Mela (1948) Poster

(1948)

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5/10
Tear-drenched and saturated in melancholy
van_goethem25 November 2005
Mohan and Manu are childhood sweethearts. They grow up and become engaged. Mohan goes off to the city to buy jewellery for the wedding. He gets attacked and robbed and is taken to hospital where he remains unconscious for nearly a week.

Back in the village, folks are becoming worried. The wedding date is impending and the groom's a no-show. (Apparently, it doesn't occur to anyone to go and find out what may have happened to Mohan). The Panchayat (village court) accepts the lies of the villainous Mahku and his sidekick, Kalva that Mohan must have run off with a city girl.

Despite the protests of Mohan's father and the distraught Manju, the Panchayat decides that if a date has been set for a wedding, then a wedding there shall be. Makhu knows just where to find a groom; a rich contractor whose sister is looking to get some free home help. For a few rupees, Makhu does the deal with her.

The marriage takes place. Neither the bride nor the groom see each other's faces until after the ceremony. They are not a happy couple. The groom is an old man with a heart condition – and four young children. He didn't expect a young bride and promptly has a coronary - but manages to force Manju into promising to be a mother to the children.

Mohan returns from the city but he's too late and this tear-drenched, melancholic drama eventually reaches an improbable conclusion after much recrimination.

Even dedicated fans of Indian cinema are likely to find this movie hard to sit through. The camera remains rooted to the floor and the studio sets make it look like a filmed play rather than a motion picture. Even so, it does have compensations. The lovers' mating call is hauntingly beautiful and there are plenty of other songs (though the endless close-ups of Nargis' tear-streaked face do become a bit wearying by the end).
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