6.6/10
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Achhut Kanya (1936)

An "untouchable" girl and a Brahmin boy fall in love, but the strict caste system and the gossip of the villagers threaten to keep them apart.

Director:

Franz Osten

Writers:

J.S. Casshyap (dialogue), Niranjan Pal (dialogue) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Devika Rani ... Kasturi
Ashok Kumar ... Pratap
Monorama Monorama ... Meera
Pramila ... Kajri
Kamta Prasad Kamta Prasad ... Dukhia
Kusum Kumari Kusum Kumari ... Kalyani
Anwari Anwari ... (as Anweri)
P.F. Pithawala P.F. Pithawala ... Mohan
Kishori Lal Kishori Lal ... Babulal
Ishrat Ishrat ... Sukhlal
N.M. Joshi N.M. Joshi ... Police Inspector
Khosla Khosla ... Patient
Mumtaz Ali Mumtaz Ali ... Dancer
Sunita Devi Sunita Devi ... Dancer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Najam Naqvi Najam Naqvi ... (as Anwar)
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Storyline

A circular story, told in flashback, in which eternal repetition is only interrupted by death in the form of a relentlessly linear railway engine. The film opens at a railway crossing where a man is about to kill his wife when the narrative spins into the past via a song. The central story is of the unhappy love affair between Kasturi, the Harijan (Untouchable) daughter of the railway level-crossing guard Dukhia, and Pratap, the Brahmin son of the grocer Mohan. At first, rumor and mob violence are deployed to lethal effect in order to maintain a 'traditional', oppressive morality. Later, when the main protagonists are about to conform and marry selected partners, rumor and maliciousness again intervene to trigger renewed violence until the on-rushing train of fate stops the strife. Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

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User Reviews

 
One of Hindi Cinema's early blockbusters
27 April 2014 | by ashtray25See all my reviews

Kasturi (Devika Rani) and Pratap (Ashok Kumar) are childhood friends, despite the fact that they are from opposite ends of the social spectrum: She is an untouchable and Pratap is a brahman. Although the two are evidently in love, social conventions preclude any possibility of marriage. Both of them bow to social pressures and marry someone else. Not unexpectedly, the consequences are disastrous.

Achhut Kanya was one of the earliest blockbusters of Hindi cinema. Typically of Bombay Talkies movies of that era, the movie is a reformist piece, a social commentary on the evils of the caste system.

Viewed today, the acting would appear over the top and unnatural, but one has to remember that talkies were a pretty new phenomenon in 1936. As with early talkies anywhere in the world, the characters are too verbose and the dialogue delivery is unnatural.

On the flip side are the gorgeous visuals. Its one of the most magnificently shot movies I've ever seen- an extraordinary feat, given the primitive technology of the time. And there's Devika Rani, who's got to be one of the most beautiful faces to have graced Indian cinema.

Achhut Kanya was only the second movie for Ashok Kumar, whose inexperience shows. It was a surreal experience to see him in a cute and boyish avatar. He plays second fiddle to the far more assured Devika Rani, who was THE star of the era (she appears first even in the credits). I doubt if anyone watching this movie in 1936 would have ever imagined that this 'green', boyish looking hero would become one of the legends of Indian cinema.

The songs are so different from what we're used to today, that its impossible to comment on them- the songs are outstanding, but just not what we would imagine as filmy music in this day and age.

To sum it up: Achhut Kanya is best viewed as a piece of cinematic history- seen today, a lay viewer today will surely find it boring.


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Details

Country:

India

Language:

Hindi | Urdu

Release Date:

1936 (India) See more »

Also Known As:

Untouchable Girl See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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