Kohinoor (1960)

Der Tiger von Eschnapur and Das Indische Grabmal were, as Anu called them, ‘raja-rani’ (‘king-and-queen’) films, no matter how warped they may have been as examples of that genre. In line with my last post, therefore, here’s another film: also raja-rani, also set in the India of maharajas, evil plotters wanting to make a grab at a throne that’s not legitimately theirs, and a pretty lady at the heart of it all. Kohinoor, however, is a blessedly long way from Fritz Lang’s Indian epic. This film’s a rollicking farce mostly all through, with plenty of good songs, a great cast, and some superb comedy sequences.

The story begins in the state of Kailashnagar, which, since the death of its king, has been handled by its Diwan, Veer Singh (? I know I should know who this actor is, but his name escapes me identified by Anu and UpendraS as S Nazir). The late king’s son and heir, the Crown Prince Devendra Pratap (Dilip Kumar) has now come of age, and it’s time for his raj tilak – his coronation. Devendra, however, seems to be a bit of a scamp, more interested in his pet mongoose (which he leads on a string) than in court matters.

Veer Singh’s wife (Leela Chitnis, acting to the hilt as Leela Chitnis – quaky-voiced and brimming over with motherly devotion) has brought up Devendra like her own son, and is very proud that he is finally going to become king. Her son Surendra (? identified by UpendraS as Wasim Khan), who regards Devendra as his brother, is equally glad for Devendra.

Veer Singh is the only member of the family who is not quite so exultant – because he’s been enjoying ruling Kailashnagar so much, the idea of handing over to Devendra is not one he relishes at all. In fact, along with his evil minions, Veer Singh has been plotting to get rid of Devendra, once and for all. Devendra barges in on one of these meetings – the Diwan has been showing off to his co-conspirators a cobra that he intends to unleash on Devendra [isn’t that a silly way of trying to murder someone who has a pet mongoose?]

Devendra appears a little suspicious – definitely not the clown he’s been pretending to be – but he doesn’t come right out and confront Veer Singh.
Veer Singh’s wife, in the meantime, has coaxed Devendra into agreeing to marry the princess of a neighbouring state. One look at the portrait of the lady, Chandramukhi (Meena Kumari), and Devendra is smitten.

Chandramukhi, too, has been sent a portrait of Devendra’s, with reciprocal results. Both Devendra and Chandramukhi, in their respective palaces, are celebrating Holi with their subjects, when Chandramukhi accidentally blunders into the senapati (commander-in-chief) of the state (Jeevan, looking leeringly evil). The senapati, who knows that Chandramukhi’s decrepit and senile old father (M Kumar, helpfully identified by UpendraS) is a weakling, has an eye on the throne – and on Chandramukhi.

But arrangements have been made for Chandramukhi to leave for Kailashnagar to meet Devendra. She gladly agrees to set out, even firmly turning down any suggestions that the senapati send a contingent along to guard her. She’s a canny girl, it seems, and thinks she’s safer without the senapati’s protection.

Switch back to Devendra now. Amongst his other accomplishments, Devendra is also an excellent singer – and so has journeyed through the countryside to a musical assembly. Here, a wilful dancer named Rajlakshmi (Kumkum) challenges any singer present to sing a tune to which she can’t dance. Devendra obliges by singing a wonderful song (Madhuban mein Radhika naache re – more on that later) and we get to watch some fabulous dancing too.

The song comes to an end, and just as it does so, a spectator standing by (he’s one of Veer Singh’s henchmen) unleashes a cobra, which of course is promptly killed by Devendra’s mongoose. Devendra looks (and who can blame him?) suspicious… and his suspicions are confirmed when a gang of armed men break into his chamber that night at the palace and try to kill him.
In good swashbuckling hero style, our prince manages to put them all to rout – he can swing a sword as well as anybody – and they flee.

Devendra follows, and just about manages to see where some of his former assailants have fled: to a chamber where Veer Singh is standing. Devendra’s suspicions are confirmed. Of course; he should’ve known all along. He confronts Veer Singh, and finally blows his top and tells Veer Singh to keep the throne of Kailashnagar – Devendra has no desire to be king at any cost.
But he does issue a caveat: if there is justice in heaven, someday the crown will rest on the rightful head.

So Devendra rides off into the countryside, followed by Veer Singh’s men (he refuses to let go – after all, there may be justice in heaven, and then where would Veer Singh be?). The goons manage to topple Devendra off his horse and over the edge of a cliff. Veer Singh’s riders, assuming Devendra is dead, ride back and report the good news to Veer Singh, who does not realise that Devendra hasn’t died at all – he grabbed a branch just in time.

… and clambered up, to make his way to a well-lit group of tents. He soon discovers this to be the camp of Princess Chandramukhi, en route to Kailashnagar to meet him.
Although he could probably just have himself announced, Devendra opts to use the dramatic (not to mention convoluted) method of disguising himself as a sadhu.

He then wangles an audience with Chandramukhi, to whom he prophesizes her meeting with the man she is to love – and follows it up by wandering off, only to come back in his (improved! Thank goodness!) version as Devendra. They sing a song together under the starry skies.
But the path of true love is never easy, is it? Barely has the last note been sung and Chandramukhi retreated towards her tent that she’s sprung upon by a bunch of masked men who kidnap her and ride off with the princess.

Devendra rides off too in hot pursuit, and succeeds in overpowering one of the men – a straggler, whom Devendra knocks out, strips of his clothes and mask, and thus exchanges identities with. While the man staggers off in a chaddi-clad daze, Devendra leaps on to his horse again and catches up with the other abductors – who have fetched up at the place they had to deliver Chandramukhi: an old stable (barn?), where the lecherous senapati of her kingdom awaits.

He again tries to coerce her into marrying him, but Chandramukhi (who knows full well that this villain doesn’t love her, only her kingdom – and, anyway, who’d choose this guy over a dashing Dilip Kumar?!) – well, Chandramukhi makes it pretty clear that she wants to have nothing to do with him.

So the senapati has Chandramukhi locked up and guards stationed outside the dirty little room where she’s held prisoner. One of the guards is the masked man whom the others believe is their own chum, though he’s really Devendra in disguise. When things have quietened down a bit and the others have relaxed their guard, Devendra creeps into the room and reveals his identity to Chandramukhi.

Much delightful action follows as the two of them escape: while Devendra uses his fists to good effect, Chandramukhi picks up a heavy stick and lets fly with it at anyone who comes in her way. She’s a dab hand at whacking the senapati’s men, and keeps the two sentries unconscious (with regular clonks on the head) while Devendra ties up the rest who’re sleeping… and the two lovebirds are able to run away.

Not for long, unfortunately. The senapati’s men catch up within a day’s time. Chandramukhi is abducted all over again, and a wounded, unconscious Devendra is locked up in a burning shed. His faithful horse hauls him out, though, and carries him – coincidentally enough, to the house of the dancer Rajlakshmi. She looks after Devendra.

When he recovers (by which time Rajlakshmi is well and truly in love with him), Devendra discovers that Chandramukhi is still missing and that a huge reward has been offered by her father the king for any news of her.
Devendra sets off to search for his beloved, and teams up with a singer-of-sorts (Mukri).
In the meantime, the captive Chandramukhi continues to refuse the senapati, and he’s gotten pretty sick of her constant moping. At the advice of his henchmen, he therefore decides to invite musicians, dancers, singers et al – anybody who can cheer Chandramukhi up and have her accept the senapati’s suit.

And who arrives? The Sangeetkaar Maharaj Kohinoor Baba, bringing with him his chela:

This is the start of a delightful romp as Devendra, his sidekick, Chandramukhi and the senapati follow up one mad scene with another. Chandramukhi shows how adept she is with a heavy brass vase; Devendra spouts gibberish; the senapati discovers that it’s a bad idea to decorate opulent guest chambers with brass vases; and much happens…

If you like raja-rani films, don’t give Kohinoor a miss. It’s a gem.

What I liked about the film:

The sheer light-heartedness of most of it. True, there are scenes that are fairly grim (especially the last half-hour), but the overall tone of the film is one of madcap humour. The scene where a masked Devendra arrives in the shed where Chandramukhi is locked, and then helps her escape, is a sweet, romantic, yet funny one; and the many scenes in the senapati’s palace, with Kohinoor Baba driving the senapati up the wall with his speechifying… priceless. There is one especially hilarious scene, with Chandramukhi, Devendra, Devendra’s assistant, and the senapati racing around Chandramukhi’s room, while Chandramukhi lobs heavy brass vases at the senapati – and always with unerring aim.

[Interestingly, while it seems to be set in what seems to be pre-colonial India – there are no signs of modernity at all – Kohinoor does use the occasional word or dialogue in English. There is something very funny about a desperate Mukri wailing for Kohinoor Baba: “Guru! Where are you?!”]

The cast. Meena Kumari and Dilip Kumar, both of whom unfortunately got typecast as tragic actors, show just how versatile they are. Both are fabulous, and Jeevan shows an unexpected flair for comedy. Plus, Meena Kumari is utterly lovely.

Madhuban mein Radhika naache re. Naushad composed some lovely music for Kohinoor (two other favourites of mine from the film are Koi pyaar ki dekhe jaadugari Gulfam ko mil gayi Sabz Pari, and Do sitaaron ka zameen par hai Milan), but Madhuban mein Radhika naache re ranks as one of my favourite songs ever, bar none. The music is out of this world, Rafi sings it with his characteristic brilliance, and the picturisation – from Kumkum’s alluring dancing to Dilip Kumar’s ‘singing’ and ‘sitar-playing’ (I read somewhere that he actually could play the sitar, that’s why it looks so real onscreen) – is sublime. I can watch this song again and again, it’s so perfect.

What I didn’t like:

The grimness of the last half hour. Not that it’s unbearably so, but compared to the frothy farce of the rest of the film, it does get a bit gloomy.

And there’s a “Huh? How did she do that?” moment involving Kumkum, towards the end of the film.

But, overall: a film you must add to your collection if you like Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari, Naushad, raja-rani films – or a hearty laugh. A swashbuckler, a romance, a comedy: what more could one want?

58 thoughts on “Kohinoor (1960)

  1. Oh, this is one of my most favourite films, ever. I think both Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari are superb in this. It was this movie, in fact, which made me realize that they were really good actors, as before that I had always seen them in rona-dhona roles. I must see this one again.

    • Heh! Yes, Dilip Kumar, what with Devdas, Daag, Deedar, Andaz and countless others of the same type, and Meena Kumari with her almost perpetual weepy roles, seem to always induce melancholy in me. Except here – they’re such a scream, both of them. :-)

  2. Madhu, thank you, thank you, thank you! After the last one, this comes as breath of fresh air! Kohinoor definitely ranks as one of my favourite movies; as you said, a swashbuckling hero, plenty of sword fights, a spunky heroine, lovely, lovely songs, what’s not to like about the movie??

    I especially like the parts where Meena Kumari hits every one on the head with a stick with gay abandon. It’s a shame, isn’t it, that both she and Dilip Kumar got slotted into the heavy tragedy roles?

    By the way, Dilip Kumar did play the sitar for Madhuban mein Radhika Naache Re. He asked the director for a month’s time where he diligently practised the notes. And the song is surely one of Rafi’s greatest – and that is saying something!

    So, thank you, once again. You have restored my faith in you. :))

    • Oh, come on! Don’t tell me your faith in me depends only on the good films I review. I review most of whatever I watch (provided it’s from the pre-70s, and provided it’s not such a crashing bore that I don’t even want to think about it again, let alone write about it). Actually, some of the worst films make for the most interesting reviews! ;-)

      I love, love, LOVE Kohinoor. Just remembering some of the scenes brings a smile to my face!

      • Well, considering that I had read so many of your reviews that I didn’t realise that you had trashed Akeli Mat Jaiyo…

        Kohinoor is my antidote for bad depressing days. So is Azad. And Chalti ka Naam Gaadi.

        • I have to get hold of Azad! Ever since I read your mini-review/recommendation of it, I’ve been wanting to watch it.

          BTW, have you seen Dekh Kabira Roya? That’s another of my ‘antidote for a depressing day’ movies. :-)

          • Yes, you should. Loved Dilp’s Robin Hood swagger in it, and Meena Kumari was a treat as usual. And it should be right up your street – changelings, kidnappings, rightful son restored at the end etc., etc., And the songs….

            I really must do a full fledged review of the movie – gives me an excuse to watch it again. :))

  3. One slight quibble, though, Madhu – Dilip Kumar’s name is Rana Dhivender Pratap Bahadur Chandraban – a mouthful, I know, but still…

    And I am not too sure, but isn’t the Diwan S Nazir?

  4. Great film! My favorite Meena Kumari and Dilip film. They are so fun in this film — also Jeevan (the greatest villain). :)

    ON the cast, the Diwan is S. Nazir and Surendra is Wasim Khan. The Father is (M.) Kumar. :)

    • Thank you for identifying those actors for me, Upendra, and for confirming Anu’s identification of S Nazir as the Diwan.

      Yes, Jeevan was fantastic in this – I’d say this is one of the best roles I’ve seen him in, because not only does he get to be a great villain (which was nothing new for him), but he also gets to show off how good he is at comedy. :-)

  5. Ohhh i so totally love this film and managed to review it also. Meena Kumari is breathtakingly pretty and vivacious, Dilip Kumar is swashbuckling. The story is so likeable. Absolutely rollicking stuff!! Time to watch yet again :) Ahh and the songs… sheer bliss :)

    • I remember reading your review of Kohinoor, Sharmi! Such a wonderful, happy film this was. Really rollicking stuff, as you say! I wish Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari had done more of the same sort of stuff, rather than the usual weepy roles they ended up doing. It takes a lot of histrionic ability to do good comedy too, after all…

  6. You have convinced me to “dust offf” my Dilip DVDs and actually see them. He is usually so sad that the entire gp, which does include Kohinoor has been siting untouched for yrs. The movie sounds v fun, and some of the credit for that must go to your writing about it so well.

    • I have a confession to make. I have a couple of Dilip Kumar DVDs lying on my computer table as well, borrowed from my father (my father’s a fan of Dilip Kumar’s films – mostly, I suspect, because they feature the sort of music my father likes). And I haven’t watched them yet because of my usual fear of being sunk up to my armpits in distress!

      I don’t know about the rest, but Kohinoor is a must-watch if you need something to lift your spirits! Loads of fun.

      P.S. And thank you for that compliment on my writing. ;-)

  7. Nice to come back to this review of a much loved film. :)
    I was LOL at some of your comments.
    Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari look so good together. I can’t seem to recollect any film that they may have acted together in a tragedy. Yahudi was one, but even there for the most part they both are quite cheery.
    The songs here are fabulous.

    OT. I’ve received the dvd of Metropolis and will watch it asap.

    • According to imdb, Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari also acted together in Azad (which I recall Anu having praised on her blog as a good entertainer, and not weepy!) and Footpath. Don’t know about the latter, though I’ve got it in my to-watch pile, so once I’ve seen it, we’ll be able to tell whether the Dilip Kumar-Meena Kumari jodi ever did do any primarily-tragic films together.

      I hope you like Metropolis! Do let me know what you think.

      • Footpath, actually, is NOT weepy, though it does deal with a serious subject. They did make a good pair, Dilip and Meena, and while my father insists that the South producers were responsible for turning Meena into a weeping mess, I wonder whom we can blame Dilip’s ‘heavy’ roles on! I must say I agree with my dad though – most of Meena Kumar’s three-handkerchief roles were reprisals of Tamil / Telugu films – usually starring Savitri (who bore an uncanny resemblance to her, by the way) or Jamuna.

        • You have no idea what a relief it was to learn that Footpath is not weepy! I don’t mind films that deal with a serious subject – not at all – but unnecessary trauma (or worse, melodramatic trauma) turns me off.

          That’s an interesting take on how Meena Kumari got slotted into the weepy rut she was in. I have admitted before that I’ve never seen any South Indian films (or at least not ones that weren’t dubbed in Hindi – Roja is an example), but I have seen Jamuna in a couple of Hindi films (I’m assuming you mean the same actress who was in Humraahi with Rajendra Kumar?), and yes, those were certainly weepy in the extreme.

        • Talking of non weepy Meena Kumari roles there’s ‘chitralekha’ 1964. And as I keep saying the 1961 ‘Bhabi ki chudiyan’ too.

          I think it’s just the ‘times’ that make the weepy roles unpalatable to a modern audience (most, not all I hasten to add).

          I believe those days the thing asked when making a film was ‘will it make the women in the audience cry?’ (in the same way as today it is asked ‘is there an item song? LOL)

          It was the easiest way to touch the hearts.

          • True, but again, not universal, I think – my father, for instance, always warns me off films that he thinks are too weepy (he doesn’t like them, himself). But then there’s a difference between mere weepiness and sadness. So, a Pyaasa or a Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (both of which my father likes a lot) are sad without being weepy, but a Main Chup Rahoongi is weepy, period. :-)

            But you’ve brought up an interesting point. My father also recalls that people were very upset when Dilip Kumar acted in Aan – they thought it was too frivolous a film for him to have acted in.

            • Even Pyaasa and sahib bibi aur ghulam are mocked at by contemporary viewers as self pity etc. We had a discussion about it in another thread.
              Main Chup Rahungi was a hit I think and MK was nominated for best actress.

            • Yes, I know Main Chup Rahoongi was a hit and that MK was nominated for it (wasn’t that the same year she was also nominated for two other films – Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam being one of them?) But I’m not sure it’s merely a case of ‘contemporary viewers’ regarding films – such as Guru Dutt’s – as being self-pitying. Is it also a case of younger viewers, who perhaps haven’t reached the level of maturity required to appreciate films like that? I remember being not very appreciative of these films till even about 15 years back. It’s only over the past few years that I’ve realised how good they are.

              • Agree about maturity.
                1963 was a great year for Meena Kumari. She had all the three nominations. The third one was for Aarti.

                • Yes, it was certainly a good year for her. 3 out of 4 chances to win? Not bad! :-) But personally, of the three films, I think her performance in Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam was the best – she was superb.

  8. OK, you have sold me on this movie, I will watch it. I never liked Dilip Kumar, but I will admit he is perhaps the best actor in BWood. The movie Shakti convinced me of this, not that it is the best example of his acting prowess. It is just that in those days (like many others) I was a big Amitabh Bachchan fan, and watching the movie I slowly realized that DK was a much better actor than AB. I vividly remember some movie publication summed it up in typical Bombay fashion “Saala, Yeh To Amitabh Ka Baap Nikla”.
    It was mostly the morose/sad characters that he played that put me off, but a light-hearted comedy role should be fun.

    • REally! I found Amitabh a much better actor in Shakti than Dilip! I know Dilip won a fimfare award and all, but when I saw the film that he was just getting repititive. I like him in his lighter roles much better. His grief and sorrow and melancholy are always so much greater and at times for me hardly to comprehend.

      • “His grief and sorrow and melancholy are always so much greater and at times for me hardly to comprehend.”

        I couldn’t put it better myself! Just the very thought of Devdas or Deedar makes me want to put my head in my hands and pull my hair out. Too depressing for words.

        I read somewhere – no idea whether it’s true or not – that Dilip Kumar had been doing so many really sad roles that he’d gone into depression, and his doctor had advised that he actually do some light-hearted roles – therefore, Kohinoor.

    • I haven’t seen Shakti (yes, yes, I know!), so can’t comment on who is the better actor when compared in a scene together… but if one looks at versatility (which in my opinion should be one of the hallmarks of a good actor – after all, if all you’re good at is weepy roles, then it probably means you’re just a weepy character anyway, and going on portraying that in all the movies you sign!) – well, when it comes to versatility, I’d think both Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan are probably at par.

      Coincidentally, one scene from Kohinoor reminded me of a scene from an AB film. In Kohinoor, there’s a scene where Dilip Kumar – pretending to ‘hide’ from a tipsy Jeevan, flings himself behind a mirror, which breaks. Jeevan stands in front of the ‘mirror’ and is bewildered because he thinks the face he sees in the mirror isn’t his own. There’s an entire sequence there, where Jeevan does various things – making faces, gesturing, and so on – and Dilip Kumar, pretending to be his reflection, replicates all of that. Reminded me of that scene (which film was it? Amar Akbar Anthony?) where AB acts a drunk who’s patching himself up in the mirror.

      Dilip Kumar’s sad characters put me off too, but his role in Kohinoor is a delightful one. Do watch!

      • Oh, you should. I liked it for its straightforward narrative, and the slightly grey tinge that is there to Dilip’s character; and while Amitabh was a tad bit too old to play ‘little boy lost’, he did succeed in tugging at your heartstrings.

        Unfortunately, the hype over the casting and the inevitable media comparisons led to some of Amitabh’s best scenes being chopped at the editing table (courtesy Dilip). It hurt Amitabh so much (he had signed the movie only because he had leapt at a chance to act alongside his idol) that he vowed never to work with Dilip again.

        I had the privilege of seeing those deleted scenes – now, I am admittedly biased, being a diehard Amitabh fan – but, my boss most definitely was not, and even she had to admit that Amitabh had made mincemeat of Dilip in his scenes with the thespian.

        It sort of made me lost some of the respect I had for Dilip Kumar. Because it was so totally unnecessary, you know?

        But the movie is still one of the best I have seen.

        • That is very underhand – that bit about the chopping of Amitabh’s best scenes. I would have expected better of Dilip Kumar – someone with his sort of experience, and the adulation he’d won over the course of a long career – should certainly have had the grace to acknowledge the ability of a far younger actor, even if that ability seemed at times to surpass Dilip Kumar’s own.
          But now I’m very curious; I do want to watch the film and see how they compare, for myself. Fortunately, the DVD rental service I use have Shakti on their catalogue, so I’ve already put it on my wishlist!

  9. I have heard so many good things about Kohinoor, I think I have to watch this soon. I liked Dilip’s Azad a lot too, which was quite similar to this role of his! What I like about Dilip is his dialogue delivery. No, not the strong, brave, heroic dialogues but the simple sentences, simple lines, there is at the same time a certain simplicity but also a refinement (is that the word I’m searching for?) and dignity and not to forget empathy in it. But in his later films he started to stress so much on it that it looks put on.
    Meena Kumari is also so good at comedy and just like her sorrow she can convey her mischievousness through her eyes alone.
    The question remains: Phir maine yeh film ab talak kyu nahin dekh?

    • Well, kyon nahin dekhi? Do, do watch – it’s loads of fun. :-)

      Speaking of Dilip Kumar’s dialogue delivery, he’s brilliant in this. There is some of that fire-eating sword-rattling stuff, of course, (he’s been done out of his kingdom, for Pete’s sake!), but there’s also loads of very cute romancing, and there are his absolutely priceless dialogues as Kohinoor Baba – they leave everybody flummoxed.

      The film is available for viewing on Youtube, but I’d really recommend getting the DVD instead.

  10. I love Dilip Kumar in comedies — he does the madcap comedy with such gay abandon.

    I loved him in Ram aur Shyam, esp. that breakfast scene where he is determined to have his breakfast even though Pran has forbidden him — Pran glaring at Dilip but unable to hide his consternation and Dilip stuffing food into his mouth and making faces at Pran. And Waheeda with a WTF look on her face!

    Oh! You must review the film — it will be fantastic :-)

    • I so adore Dilip Kumar in ‘Ram Aur Shyam’… he was absolutely fantastic!! Such a fun film and performance(s!). And it was the first Dilip Kumar film I watched, so when I found out later that he was quite the tragedy king, I couldn’t even imagine it. ‘Kohinoor’ looks lovely… it’s definitely going on my must-watch list.

      • Yes, the Dilip Kumar of Ram aur Shyam and Kohinoor is a very far cry from the Dilip Kumar of Daag, Devdas or Deedar. Another swashbuckler of his that I’d recommend, even though it’s not a comedy, but more a ‘taming-of-the-shrew-meets-populist-rebellion’ style, is Aan. Nadira’s first film, and Dilip Kumar is wonderfully debonair.

  11. Ram aur Shyam is a film I haven’t seen in a long time – so my recollections of it are rather hazy. But yes, it certainly merits a rewatch! I wish he’d done more films of this sort: the comedies (or even films that may not have been ‘comedies’, but are mostly light-hearted) that he starred in are so few and far between. Just because he could do tragedy well, didn’t mean he had to be doing tragedy all the while… :-(

  12. Dustedoff, this was a very pleasing film, and you seem to have enjoyed reviewing it as much as I did a couple of years ago:

    http://roughinhere.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/kohinoor-1960/

    But I didn’t mind the grimness near the end, either… Otherwise, it might have all been a bit too light for my tastes. :) And had it not been for the grimness, we wouldn’t have been treated to that great song/dance about coming out of the grimness, “Dhal Chuki Sham-E-Gham.”

    I have to say… Though I’ve made it clear lately what a big Meena Kumari fan I am, and though she did so nicely in Kohinoor, I think Kumkum was actually my favorite in this film. Well, you know how much I like good dancing…

  13. You’re right, Richard – Dhal chuki shaam-e-gham is a gem, and that wouldn’t have come our way if Kohinoor had been a happy frolic from beginning to end.

    Though I still prefer Meena Kumari to Kumkum in Kohinoor, I did feel rather unhappy about the way poor Rajlakshmi was treated in the film. Considering all she did… unfair!

  14. Sorry for posting so late, Kohinoor ranks as one of altime favorite movies. Some of the comedy dialogues are very crisp.(In fact just before the Madhuban mein Radhika song, there is a music raga based comedy dialog which I dont remember exactly. There is one on the safed ghode ki pooch, which I loved). Jeevan’s timing of comedy was excellent.
    This should rank amongst the best scores of Naushad,and perhaps the most colorful representation of the spirit of Holi-in black and white, just the way it is celebrated in North India. The song “Tan Rang Lo Ji Aaj Man Rang lo” has some great lyrics by Shakeel too-the touch of romance in “Aaj Mukhde se Ghungta hatha lo Ji”,Zara Sajna se Akhiyan milaa lo Ji”.
    This and “Dukh Bhare Din Beete Re” from Mother India have both been composed in Megh Malhar, a raga usually sung during Barkha Ritu.Interesting that a Holi song should have been composed in this raga.
    The connecting thread between the two songs is perhaps that India had/has a predominantly agrarian society and the rains were/are symbolic of happiness, perhaps this is a reflection of India then. Even in the Mother India song-Shakeel says “Sawan ke sang aaye jawani, saawan ke sang jaaye”.

    Just my observations.

    • That’s an interesting observation, Karthik. Thank you. Incidentally, your observation about India’s primarily agrarian society (not just back then, I guess – even to a large extent now; it’s mostly only us city-dwellers who don’t subsist by farming)… well, that reminded me of another fantastic song celebrating the rain in a rural setting: Hariyala saawan dhol bajaata aaya, from Do Bigha Zameen:

      Slight digression, I know! But a lovely song. :-) But I completely agree with you re: Kohinoor‘s music, and its dialogue – both are superb. I don’t remember the ghode ki poonchh dialogue, but the exchanges between Jeevan and ‘Kohinoor Baba’ are delightful too!

  15. The English usage in the comedy dialogues is notable. Just before the “Do Sitaron Ka” song, the swarmandal and mandolin are shown as .being played by Chandramukhi’s dasis.(No mandolin the music though :D )

    • I didn’t notice the mandolins – and I wouldn’t have recognised them in the music, even if they’d been there! But yes, those occasional bits of dialogue in English – especially that plaintive “Guru, where are you?!” that I’ve mentioned – really helps add to the humour of it all.

  16. This is one of my favorite films…I thoroughly enjoyed watching every bit of it!

    Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari make such a dashing couple and all the more so when they are doing a light-hearted comedy like this.

    Kumkum, Jeevan, Mukri are all amazing and the music is just out of this world!

    I have seen Azad only in parts on tv and it looks very interesting, need to get hold of its DVD. The other comedy films of Meena Kumari that I like a lot is Miss Mary.

    That mirror scene’s in Mard as well where Amitabh acts as Prem Chopra’s reflection. Bollywooddeewana had posted the youtube link on my blog when I had reviewed this film but that link’s no longer available.

    • I haven’t seen Miss Mary, but Meena Kumari certainly does look very pretty (and not weepy!) in the songs. The one reason I’ve steered clear of that film till now is Gemini Ganeshan – somehow I just can’t associate him with being a hero! But maybe it’s about time I gave it a chance. Have heard a lot of praise for the film.

      Oh, I haven’t seen Mard. Was the Amitabh-Prem Chopra scene as good as the Dilip Kumar-Jeevan one?

  17. I love that image of Meena sulking in the 2nd screen cap, i’ve had this film for years and still haven’t ventured into it, so many films so little time. At first i tried watching all my films alphabetically but that didn’t work and proved too tedious lol now I just select at random or based on birthday/celebrations of the said star.

    And come on dusted off give Mard a try you might just be surprised how much you’d like it ;)

    • LOL! I do like some of Amitabh’s films – the 70s ones, like Amar Akbar Anthony or Kaala Patthar were fantastic, but I’ve come across the songs of Mard often enough for them to give me the shudders. I think I’ll pass this one up, thank you! ;-)

      Oh, you must watch Kohinoor, bollywoodeewana – it’s a joy to behold. Loads of fun packed into it. Even if you don’t review it straight off, it’s a good way to just get rid of the blues.

      • I thought Amitabh looked 10 years older in Mard than in Sharaabi released just a year earlier. I could not handle any of his films after Mard except the Mukul Anand trilogy (Agneepath,Hum,Khuda Gawah*). Black was an atrocious and Vidya Balan was the ‘hero’ for me in Paa.
        *love that film , Sridevi was brilliant.

        • I forgot mentioning ‘Shahenshah’ , where Amitabh became er…. Batman! The villain is also called ‘JK’. The film features the worst courtroom scenes ever in Bollywood, the last half itself a big plothole. only the title song is any good due to Kishore. so keep away or watch for unintentional bad comedy.
          Mard does have Dara singh btw. He is Amitabh’s dad in it. (that doesn’t make it a good film though)

          • I have not watched Shahenshah (though I remember seeing stills of Amitabh in that ‘Batman’ costume!)… and now, even if I get the chance, I’m going to steer clear. Thank you for the warning. :-)

        • I am so glad to find someone else who thought Black was atrocious! I couldn’t really see what the fuss was about. Yes, it was a new concept for Hindi cinema, but honestly, should that be the only criterion for making it the subject of so much adulation?

    • This is the first time I’ve seen this! (Yes, Duck Soup is one of the Marx Brothers films I haven’t seen yet). Hmm… so whoever scripted Kohinoor wasn’t being strictly original, right?

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