I’d been meaning to watch this film for a while now, because there’s a family history related to Lahore.
My uncle David Vernon Liddle ‘Verni’, as some of you may know, was a guitarist in Hindi cinema (this guest post, written by my father, Verni’s younger brother, is all about him). In 1947, Verni—then very young, no more than 16 years of age, but already an accomplished musician and making inroads into the Hindi film industry—was in Lahore and recording the songs for Lahore. Partition happened, and of course, there was so much violence and chaos that Verni had to flee Lahore and head eastwards into India. En route, during his travels, he ended up losing his sole pair of chappals and for quite a few days wandered about barefoot. Once he landed up in Punjab, he was able to make his way to some relatives in Ludhiana, and an aunt finally gave him a new pair of slippers! Verni also spent some time right after he came into Indian Punjab, working at a langar in a camp. The camp included Muslims and Sikhs, and Verni, being a Christian, was one of the few who was therefore not regarded with suspicion by anyone. This was what got him a job (sort of) serving food at the camp.
I am not sure about the story behind how Lahore came to be made. Since the music of most films back then used to be recorded before the film itself was completed, it’s possible that the songs of Lahore (written by Rajinder Krishan and composed by Shyam Sundar) had been readied even before filming began. As it is, it’s not as if the songs are very specific to this film or any particular scenarios; they are ‘generic’ love songs and sad songs, which could be fitted in pretty much anywhere in the average 50s or 60s film. It may just be that the real story of Lahore, of Partition disrupting a romance and a family, evolved somewhere in the course of time before, during and just after Partition.
So, this was a film I wanted to watch.
Sadly, I could find only one copy online (on the SEPL YouTube channel, never one I am happy to view films on because they have zero QA). This version turned out to be a mess: not only were there scenes arbitrarily chopped off, midway through the film, the sequence of the reels went for a toss too, so the chronology was all haywire.
This review, therefore, will be a little different from my usual style. What follows is not as detailed a synopsis as I usually provide, and it includes most of the film, so be aware that there are
Some spoilers ahead.
The story is set in Lahore, where Chaman (Karan Dewan) and Leelo (Nargis) are neighbours as well as collegemates, and sweethearts. Their love story is known and approved by their respective families. Leelo only has her mother (?), but Chaman lives with a fairly large family.