Ensconced in my heart

This movie saw Madhubala and Dilip Kumar being cast as a lead pair only for the second time after their debut together in Tarana. Sangdil was actually an adaptation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë . Predictably a movie with some cruel twists. Madhubala, all of 18-19 years old when the movie was shot and released, looks truly vivacious. What a pity that she should have an inoperable congenital heart disease. But I suppose her shortened lifespan did contribute to the charisma and the pain of losing such a beauty at a young age will always remain in the hearts of the hundreds of millions of her fans. Dilip Kumar was into his 30s and the age difference between the two is apparent in the song.

The movie Sangdil was made in the early 50s with music by Sajjad Husain and lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. It has some beauties in its fold, truly all time greats. Sangdil follows a rather torturous plot and storyline. They could have made it simpler. It has Dilip Kumar (Shankar, one of his recurring onscreen names) and Madhubala (Kamala) the childhood sweethearts who are separated very early one, meet years later and rekindle their romance, but in the meantime Shankar has collected a closet full of rather unpleasant skeletons. When they are about to be married, a man shows up and confronts Dilip Kumar about his “wife”, and questions in public how he can marry again and cheat his “wife”. Turns out that Dilip Kumar’s greedy mother, has got him into “marrying” a mentally challenged rich woman (imagine his naïveté in agreeing to it, as if he doesn’t know what he is getting into, but then that’s Bollywood for you). The insane heiress is now kept locked up in a dungeon (follows Jane Eyre in this aspect). Madhubala hurt that Dilip Kumar kept all this hidden from her, returns to her village. The two star-crossed lovers are predictably heartbroken without one other. The director now has the insane woman turn into an arsonist, burning down the entire mansion and very conveniently killing herself in the conflagration. Madhubala now looks for Dilip Kumar who (in a rather cruel twist to test our patience and jerk some more tears out of the audience) is shown to have been blinded in the inferno. But the director of course can’t pass up an opportunity of having Madhubala sacrifice some more, has the two declare their love for each other and get united.

Latadidi and Talat Mahmood are just fabulous in the duet. Latadidi in her early twenties had the sharpness in her voice which gives me goosebumps even today. No other singer in Bollywood ever came to possess that cutting edge voice, Sumantai had a different sweetness to her voice. Latadidi’s sharpness was best suited to convey pain of parting, desire or longing. Sadly some of this tonal quality was lost in the infamous “poisoning” incident that even threatened her career. Talat Mahmood sounds great even in a happy song, although he reigned supreme when he sang the blues..

I hated the movie, I thought it was a really contrived tearjerker. An opinion that I found was shared by none other than the legendary Baburao Patel, the founder/ editor of the first trade magazine of Bollywood called FilmIndia, who thought the movie was boring and contrived. However he liked Dilip Kumar’s acting, I love Madhubala and thought she was the more impressive of the lead pair. Baburao Patel was actually born Baburao Pandurang Patil, in a village close to Mumbai. He changed his last name as he dealt with a lot of Gujarati Speaking businessmen in Mumbai. He also started Mother India, a political monthly that was very vitriolic and had no holds barred articles, for which he faced court action a number of times. “Baburao wrote with eloquence and power. He had a sharp and inimitable sense of humour, often barbed. There was a tough guy assertiveness about his writing. He could also be venomous in a way that no other writer of English in India has ever been able to match,” these are words about the man by no less a person than the great Sadat Hasan Manto. It was clear that upholding and promoting Indian culture was a very important part of Baburao Patel’s world view and stated agenda and Filmindia was to stake claim to be its custodian in Bollywood for years to come, as was Mother India in the political sphere later. As for honest journalism and constructive criticism, his detractors and his fans had very divergent views (understandably) through most of his career. He remained all along a man with strong opinions and also a man who didn’t shy away from being blunt, outspoken , even abrasive in his thoughts, speeches and writing. Baburao’s combative, belligerent and take-no-prisoners style of writing was only too apparent in all of his work, whether it be related to films or politics. He wrote most of the magazine himself and certainly did all the film reviews, which he said would never be influenced or prejudiced by advertisers or by other commercial interests. Advertisers who did not like this policy were welcome to stop their ads, he declared. His Q and A column was widely read and had its loyal following in India as well as abroad, somwhat like Mahinder Watsa’s famous Q and A column in the Mumbai Dailies. He even served a single term as MP , getting elected from Madhya Pradesh. Time Magazine actually profiled his Q and A column in its pages, such was its reach and fame. Even Balasaheb Thackeray (in his earlier journalistic/ cartoonist days) was impressed by the man, although Balasaheb did cross swords with the man more than a few times.

Have a wonderful day ahead, folks and stay safe from the Wuhan Virus which very much lurks around all of us. Make no mistake, simple measures can protect you too, but do take the jab when offered.

4 thoughts on “Ensconced in my heart

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