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Pakeezah is the story of a beautiful courtesan named Sahibjaan who is unable to break away from the cycle of prostitution until a young forest ranger named Salim falls in love with her enthralling beauty and innocence. Unfortunately, his wealthy parents are against their union.
Kamal Amrohi acquired a Cinemascope lens from MGM on a royalty basis for shooting the film. However, he detected a focusing error in the rush prints that had been missed by the cameraman and even the UK lab team that processed the film. On hearing of this, MGM instructed its Indian subsidiary chief not to collect any more royalty and gave the lens to Amrohi as a gift. See more »
Salim Ahmed Khan:
[in a note to Sahibjaan]
Aapke paon dekhe, bahut haseen hai. / Inhe zameen par mat utariyega, maile ho jayenge.
[Saw your feet; they are very beautiful. / Don't place them on the ground, they will get dirty]
See more »
This film opened to poor showings in the first few weeks. Then Meena Kumari died and it just brought the crowds rolling in. Songs on All India Radio, especially Inhi LogoN ne were played so often that I was sick of them at the time, despite recognising their beauty!
Yes, it did take all those years to make. This was because the marriage was a very unhappy one and Kamal Amrohi also had difficulty finding the money to make the film; looking at the sumptous sets and costumes, not surprising!! Not only does Meena Kumari age and fall ill but listen carefully to Lata's voice. Inhi logoN ne has her 50's younger voice while songs that were re-recorded like Chalo dildar chalo show clear development. I only wish someone would find the Ghulam Mohammad songs that weren't included in the film, because of changing fashions that called for fewer though slightly songs and publish them. Lata in a recent interview (2007) rated Ghulam Mohammad as one of the best composers she had ever worked with, apart from Madan Mohan (a great personal friend). Notice also that you hardly see the actors at all in the Chalo dildar songs, very unusual. There is only a brief shot of Raj Kumar from the middle distance and you only see the back of the supposed Meena Kumari. Kamal Amrohi made a virtue out of necessity and focused on the stars and moon. Any other film, this song would have had close-ups of both of them.
As for this being the finest film ever, I would beg to differ. It means you have missed a lot of Indian cinema, in no particular order, films like Barsaat (old), Devdas (older versions), Bandini, Do Bigha Zameen, Garam Hava, Dastak, Guddi, Aan, Pyasa, Kagaz ke Phool, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, Kabuliwallah, Abhimaan, Guide, Sujatha, Bombay ka Babu, Daag, Parineeta (old), Umrao Jaan, etc. etc. And if you valued music more than story the list would simply grow with beautiful scores from Barsat Ki Raat to Naya Daur, Teesri Manzil, Mahal, Aag, Jugnu, Anand, Mera Naam Joker: the list is really endless!
So enjoy Pakeezah but don't miss out on any of the above...
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