An unusual lead pairing is not so uncommon in Bollywood. But this movie is a little extreme. One helluva actress branded by Bollywood bigwigs as the most famous tragedienne, pitted opposite an actor who was pretty much a struggler in the emotive sweepstakes and the pairing in a movie which needed genuine acting skills, this meant that there would be blood in the ring (in boxing terms).
Meena Kumari entered Bollywood as a child actress as a six year old, and that was where Mahjabeen Bano became Baby Meena, thanks to Vijay Bhatt, the director of the movie called somewhat disingenuously Leatherface (what an atrocious name for a debut movie of a wonderful actress who was in no way apt for the title). He christened her Baby Meena from her first screen name Baby Majhabeen for a movie called, Ek hi bhul. From there, the transition to Meena Kumari was only natural and happened in a movie that was serendipitously called Bacchon ka khel.
The male lead was born 4 years before Meena Kumari and called Balraj. He was actually turned down for the job at AIR because they found his voice unsuitable for the task of an announcer. He took up a job with the Hindi service of Radio Ceylon and was hugely popular. He was spotted by Ramesh Saigal, the director on a program called Lipton Ke Sitare. He enticed him into Bollywood for the movie Railway Platform and changed his name to Sunil Dutt, to avoid his given name being confused with Balraj Sahni, who was already an established star.
The movie with the two in the lead was made by Ved-Madan and is called Ghazal.
It belonged to a unique genre of the 50s and 60s called Muslim Social movie, it had all the central characters shown to be Muslim. It is based around the basic premise that young people should be allowed to marry someone of their choosing. The lady, Meena Kumari sings a song that makes Sunil Dutt do stationary cartwheels. He meets her secretly but the lid is blown off and clearly does not go well with her fiance, a nawab. Rehman really looks the part. The storyline has the expected twists and turns, and concludes happily. Prithviraj Kapoor is a grand old Nawab too, but is Meena Kumari’s father. Sunil Dutt is the editor of a periodical called Inquilab.
Every time the plot hits a speedbreaker, the music comes to the rescue with an outstanding by Madan Mohan, with amazing lyrics by Sahir Ludhiyanvi, one of the best in the business. 7 of the best songs you can hope to have make the score a wonderful one. Latadidi and Rafisaab rack up truly unforgettable numbers. This one is a beauty, as is Rang aur noor ki baarat kise pesh karoon by the maestro, Rafisaab. https://youtu.be/YP2nQpbdpBo
As movies go, it would have been pretty unremarkable had it not been for the musical score. That makes it truly impossible to forget. An early morning spent in the cath lab meant the song was posted late. Stay safe folks, take care as the summer gives way for a long awaited season of precipitation.