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BLAST FROM THE PAST

Kaajal (1965)

Meena Kumari, Raaj Kumar, Dharmendra, Padmini, Durga Khote, Mehmood



Spontaneous Durga Khote

Probably no writer has ever ruled the Hindi paperback market as prominently as Gulshan Nanda did for over two decades from the 1960s. Scorching the Hindi heartland with diabolical plots, Nanda once enjoyed a status that many script and storywriters can only dream of, with more than a dozen of his novels turning into silver jubilee films.Granted his stories had sensational twists and critics didn't ascribe literary talent to his writing, yet none can take away the fact that he was the Harold Robbins of India.“Kaajal” too was a movie well-adapted for the screen by Nanda (seen fleetingly in the film like Hitchcock) from his own novel “Maadhavi”, though there is no denying that script writer Phani Majumdar and dialogue writer Kedar Sharma added gloss to the finished product. And despite some fine art design by Sant Singh and good camerawork by Sudhin Mazumdar, the film's glamour quotient was actually raised by the magnificent poetry of Sahir woven to excellent tunes by Ravi that haunt listeners till this day. Meena Kumari and Durga Khote gave memorable performances, while Raaj Kumar was at his stylised best. Ask anyone, can they visualise Raaj Kumar's persona of a drunkard brat without Rafi Sahab's timeless “Chhoo Lene Do Naazuk Hothon Ko” and “Ye Zulf Agar Khulke” or Meena Kumari as a helpless, middle class housewife without Asha Bhonsle's emotion charged “Tora Man Darpan Keh Laaye” and “Mere Bhaiyya Mere Chanda”? Retaining their old world charm till date, these enchanting songs, along with two Mahendra Kapoor numbers, lift “Kaajal” and its characters beyond the realm of the ordinary .

However, one has to appreciate the brilliance of debutant director Ram Maheshwary for the fluid picturisation, especially the staggered version of “Ye Zulf” that's interspersed with verses from “The Ramayana” to enhance the death scene of Durga Khote.

In the spectacular array of stars, Meena Kumari, Raaj Kumar and Durga Khote play stellar roles while Dharmendra and Padmini bring up the supporting line-up. For ‘method actors' who abound by the dozen these days, simple scenes between the versatile Meena Kumari and the dignified Durga Khote are worth millions for their delectable spontaneity and lifelike appeal. And these two actresses never went to film schools.

Strong emotional appeal

The story is too complicated to summarise in a few words, but holds interest with its fair share of deaths, disasters and romances leading to chaos, doubts, suspicions and separations that end in guilt, regret, penance, reunions and fulfilment. Though one could criticise several aspects of the story, including some unnecessary characters as well as logic that goes haywire at a few places, the emotional appeal of the film is so strong that it keeps the viewer engrossed till the last scene. The tear-jerker was a great launching pad for Ram Maheshwary, but strangely he directed only four films in his entire career.

DEEPAK MAHAAN

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