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Thursday, April 10, 2008


Baharon Ki Manzil (1966)

An accident (a bomb blast in Bombay) 16 years ago destroyed Nanda’s family – her parents and sister. Only one sister survived, and that was Radha, Nanda’s younger sister who was to be married soon. Radha lost her memory in the blast, so Subodh was easily able to persuade her that she was his wife, Nanda. Everybody else was told that Radha died in the blast. Radha’s fiance had met her only once (which is why he wasn't able to identify her 16 years later) and accepted her death, unquestioningly. Nalini, Subodh and Nanda’s daughter, must have been young enough to accept her Aunt as her Mom. Subodh and the new Nanda then made their home in Darjeeling (where I assume nobody knew the real Nanda). There, Radha was Nanda for 16 years before she had another bang on the head and returned to her present (of 16 years ago)!

Once Subodh realised that Radha couldn't be coerced into being Nanda, he set out to prove her insane, so she wouldn't be believed. Hence the “dead body” in her closet which was really a live woman who disappeared once she had scared Radha, but before anybody else arrived on the scene. Rajesh began his investigation into Radha’s story. From 16 year old hospital records he found that Nanda was the sister who died, and then everything fell into place. Subodh made one last attempt to retain his "wife" by running away with an unconscious Radha but a fortunate road accident on the way put paid to his existence. Radha and Rajesh lived happily-ever-after after that!

Mahal (1949) 

Shankar and Ranjana travel to faraway places where he hopes that he won't hear Kamini's haunting love song and finally be able to live happily-ever-after with his wife. But no matter how far they travel and what they do, he is still unable to forget Kamini. We find out about what happens on these travels through Ranjana's bitter letters to her Bhabhi. After two years of this madness, Ranjana decides to bring matters to a head and find out what ails her husband. She writes him a suicide note and disappears. Shankar is overjoyed to become a widower and rushes home to Kamini. Ranjana follows him and finds out that he loves another woman, and decides to avenge herself on both for her ruined life (but not before she's written to her Bhabhi about her plans, in detail). She swallows poison and then goes to the police to record her dying statement. She alleges that she's been poisoned by her husband so that he could be with his lover. She dies soon after and Shankar is arrested for her murder.

Shankar's lawyer friend Shrinath makes a valiant attempt to defend him. He has a surprise witness for defence: the Mahal's caretaker's veiled daughter Asha. When the veil is lifted, Asha is revealed as Kamini herself! She tells the court that growing up in the Mahal with the legend of Kamini and her faithful lover, she began to pretend that she was Kamini, too, and wished to be loved as wholeheartedly as the latter was. She used to walk around singing in the Mahal, pretending to be Kamini. After one such interlude, she saw Shankar and also witnessed how powerfully affected he was by the startling likeness between himself and Kamini's long-dead lover. Here was the opportunity for a servant girl to be loved truly and deeply by a man like Kamini's lover! So she played upon his feelings, using the Mahal's secret ways to good effect to convince him that she was Kamini's spirit. Once Shankar was hopelessly in love with her, she had planned for him to see Asha and realise that he could have his Kamini in her. Unfortunately, Shrinath interfered and Shankar landed up emotionally blackmailed into marrying Ranjana.

Unlike us, the trial court is less than impressed by Asha's story, and Shankar is sentenced to be hanged for murdering Ranjana. The day before his hanging, he requests Shrinath to marry Asha before he dies, so that he will permanently lose her in this lifetime, hopefully to be re-united with her in the next. As luck would have it, Ranjana's letter, detailing her revenge plan to her Bhabhi, is finally found by the police (I think it got lost in mail). Shankar is promptly released, and he makes his way to Shrinath's place. Shrinath and Asha have just been married, but when the former realises that his friend has been spared to live a long life, he declares his intention to make the supreme sacrifice. Before he can do so, though, Shankar drops dead. THE END.


  1. Hey thanks for the 'spoiler'! Might one ask a question about logic in Bollywood movies - so what was Subodh's motive in claiming Radha as his wife to start with? He was hopelessly in love with her? Or was it her property he wanted?

  2. A question of logic? In Bollywood films?!!! If you want to enjoy Bollywood films (and I know you do!) you need to suppress this ridiculous desire to find logic in films. Or at least take a course in filmi-logic.

    As to Subodh's motives for claiming Radha as his wife - they were completely romantic and not at all mercenary. Makes change from mercenary villains or plain obsessed ones!

  3. Oh poor Subodh! 16 years of love and then she forgets it all? By the way, do you realise this is a 'different' movie in the sense that a woman is actually allowed to fall in love with a guy after living with another in 'sin'! Oh, or did they have a 'pure' and platonic relationship for all this time?

    And yes, I do enjoy the 'logicless' Bollywood films but your reviews generally make them sound more interesting and logical and the 'whys' 'whats' and 'hows' just pop up.

    Maybe you should write a post on filmi logic?

  4. Yes, Shalini and I were discussing just that! A platonic 16 years is never implied. Yet, nowhere does she consider herself "impure" or unworthy of a new relationship. Also she is clearly in her mid to late thirties (she was an adult 16 years ago!) - so not only does she get to have a life at that age with romance (and Dharmendra) thrown in, she also gives no intimation of being moved by maa ki mamta toward her niece. A very unusual Bollywood heroine even by today's standards! Its too bad Meena Kumari was too drink-ravaged to make a bigger impact, here.

    I do NOT make the films sound better than they are - I just suspend disbelief better than you do! Filmi-logic does deserve writing up, but I dont think a single post can do it justice - its simply too vast a field for that.

  5. I don't know what logic you are searching for here.
    It is all plausible! Subodh is a lecherous guy, lusting after his wife's younger sister. After all he is Rehman! You know the chotte sarkar of Sahib bibi aur ghulam!
    Jokes apart, the way you have explained it, I am completely satisfied!

  6. hahaha! So true - Rehman being in love/lust with a sis-in-law is totally plausible AND logical. :-D

    Have you seen this one, Harvey?

  7. No, I haven't! *sobbing*
    But have to put it on my shopping list.

  8. Well, you may not enjoy it so much now that you know the story with spoilers!

    Let me know if you cant find it.

  9. O that doesn't matter, I forget all the stories say, after a month or so!And anyway I'll search for the movie, when I'm in Bombay and that won't be earlier than August 2010

  10. So you can watch thrillers over and over again and still be surprised by the ending! Thats a GIFT!!!

  11. Thanks BV for the story of Mahal! Am surprised you didn't like it though- it seems really action packed, what with real people falling dead and ghosts turning to be humans!

  12. Hmm... I think you should watch it and decide whether you like it or not. It should be one of the films you watch this Christmas! ;D