Sunday, September 9, 2007

Madhumati: A great movie with some wonderful music

In the 1950's, the pairing of Dilip Kumar and Vyjanthimala starred in a number of extremely successful movies, many of them classics. Some of them were: Bimal Roy's Devdas, B.R.Chopra's Naya Daur, Nitin Bose's Ganga Jamuna, and Bimal Roy's Madhumati. Madhumati was released in 1958, and won a number of awards for that year:
Filmfare Awards for Best Movie, Best Director (Bimal Roy), Best Actress (Vyjayanthimala), Best Music Director (Salil Choudhury), Best Supporting Actor (Johnny Walker), Best Art Direction, Best Female Playback (Lata Mangeshkar singing "aa ja re pardesiya"), Best Editing (Hrishikesh Mukherjee), and Best Dialogue (Rajinder Singh Bedi). With these number of awards, you can imagine what an impact the movie had.
And the surprising part about all this was that the movie was probably the most commercial movie that Bimal Roy had ever made. It was without doubt one of the most commerically successful movies that Bimal Roy had made, but Bimal Roy was more famous for making his social upliftment movie, with the most famous being Bandini, Sujata, Devdas, Do Bigha Zameen. Just a look at some of these movies can show you that these were some of the movies that made the 1950's the era of socially hard-hitting movies; where some of the romance of India's independence had gone away to be replaced by a much harder look at the state of India's society.
The movie had all the elements of a movie that was made for commercial success, it had a villain that you could hate from the depths of your heart Ugranaryan (Pran), a comic star (Johnny Walker), a dashing young hero who pines away for his departed love (Dilip Kumar), some incredible songs, a story dealing with reincarnation, with revenge and a person looking exactly like a twin (if you put all these elements into a modern movie, you can make a movie exactly like the movies you make today). The difference, and what makes this movie an incredible movie, is the direction of Bimal Roy. The movie has an incredible look and feel, and it helps that the lead cast of Dilip Kumar, Vyjanthimala and Pran gave some very good performances. Bimal Roy gives this film a spooky look with some effective use of fogs, mist and a storyline that dances between the real world and the supernatural.
Imagine a horror movie where 2 friends are stuck in the middle of nowhere in a storm after their car breaks down. They approach an old haveli (mansion) and decide to spend the night over there, and the door opens on its own; but wait, this is where the horror story ends. Inside, Dilip Kumar suddenly starts remembering what has happened in his previous birth, and it is connected to this place. A voice starts sounding all around him, “Aaja re pardesi, Main to kab se khadi is paar”. And then he starts recounting the story of his previous life.
And so the story goes, .. Dilip Kumar starts working as the manager of a timber firm, and his boss is Pran. The two don't get along well, since Dilip Kumar is not as respectful of what Pran wants. In the same area lives Vyjanthimala, innocent in the true sense. She is totally care-free, one with nature, close to birds, and also incredibly beautiful. They fall in love, although Madhumati (Vyjanthimala) is also desired by Pran, and since Pran does not like Anand (Dilip Kumar), he has an added interest in getting her to himself. In the meantime, Anand has met her father and assured him that he will marry Madhumati.
And then the pivotal theme, where Anand and Madhumati's father have to go out of the village, and then Pran traps Madhumati in the haveli. She is trying to run, but cannot get out, and then runs into a corridor, and ... then the scene ends. When Anand comes back, he confronts Pran, but does not get anything other than a beating. When wandering as a tragic lost lover, he comes across Madhavi, an exact double of Madhumati. She is a friendly sort, and when he lays out his story, she agrees to help him in getting revenge and getting Pran arrested.
So, they lay out a plan where Madhavi will approach Pran in the form of Madhumati, with the feeling that this will scare Pran into admitting his mis-deeds and get punishment. Plan goes spectacularly well, and Madhavi scares Pran into admitting his deeds (and it is also revealed that Madhumati had committed suicide to save her honor). And then the twist, at this point Madhavi comes and says that she got late, so who was the Madhavi who made Pran confess ?
The music of this film was great, so am attaching the songs below:

Madhumati - Suhana Safar

Madhumati - Jungle mein more nacha

Madhumati - Aaja re pardesi

Madhumati - Dil tadap tadap

Madhumati - Bichhwa

Madhumati - Zulmi sang aankh ladi

Madhumati - Ghadi ghadi mora dil

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