Miss Mary (1957)

This film has been on my watchlist for a long time now. Earlier this year, when I reviewed the delightful Maya Bazaar, my attention was drawn to Miss Mary, because—like Maya Bazaar—this was a film that was originally made in Tamil and Telugu (as Missiamma/Missamma) and, in this case, then into Hindi too. I was already aware that the film had some lovely songs, and Meena Kumari in a light-hearted role is always a pleasure to watch.

Plus, it stars Gemini Ganesan, whose birth centenary it is today. He was born on November 16, 1919, into a distinguished family that included his aunt Muthulakshmi Reddi, a much-respected social reformer who was instrumental in passing the Devadasi Abolition Act. Thanks to Muthulakshmi, Ganesan was enrolled at Ramakrishna Mission Home, and acquired a fairly strong ‘classical’ education here, including Sanskrit, the Vedas and Upanishads, and yoga. As an adult, though, Ganesan’s career graph was rather more eccentric: he harboured dreams of becoming a doctor, attempted to join the Indian Air Force, and ended up teaching chemistry at Madras Christian College. In 1947, a job at Gemini Studios (from which Ganesan drew his screen name) led him to receive a casting offer from the studio—and Gemini Ganesan’s acting career was launched.

Gemini Ganesan, b Nov 16,1919

Gemini Ganesan was to go on to act in more than 200 films, most of them Tamil. I wanted to mark his birth centenary by reviewing one of his films, and decided to kill two birds with one stone by choosing Miss Mary. This was Gemini Ganesan’s first Hindi film (he acted in several others, nearly all of them remakes of his own Tamil films).

Miss Mary begins at a school function at the Lakshmi School. The school’s founder (?) announces that on the sixteenth anniversary of the school’s foundation—the school having been established when his daughter, Lakshmi, vanished—he has decided to appoint a couple as Headmaster and Headmasterni. [This gives the impression that the school does not lack for teachers, only heads, which, as we later discover, is not quite accurate].

At the home of this gentleman, we get to meet the rest of his household. His wife (Achla Sachdev) and his daughter Sita (Jamuna) are there, looking adoringly up at the portrait of the long-lost Lakshmi. We are not told how she was lost, but her doting mother still remembers that little Lakshmi was truly the embodiment of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth (and virtue, it seems, in this case).

Also part of the household, though not a family member, is Raju (Kishore Kumar), who besides being the secretary of the school, is also an amateur detective. Raju, helped by a sidekick named Chandragupta (?), has been searching diligently for Lakshmi all these years, putting out advertisements in the newspapers, and vetting young women who are brought forward as Lakshmi.

It’s easy to sift the wheat from the chaff: little Lakshmi had a distinctive mole on her right foot, and around her neck hung an equally distinctive locket engraved with images of Hindu deities. So, when a young woman turns up with her adoptive father, claiming to be Lakshmi, it takes only moments for the family to reject her claim because she’s so obviously not Lakshmi.

The scene now shifts to introduce us to the real Lakshmi, who is completely unaware that she is Lakshmi. Mary (Meena Kumari) has been brought up by a Christian priest (Shivraj) and his wife, and firmly believes herself to be their daughter. She is a BA, and teaches music to the daughter of a government official—who shatters poor Mary’s dreams of being able to pay off her parents’ Rs 400 debt, by announcing that he’s been transferred and that Mary’s services will not be required from the following day onward.

However, the man is a kind and considerate one, so he gives Mary a letter of recommendation as well as a reference: he knows someone who needs clerks, and if Mary is willing to work as clerk (she is), she can apply there.

Mary isn’t the only one; Arun (Gemini Ganesan), who was tutor to the officer’s son, has also received a letter of recommendation and a referral to the same potential-employer-of-clerks. Arun and Mary, who are at daggers drawn, run into each other at the bus stop but, in an attempt to hide the advantage (or so they feel) they’ve got, don’t tell each other where they’re going or why.

Not that it matters, because the employer (Maruti), it turns out, isn’t going to be employing any clerks right now. He tells Arun to come back after a year. Shortly after, when Arun has gone and Mary arrives, the man gives her a long discourse on his solution to the problem of unemployment, and gives her some unsolicited advice: that she should cheerfully accept her current state of unemployment and try to snag an employed man whom she can marry.

A furious Mary snaps back at him: Is he married? No? Then how about her marrying him? Before he—already cowed by her retort—can even think of taking her seriously, Mary has stormed out of his office.

Mary does need the job, and badly. Not only is that debt to be paid off, the man to whom her family is in debt is a pest of the first order. John (Randhir) is besotted by Mary (whom he calls “My lovey-dovey”) and wants to marry her. But because Mary despises him, he’s settled on a sneaky, underhand way to get her to be his wife: when Mary tells him to give them two months to repay the debt, he agrees—on the condition that if that doesn’t happen, Mary will marry him when the two months are up.

In the meantime, Arun has made friends with a fraudulent beggar named Nakdau (Om Prakash; that odd name is a variant on ‘naqad’, ‘cash’, since that’s what Nakdau goes about asking for). Nakdau, posing as a blind beggar and then as a mendicant, bumps into Arun so often that a camaraderie develops between them.

Arun confides in Nakdau, and Nakdau is also the first to be told of a possible job opportunity Arun sees in a newspaper: an opening for the post of Headmaster and Headmasterni at a school, 200 miles away… the only problem is that the people who apply must not only be BAs but also a married couple. (Yes, this is the Lakshmi School).

Soon enough, Arun bumps into Mary again, and realizes that like him, she too is still looking around for a job (‘a road inspector’, as Arun describes the situation to Nakdau—searching the roads, looking for employment). Somewhat reluctantly, Arun tells Mary about this job and makes a tentative suggestion that the two of them take it up, posing as husband and wife.

An appalled Mary refuses point-blank, but this seems to be destined: John arrives, making himself obnoxious. Between them, Arun and Nakdau (more Nakdau than Arun, actually, since Nakdau is singularly good at being really pesky) are able to shoo John away. In the course of the conversation, Arun has discovered Mary’s predicament and suggests a solution: since Mary has only two months in which to pay the debt, and the salary promised to her as Headmasterni is Rs 250 per month, all she needs do is work as Headmasterni for two months. At the end of that, she can leave and come back to her parents.

Arun’s reassurances that the ‘marriage’ will be completely fake and that he will be the picture of decorum finally sways Mary, who realizes, too, that she doesn’t have an option.

So the two of them, along with Nakdau (whom Arun has taken on as a servant, an unpaid companion-cum-Man Friday), go off to the school. With Mary’s consent, Arun has already sent in an application to the school, as a result of which the founder of the school—Lakshmi’s father—comes to the railway station to receive the couple.

From there, they are taken home, and Lakshmi’s mother is immediately drawn to Mary: what a beautiful young woman! How talented and demure and gentle and good! Not that Mary goes out of her way to be charming: in fact, she is so put off by this overly enthusiastic fawning over her way, that she looks definitely annoyed at times.

They settle in soon enough, in the quarters that have been allotted to them. Since there are two rooms, sleeping and living isn’t a problem, so that old trope of just one bed (or just one bedroom) doesn’t come into play here. However, other problems soon crop up, the prime one being that Lakshmi’s parents become besotted by Mary (whose name is never disclosed to them, and who they do not realize is Christian).

They are so fond of her that they insist on having her over for all sorts of occasions, including Lakshmi’s birthday, when Lakshmi’s mother insists on decorating poor Mary with sindoor, haldi, aalta, and lots of other things Mary is clueless about. All these unwitting assaults on her religious beliefs are driving Mary up the wall, and Arun has a hard time soothing her.

Meanwhile, Raju, the detective (he’s a son of an old friend of Lakshmi’s father, and has been brought up in this house) has been introduced to Mary. For no good reason (except possibly that he’s so desperate to find Lakshmi?) Raju begins to wonder if Mary is Lakshmi. He tries to see if there’s a mole on Mary’s foot, and asks Nakdau lots of probing questions about the master and his wife—how long have they been married, how did they get married, and so on. Nakdau, master at the art of rigmarole, manages to get Raju and his assistant Chandragupta frustrated and furious in no time at all.

At the school (which is only cursorily touched upon), Arun and Mary discover on the very first day that there are no teachers, and the students are woefully ignorant. It’s an uphill task, but before we know it, the two of them have accomplished it, and Lakshmi’s father is thrilled. He pays them their salary for the first month, and when they’re alone together, Arun insists that Mary send it all off—Arun’s share included—to her father, so that he can pay off the dastardly John.

But while that’s getting sorted out, there’s another little complication. A naïve and rather silly Sita has been mooning about Arun and insisting that he, and only he, can teach her music. This leaves an already jealous Mary even more incensed, though she doesn’t let on to Arun about how she feels.

And all the while, there’s Raju, still looking for Lakshmi…

If I’d ignored all the many people who’d recommended Miss Mary to me, and had only gone by previous experience of AVM Productions, who seemed to produce some of the most melodramatic family dramas of the 1950s, I’d have missed out on a film that was a lot of fun. It’s not outright hilarious—the plot, for example, is a simple one, and there are no sudden twists and turns. You can pretty much see all of it coming. But what makes this film worth watching is the overall package: the very pretty Meena Kumari; the music; the general sweetness of everybody (except that nasty John) concerned—and John, too, is actually as comical as he is nasty, because he’s so very inept a criminal.

What I liked about this film:

All that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but some elements need special mention. Gemini Ganesan is funny, and very watchable. There’s no pronounced accent to his Hindi, which makes his performance even more laudable.

And Meena Kumari is wonderful as Mary. Peppy, feisty, and just so gorgeous.

Plus, I love the realistic way Mary’s character is represented when it comes to her being a Christian: the stereotyping isn’t there at all. Yes, she wears a crucifix around her neck (which she hides or takes off when Arun gently reminds her that she’s masquerading as a Hindu), but she habitually wears a sari rather than a dress, and her Hindi is perfect, not the Bambaiyya Hindi that is so common among Christian characters in Hindi cinema, even leads (Madhubala’s Edna from Howrah Bridge is the polar opposite of Mary).

And, I liked the way Mary’s upbringing is built into her character: as a Christian myself, who married into a Hindu family, I know how uncomfortable and alien a lot of Hindu rituals can feel to someone who has never grown up with them: Mary’s dilemma offers a sensitive insight into something a lot of Hindus wouldn’t even realize can be a problem for someone who isn’t a Hindu, and isn’t polytheistic. Plus, the calm and non-melodramatic way in which Mary’s religion is accepted was refreshing.

I also liked the music (by Hemant; the lyrics are by Rajendra Krishan). My favourite songs from the film include Yeh mard bade dil sard, Vrindavan ka Krishna Kanhaiya, and O raat ke musaafir chanda zara bataa de.

What I didn’t like:

Not much, really. I do wish that there had been more of the Raju-Sita romance: Raju’s pining for Sita is in evidence (even in a song, Gaana na aaya, bajaana na aaya), but Sita’s feelings towards Raju are completely glossed over.

Overall, though, a very enjoyable film and one I’m glad I watched. Happy 100th, Mr Ganesan!

33 thoughts on “Miss Mary (1957)

  1. Good Afternoon Madhuji,

    Well written article on this very good movie. As you said Romance between the Hero & Heroine is not significant, it is obvious as their goals are different.Telugu version is equally good or even better and also the music.

    Thanks and blessings.
    Uma

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I did try very hard to get hold of a subtitled version of the Telugu film, but sadly, couldn’t. Will keep trying – I do want to watch it, very much.

      • Good Afternoon Madhuji,

        I too tried for a copy with English subtitles but in vain.
        Any way this is the best print available on youtube.

        Missamma | Telugu B/W Full Movie 1955 | N.T.Rama Rao | Savitri | ANR | Jamuna | ETV Cinema

        It is very strange, why Vijaya productions chose Jemini ganeshan for this role in Hindi instead Dilip Kumar would have been the best choice.
        Well different minds.
        All these movies from Vijaya and Vauhini productions are all blockbusters.

        In addition for further information, this movie was scripted by the Producer Chakrapani himself with assistance of another writer Pingali Nagendra Rao, based on a Bengali play “Manmoyee Girls School’, written by Rabindranath Maitra and a novel by name ‘Detective” written by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay (wiki)

        Blessings
        Uma

        • Actually Manmoyee Girls School was a Bengali play written back in 1932 by Rabindranath Maitra. The super sucess of the play probably because of its outright comic take and its progressive depiction of different religions, led to its film version in Bengali in 1935. The film catapulated Kanan Bala & Jawhar Ganguly into superstardom, particularly Kanan, who in the subsequent years would attain national fame through her New Theatres films like Vidyapati, Mukti, Street Singer etc.

          Chakrapani followed the impersonation plot of a Hindu guy and a Christian girl pretending to be a married Hindu couple pretty faithfully, but added the lost & found theme and turned the character of Haranidhi (played by Kishore here In Miss Mary) into a good for nothing wannabe detective, this part being based on Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s short story Detective.

          In 1958, Manmoyee Girls School was again remade in Bengali starring Uttam Kumar, Arundhati Devi & Bhanu Bandopadhyay.
          In addition, it was also remade in Marathi as Jhakli Mooth and also in Sinhala, making it one of the most remade films ever made in this country.

          • I had no idea! Thank you so much for that piece of information. Have you watched the 1958 version of the film? Is it any good? (Though, considering how much I like Uttam Kumar, I would probably watch it even if it wasn’t that great).

            • Nope, I haven’t, though the elders in the family have. I doubt if the film is right now available on VCD/DVD/or any digital platform, even though I have heard a leading company is trying to release it soon on these platforms, which we all hope it does because any film of Uttam Kumar and Bhanu Bandopadhyay is worth watching and preserving, and this film in addition was a big hit too.

              One of the elders that I knew had seen Manmoyee Girls School, Missamma and Miss Mary; and was of the opinion that all three of them are good, with the Bengali one being more subdued in its treatment while the southern productions being more frolicking. But these changes are perfectly in sync with the different regional sensibilities of our audiences.

              More than any other version, I am intrigued by the Sinhala version because me pretty sure that the Sinhalese would have adopted it as Buddhist-Christian love story. And that would be pretty interesting to see in my view, just to see how the dynamics change with a change in religion.

              • I did look around on Youtube for the Bengali film, and while I didn’t find it (which is proof of what you mentioned about its availability on digital media), I did find clips of it being performed on stage.

                Yes, now that you mention it, the Sinhala version does sound intriguing. I wonder what the film was called. Must do some ferreting around for that…

  2. Your narration does Justice to the film. I saw the Telugu version first and am tempted to make one or two comparisons.
    NTR was definitely better in the role as Hero. Better looking and better in the Telugu version of the songs especially Woh Raat ke Musafir.
    Ramana Reddy was funnier as the comic villain. Savitri was as good as Meena though Meena is prettier. Jamuna equally pretty in both versions was more at ease in Telugu.
    Nageshwara Rao was more than a match for Kishore.
    SV Ranga Rao in the Telugu version has a majestic presence.
    Overall the Telugu film was more enjoyable.

    • Good After noon,

      You are very much right Sir.
      And also this is the only film in which AM Rajahji, was chosen to playback all the songs for NTR, by the producers, instead of Ghantasala gaaru, with Music scored by S. Rajeswar Rao gaaru.
      And they were damn right, as it also became a musical hit.

      Regards,
      Uma

    • Thank you for that comparison! One big reason I wanted to watch the Telugu version of this film is because of the cast – I do think NTR in his early films is very good-looking, and Savitri I fell in love with when I watched Maya Bazaar. I can see her doing complete justice to the role of Mary.

      I hope I can get hold of a subtitled version someday… would love to watch that.

  3. Finally! :) I’m so, so glad you got around to watching it! (I’d reviewed it myself back in 2012 or something.) I’m gladder still that you liked it. What impressed me a lot about this film is how matter-of-factly it treated religion. No looking down on Mary because she’s Christian; no converting her back into Hinduism because she’s born Hindu after all; no mocking Hinduism because of its polytheism (apart from Mary’s discomfort at the rituals); both Mary’s adopted father and Arun quote ‘all paths lead to God’ and there’s a subtle plea for multi-pluralism.

    I particularly loved Arun’s response when she returns furious aobut the haldi-kumkum and flowers: how it’s traditional, it’s considered auspicious, and besides, she looks beautiful.

    Besides, Meena sparkled in this film!

    • “no mocking Hinduism because of its polytheism (apart from Mary’s discomfort at the rituals)

      Exactly! And as someone who’s seen both faiths up close, I can vouch for how natural it is for Mary to feel uncomfortable with something that she may have seen around her in society, but which she’s never been a part of. It takes time to get used to rituals so alien to the faith one’s grown up in. :-)

      I think this one is definitely one of the most matter-of-fact films I’ve seen about differing religions. They don’t make a huge hoo-ha about it and accept it all naturally. That’s what real tolerance is about, I think.

      And yes, Meena Kumari did sparkle in this. Every time I see her in a light, bubbly role like this, I do wish she hadn’t got slotted so awfully as the Tragedy Queen.

  4. Hello,
    A review which has compelled me look for it at the earliest.
    The reason is of course, sparkling Meena Kumari.
    Oh! She was really pretty. I must watch this.
    And the songs of too!
    Vrinadan ka Krishna Kanhaiya and, sakhi ri sun bole with so gaya sara zamana
    are my personal favorites.

    • Thank you so much, Anupji! Glad you liked this review. And sorry for not having replied to you earlier – I don’t know how I missed seeing your comment. :-(

      And yes, please do watch it! I think you’ll enjoy it.

  5. Nice review. Miss Mary is a delightful movie. I have seen the Tamil original I do not know how many times. I like the Tamil version as a movie, but I enjoy the music of Miss Mary more. The Tamil version too had very good music, all based on classical Carnatic Ragas by S.Rajeshwar Rao which also became hugely popular, but I find Hemant Kumar’s compositions more mellifluous., situation for situation.
    The high point of the Hindi songs is the poetic quality of the lyrics by Rajinder Krishan.
    ‘Brindavan ka Krishna Kanhaiya’ for instance is truly poetic, compared to the Tamil version by Tanjai Ramaiyadas which is just filmy stuff. The Hindi version actually amounts to a Bhajan!. Hemant Kumar was forced to retain this tune as it had become a huge hit in the South. But Hemant Kumar’s distinct hand is seen in the melodic background score and orchestration which are so much sweeter compared to the Tamil version.
    The scene where Mary takes music lessons has the nice song “Sakhi ri sun bole papiha us paar”. The same situation in the Telugu version has the classic kriti of Saint Tyagaraja ” Raga sudharasa panamu jesi” which extols the greatness of music! This is in the raga ‘Andolika’. The Tamil song in the situation is a Tamil translation of this kriti.
    Perhaps the song I like most in Miss Mary is ” So gaya sara zamana”. The line ” Chand pehle bhi nikhalta tha magar aisa na tha, aaj aisi baat quon hai, kuch samjh aati nahin” expresses the mystic hold of romantic love so beautifully! The spark of love makes the moon look different- what an imagination, in tune with the maddening hold of love!
    The opening song of street beggars is good both in the Tamil and Hindi versions. Here too the Hindi version is more poetic, transcending the merely filmi idiom.
    When it comes to performances, S.V.Ranga Rao in the Tamil version is head and shoulders above all. He looks so majestic, every inch a born Zamindar!
    Meena Kurmari is so lovable in a non-serious role, doubling our delight coming after Mem Sahib (1956)

  6. Thanks for reminding us these forgotten gems!
    I had an occassion to watch the movie recently in connection with a Gujarati series of articles on songs in Raag Pahadi which i am writing for an e-magazine webgurjari.in. ( ‘ so gaya sara zamana ‘ is in Pahadi ).
    The film is pure, unadulterated entertainment. The film also has a sweet little solo sung by Hemant Kumar, lasting only a minute on screen, enacted on piano by Gemini Ganeshan. The wordings are ‘ ye chand taare saare ke saare, rakh doonga kadmo me ek din tumhare ‘.
    It is a typical Hemant song sung so beautifully. Unfortunately, it has just this Mukhda and nothing further !

    • I had completely forgotten about Yeh chaand taare (it’s been several months since I watched this film), so I had to revisit the film and check that out. It is beautiful, I do wish there had been more of it.

  7. Have not seen the hindi version and my only exposure is to the Telugu version which I saw many many times. Telugu version is a masterpiece. I am reasonably confident NTR is well ahead of Ganesan while honors are shared by other artistes.

    • Yes, several other people have also remarked on how good the Telugu version is. I do wish I could get hold of a subtitled version of it! I like NTR in his early films a lot, and Savitri has become a favourite since I watched Maya Bazaar.

    • Good Morning Dear Ravi,

      You are absolutely right. The way NTR ji displayed his talent in performing that role is immaculate.

      The way he exhibited the culture in respecting and honoring a Lady was quite natural, very gentlemanly and is laudable.

      No one in our Indian film industry can do such justice to that role.

      I am not qualified to comment on Mahanati Savitri ji’s performance.

      It was good Bhanumathiji rejected the role as Leela ji was preferred as a playback singer to her.

      And then so was Jamuna ji with a teenage innocent girl role, absolutely impeccable performance in both Telugu and Hindi versions.

      And last but not least Relangi and Ramana Reddy gets equal honors.

      And also Chakrapani preferred AM Rajah instead of Gahantasala ji as the playback singer for NTR ji. S.Rajeswar Rao felt inconvenient for this thinking his compositions will get damaged.

      I also read that he avoided the public till he got public version of appreciation for his astounding tunes including background music.

      I read there were so many such events occurred in making this blockbuster.

      Regards
      Uma

      • Good morning sir,
        Relangi did a great job in the role. I guess Om Prakash would have done justice to the role. Personally not a great fan of AM Raja. NTR + Ghantasala is a great combination.

        • Good Afternoon dear Ravi,

          You are true. But you see, we are not so wise as these pioneers of our film industry.

          I read some article long ago on making Missamma, like choice of the alterate Heroine, Playback singing etc.

          Chakrani ji studied NTR role as a very soft and compromising type of character.
          So he wanted a real soft voice and he found AM Rajah as the right person.

          And also the song by Relangi was proposed to be done by Ghantasala sir, but ignored for reasons suspected on inferior complexes (Heroe songs to AM Rajah and comedian song to Ghantasala sir).

          But it seems S. Rajeswar Rao garu felt very uncomfortable with the intervention and the decision of Chakrapani ji though AM Rajah was his favorite singer.

          Then Chakrapani reminded Rajeswar Rao garu about his choice of AM Rajah as the playback singer for ANR for the film Vipranarayana, the movie made just before this movie.

          And the result was, SRR accepted Chakrapani ji’s decision.

          And then Bhanumathi ji was the original choice to do Missamma as the main heroine and Savitri (Jamuna’s role) as the second heroine.

          And the film was shot for few feet about some 10% of the movie.
          At this time Bhanumathi ji wanted only afternoon sessions for shooting due to festive reasons.

          This was negatived by LV. Prasad ji as well as Chakrapani ji.

          Also Bhanumathi was not aware that P. Leelamma and P. Suseelamma were opted to do playback singing for her role but not self.

          Both these incidents annoyed Bhanumathi to take a rigid decision of walking out of the film.

          Following this LV. Prasadji and Chakrapaniji moved Savitri ji forward in to the Lead role and brought Jamuna to the second heroine place.

          Well at the end of the day all went well with the movie standing as a blockbuster.

          Anyway the good relations between Bhanumathi ji and Chakrapaniji continued harmonious.

          Later Bhanumathiji commented, “Though I lost a good role because of minor issues, it is very happy to find a very good actress Savitri in our film industry”.

          And so was with S, Rajeswar Rao garu for all the songs in the movie became super hit.

          There are many more like this in making t his movie.

          Regarding Ghantasala sir, no doubt he was and is a great singer and I have no comments.

          But I think Vipranarayan and Missamma are the only two movies without Ghantasala sir.

          Apologies for any mistakes or false information if noticed, because all I wrote is based on News from relatives, friends, media, film magazines, News, papers, public talk in the past and internet wiki at present.

          Regards
          Uma

          • Uma Maheshwar garu,
            What you are saying must be true. The Character of NTR is much softer than what he was portraying till then. Definitely the judgement of Chakrapani-ji is definitely is much better than my personal biases :-) . I actually find it hard to imagine Bhanumati in the role of Savitri. Anyway the finished product is so good in all the languages.

            @Dustedoff – I am hoping this conversation of ours is only to understand and speculate on the casting decisions and you would not see them as tangential to your main post which is a wonderful one !!

            • Good Evening dear Ravi,
              On one different occasion, I already expressed my apologies to Madhu ji, for deviating from the actual subject. But still we are not out of the track. We are sharing information on the same Miss Mary.

              Chakrapaniji who adopted that Bengali play felt that the role was tailor made for Bhanumathi ji, and in fact, I believe he even advised Savithriji to imitate Bhanumathiji, seeing her movies.

              This Globe has the immense wealth of knowledge in millions of sections and divisions and The Films Division is just a Dot on the Earth. with tons of Sweet and sour.information which we are sharing, known and unknown to us.

              For example:
              How many do realize that A Movie ‘Naya Daur’ stood as one of the reasons for the disaster in Madhubalaji’s life and at the same time made
              Vijayanthi Mala a super star.

              How a girl playing and climbing on trees stealing Mangoes became a sensational singing star bringing glory to Naushadji’s compositions par excellence, even surpassing Lata j. She is none other than Uma Devi aliias Tun Tun.

              Tun Tun – Biography in Hindi | टुन तुन की जीवनी | बॉलीवुड कॉमेडी अभिनेत्री |Life Story|जीवन की कहानी

              This song of her is still to date a very famous

              Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon – Dard – Uma Devi – Suraiya – Munawwar Sultana – Old Hindi Songs

              Please listen to her all songs in the musical hit Chandralekha of 1948 with same music director S. Rajeswar Rao.

              Chandralekha (1948) Songs – T. R. Rajakumari – M. K. Radha – Ranjan | Hits of 40’s (HD)

              And how many of us are aware that Shankar Jaikishen rejected to direct Music for ‘Jisdesh main Ganga bhahathi hai’.

              And then the one and the only song Lataji rejected to sing became a top hit, but Lataji never heard the song again or seen that movie after it was recorded.

              Main Kaa Karoon Raam Mujhe Buddha | Sangam | Vyjayanthimala | Raj Kapoor | Bollywood Evergreen Song

              Gaurav’s Diary – Raj Kapoor convinced Lata Mangeshkar to sing a Song

              And how many of us know that 100 violins were used to record
              a Ab Laut Chalen – Raj Kapoor – Padmini – Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai – Bollywood Songs

              So this Films Division has lot of knowledge, iome Film makers became rich and some became paupers, some sour and some sweet, useless or useful,
              but knowledge is knowledge, interesting or not.

              But the truth is, they all worked with dedication and sincerity with serious mind, to give us Masterpieces with Character, quality, Morality and equally entertaining.

              Apologies once again to Madhuji for using this forum to express my views
              Regards & blessings,
              Uma

              • @Umaji, Raviji: You are more than welcome to go off on a tangent (though I don’t really call this conversation of yours a tangent, since it is very deeply connected to Miss Mary itself). The rest of us who read your views are getting to learn more, so it’s good for us, too!

  8. Dear Madhuji,

    I am an avid reader of your blog for long, but this is the first time I am commenting. The first time I got to know of this film was when I saw the song ‘O raat ke muasfir’ on SonyTV sometime in the late 90s.

    I had wanted to watch the movie for a long time now. After reading your blog, I decided to finally watch it and I loved the movie. I am in agreement with your comments about the way religion is handled in the movie. Also, there was no accent to Gemini Ganeshan’s dialogue delivery. Not sure if he himself dubbed for his role.

    The one thing I didn’t like was Jamuna’s acting and dialogue delivery. It was kind of grating. Not sure if her role was envisioned that way, but she seemed very childish. Even if her role was meant to be childish, her physical appearance and acting did not really match and the end result was irritating. Ditto, the performance of the actor, Randhir in John’s role.

    Meena Kumari’s acting was good. Although, I did feel she went over the top with her expressions a few times. Nevertheless, she looks pretty.

    Thank you for the wonderful review.

    -Abhijit

    • Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked this review, and that you liked the film too. I agree, Gemini Ganesan’s dialogue delivery was surprisingly good, with no trace of an accent. I too wonder if he dubbed for himself. And I agree about Jamuna; didn’t like her one bit. I’ve seen her in a couple of other Hindi films, Humraahi being one, and have come to the conclusion that she is not one of my favourite actresses. She’s too over the top and in this one she is definitely childish to the point of being irritating.

  9. It is indeed a very delightful movie. There was nothing I didn’t actually like.
    As far as the comparisons are concerned, well at least they were made in two versions at the same time, or nearly so. That was the intent of producers, right? So it really doesn’t matter. They were not classics yet.
    What I do not like is the current trend of remakes (to make up for the lack of originality, I suppose). And what I am really dreading is the remake of Chupke- Chupke. 😟😧

    • Interestingly, there’s a recent comment by Raunak (you’ll need to scroll up to see it) about the Bengali antecedents of this film. Very interesting.

      I hear you on the remakes. :-( Why must they take something that is hard to best in its original, and make a hash of it? I am absolutely not going to watch the remake of Chupke-Chupke. I shudder to think what they will make of it.

  10. I love this review of one my favorite movies of all time, it is up there with Maya Bazaar. I want to preface by saying I have only watched this movie in Tamil (Missi amma), but I have watched that many many times. It felt like the same team from mayabazaar made this movie – Gemini Ganesan, Savitri, Ranga Rao and Thangavelu (equivalent to Kishore kumar) and Nambiar (equivalent to Randhir) etc.
    I have a small personal anecdote in connection with this movie and hope I can share here. In the Tamil version of the movie when Mary decides to teach Raju music to make Arun jealous, the song she chooses has these lyrics with this approximate translation – “All I have is you and all you have is me, so why this confusion?” (I am not sure if the hindi version has this sequence since the jokes come from Raju not knowing how to sing and it wouldnt make sense to have Kishore Kumar play it that way, but Thangavelu is great here.)
    When my wife and I first moved to the US we went to an ‘Indian’ party where it turned out that everyone other than us spoke Telugu (we speak Tamil). We were feeling a little left out not understanding the conversation around us. My wife looked at me and sang as a joke ” All I have is you and all you have is me” – and a lady sitting near us (whom we had never met before) turned around and finished the song “so why this confusion”. She is still one of our closest friend 18 years later :)

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