Hariyali aur Raasta (1962)

My guardian angel in charge of film viewing seems to think I’m in serious need of improvement. Which is probably why I’m finding myself subjected to a series of films centred round the difference between good women and bad women. That Touch of Mink tried to touch on it in a humorous way; Bhabhi was more blunt (are sledge hammers blunt?); and Hariyali aur Raasta, though not quite as in-your-face as Bhabhi, had very much the same message: good women choose honour, family and home over all else.

Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha in Hariyali aur Raasta

The film begins on a Calcutta-Darjeeling train, in which little Shobhna (Baby Farida) is travelling with her father Shivnath (Manmohan Krishna) to Darjeeling to meet Shivnath’s friend Ramakant. Shivnath tells Shobhna Ramakant’s son Shankar, who’s about Shobhna’s age, will be a good companion for her. I can sense childhood love blooming.

Shobhna en route to Darjeeling with Shivnath

Unfortunately, when Shivnath arrives, it’s to find Ramakant (no idea who this actor is) on the verge of death from a heart attack. With his dying gasp, Ramakant begs Shivnath to look after Shankar and to ensure that when he grows up, Shankar marries Rita, the daughter of a mutual friend of Shivnath’s and Ramakant’s. After Ramakant’s died and his will has been read, it’s discovered that Shivnath has been made the trustee of Ramakant’s sizeable fortune, most of it in the tea estates that Ramakant—and now Shankar—own. The lawyer persuades Shivnath to shift to Darjeeling and look after the estates.

The lawyer persuades Shivnath to stay on in Darjeeling

Shobhna and Shankar, meanwhile, have become good friends and spend their time scratching their names on a tomb-like monument in the vicinity (the Archaeological Survey of India is obviously sleeping on the job). This thoroughly reprehensible graffiti goes on for years, until—as adults, and still scratching away merrily at the monument—Shankar (Manoj Kumar) and Shobhna (Mala Sinha) express their love for each other.

Shobhna and Shankar in love

What with Shobhna and Shankar’s constant mooning, everybody in Darjeeling seems to be aware of their love story. Everybody, that is, except Shivnath himself, who’s too busy being the conscientious and loyal trustee. He refuses to accept a bonus from Shankar (“I am only doing my duty,”), and even deliberately comes in the way of a truck that’s trying to smuggle out a few thousand rupees’ worth of tea from the estate. The insider responsible for the theft is the manager, Joseph Mahendersingh Bahadur (Om Prakash), who’ll do anything for liquor.

Joseph makes some money on the sly - by thievery

Joseph’s sweet, good wife Mary (? Another person I don’t recognise) hates her husband’s alcoholism and what it’s reduced him to. Joseph keeps promising Mary he’ll reform, but never gets around to it.

Joseph assures Mary he'll mend his ways

Though Mary approves of the Shobhna-Shankar romance, Joseph is disdainful. He soon spreads a rumour that Shivnath wants Shobhna to marry Shankar so that father and daughter can get their hands on Shankar’s wealth. Shivnath suddenly wakes up to the truth. He raves at Shobhna and chastises her for falling for Shankar. Then—as an afterthought—he tells her that Shankar has been more or less betrothed to Rita all this while. Little late in the day, methinks. And Shankar hasn’t been told either. Shivnath, in my opinion, is a self-righteous twit who needs to be shoved off the nearest cliff.

Shivnath raves at Shobhna for loving Shankar

But (though he repeatedly admits he should’ve revealed the Shankar-Rita betrothal earlier) Shivnath doesn’t give way. Instead, he whisks Shobhna off on the train to Calcutta to remove her from the path of temptation. As invariably happens on train rides in Hindi cinema, the train has an accident and falls into a river. Shobhna goes missing, and both Shivnath and Shankar (who arrives, distraught) give her up as dead.

Shivnath and Shankar mourn Shobhna

Shobhna has, however, been rescued by a pair of boatmen (thank heavens for this tribe: what would Hindi cinema do without them?). They row her downstream to Calcutta, where they leave her to wander about, depressed and suicidal. She almost gets run over by a doctor, who takes her to hospital to bandage her up. Shobhna tells him her name’s Kamla, and when he tells her she’s now well enough to go home, begs him to let her stay on in the hospital and become a nurse.

Shobhna - calling herself Kamla - asks the doctor for a job as nurse

So Shobhna becomes a nurse, and one day, when the doctor has an urgent operation to perform, even agrees to go in his stead to a wedding for which he’d been invited. There, she gets a shock: her father, Shivnath, is receiving guests; and the newlyweds are—Shankar and his foreign-returned modern miss of a wife, Rita (Shashikala). Shankar, convinced that his true love is dead, has allowed himself to be bullied and emotionally blackmailed into getting married. Shobhna chickens out and hightails it before anybody can recognise her.

Rita gets married to Shankar

But fate has more in store for the estranged pair. Time passes; Shankar and Rita live in Darjeeling, and Rita, instead of being a docile housewife, goes clubbing and spending pots of money. She’s also very rude to Shivnath, whom she regards as a servant. Eventually, there’s an almighty tiff between her and Shankar, and Rita—by now pregnant—goes off to Calcutta.

Shankar and Rita have a flare-up
[Aside: I love that expression. Doesn’t Shashikala look delightfully furious?!]

Rita has her baby and continues to live in Calcutta, with Shankar coming to visit occasionally. Rita neglects her child (Raja, idiotically billed as `Moppet Raja’) and spends most of her time giving speeches at functions or on radio broadcasts where she talks about the duties of a good wife and mother. When she isn’t being a hypocrite, Rita spends time at the races or at parties and clubs.

Rita lectures on `good wives'

Left to his own devices, Rita’s son falls down a flight of stairs and gets hurt. He lands up in hospital and is tended by (who else?) Shobhna.

Shobhna looks after Shankar's injured son

And where Shankar’s son will go, his adoring father will not be far behind. So what does happen to Shobhna and Shankar? Do they—as seems inevitable—meet again? Does the neglectful Rita, only bothered about her shopping, her partying and her so-called social service, realise the error of her un-Sati Savitri ways?

Guess.

What I liked about this film:
The songs. Shankar-Jaikishan’s music, and with some lovely tunes: Yeh hariyali aur yeh raasta, Ibtida-e-ishq mein hum saari raat jaage, and Teri yaad dil se bhulaane chala hoon are among the best.
Om Prakash. Even though he’s (as always) comical—and unscrupulous—the scene where Joseph Mahendersingh Bahadur comes to his senses and realises the enormity of what he’s done is very good. Om Prakash is at his best here, in a scene that’s highly emotional yet touching.
Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha, in the first, happy, half of the film. They look good together when they’re smiling.
And the landscape’s lovely—I wish this film had been in colour!

Hariyali aur Raasta

What I didn’t like:
The story and the characters. It’s all very predictable and stereotyped. The girl who’s spent five years studying abroad is an extravagant harpy, sharp-tongued and mean, neglecting her home and child and husband; the good girl is Indian-born and bred, long-suffering and smiling through most of it. She won’t say a word to the father who’s ruined her life by keeping mum all these years. She won’t even come right out and talk it over with the man she loves. Instead, she lets her dolt of a father sneak her away quietly. What a wimp.
But it’s the father—Shivnath—who really gets my goat. He makes a big drama out of his loyalty to Shankar, uses emotional blackmail expertly, and puts honour before the happiness of his own flesh and blood. Now where have I heard that before?

Not as painful as Bhabhi, but still: not a film you’d want to see for a few laughs.

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39 thoughts on “Hariyali aur Raasta (1962)

  1. *My guardian angel in charge of film viewing seems to think I’m in serious need of improvement.*

    that sounds like lots of bad karma. if I were you i would brush up my act soon. ;-)

    *Joseph Mahendersingh Bahadur (Om Prakash), who’ll do anything for liquor.*

    no. 1 rule of hindi cinema: christians should drink alcohol.

    *thank heavens for this tribe: what would Hindi cinema do without them?*

    lol and fall down from the chair laughing!

    *begs him to let her stay on in the hospital and become a nurse.*

    how fast one learns different professions in hindi cinema! jeetendra learns classical hindustani music in a few lessons from his brother in kinara. jaya bhadhuri learns dancing from her cook!

    this movie sounds as if it is a cross between dil apna aur preet parayi and bhabhi.

  2. Scratching things into ancient monuments seems to be a universal human drive. There are graffiti on Egyptian monuments left behind by Greek mercenaries in the third century B.C. (and if I remember correctly they do read “Xenophon was here” or words to that effect).

    And what would this type of movie do without having the evil West to corrupt people?

  3. I can totally sympathise with Shashikala’s fury. If I were ever to find myself married to Manoj Kumar, that would be my expression too!!!! lol

    And the things that you dont like about the film – they all were the norm in old Hindi films. Thats why an Ek Saal or a Prem Patra are so unusual in that they actually give romance a break!

    Still, with a better cast (Sunil Dutt/Dev Anand, Sadhana/Waheeda Rehman), I’d have thought about watching the movie inspite of the awful story (just for the songs alone). As it is, I am so glad I have avoided this and can now safely put it on my never-to-watch list. So, how does it end? Does Shashikala obligingly die, leaving Mala Sinha and Manoj Kumar to have a “happily-ever-after”?

  4. the question is not if shashikala dies but how she dies?
    a convenient car accident is always the right thing in such cases.

  5. Poor Shashikala. She ALWAYS dies. As I would, were I ever cast in an old Hindi film, being a girl who drinks and likes to have fun (and would never, ever, sacrifice herself for no good reason)…

    I saw this one ages ago, and don’t remember much about it except the songs. Which are really lovely :)

  6. Mala Sinha forever, i love that woman so much and i’m going to copy and paste a rant i made about her on another website below, i believe my rant sums up my love for this woman

    ”I’m still finding it hard to forgive filmfare for not giving Mala Sinha a single award not even one for outstanding achievement,(there’s still time and i hope if anyone at filmfare is reading this, they’ll consider honoring her soon) this woman has acted in numerable credible films such as ‘Pyaasa’, Dhool ka phool’ Gumrah,’36 Ghante’ commercial flicks like ‘Ankhen’, ‘Himalaya ki God mein’ yet no awards, the only person who saw fit to honour her was Stardust screen magazine who gave her a lifetime achievement in 2004. Filmfare this woman is getting old and can die at any time, be sure to honour her before she goes”

  7. harvey: Yes, I so wish it would be possible to fast-forward the learning of any profession the way Hindi cinema does it. Neela Akash had Dharmendra and Mehmood becoming pilots in what seemed a matter of weeks… and here I wasted years learning hotel management!
    I still haven’t understood why Christians are always shown as being drunks. The men are drunks, the women are either the Madonna incarnate, or they’re singers in a nightclub. No mean averages anywhere.

    Gebruss: Byron also did some scratching somewhere in Switzerland – I’ve forgotten where; and Thomas Culpepper did his bit of graffiti in the Tower of London. Maybe all these people are simply hoping they’ll achieve immortality some day and people will come from far and wide to see their scribblings! Who knows?

    bollyviewer and harvey: Spoiler coming up: I can tell you’ve seen your fair share of films ;-)… yes, Shashikala dies. All of them end up in Darjeeling, and Rita discovers that Shobhna had once been Shankar’s ladylove. She gets mad at the lot of them, grabs her son, and starts driving off. Midway, Shobhna stops her and while the two women are standing in the middle of the road and Shobhna is pleading with Rita to return to Shankar, the kid gets out the back of the car and runs off. Rita and Shobhna run after him, Rita loses her footing and slips down the side of the mountain… but manages to hang on long enough for everybody to catch up with her so she can beg their forgiveness and wish she’d been a better person. Ugh! Spoiler ends.

    memsaab: “Poor Shashikala. She ALWAYS dies.” Which is why I like films like Junglee and Gumraah, where she has a somewhat different role. Or Aab-e-Hayat, where she was the heroine!

    bollywooddeewana: I usually like Mala Sinha, especially in the films you’ve mentioned – I love her in Aankhen, she was such a delight! And, of course, Pyaasa and Gumraah, two of her best roles. She wasn’t that great in Hariyali aur Raasta, I think, mainly because the character was so weepy and martyrish. Shobhna had little substance: childishly light-hearted in the first half of the film, complete martyr in the second. And Mala Sinha was capable of so much more. I second the Filmfare petition: she needs recognition!

  8. Anari was an exception: Mrs D’sa was a lovely landlady sterna nd tough outside with a heart of gold. Well and hten there are some nurses as well. Like the Matron in Anand agian played by Lalita Pawar and directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Seems he had a soft corner for Christians.

    Shashikala also had great roles in Anupama and Sujata both directed by bengali directors Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Bimal Roy.

  9. Yes, I was thinking of Sujata too – Shashikala was refreshingly nice in that (and, as you point out, in Anupama): it’s been a long time since I saw that film, I like it a lot!

    As for stereotyped Christians, yes: I suppose one could say Lalita Pawar’s characters in Anari and Anand were a little offbeat, but again: a Madonna at heart, good and kind and angelic. Interestingly, the only `Christian social’ (?!) I’ve seen was directed by a Bengali – Basu Chatterji, Baaton Baaton Mein.

  10. O, I loved Baaton Baaton mein!
    They don’t make such movies anymore.
    I love the train scenes!
    I travelled in such local trains to my college. Local trains are the soul of Bombay.
    Shashikala was very versatile. But she somehow didn’t have that something for a heroine. What do you think?

    BTW, can you remember this other movie, where Mala Sinha is a nurse too?

  11. No, I don’t think Shashikala was really heroine material. She was beautiful, but in a either vampish way (like in Nau Do Gyarah: she’s awesome in that!) or in a supporting actress way: modern, but not suppressed. I can’t see Shashikala simpering or being self-sacrificing like many of the characters people like Mala Sinha or Meena Kumari ended up playing!

    A film where Mala Sinha was a nurse? Offhand, I can’t think of anything… but do you remember anything else, like what was the story about, who starred opposite her, even whether it was B/W or colour?

  12. i think the movie was bw.
    And the end was with her brother dying at the front. If I am not mistaken Raaj Kumar is the hero of the movie.
    Teh last scene is where Mala Sinha walks thro a hospital corridor and the voice over sings paeans of praise of sisters like her, who sacrificed their brothers at the front.

  13. Yikes. I don’t like this at all. I’ve only ever seen the songs, which are really nice. But can never stomach this honour and self-sacrifice goop.

  14. Yes, it’s such a pity they wasted such lovely music on idiocy like this. I don’t mind idiocy of the entertaining sort – flashy molls, OTT gadgets and evil villains, spy stuff and ludicruous comic side plots – at least you get a laugh out of that. This so-called `social message’ is not even entertaining; just pure sickening.

  15. In this movie i enjoyed songs bol meri taqdeer mein kya hai mere hamsafar ab to bata ..and i uploaded this song in youtube ,i love mala sinha as bollywooddeewana Said ”this woman is getting old and can die at any time, be sure to honour her before she goes” i will be happy if she is honoured with a life time achievement award like dada saheb falke award..,please watch mala sinha in these movie ,i am sure you will love the songs and story of these films dharamputra ,ujala,dil tera deewana with shammi kapoor ..

  16. I liked Dil Tera Deewaana too – Shammi Kapoor is so great in that! I watched (and reviewed) Ujala too, but somehow that film just didn’t work for me: it was sooo melodramatic! I think my favourite Mala Sinha films are the more light-hearted ones: give me Aankhen any day!

  17. I’m another one who simply loves Mala Sinha, even if it is ‘Hariyali aur Raasta’ with Manoj Kumar. :-D

    Talking of Christians in Bollywood films – they even spoke hindi in a strange dialect. – As is the case in Hariyali aur Raasta’
    The joke is that Mala Sinha, is a christian herself in real life, and acting in the film while speaking very good hindi. LOL!

    The present bollywood films seem to have changed all that.

  18. Yes, I think Bollywood’s stereotyping of people – especially by religion and region – has decreased a bit. Thank heavens! (Incidentally, I think old Hindi cinema probably had something to do with shaping people’s views of how people of different religions spoke etc. I remember, when I first got married and came to live in my in-laws’ home, my mother-in-law was very surprised to see that I – as a Christian – could read and write better Hindi than her own son!)

  19. yes dear friend, you are adsolulely true as you said ” old Hindi cinema probably had something to do with shaping people’s views of how people of different religions spoke etc..” yahan to bollywood ki hindi filmo ne pure desh ko ak kardiya hai ..aaj sabhi pranton( states in india) know hindi they can read write and speak hindi..its a wonder of hindi film ..
    as in your case ..i am happy to know your story …,please meri shubhkamnayen kubul kijiye..,when you are free plz.listen this song of film dharamputra… jab mein akeli hoti hun tum chupke se aa jate ho ,aur jhank ke meri aankhon mein bite din yaad dilate ho ..best lyrics by sahir ludhianvi best picturisation best performance by our beloved legend actress mala sinha ..i have uploaded this song in youtube two month ago ..

  20. i love this movie i m huge fan of u mala sinha ji i m a tenn ager but i love u r act till now i have wathced u r 65 movies i love u r act in aakhen andlovely act in song chand si mehbooba from himaloya ki godh mein

  21. I am a huge fan of mala sinha. saw her movies in theater whenever i could while in college in Mysore in 70’s. I am in mid 50’s still love to watch her movies & listen to songs from her movies on youtube. song from dharmputra is lovely.thanks

  22. One Mala – Dharmendra movie I am never likely to like at any age – Jab Yaad Kisi Ki Aati Hai. Terrible. The vaguest possible plot ever.

  23. Talking of stereotypes that lasted so long. Not so much now, on account of the popularity of television, but earlier, especially in the 50s, 60s and 70s, Hindi movies were practically the only cultural ‘windows’ for India’s masses. They learnt practically everything from this one source – music, dance, literature, poetry, conduct, behaviour, prejudices, about foreign lands… and more. Seen from this perspective, I think no other nation’s cinema has impacted lives as much as Hindi movies.

  24. Ah yes – I remember watching Jab Yaad Kisi Ki Aati Hai a long time back (and till then the only other Dharmendra-Mala Sinha film I’d seen was Aankhen, which I loved) and I was so disappointed. Awful!

    I agree with you about the impact of Hindi cinema. Even today, fashion and music at least are heavily impacted by the films, but back then I think it was even more… I recall someone on memsaabstory mentioning an aunt who was American (or European, I don’t remember) and had married into an Indian family. Her only experience of life in India was from the few films she’d seen, so the first time she was invited to a party in an Indian home, she was very taken aback to not find anyone playing a piano and singing!

  25. Ha ha… I can imagine! Someone knowing India only through films would think all of burst into song and dance frequently. They would like to go parks to see wooing couples sing and swing. Could be a great tourist attraction.

  26. An interesting idea :-) Frankly though, I find wooing couples very irritating in historic monuments. I am a history buff and love visiting old forts etc, especially those which aren’t really on the tourist circuit – and I often find that the only other people around are couples tucked away in corners and looking very reproachfully at me!

  27. Poor things!!! They’re finding privacy where they can in this massively populated land of ours. You know I don’t mind the graffiti too that much. Because… archaeologists have benefited from ancient graffiti (on pyramids) in learning about the details of social life.

  28. Oh, you’re talking to the wrong person here! I HATE graffiti. There is just so much of the ‘X loves Y’ stuff on our monuments that now even foreign tourists seem to think it’s the done thing, and so go about defacing our buildings – on one of the walls of Humayun’s Tomb (the main chamber), I found that someone from the UK had written his name, when he visited, and a few other details. If you’re looking at it from the point of view of learning more from ancient graffiti, then I guess it’s a different matter. But when people are simply scratching their names into walls in a way that can almost certainly not be remedied – that is utterly callous.

  29. Hi,
    Regarding the song ‘Kho Gayaa Hai Meraa Pyaar’.

    Who is the actor playing the boatman’s role, singing this song onscreen?

    Is it Samar Roy?

    Rgds
    Sudhir

  30. This movie was very similar to “Dil Apna aur preet Parai ” where Meena Kumari is already a nurse but in this movie Mala Sinha transforms into a nurse without going to any Nursing School. ” LOL”.
    The climax is also very similar where the vampish wife has to be disposed off in an accident.

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