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Pakeezah (1972)

The story of a prostitute, with a pure heart (PAKEEZAH), and grand dreams...



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Cast overview, first billed only:
D.K. Sapru ...
Hakim Saab (as Sapru)
Nawab Zafar Ali Khan
Vijay Laxmi
Jagdish Kanwal
Madame Gauhar Jaan
Pratima Devi ...
Salim's Badi Amma
Prakash Gill ...
Hashim Khan (Guy on the Horse)
Praveen Paul ...
(as Parveen Paul)
Chanda ...
(as Chanda Bai)


A girl, whose mother dies of sorrow from her husband's family's rejection, grows up singing and dancing like her mother. She works as a dancing girl and is courted by a prince, but can think only of a man she has never met, who left her a message on the train. She dreams of him and cannot dance, becomes frightened and runs into the night Written by William Kennedy <william.kennedy@spl.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Musical | Romance | Drama





Release Date:

1972 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Pure Heart  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


During the making of the film, composer 'Ghulam Mohammed' and cinematographer Josef Wirsching died, leaving director Kamal Amrohi at a loss. Eventually, though, composer Naushad was brought in to compose the background score; and after Wirsching's death, over a dozen of Bombay's top cinematographers stepped in as/when they had a break from their other assignments, and they maintained an even look. See more »


Hakim Saab: Jo log doodh se jal jate hain woh chhas bhi phoonk phoonk kar peete hain.
[Those who get burnt by milk blow into buttermilk too before drinking it]
Salim Ahmed Khan: Afsos, log doodh se bhi jal jate hain.
[Alas, people get burnt by milk too]
See more »


Referenced in Banarasi Babu (1973) See more »


Composed by Naushad Ali
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User Reviews

A sumptuous example of Indian film-making at its best!
30 December 1998 | by See all my reviews

Perhaps the most polished and accomplished of all Indian films - Pakeezah does not fall into any of the traps commonly associated with Bollywood film (ie tackiness, farce, wholesale and unsuccessful imitation of western film themes/genres). Pakeezah is indigenous to the Sub-Continent and authentic, almost Madam Butterfly-like in plot. Characters are well-developed, direction, although sometimes unrefined by today's standards, perceptive and convincing. The Urdu-speaking milieux at the time of Pakeezah were masters of understatement and how the dialogue conveys the subtleties of the age! The acting (particularly the 'looks' and the dynamic between characters) are a delight to behold although the nuances may be lost on contemporary viewers or those not acquainted with the mores and customs of Muslim India.

Coupled, with a captivating screenplay is a beautiful musical score, enhanced by the protagonist displaying eminent command of classical Indian dance (kathak). As is the case with most romantic tragedies, the heroine must die, but she does not take her leave of the audience without the viewer feeling he/she has been party to a truly memorable cinema experience. Pakeezah is surely the pinnacle of what Indian cinema has produced and is unlikely to be paralleled.

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