched the old parineeta, but should watch.
    A little to add, Bharat vyas penned the lyrics for old parineeta, which was a social film. And he was yet to typecast as a mythology lyricist. Such nice songs!
    Gore Gore haathon mein is my favourite too.

    • “The intimate scenes between Sanjay datt and Vidya were completely unnecessary for the understanding of the story. I was sure the 1953 version would not have that kind of unnecessary scenes.

      Absolutely! I agree that the intimate scenes – even between Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan – weren’t needed at all. The 1953 version is very chaste, that way (and therefore, to my mind, more believable – one can understand that a shy and demure girl like Meena Kumari’s Lalita would cringe from revealing the truth even to the man she considers her ‘husband’).

      Yes to what you say about Bharat Vyas. He was far more talented than his largely mythological/historical/period B-movie filmography suggests. Some excellent partnerships with Vasant Desai, for instance.

      • Yes, Vasant desai and Bharat vyas duo can be a topic for a separate post.
        Indeed, if I get a chance, I’ll do it.
        I just can’t forget do aankhen barah hath , goonj uthi shehnai and toofan aur diya and many other films, they worked together.

        • Interestingly, this year marks Bharat Vyas’s birth centenary. So I currently know a little bit more about his career than I did at the start of the year. :-) – I’m working on a post to mark the day. So a Vasant Desai-Bharat Vyas post from you would be very welcome!

  3. Madhu ji , U hav admired Bimal Roy for his classic style of story telling , but for me , the same praises r applicable to U for Ur style of story telling.
    Very nice !!!

    Yes , I too like the 1953 Parinita . Asha had sung ” गोरे गोरे हाथोंमें ” very nicely nd the picturization is also nice.
    Young Meena Kumari looked very beautiful in the film.

    I also liked the comparison segment.

    ” Sankoch ” had ” बाँधी रे काहे प्रीत ” by Sulakshana Pandit nd ” चंचल मन तेरी चतुराई ” by Kishore Kumar nd of course the 2005 Parinita will b remembered for “कैसी पहेली जि़दगानी ” sung by Sunidhi Chauhan nd picturized on Rekha , but I agree with Ur conclusion that the 1953 Parinita was the best of the 3.

    Thnx for a very , very nice review.

    • Thank you, Pramodji. I’m glad you liked this review and the comparisons. (And yes, I especially agree with you about Kaisi paheli hai yeh. While the 2005 Parineeta did have some other good songs as well, that one stands out for me as the best).

  4. Thank you Madhuji for a great review. In the early days of cable TV, the 1953 movie was telecast day in and day out. I remember watching it in bits and pieces over many days and this tended to make me indifferent to this unsung masterpiece. I also saw the 2005 movie on the large screen and the song on the train captivated me. It still does. I agree that the love scene was over the top and was an unnecessary distraction. To put it in a nutshell, you made me aware that I missed a great movie (by watching it off and on). One day, I will watch it with due attention and the respect that Bimal Roy deserves.

    • Thank you for the appreciation – I’m glad you liked this review.

      I seem to have missed all telecasts of Parineeta! Such a shame. :-( But it could also be that in the early days of cable TV, our family, dazzled by all the TV series, didn’t watch too many films, because we always thought that films weren’t going anywhere… whereas our beloved TV shows would end, and that would be it. So perhaps that is why I missed this one.

      Do watch it sometime in one or two sittings – it’s a wonderful film.

  5. Good Evening Madhuji,
    Happy Diwali,
    I watch this movie even today on youtube. Beautiful movie with beautiful music.

    ‘Chand hai wohi’m very melodious song.

    It is astonishing to find such a beautiful photography by Kamal and Montu Bose, those days with limited techniques and equipment.
    Thanks for posting this wonderful article with photos.
    Regards and blessings.


    • Thank you! I’m glad you liked this review. I agree with all you’ve said about Parineeta – it truly is a wonderful movie. And yes, I agree about the cinematography: beautifully done.

  6. Wonderful review. This version of Parineeta is also my favorite, your views coincide with my views :) I like Meena Kumari a lot, even if there’s is a film with a weird story but if it features Meena Kumari, then I don’t care about the story I watch the film for her. By the way, Did you watched this film on the YouTube channel ‘Voice from the past’? I’m asking this because that channel is owned by me and I uploaded that film which I think is the most complete version of the film (with clear print) anywhere on internet. In case you’ve watched it on an other platform then there would have been some plot jumps. I also added the video of the song ‘Chand hai wahi’ sung by Geetaji in that upload.

    • Hi! Thank you – I hadn’t noticed back then which channel I’d watched this on, but going back to it, I realize it was yours. So a very special thank you to you for that. It was a refreshingly beautiful print (which was what I was thinking even when I first watched the film) and I loved that you didn’t clutter it up with watermarks and other stuff. Well done! Am going to subscribe to your channel. :-)

  7. Count me among the people who liked the Bimal Roy version the best of the lot. Having watched this version just a couple of months before the 2000 version came out, I was very annoyed at the insertion of Dia Mirza’s character, as well as the caricature that Shekhar’s father was turned into. I didn’t mind the change in period just as much, but that was because it allowed them to give us a jazzy Kaisi paheli hai zindagani – which is my favourite song in the film. I hated, hated, hated the OTT ending. You’re so right about the unnecessary intimacy that is shown on screen. And also, while I adore Vidya Balan, I thought her Lolita suffered from an inconsistent characterisation. Everything was so much more in your face in the modern version. It really took away from the narrative.

    (This was going to be part of my Meena Kumari month, but August came and went without a post, so I guess I can still include it in 2019. :) )

    • I can understand why ‘August came and went without a post’! Whew.

      “Everything was so much more in your face in the modern version. It really took away from the narrative.

      So true! It lacked all the subtlety, the nuances of the Bimal Roy film. The Dia Mirza character didn’t make sense, I agree. And while I didn’t mind the change in period, I wish they could’ve done at least the rudimentary research required to make the 1960s real – the anachronisms bugged me! That said, I loved Kaisi paheli hai yeh: the best part of it.

  8. Hi Madhuji,

    First of all, a belated very-2 happy birthday to your Blog.
    I have not opened my computer for past almost ten days what with Diwali and the laziness that followed. So I read this and the earlier post today.

    Well to be frank I have watched neither the old nor the new Parineeta completely. Just bits here and there. But that was enough to tell me which one I would like, obviously the old one. But I guess I will have to watch this one fully after your review.

    And since your last post has already lots of comments (which I have not completely read) I would like to add a song here. It’s a beautiful solo from Chabilli sung by Nutan- “Ae mere humsafar, le rok apni nazar”

    • Thank you! Glad you liked this review. And yes, I’d certainly recommend watching the old Parineeta. When I initially saw the new Parineeta, I thought it was pretty good – because it was quite different from the other films that were bring churned out by Bollywood at the time. Now, I look at it with more critical eyes, and don’t like what I see. Especially compared to Bimal Roy’s Parineeta.

      Thank you for the Chhabili song! I’ve heard this one.

      • “Now, I look at it with more critical eyes, and don’t like what I see.”
        That’s right.
        As I said I have not seen the new one fully. Both me and mother didn’t like the look but what irked us most was the complete waste of an actor like Sabyasachi Chakraborty. We have seen in quite a few Telefilms on DD and serials like Gaurav (in titular role). There was another one in which he played Jinn (a suited one at that). He is such wonderful actor and the role that they gave him, we felt was too loud. That itself was enough to put us off.
        But will definitely see the old one. Right now I am trying to cover the last couple of months of my blog.

  9. A great post Madhu ji! As you note, the understated acting and expressions of Meena Kumar, in particular, was so refreshing to watch – particularly given she was barely 20 years old! She rightly deserved her second Filmfare best actress award – after winning the inaugural award the previous year for Baiju Bawra – quite remarkable! This era of Hindi films was very special – as a viewer put it so eloquently ” the gracefulness, dignity, and sophistication in portrayal of intimate feelings and interactions, a hallmark of that period, of better days of our culture and society” . One point still puzzles me about the movie is the exclusion of the song “Chand Hai Wohi” form the movie – what a wonderful song and so relevant to the context in the film! Thanks again for this and your other great reviews!

    • Thank you so much; I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Agree, too, about Meena Kumari: even at a very young age, she was a very accomplished actress (in this context, I’d also like to point out Daera. Overall, the restrained and balanced feel of this movie made it especially good.

      One point still puzzles me about the movie is the exclusion of the song “Chand Hai Wohi” form the movie – what a wonderful song and so relevant to the context in the film!

      You and I have obviously watched different versions of the film. :-) The version I watched did have this song in it.

      • Yes there are versions of the film with the song but it was inexplicably deleted from the original film and the song was not available until 2015 when a Geeta Dutt fan Kusum Saxena managed to get hold of it…this is from the Geeta Dutt website: http://www.geetadutt.com/blog/?p=1916 “The film Parineeta (1952) has a magical song “Chaand hain wohi” sung by Geeta ji. It was filmed on Meena Kumari ji but the song was deleted from the film and was never made available on any VCD/DVD of the film all these years. Our dear friend Kusum Saxena ji got hold of a VHS tape of this film and it had the video of this song.”

      • According to an interview Ashok Kumar gave to Filmfare, Bimal Roy used the money that Ashok Kumar provided for Parineeta (AK was the producer) to shoot Do Bigha Zameen.

        Apparently, Roy would claim he was going location hunting while actually going off to shoot his own film. AK was furious because it was a betrayal of his trust.

        I will see if I can pull up the interview – it was online for many years.

        In The Cinema of Bimal Roy, Shoma Chatterjee alludes to it by saying He [Bimal Roy] held back the release of the completed Parineeta in favour of Do Bigha Zameen which is said to have offended producer Ashok Kumar.

        I like how she elided over the issue. :) But reading that interview made me feel a bit less respectful of Bimal Roy as a human being. :(

  10. I don’t know what happened but my comments were not posted the first time so typing it up again….

    I haven’t watched the old version but from your review I am tempted to watch it and it’s available on YouTube…

    I remember hearing Meena kumari in an interview giving credit to her acting skills to her guru Ashok Kumar and being his fan before knowing the true meaning of “fan”.

    Thanks for pointing out the money borrowing mystery in the 2005 version. I couldn’t quite figure out the connection to the movie. Though I liked the movie in general. 😀

    • I wonder where your first comment disappeared. :-( But I’ve been having trouble with WordPress – couldn’t even log in for three days – so maybe something was wrong with the blog in general.

      Do try and watch the original Parineeta sometime; it’s a really lovely movie. And not very long, either.

      Cute anecdote about Meena Kumari crediting her acting skills to Ashok Kumar and talking about being his fan. :-) Have you seen the 1953 commercial featuring the two of them?

        • Here you go. I find this so surreal in some ways. Because it’s so much like an old-fashioned TV ad (though it predates Doordarshan, and so I suppose was shown in cinema halls). And they’re speaking in English. And it’s from the same year that Parineeta was released. Enjoy!

          • Lovely clip Madhu..Had seen it a while ago! Such a pleasure to see a young Meena Kumari – looking so coy and a tad nervous (perhaps because she was speaking in English – a language she was not particularly comfortable with?).

            • Aditya, yes. Meena Kumari does look coy and pretty. I agree about the nervousness too (if you open the video in Youtube and look at the comments below it, someone’s mentioned that her voice here was dubbed. To me, though, it does sound like her own voice).

          • Thanks Madhu! It is in color! During that time perhaps it was still black and white for movies,so I am not sure if this would be from 1953.. Quite possibly recorded in the sixties but both of them look very young. Good quality recording and pretty advanced for its time, I think…

            • I actually had the feeling that this was filmed around the same time as Parineeta, because both of them look pretty much the same as they did in the film. Ashok Kumar, for one, had grown recognizably more full around the face by the 60s, and Meena Kumari, while still beautiful, had a more mature beauty by then.

              Colour had come to Hindi cinema by the early 50s (Aan is an example) though you’re right about its being rare. My feeling is that it was rare because it was expensive to make a full-length feature film in colour; but a short commercial, and that too for a popular and successful business enterprise? I think it would’ve been possible.

    • Hi! Ashish…You might be interested in this comment by Ashok on Meena Kumari from cineplot: https://cineplot.com/ashok-kumar-on-meena-kumari/ “Meena wasn’t beautiful in the conventional sense, her charm lay in her sexy voice. Also, when she walked, her hips swayed very seductively and when I took her for Parineeta (1953), I asked Bimal (Roy) to zoom in on her back while she was walking. Also, to play up her curves we draped her in a sari without a petticoat.

      Meena was a little surprised when I gave this suggestion, but she was not one to question me. In those days I was her guru, so to say. She hadn’t quite mastered the technique of acting then and I’d have to constantly remind her to look at me while speaking the dialogue . Even then sometimes she’d look away and, while saying my lines, I’d suddenly say, ‘Meri taraf dekho,’ and, with a start, she’d obey.

      In those days she was so dependent on me that whenever she had difficulty with any scene she’d send for me and ask for my opinion on how it should be done. And she openly acknowledged this. She’d say ‘Dada ne mujhe sab seekhaya hai.’

      Meena was a natural actress. She was very choosy but once she accepted a role she put her heart into it and it’s not surprising that she’s still remembered for her sensitive portrayals. We did some 17-18 films together and in that time built up such a good rapport that, as is common with me, sometimes when saying a dialogue I’d add a line not in the script and even as I worried about how Meena would react, she’d surprise me with just the right response.”

      I must add that his observation of Meena Kumari sometimes looking away is spot one – you can notice that In Baiju Bawra sometimes- but she was only 19 years old then!

      • Thank you for that anecdote. It’s a delightful one. I remember reading something very similar about Mumtaz and her acting in Mere Sanam, which was her first A-grade movie. Both Biswajit and Pran agreed between themselves that she had a lot of potential, and Pran took it upon himself to teach her a few tricks of the trade. And the one most basic was that of not looking at the camera, but at one’s co-stars. If you watch the film, there’s actually one scene where Mumtaz’s character, Kammo, is looking at the camera and saying her lines, when Pran grabs her chin and turns her face around so she’s looking at him. :-)

        Mumtaz, in later years, said that she learnt a lot from Pran and that she was grateful to him for teaching her.

  11. I had meant to comment on this post earlier. Most of what I could say about the fine 1953 film has been said. :) Madhu, it is nice to see that you also talked to Ashish about that very amusing commercial (which we talked about on Facebook).

    I have looked through this post and comments, but there is some stuff I need to get back to. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think anyone here commented on the wonderful dance performance in this film. It features very early appearances of Gopi Krishna and Roshan Kumari (it is probably Roshan Kumari’s film debut – five years before Jalsaghar). By the way, I recall realizing several years ago that this scene bore some similarity to one that I’d seen with Sadhona Bose in Alibaba (1937) . I mentioned this in a blog post, and in comments, Pacifist aka Reeba suggested that this performance in Parineeta is an enactment of the same story from Arabian Nights. In any event, whatever it’s from, it certainly is magical!

    • Ah, yes. That was a good performance. I did make note of it in my mind, but forgot to mention it in the review itself, what with all the other stuff that I wanted to cover – the comparisons etc. I’m glad you posted about this, Richard. Thank you! (and more so for telling me the names of the two dancers – I hadn’t recognized them, though I should really have recognized Roshan Kumari, considering I liked her so much in Jalsaghar).

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