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Suresh Sinha, a famous director, discovers star potential in Shanti, a woman he stumbled into one rainy evening, and casts her as the lead in a film. In a twist of fate, Shanti becomes a superstar and Suresh faces a decline in his career.
In Faizabad, British India, Dilawar is sentenced to several years in prison after Amiran's Daroga dad testifies against him. After his discharge around 1840, he extracts his vengeance by ... See full summary »
The setting is the city of Lucknow in northern India, where Islamic culture flourished. Two of the three best friends who live in this city have fallen in love with the same woman named ... See full summary »
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.
It took 14 years for this film to be completed. To begin with, the film was launched in 1958, jointly planned by Kamal Amrohi and 'Meena Kumari'. It was launched in black-and-white, but when colour came in vogue, Amrohi scrapped those portions already shot and decided to start again. Later, Cinemascope came into vogue, and Amrohi acquired a Cinemascope lens from MGM and scrapped the plain colour portions too. Then Amrohi and Kumari separated in 1964, bringing filming to an indefinite halt. Finally, the film was resumed in 1968, and though by then Kumari was suffering from alcoholism and was in critical condition, she was still Amrohi's only choice and she agreed to complete the film. 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]
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Composed by Naushad Ali See more »
At last - I've finally got round to it and managed to see a "clean" copy of Pakeezah! Up until now I've only had a mangled scratchy jerky version taped off Dubai TV sometime in the '90's, with quirky English subtitles, dizzying widescreen coverage and a fluid colour with a mind of its own. Having thought the world of such a poor (and short) copy I find the decent one was well worth the wait and the full 140 minutes even more of a pleasure than I thought possible.
This was the lovely Meena Kumari's film from start to finish, and I believe was planned by her from 1958 on, finally realising it in 1971. What a shame it was that chronic alcoholism finally killed her soon afterwards, and in fact that she was too ill to perform in some of the scenes in Pakeezah, necessitating a body double. In some scenes the strain definitely shows in her face.
The story of Purity versus Adversity I can only treat as fiction having no experience of anything remotely close to it, but I'm led to understand that it faithfully depicts a world now gone that must have been common at one time in India. It's a sparkling and colourful film with a simple relentless epic message, an intense romantic tragedy which is somehow simultaneously feelgood too. But to me it's the peerless golden music by Ghulam Mohammed as sung by the incomparable Lata Mangeshkar - especially Thare Rahiyo - and its part in the unfolding of the story that makes this film so outstanding. I've seldom heard such serious, beautiful, poetic, wondrously sung and played songs on any movie soundtrack. Singin' In The Rain may be my favourite musical film but Pakeezah has my favourite music - yet Lata said that the songs themselves meant nothing special to her. The only pity is that the also unique Mohammed Rafi only had the one song in here, albeit a classic duet with Lata.
Because of all this but not blind to its faults, Pakeezah is my favourite Indian movie, filmed at a time when the Westernisation of India was gathering pace and watched now when Western values seem to be state sponsored and de rigueur. At the very least watch Pakeezah for a taste of what Indian "pop" music had to offer the world before it was all jettisoned for drum machines, the Bollywood Beat and bhangra.
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