In order to save her grandfather's mansion, Rama agrees to marry a much older male, Madanlal, who decides to sell some artifacts to prospective wealthy buyers, including Mr. and Mrs. Rai. ... See full summary »

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(dialogue) (as Pandit Anand Kumar), (screenplay) (as Pandit Anand Kumar) | 1 more credit »
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Baldev 'Baldeva' Singh
Zaheeda ...
Rama / Gopa (as Zahida)
Tarun Bose ...
Madanlal
...
Prema Rai
Anwar Hussain ...
Ramdas (as Anwar)
Mukri ...
Naubat
Badri Prasad ...
Durga Prasad
Amar
Brahm Bhardwaj ...
Madanlal's Lawyer (as Brahm Bharadwaj)
Vishwa Mehra ...
Lakhan Singh (Bandit) (as Vishva Mehra)
...
Idle bandit (as Vijay Khote)
Praveen Paul ...
Orphanage Matron (as Pravin Paul)
Keshto Mukherjee ...
Buyer (stammerer) (as Keshto Mukherji)
Vinod Sharma
Kundan Malik ...
(as Kundan Mallik)
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Storyline

In order to save her grandfather's mansion, Rama agrees to marry a much older male, Madanlal, who decides to sell some artifacts to prospective wealthy buyers, including Mr. and Mrs. Rai. The sale is hampered by heavy rains and the entry of a traveling painter-singer, Awara, as well as four bandits, including Baldev Singh, who is wanted by the police for the brutal murder of his wife. Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

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1968 (India)  »

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Soundtracks

Mahalon Ka Raja Mila, Tumhari Beti Raaj Karegi
Performed by Lata Mangeshkar
Lyrics by Indivar, Kaifi Azmi
Composed by Roshan
Music on HMV
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User Reviews

 
Great classic on DVD - should be better known outside India
5 April 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

As a US resident, I had never heard of this film (the title means "Strange Night") before I saw the very high user rating it had on IMDb

  • mainly, I suppose, from Asian viewers. I found the DVD on Netflix and


ordered it with an open mind. I was very impressed by it. In this review I want to tell other US residents without a background in Indian cinema studies why they might want to watch it and what to expect. (By the way, please don't believe the blurb which focuses on a man thinking a woman looks like his wife. This happens, but it's by no means the focus of the film.)

This film is not exactly in the realistic style. In its general structure, it is maybe more like a Puccini opera or a work from the classical Greek theatre. My reference to Puccini is not meant to emphasize the musical elements of the film. (There are basically five songs, some of which are sung by the characters with joy and pride while, in counterpoint, we watch fate and malice prepare different outcomes.) Mainly I mean that the dialogue is more central, and the meanings of the sentences more important, than in the modern realistic western film tradition which judges the film on how well the actors reproduce the actions of real people in the situation. The characters speak to get their positions out there, rather than (mainly) to shove the narrative arc of the story down some tricky path. But there is an arc.

At the beginning of the film, the "cold open" as we now call it, we are introduced to Baldev, a warm-hearted guy, working as a watchman in charge of some bungalows, willing to fetch everyone's purchases from the market, even though the bags get mixed up and his friend teases him as a fool for letting himself be used by everyone. Baldev loves Gopa from afar, too bashful to speak to her... it is a warm-hearted, rom-comish scene. At length he proposes and sings of his happiness.

Then the opening titles come - and then we are somewhere else, much later, with a grimmer tone. Baldev is nowhere to be seen. Honestly, I thought for a while that through some convention of Indian cinema the first part was an independent short subject, or maybe an ad for some other movie. But that wasn't correct. Baldev turns up later, in changed circumstances.

We are at a "rest house", or palatial hostel, occupied by the disabled owner; his devoted servant, Ramdas; and his granddaughter, Rama, played by the same actress as Gopa in the earlier segment. The building and its family treasures are to be sold at auction to satisfy the debts owed to cruel and wealthy Mr. Madan. But he announces that he will forgive the debt if Rama will marry him. The grandfather won't have it, but Rama is unwilling to have him turned out...

The exploitation of women by cruel men, and of the poor by the rich, are themes of the rest of the movie. We also told of choices which the poor must make - whether to sacrifice their lives to preserve or rescue others, whether to take revenge, and how to live.

An elderly rich man, Mr. Rai, and his young wife, Prema, arrive for the now-canceled auction. The weather is threatening, and they are invited to stay over. A vagabond artist also seeks shelter from the storm. Later others arrive. We hear more of their lives, and the consequences of the choices they have made, or haven't had. Ultimately a last set of choices gets made.

When the movie was over, I felt lucky and clever at the same time. Lucky, in that the opportunity now exists to see movies made fifty years ago on the other side of the world. Clever, in that I had the good sense to reason that very high ratings on IMDb mean something and might provide the opportunity to enjoy something that I would never have thought of on my own. I would watch this again. The songs are really beautiful, especially against the remembered backdrop of the portions of the movie in which they were sung.


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