Pyaar ki Baatein (1951)

I came across this film while I was doing research for my post on Khayyam (who composed two songs for Pyaar ki Baatein) and I was immediately intrigued. Because this film starred somebody whose career I’ve always been a bit baffled by. Trilok Kapoor, younger brother of the stalwart Prithviraj Kapoor, and uncle of three immensely popular leading men—Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor—had the looks and the talent to make it big (not to mention the family connections, so important in the Hindi film industry), but why did his career veer away into the realms of mythologicals? Why did a man who starred opposite famous actresses like Noorjehan and Nargis (in Mirza Sahiban and Pyaar ki Baatein respectively) end up playing Shiv (or other mythological characters) in one film after another?

I still don’t know, and watching Pyaar ki Baatein only befuddled me further on this count. Because it’s exactly the sort of film, I think, that should have led Trilok Kapoor to star in more of the raja-rani type of films that so many (in my opinion, less attractive) actors, like P Jairaj and Mahipal, made their own.

But, to begin at the beginning. Pyaar ki Baatein is told as a story being narrated by an old storyteller to a group of eager listeners. He tells them the story of Badar, the prince of Halab (Aleppo, in Syria), who proposed to Princess Nadira of a neighbouring country, and was most rudely rejected, so that he vowed to make her his servant.

The film itself sets out to explain how this happened, and what transpired.

Badar (Trilok Kapoor) is, as mentioned, the prince of Halab. A rakish prince, too, who seems to spend much of his time riding about with a friend. Now and then they stop to rescue a damsel in distress, and when the said damsel wishes to thank Badar and become his ‘qaneez’ (maidservant), he happily obliges. In fact, Badar has built up quite a collection of such qaneezes at home. In his palace, they dance and prance about coquettishly…

… much to the annoyance of Badar’s father, the Baadshah. He doesn’t approve of this, and doesn’t approve of the fact that Badar seems to show no inclination to even learn the ropes when it comes to governance. Matters come to a head and Daddy suggests a way Badar can start helping out: by getting married.

Before you think Daddy is following the marriage-as-a-panacea-for-all-ills theory to absurd lengths, an explanation. The fact is that a big, bullying country in the vicinity, named Nakhlistan (which I have discovered means ‘oasis’), may try to gobble up Halab. If the King of Nakhlistan tries any such moves on Halab, it would help Halab to have an ally alongside. The bride Daddy is suggesting is Princess Nadira, the daughter of a potential ally. It’ll be a good match, a classic political alliance.

Badar readily agrees.

Not so Princess Nadira (Nargis), who, though she has never met Badar, has heard enough about him to know that he’s a complete debauch.

Also, Nadira’s stepmother is keen that Nadira marry Bakht-Baland (a very young Rashid Khan), who is prince of Nakhlistan, and Step-Mommy’s cousin. Nadira’s father is an ineffectual ruler and a henpecked husband, who doesn’t have the guts to stand up to his wife, so he goes along with her suggestion that Bakht-Baland be sent for. It will give the young couple a chance to get to know each other.

Thus, when Badar’s father’s emissary arrives, bearing a proposal of marriage between Badar and Nadira, Nadira’s stepmother (and Nadira’s father, following his wife’s lead) turn down the proposal and tell him to get lost. To add insult to injury, Nadira too sends a maid out to hand over a doll to the emissary, for him to give to Badar with a message: marry this and add it to your collection of dolls. Because Nadira refuses to be one of that collection.

This message, naturally, when delivered to Badar, leaves him furious (even more so since his very annoyed father rails at Badar for being such a debauch). Badar vows to Daddy there and then that he’s going to set off for Nadira’s home. He will return only when he’s got Nadira along—as a qaneez.

Badar goes off towards the realm of Amir Kamaal, Nadira’s father. En route, he stops for the night at a qehwa khana (I could be mistaken, but I always thought qehwa khanas were more like coffee shops/restaurants rather than inns, but maybe this was also a term used for what we usually call sarais). At any rate, Badar checks in, incognito. He tells the owner of the qehwa khana that his name is Jalal, and gives some garbled address that reminds me of the Roopnagar prem gali kholi number 420 stuff. The address of a Romeo. The owner, not a man with a sense of humour, is unimpressed.

Meanwhile, other stuff has been happening. Nadira, having turned down Badar’s proposal sight unseen, has now been presented with Bakht-Baland, who has arrived with a friend/servitor/general dogsbody named Naamdaar (Maruti) in tow.

The wimpy, weak Bakht Baland is immediately smitten and confides in Naamdaar: oh, one look of love from Nadira, and he will be able to recover only with the help of elaichi (cardamom) and murabba (preserves).

Unfortunately for Bakht-Baland, this love is completely one-sided. Nadira takes one look at her prospective bridegroom and flatly refuses to have anything to do with him. Her stepmother, Bakht-Baland’s cousin, is equally adamant that Nadira will marry him and no other. Nadira’s father, Amir Kamaal, is caught between daughter and wife, and—spineless, shiftless fence-sitter that he is, takes the easy way out: do nothing.

So someone decides to do something. Saqi (Pran) is the Sipahsalar, or Commander-in-Chief, of Amir Kamaal, and he’s had his eye on Nadira (and, obviously, on the throne) all this while. Saqi decides that now is his chance to make an attempt at both. He ropes in Dil-Aaraam (?), one of Nadira’s ladies in waiting.

Dil-Aaraam goes to Nadira, who’s been moping about, adamant on not marrying Bakht Baland and pretty much at the end of her tether. You have a well-wisher, Dil-Aaraam assures Nadira: Saqi. Run away from the palace for a few days, and that will serve to get the message across loud and clear. When the furore has died down, when Bakht-Baland has gone back home, you too can return. Saqi will assist in this venture. All Nadira has to do is meet him at night at the palace’s ‘chor darwaaza’—the ‘thieves’ doorway’: a hidden back door.

So Nadira runs off with Saqi. At no point does she look on him as a potential lover; to her, the princess, this man is nothing more than a sympathetic confidant, a loyal servant. Saqi takes Nadira to a qehwa khana, getting rooms for both of them, under (naturally, considering the circumstances) assumed names.

And it should come as no surprise that this qehwa khana is the very same in which Badar, posing as Jalal, is staying. Not surprisingly, very soon, Badar/Jalal crosses paths with Nadira. Since both of them are using assumed names, they don’t realize, of course, who the other person is.

Badar, already bowled over by this beauty, decides to stay on at the qehwa khana, and picks on the easiest way to do this—by badgering the owner into taking him on as a servant. He can therefore wait on Nadira hand and foot…

… which, if Badar only knew it, is the exact opposite of that fervent vow he’d taken.

What I liked about this film:

Trilok Kapoor and Nargis as Badar and Nadira, who’re not just a good-looking couple, but also dashing characters. He may be rakish, but he’s not the slimy sort, and when he’s being the protective champion of the damsel in distress, Badar can be pretty competent. Nadira, too, isn’t one of those wimpy females who sit around and mope because they’re being bullied into marrying men they don’t like. She has a fair bit of spunk, even though at times she seems ridiculously gullible.

The music, by Bulo C Rani and Khayyam (with lyrics by ML Khanna, the father of Usha Khanna). Bulo C Rani had been taken on to compose the music of this film, but fell ill during the process, and asked Khayyam to complete the job, so Khayyam composed two songs for the film, including Lata’s first song for Khayyam, Ab kahaan jaayeinMast chaandni jhoom rahi hai, Yeh nazar taakti hai nishaana, and Chalo wahaan chale jahaan are among the other songs that I especially liked.

The ‘dream sequence’-like dance segment. This is part of a magician’s performance, and stretches several minutes, with some very interesting dances and sets and characters. No song, no dialogue—but very striking.

And, finally, the basic story. I have a weakness for raja-rani stories, and this one had the potential to be among the best. A prince, spurned by a princess he has never even met, sets out to avenge himself by humiliating her—and ends up falling for her. She, equally unaware that he is the very man she spurned, falls for him. Throw in an unwanted (and pretty comical) groom, an evil and lecherous villain, an ineffectual father and a nasty stepmother, and there’s plenty of scope here for a good mix of romance and swashbuckling.

What I didn’t like:

The lack of attention to the romance. This could have been such a whopper of a romance! Two people, unaware that the other is the one they detest, fall in love. There could have been fireworks here (especially as Nadira is not the utterly spineless type), there could have been the building up of an amazing romance, à la Lala Rukh: but no. What we get is Nadira thinking Jalal is a servant, and being grateful to him for helping her—and then, thud. Nothing convincing. Nothing except a couple of duets—one happy, one sad, neither an outright expression of love. No deep conversations, no extended falling in love.

So disappointing. Even if they’d tagged on a further ten minutes after the climactic scene in Amir Kamaal’s throne, showing what happened after that—I would have been happy.

Still. An entertaining film, and one worth a watch if you like raja-rani stories.

26 thoughts on “Pyaar ki Baatein (1951)

  1. Oh!
    Doesn’t sound bad at all. I’m just aware of a couple of songs (one song, through your post on Khayyam) from the movie. The other one is a jail song, that I think, I did add on your jail songs post.
    And, as you recommend it for fans of Raja Rani story, I should watch it someday.

    I like these kind of stories with a sprinkle of jaadu in it. Must give it a tray.

    Thank you for the review.
    BTW
    My film review is, about to complete and would be ready to publish soon. I hope it manages to be good.

    :-)

    • Yes, this isn’t bad. :-) I enjoyed it, it was quite entertaining. No actual jaadoo in it, but a good raja-rani type of film. If you want a raja-rani film with jaadoo, I would recommend Aab-e-Hayat, starring Prem Nath and Shashikala – lots of fantasy there, plenty of good entertainment, and some great songs.

      Looking forward to reading your review!

  2. Dear Madhuji,

    In your recent write up on KHAYYAM you had mentioned that HEER RANJHA (1948) was his first assignment after his fellow Director VARMAJI left for Pakistan.

    If that be the case, this song by Lata should surely be the first she sang under his baton :

    With warm regards

    PARTHA CHANDA

    • Hmm, you have a point there. Yes, then Kaahe ko byaahi bides would be Lata’s first song. I overlooked that, because I read an interview with Khayyam in which he had claimed that the Pyaar ki Baatein song was his first one with Lata. Possibly his memory was slipping up a bit.

      • The score of the 1948 Heer Ranjha was by Aziz Hindi. Kaahe ko byaahi bides was not a Khayyam composition. Khayyam (as part of ‘Sharmaji-Varmaji’) gave the music for six of the eleven songs in the film – Shehron mein se shehar suna tha and Kaise katoon ye kaali raatein. The latter could be Lata’s first song for Khayyam.

        In fact, I’m not sure ‘Sharmaji-Varmaji’ composed for any movie other than Heer Ranjha – did they?

        • Dear Madhuji,

          Yes, that particular song was composed by Aziz Khan. As per Arun Deshmukhji, Aziz Hindi was a different person. There is some interesting Trivia as mentioned by Arunji in Atulji’s Post :

          “The story of how Khayyam got the film ‘Heer Ranjha’,is very interesting.
          Khayyam and Rehman Verma were struggling to give music as a jodi of Sharmaji-Vermaji.Why Khayyam took the name of Sharmaji has also a history behind it.
          When Khayyam returned from Calcutta to Bombay,after being an assistant to Chisti for the music of 2 films-Zuthi Kasme and Yehi hai Zindagi,he met his Gurus-Husnlal Bhagatram.Those were the days of Partition and Khayyam was a bit scared.They told him,’dont worry.We are here to protect you.You take up the name Sharmaji and give music as Varmaji-Sharmaji.’
          Khayyam and Verma met Wali Saheb,the lyricist and Director of Heer Ranjha and also the owner of Punjab Film Corporation,Bombay. Aziz Khan was already appointed as its MD.These two recited few punjabi style tunes to Wali Sahib.he liked them.He said,’very good.Aziz saab cannot give punjabi style tunes.You both do the Punjabi type songs and Aziz saab will do the rest songs’. Thus they got the film”.

          As per Arunji, even after the departure of Rehman “Verma” for Pakistan mid way through “Heer Ranjha”, Khayyam gave Music for two more Films as “Sharmaji-Vermaji”. These were “PARDA” and “BIWI”. Although Aziz Khan was involved in some of the songs for BIWI.

          “FOOTPATH” was the first film he composed using his original name Khayyam.

          By the way, that song “Kaise katoon ye kaali raatein” was also composed by Aziz Khan.

          In which case, your original statement stands.

          My apologies for having unintentionally created all the confusion.

          With warm regards

          PARTHA CHANDA

          • Kaise katoon ye kaali raatein was composed by ‘Sharmaji-Varmaji’. As far as I know, Aziz Khan and Aziz Hindi were the same person. He is also referred to as Aziz Khan Mastana – he composed under both names. Incidentally, Khayyam sang a duet with Geeta Dutt in Heer Ranjha under Aziz Khan/Hindi’s baton.

            Aziz Khan comes from a stellar classical music background – his father was the celebrated Ustad Wahid Khan of the Etawah/Imdadkhani gharana; his uncle was the even more celebrated Inayat Khan. Ustad Wahid Khan made a brief cinematic appearance – he’s the surbahar player in Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar.

            Unfortunately for the Ustad, both his sons ended their classical musical careers quite early in their lives. ‘Ustad Aziz Khan’ became a music composer and his brother, Hafeez Khan came to be well-known as H. Khan Mastana, a playback singer. Ustad Wahid Khan’s legacy is now being continued by his grandson Ustad Shahid Parvez.

            • Dear Madhuji,

              All the sites which carry information on Songs of HEER RANJHA (1948) mention AZIZ KHAN as the Composer of the Song “Kaise katoon ye kaali raatein”. For example, this website :

              http://myswar.co/album/heer-ranjha-1948
              [ this website lists all the 11 songs and has 6 of them as credited to Sharmaji-Varmaji. So if this song is also to be credited to S-V, then they will have composed 7 of the 11, which is contrary to what you have stated, that S-V composed 6 of the 11]

              And even the YouTube link to the song :

              It is not clear on what basis you are insisting that the song has been composed by Sharmaji-Varmaji and NOT by Aziz Khan.

              With warm regards

              PARTHA CHANDA

                • Dear Anuji,

                  My apologies for mixing up the names. As far as this song is concerned, I have taken it up with Arunji, who is seized of the matter. Then again, Arunji himself has stated that only 6 out of 11 were composed by Sharmaji-Varmaji. If we are to add this song too, it’ll be 7 out of 11 for S-V.

                  To use a Cricketing Term, let’s just say it has been referred to the 3rd Umpire and let us wait for his considered opinion.

                  Apologies once again for mixing up the names.

                  With warmest regards

                  PARTHA CHANDA

  3. Hmm… the film sounds interesting but disappointing, if that’s not contradictory. I first came across the film when I was doing my post on Mukesh and had filed it away as ‘Oh, I must see this!’ but never got around to it. Your review gives me the impetus, simply because, like you, I like both Trilok Kapoor and Nargis.

    Apart from two music directors, the film had 3 ‘story writers’, 3 ‘screenplay writers’ and 2 ‘dialogue writers’. No wonder the story is such a mess! That’s at least five people too many!

    Asha Bhosle, I think, sang for the first time under Khayyam’s baton for this fllm.

    p.s. Trilok Kapoor is Prithviraj Kapoor’s first cousin, not his younger brother.

    • “p.s. Trilok Kapoor is Prithviraj Kapoor’s first cousin, not his younger brother.

      Ah. Buddhoo becomes Buddha, as a friend of mine says. Enlightenment dawns. Thank you for that.

      “No wonder the story is such a mess! That’s at least five people too many!

      I agree that that’s too many people, but the story actually isn’t a mess. It’s just that the romance isn’t built up enough (as if the writer didn’t realize what a good thing he was on to, and wasn’t interested in a romance, after all), and that the end is too rushed. Other than that, it’s not bad. There are some skips here and there which I think are either editing problems or stuff lost over the years, but other than that, it’s a far more coherent (and entertaining) story than – say – almost all of Dara Singh’s films. ;-)

  4. Very interesting comments indeed.
    I will clarify few things.
    Khayyam gave music to Heer Ranjha-48 as Sharma ji-Varmaji, in which Varmaji was Rehman Verma. He migrated to Pakistan. Khayyam gave music to Parda-49 as Sharma ji, Biwi-50 as Sharma ji, along with Aziz and finally to pyar ki Baten-51 also as Sharmaji, along with Bulo C Rani.(HFGK note on this film clarifies that name Sharmaji was used and NOT Khayyam, in this film).
    From Footpath-53 he used the name as Khayyam, on the suggestion of Sardar Chandulal Shah of Ranjit.
    Thanks.
    -AD

  5. “The lack of attention to the romance.”

    It’s been a while and I don’t remember much of the movie, but I *do* remember being vaguely disappointed in “Pyar ki Baatein.” And the reason for that is the lack of romance you mention. With a title like “Pyar ki Baatein” I expected a love story, but instead got, as you remark, a “raja-rani” film. Now, I like those well enough but not when I’m expecting romance. :-) Ah well.

    With regard to questions about “Heer Ranjha” and Lata’s first song for Khayyam, etc. My book on Khayyam (Khayyam: The Man – His Music by Vishwas Nerukar) lists 6 songs as being composed by Khayyam in conjunction with Rehman Verma for the movie. Lata’s “kaise katoon yeh kaali raaten” is not listed as among the sic composed by the duo. Per the book, and as noted in your review, “ab kahan jaayen” from “Pyar ki Baatein” was Lata’s first song for Khayyam. Asha’s first song for Khayyam was “mere pyaare sanam ki hai pyaari gali” from “Parda” in 1949.

    • Thank you, Shalini! Glad to see that someone else has seen this film, and thought the same about it. Yes, ironic, isn’t it, that with a name like that, it has precious little romance (any?) in it. That way, I found Lala Rukh a far more endearing romance, even though the way he strings her along right till the end was a little steep.

      Thanks for the clarification about the songs. I don’t know if this answers the question for Chandaji and Anu, but still. :-)

      • Dear Madhuji,

        I am happy as my stand has been vindicated. It is up to Anuji and Arun Deshmukhji to respond.

        With warm regards

        PARTHA CHANDA

          • Agree with you wholeheartedly Anuji, Music is our first love. Now with the controversy behind us, let us celebrate with this composition by Khayyam which has so far not featured in the write-up by Madhuji :


            (दर्द मिन्नत कशे-दवा न हुआ……)

            And Ghalib trips the “light-erotic” with :

            “है ख़बर गर्म उनके आने की
            आज ही घर में बोरिया न हुआ |”

            With warm regards

            PARTHA CHANDA

            PS : I have a picture of Khayyam in his younger days with, let’s say 25% hair on head, but do not know how to upload in the Comments Section. When I tried to drag and drop, it gave me machine language!

            • Beautiful song, thank you for that.

              As for the photo, if you wish, I could send you an e-mail and you could send me the photo in response. I could then upload it into the blog post (with due credit to you, of course). If you would like that, let me know through a comment here.

              • Thank you Madhuji,

                I think most of your readers would like to see Khayyam when he was younger. Not that young – as I said, @25% hair on head, Ok make that 27.5% but no more. My guess, he would have been about 30+.

                So, pl go ahead and send me the Mail. But credit not necessary as I just happened to find the picture. But there will be a charge.

                Just keep weaving magic with the words – so beautiful your write ups. My Inbox has a partition labelled DUSTED OFF.

                Yours in admiration,

                PARTHA CHANDA

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