Kohraa (1964)

I feel that, no matter how high an opinion one may have of oneself, it is risky business to attempt to remake a classic. If (for example) Alfred Hitchcock made a film, don’t attempt to remake it—especially if you plan on tinkering with the way the story plays out. Biren Nag (who had already made the pretty good suspense thriller Bees Saal Baad) tried his hand at remaking Hitchcock’s atmospheric Rebecca here, and while he got some things right, the end result is not quite as memorable as Rebecca was.

Waheeda Rehman in Kohraa

The story begins in the very white, luxurious rooms of a woman—whose face we never get to see. The camera follows her about, showing her legs and her arms as she has a shower, then gets into a bathtub [both? Why? Isn’t a shower enough?]. Her bath finally over, she reaches for a towel—monogrammed with a huge and ornate P—and after drying off and returning to the bedroom, slides her feet into a pair of fluffy bedroom slippers and starts dressing up.

Monogrammed towels in P's bathroom

She is lounging around in bed when a maid (again, someone whose face we don’t see) brings in a tray crowded with visiting cards. The wealthy woman, a heavy bracelet on her wrist, languorously picks up a card and tells the maid to instruct Dai Maa to seat whoever’s arrived.

After some time, she goes downstairs, and her waiting guests rise to their feet, all eager to meet her. There’s a brief, inconsequential conversation with a representative of a local youth association, of which this woman is apparently a patroness.

A horde of guests await P

Later still, when she’s on her own, the woman receives a letter from a certain Kamal (Madan Puri), in which he entreats her to meet him at a riverside bungalow that night. The woman is obviously very amenable to the idea. That evening, she sits at her dressing table, wearing, besides a white sari, an odd piece of headgear that looks like a tiara and a very heavy veil [all supposedly to add to her mysteriousness, but only succeeding in making her look like an over-the-top Hindi film Christian bride].

P sits at her desk, all dressed up

In the midst of this, the Dai Maa (Lalita Pawar) enters the room. Dai Maa pleads with the woman to not go to the bungalow. She also admonishes the woman, saying that in the absence of her (the woman’s, not Dai Maa’s) husband, it isn’t seemly to be so decked up [and pray why not?] or to go out every night to the bungalow.

Dai in an admonitory mood

Dai Maa’s words fall on deaf ears. The woman gets up, wanders off in a drunken (yet—as is inevitable in Hindi cinema—tuneful) daze, singing about all the pain in her heart, which no amount of drink is ever going to be able to dull. She ends up at a large but empty bungalow, where we next see her cosying up to Kamal, drinking all the while.

P goes for a rendezvous with Kamal

There is one witness to this tryst between P and Kamal: Ramesh (Tarun Bose), a drunk who is loitering about outside the house and peers in, wild-eyed and desperate for a glimpse of the woman he too loves.

Within the next couple of minutes, a lot happens, and all of it rather confused. The camera shows a man’s legs as he walks slowly down a wooden staircase. Shots are fired. P is shown lying still on the bed where she had been romancing Kamal just a short while back. A man, whose face we cannot see, enters and lifts P—obviously dead as the dodo now—and takes her away.

Dead!

The last we see is the surf beating on the seashore, while Ramesh cackles madly about Amit Singh’s wife Poonam, now dead—and now also Ramesh’s.

Ramesh. the drunk

All very puzzling.

The credits roll at this point, and when we return to the film, it’s to the sound of the voice of Rajeshwari ‘Raj’ (Waheeda Rehman) as she talks of her life. Raj’s father had been the loyal diwan of a wealthy zamindar, so when Raj’s parents died, the zamindar took her to his home and gave her shelter. After his death, his wife however has begun to regard Raj in an unsettling light: as a potential bride for her insane son, who she believes will be cured of his insanity by getting married. [Ah, the many ills marriage can cure in Hindi cinema].

The zamindar's wife makes nefarious plans

Raj, at her wits’ end and with nowhere to go, is on the verge of committing suicide by flinging herself off a cliff when she happens to see Amit Singh (Biswajeet, in too-dark lipstick and an icky moustache). There is instant chemistry between the two strangers, each of them standing atop two separate but nearby cliffs.

Within a matter of a few days, they have come to know each other, and Amit proposes to Raj. She is overjoyed, and agrees.

Raj meets Amit and falls in love

So they get married, and Amit drives her to his grand haveli, Mayfair. This, of course, is the same cardboard-looking haveli in which the initial scenes of the film had been set. Raj has no idea what she’s coming up against, which is just as well.
When they arrive at Mayfair, Amit acts very oddly: he gets out of the car and enters the house without bothering to wait for his bride.

Instead, to welcome Raj [and a cold welcome it is, too], there is Dai Maa. Raj, who thinks this elderly lady is a relative of Amit’s, bends to touch her feet, and Dai Maa recoils, admonishing Raj while the servants standing around giggle.

Raj is most embarrassed, and goes rushing off to find Amit, who—instead of being comforting and telling her it doesn’t matter—is cold and indifferent, and doesn’t see why Raj is getting all upset.

Amit acts oddly

Gradually, as the days go by, Raj begins to realise that things in Mayfair aren’t quite as wonderful as she’d dreamed they would be. Amit and his estate manager-cum-childhood friend Ranjan (Sujit Kumar) spend most of their time on the estate, going about their work. Even when Amit comes home, he’s often distracted, talking shop with Ranjan, and leaving Raj to her own devices.

With Ranjan, the estate manager

…which, unfortunately, means that Raj has to turn to the iron fist in the mail glove, Dai Maa. Dai Maa goes around saying “Narayan, Narayan,” in a self-righteous way while she’s telling her beads, but alternates this with passing snide remarks that are aimed at showing Raj just how poor a substitute Raj is for Amit’s first wife, Poonam.

Dai Maa praises Poonam

Poonam, says Dai Maa, was a paragon. Beautiful, charming, popular, sophisticated—everything, in fact, that the lady of Mayfair should be. [Implying, naturally, that Raj falls far short]. From the others around—a maid named Jhumki (Chand Usmani), for example—too, Raj hears the same thing: how perfect Poonam was.

...as does Jhumki

The members of the local youth association come to call, too, and a shy and diffident Raj reluctantly accepts their invitation to a party—only to find that she’s a total misfit there. Everybody around keeps telling her how Poonam used to be the life of every party, which Raj, sitting all by herself in a corner next to a lamp [which goes on and off, depending upon whether Waheeda Rehman’s face is the focus, or someone is saying, “Why are you sitting in the dark?”] is not.

At a party, Raj finds herself alone and alienated

There are reminders of Poonam all about. The dead woman’s dog, Cherry, thankfully, soon makes friends with Raj. One day while Raj is out painting by the river, Cherry runs off to the bungalow, and Raj, following Cherry, finds this odd, now-dilapidated house, all cobwebby and dusty. Here, she runs into the tipsy Ramesh, who gathers Cherry up into his arms, and babbles on, about how faithless she was, and how Cherry is like her.

Raj meets Ramesh

Raj is initially mystified, then gets anxious when Ramesh starts yelling that the dog didn’t belong to the haveli’s owner, just as this bungalow didn’t belong to him, and just as she didn’t belong to him. Ramesh eventually seems to realise that Raj is not to blame for all his angst, so he hands Cherry over, and Raj is able to get out of the bungalow—only to find that Amit, when she meets him, is very annoyed at her for having visited the bungalow.

Amit takes Raj to task

What on earth is going on? [We have some idea, of course, thanks to those pre-credits scenes]. Dai Maa has had the east wing of the haveli cleaned and decorated for Raj; she doesn’t even allow Raj to visit the west wing (which was where Poonam had lived), and Raj—on a surreptitious tour of the west wing, with a servant who is sympathetic—realises that the west wing is kept exactly as it was when Poonam was alive.

In between Amit’s now-affectionate/passionate, now-cold and distant demeanour, Dai Maa’s thinly veiled animosity, and the spookiness of odd characters like Ramesh, it’s hardly a surprise that Raj soon finds herself having nightmares about Poonam’s room. How long before those nightmares come true?

What I liked about this film:

The music, by Hemant. My favourite—in fact, one of my favourite Hemant songs, from all his filmography—is Yeh nayan dare-dare. A close second is the hauntingly beautiful Jhoom-jhoom dhalti raat, of which the slow, slurring version is more stirring than the slightly faster version. The other two songs, O beqaraar dil ho chuka hai and Raah bani khud manzil, are good as well.

Waheeda Rehman. Such a fine actress and so lovely, as always.

Waheeda Rehman in Kohraa

The cinematography and the art direction. The stark greys, whites and black; the shadows and light, the frames and angles: many are memorable.

A still from Kohraa

What I didn’t like:

(Some spoilers here, and some comparisons)

The mangling of the story. I didn’t expect something that remained true to either Hitchcock’s interpretation or even Daphne du Maurier’s original novel. What I did expect was something that was coherent and logical. Kohraa, like Bees Saal Baad or Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi, isn’t actually a supernatural or horror film; it’s about death, life, crime and innocence, and love (of different, sometimes even destructive, types).

When a film isn’t a ghost film, I don’t see any logical reason for a door shutting on its own, a shower starting up all by itself, lights going on and off as they please, or someone dreaming—down to the exact detail—a room she has never visited. What’s more, unlike Woh Kaun Thi? or Bees Saal Baad, no attempt is even made to explain these seemingly supernatural occurrences.

(Spoilers end)

Secondly, the characterisations don’t work too well. In Rebecca, for example, the unnamed protagonist is extremely shy and naïve, which makes her not even exactly comfortable with her husband, Max de Winter. And Max himself is mostly just equable, neither too cold towards her, nor brimming over with love.

In Kohraa, Raj is shy, but not painfully so—for instance, in her interactions with Amit or the servants of Mayfair, she is shown as being fairly self-assured (even assertive at times). Amit’s behaviour towards her veers oddly from the very romantic to the indifferent.

Which basically translates into a somewhat unconvincing relationship. Why, if Amit and Raj are so close, so comfortable, does she not question him earlier? Why does she not ask what’s bothering him, why he snaps at her if Poonam is mentioned, or why he stops her from going to the bungalow? Actually, why even does Amit not tell Raj how he felt about Poonam?

Waheeda Rehman and Biswajeet as Raj and Amit

And, really, such a waste of talent. Asit Sen I can accept in a bit role as a buffoonish villager who makes a startling discovery…

Asit Sen in Kohraa

Even Manmohan Krishna is acceptable as a lawyer. But Abhi Bhattacharya—who appears as a lawyer, too—ends up with about 50% of his dialogues consisting of “Us raat aap bangle mein kyon gayeen theen?” (“Why did you go to the bungalow that night?”—he goes on repeating this question, every time a couple of decibels louder, until the poor witness, who’s not being able to get a word in edgeways, is almost on the brink of collapse).

Abhi Bhattacharya in Kohraa

And the courtroom scenes (rarely a strong point in Hindi cinema, anyway) are exceptionally terrible here. Even I know that a lawyer can’t just get up and shout “Objection, milord!” and not provide any reason for the objection, yet have the judge uphold the objection. Not once, but thrice in quick succession.

No, this isn’t one of Biren Nag’s best efforts. But it sounds and looks beautiful, and it’s entertaining enough. You could do far worse.

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66 thoughts on “Kohraa (1964)

  1. Actually, you make it look good. :)

    I happened to catch this movie on a channel at the very fag end and found Mrs. Danvers (Lalita Pawar) behaving most uncharacteristically.

    I read Rebecca when I was 15 and fell in love with it. Now that I have seen the climax, I know I should not expect anything but just a shadowy resemblance with the book. As you say, just enjoy the pretty things about the movie, Waheeda, the songs, such things.

    • I agree with you about Lalita Pawar’s character behaving most uncharacteristically – even though I can accept what she did (though I find it hard to believe), her behaviour – towards Amit and Raj, subsequently, doesn’t make sense.

      The rest of the film isn’t too bad a copy of the book, actually. Or at least as far as I remember the book – it’s been quite a while since I read it. The characterisations are off, as I’ve mentioned, but the plot is pretty similar up to that point.

  2. Seconding thandapani here – you make it sound so much better than it is! (And I was planning to write up Kohra, only you snapped it up! *Sob*) And coinkadinks of coinkadinks (Really? Do we believe that any more?) I have just reviewed a courtroom drama too – one where the objections actually have a reason before they are sustained or overruled. *Grin*

    As an aside, I love your asides; they make me giggle, and thank my stars I don’t have coffee anywhere near my keyboard. But as for ‘Showering before a bath’, well, the Japanese do it that way, don’t they? Sensible chaps – now, why would you want to wallow in your own dirt? So you shower, and then get the bath drawn with some nice herbal oil, and you wallow in it like a buffalo in a village pond (well, not a really nice analogy there, but I’m in a silly mood!), preferably with a glass of white Beaujolais. :) :) :)

    • I should admit, I rarely bathe, prefer taking a shower. And when I do take a bath, taking a shower before is a nice thing. After a long, strenuous trek it works wonders!

      • LOL, Harvey, I was going to say ‘chhi, chhi, Harvey’ when I read I rarely bathe then I saw you had redeemed yourself. :) Seriously though, who the heck has the time to take long drawnout tub baths every day? I must admit though, to me, ‘take a bath’ still means the balti-lota one. Somehow you feel like you have had a bath – somehow a shower never gives the same satisfaction.

        Agree about the shower.bath combination after trekking or biking.

        • LOL, Harvey, I was going to say ‘chhi, chhi, Harvey’ when I read I rarely bathe then I saw you had redeemed yourself. :)

          Hehehe. Same here! I actually read that first bit and recoiled in horror (and some relief that I hadn’t been able to meet up with Harvey this time when he visited India!) :-D

    • Ah, but the point is, Poonam hadn’t been trekking or biking, as far as I could tell. She didn’t strike me as being the outdoorsy sort. Just someone who liked wasting water. That was what made me see red!

      I must go off and read the film you’ve reviewed now – and I’m not surprised there was some connection or similarity between the film you reviewed and this. None of these coinkadinks surprise me any more. :-D

      • Ah, but she was rich. She could afford to waste water. :) And give her a break, do – she was going to be bumped off soon after. At least, when she met her maker, she was all clean and scented. *grin*

        (p.s.) About the Japanese – what I meant to say was that if they were going to use the bathtub at all, they showered first.

        • I can understand not wanting to ‘wallow in one’s own dirt’, so that bit about having a quick shower before getting into a bathtub makes sense. Why this irked me was at the sheer waste. I’m a little loony that way – wastage of any kind really riles me.

          Poonam deserved to be killed. :-D

  3. Splendid review, just like Ava said, you make it sound real good!
    Very weak of the director that he should (nearly) lay open the mystery behind Amit’s behaviour, while it unfolds slowly in Rebecca.
    Indianising it is all good and nice, but somehow the spirit is lost in the process and that also unnecessarily in this case.
    Anyway, it is always ncie to see Waheeda and Lalita!

    • Actually, I didn’t find the Indianising a problem. The problem was that the changing of the story hadn’t been thought out properly, as a result of which they ended up with a half-baked explanation which just didn’t seem to hold water. As Ava mentioned, uncharacteristic. And as you mention, unnecessary. Even if Biren Nag had stuck to Hitchcock’s interpretation, it would have been quite plausible, and not unacceptable to Indian audiences too, I think.

  4. Well,Lalita Pawar’s behaviour is justified in the end (spoiler);which shows her kind side,one of best of her performance after Anari’s kind-hearted landlady, Mrs. D’sa……

    • Ye-ess, but spoiler, it doesn’t justify her later behaviour towards Amit and Raj. If Dai Maa killed Poonam because she couldn’t stand that Poonam was being so wanton and unfaithful to Amit, then why is she out to make Amit’s wedded life with Raj so painful?

      Spoiler ends.

      Whatever; I agree that this is a good performance by Lalita Pawar. She’s great as Mrs D’Sa, and also as Sita Devi (in Professor).

        • Laughing at Ava’s comment. :)

          My problem was the way Amit changes so drastically. Because in Rebecca Maxim is not cold towards Rebecca. Well, not in the same manner, I mean. (It’s been awhile since I’ve seen both films, so correct me if I’m wrong.)

          • “Because in Rebecca Maxim is not cold towards Rebecca.

            Do you mean his second wife (who is never named in the film or the book)?

            I haven’t seen Rebecca for a couple of years, but from what I recall, Max is kind and gentle, but not overly affectionate or romantic. Not cold, definitely, but not as effusive as Amit is shown to be. Amit’s emotional extremes as far as Raj is concerned make his character a little hard to swallow.

        • Ah, Ava. You should become a scriptwriter, You know the inner workings of Hindi films so well! :-) Yes, maybe Dai Maa’s devotion to Amit did mean she wanted to make sure his second wife was worthy of being the lady of Mayfair.

  5. I haven’t seen the movie but love the songs and Waheeda looks gorgeous, as always.
    I got Hitchcock’s version after I read about it here but haven’t got to watch it yet. Now that you reminded me of it and I don’t have the book with me, I might as well watch the movie, hopefully sometime soon.

    • Yes, do watch Rebecca – it’s really good, even though Hitchcock too didn’t stick exactly to the plot of the novel. But it’s excellent suspense, and the direction and acting are superb.

  6. Yes! Here we are talking a Hindi film with more half the cast and crew Bengalis: Biswajeet, Hemanta, Asit Sen, Biren Nag, Abhi Bhattacharya, Tarun Bose and so on…My type of film. In these film do we really expect a good treatment of the novel or the film whichever Biren had drawn upon? Verbal and visual musicality, scintillating songs, beautiful lead pair are enough to make you sit through the film(if you are bestowed with patience and know how a Hindi film works). Its just that they are to crass to find faults. Anyway, Rebecca was made/remade/reremade many times in different Indian languages, so which brings us to my signing off question: “Is Rebecca the most masala film of Hitchcock?”

    • I suppose I do expect more of films than sounding good and looking good. Especially when it comes to suspense films – in those cases, I do want explanations or at least the hint of a possible reason for everything that happens.

      Which are the other Indian languages Rebecca was adapted into? I know there was a Bengali version.

      Oh, and an interesting question. Yes, I suppose Rebecca could be Hitchcock’s most masala film. Though I guess The 39 Steps could also qualify – especially since I do know of at least a Hindi adaptation.

  7. To be honest, I found the original Rebecca to be just so-so. At least in Kohraa you could ROFL whenever Lalita Pawar goes around saying in that theatrical voice — “Dai Maa Gayi” or “Dai Maa Aayi” or something to that effect.
    Those 4 great songs are obviously the saving grace.
    I would recommend reading this review (LOL @ “[Ah, the many ills marriage can cure in Hindi cinema].) & watching the songs, leave the rest to the critics.

    • The “Dai Maa aayi” and “Dai Maa gayi” was the constant dialogue of the servants – a sort of alert and all-clear. ;-)

      I rather like Rebecca, but then perhaps that’s because I am especially fond of Olivier and Fontaine. And Judith Anderson was thoroughly creepy as Mrs Danvers. I suppose my liking for the film was also triggered by the fact that it more or less matched the images I’d created in my mind when I’d read the book.

    • Very true. I get the impression that the writer decided that it would be smart to turn the story on its head, but did not bother to change Dai Maa’s character through the rest of the film.

  8. I remember seeing this movie only a couple of years ago but I’ve already forgotten a good part of the storyline. (I’m just hopeless when it comes to remembering movie storylines).

    What I do remember is:
    – I got a bit confused midway through the movie. But that could have just been me – I get confused quite easily. :-)

    – a few scary scenes. One with Tarun Bose, I think.

    – a scene on the roof-top with Biswajeet. For some reason (and I can’t remember what that is), that scene had something special about it.

    – all those looks Lalita Pawar had in the movie. Hard to forget! :-)

    – the way darkness was used throughout the movie for effect. A lot like Bees Saal Baad in that respect, actually.

    – the songs of course. Loved them all.

    I don’t remember disliking the movie too much. Even if there were some plotholes here and there, I think I might have missed them. I was probably gazing into Waheeda’s eyes. You can hardly blame me for that! :-)

    • raja, that’s such a lovely review of Kohraa LOL!
      :-D :-D :-D
      But you are forgiven, not only because it was a hilarious one, but also because of considering you were gazing into Waheeda’s “dare dare nayan” – डरे डरे नयन :-)

    • You’re not the only one who forgets storylines, Raja. Until I rewatched this last weekend, I’d completely forgotten who the culprit was, too.

      And no, I don’t blame you for gazing into Waheeda’s eyes. She’s simply lovely, and (along with the songs) the main reason for my rewatching the film. I didn’t actually dislike Kohraa, just thought it could’ve been much better. The atmosphere was built up well, and then it all came crashing down and died out with a whimper in the last half hour.

  9. Except songs the movie is an avarage fare. I wonder why Biswajit was always chosen to play hero in suspense (ghost)movies. Bees saal baad, ye raat phir na ayegi and kohara etc.how ever thank you for your candid review .

    • Thank you, Epstein. Yes, I do wonder why Biswajeet ended up acting in so many suspense films? But at least these black-and-white ones were far better than the later ones he did in colour (especially Kahin Din Kahin Raat, the very thought of which makes me shudder)!

  10. Adaptations of books starting with the narrator reading, always impresses me. It fixes the opinion in my head that the film is very good :-)
    That’s why I love Timothy Dalton’s 1983 version of Jane Eyre the best, and Hiitchcock’s Rebecca.
    Though IIRC Hitchcock changed the ending a bit too, and that put me off .
    After following the book so religiously why did he have to do that, or the script writer I think? I was hoping the film would end with the lines from the book too.

    I take Kohraa as an inspiration of Rebecca, with an Indian flavour – though the opening and closing of doors (as you put it) made me smile), and liked it quite a lot. It was far better than the other version of Rebecca starring Charles Dance and the Miss Darcy of 1995 P&P as the second Mrs De Winters.

    Thank you so much for the review DO. As you can see it set my mind racing through all the other versions of Rebecca. :-)

    • I haven’t seen the Charles Dance version of Rebecca, pacifist! I didn’t even know about it, but since you junk it, I’ll give it a miss and not even bother looking for it.

      I guess Hitchcock changed the end of the story to make it more palatable for cinema audiences. That’s what he’d had to do with the Cary Grant-starrer Suspicion too.

      And, oh – I haven’t seen the Timothy Dalton version of Jane Eyre. Must, must get hold of it! Thank you for the recommendation. :-)

      • Forgot to comment on the “West Wing” mystery. In all Rebecca adaptations ( IIRC ) the door leading to the west wing is always shown looming up. Then ‘she’ enters and is caught snooping by Mrs Danvers. Exchange takes place, and ‘she’ is shown a somewhat changed person, more determined.

        This is so similar to the Northanger Abbey room of Mrs Tilney, where mystery looms for Catherine, and then she enters, is caught snooping by Henry. An exchange takes place, leaving Catherine a changed, and ‘grown up’ person.

        I feel Daphne Du Maurier got her inspiration from NA. In both, this is a crucial moment.

        • Pacifist, I’m very impressed with your memory and your knowledge. I remember the scene from Rebecca, but only because Hitchcock filmed it so well, and Fontaine’s acting was pretty dramatic in it – but I don’t remember the scene in Northanger Abbey at all, even though I’ve both read the book and seen the 2007 TV movie.

          • I’m sorry I wasn’t very clear. :-)
            The 2007 NA was a terrible disgrace IMO, and not at all in keeping with the novel, though Andrew Davis fans argued ‘it was in spirit’ perfect.
            Actually what I wanted to say was that in the books, Rebecca, and NA, the door that led to rooms/room of a dead person, was of major interest to the protagonist. When visited by them to snoop around they get caught, which had important repurcussions on their way of thinking.

            NA of course was a spoof of Gothic novels in general (popular at that time), and Mysteries of Udolpho in particular, which always had such rooms, and the heroine walking down long corridors to the forbidden mysterious wing of the castle or mansion. :-D

            • Oh, okay. :-)

              Yes, I do remember that Northanger Abbey was a spoof of the Gothic novels of that period. I was reminded of it the other day, when I was watching an episode of Lark Rise to Candleford in which two women (Ruby and Minnie) are sitting and getting the shivers out of reading the latest instalment of their favourite Gothic novel.

            • Yes, do read NA again. :-) I’d recommend reading Mysteries of Udolpho first. Perhaps you aren’t that interested or don’t have the time to get to the bottom of things by reading **this** LOL. Though I must say it’s creepy at times. But the descriptions are so tedious. They are OK at first but become repetitious, and it’s a fat book.
              But I plodded on like a pilgrim, and considered it as one of the hurdles to be overcome.
              After that NA was a breeze, and I caught on a whole lot of stuff, which went unnoticed at first.
              One saw a decline of popularity of Gothic literature at the turn of the 19th century. Was over by even 1813. The ladies in Lark Rise to Candleford must be fond of old literature like many. :-)

          • Oh, and I forgot to mention that in these gothic novels there was always a murdered wife.
            I think Daphne du maurier took up these tropes and wrote a novel :-) – though I did enjoy reading Rebecca, mainly because I read it before doing this detailed study of Northanger Abbey, and all that it entailed.

  11. I have read the book and seen Hitchcock’s film and obviously in comparison Kohraa was well – rubbish. I remember mum constantly grumbling at the way the story was mauled but I have to admit that Biren Nag knew how to make effective use of silence I mentioned it in my guest post for Memsaabstory Silence is Golden

    Bythe way I have already completed 2 drafts for dad’s blog, and I plan to launch it soon.

    • I’d read that blog post of yours when it had first been posted on Greta’s blog, Shilpi, but I’d completely forgotten about it! Thank you for linking to it – I’ve just read it again, and enjoyed it, because the scene described is still so fresh in my mind.

      Another good scene, which is mostly silence but very dramatic is where a distraught and very distressed Raj realises that she will (as she thinks) never be able to replace Poonam. She is so upset that she goes running into the west wing, and picking up a lipstick from among Poonam’s cosmetics, slashes out at every place the ‘P’ is monogrammed: the bed linen, the towels, the notepaper. Everywhere, she slashes across with the lipstick, changing the P to an R, trying to replace Poonam with Raj.

      Frenzied, anguished – and a good scene.

      • Would you like to have a sneak peek at it? I just now published the ‘About’ page, just click on my name. Yes you are right about that scene. Personally, if I were to compare Bees Saal Baad and Kohraa, I think Bees Saal Baad would score over Kohraa.

        • Oh, Shilpi! Finally!
          Oops already two exclamation marks :-D)))

          Just went over and read ‘about’ and wanted to leave a comment. Im looking forward to it being completed.
          All the best.

        • Wow, Shilpi (and Aroop). Just the ‘About’ page, the collage, and that photo at the top of the post are fabulous. Now I can’t wait for your blog to really begin!

          And, P.S. Yes, I’d rate Bees Saal Baad over Kohraa too.

  12. Please excuse the completely unrelated post – but your books are now available on Amazon Kindle, Madhu !! I just downloaded The Eight Guest and other Stories and Englishman’s Cameo onto mine and am looking forward (all of a sudden) to having the flu. :D

      • I read the Englishman’s Cameo last night and loved it. (I know I risk sounding like Bombaynoir, and what is lovely in a 14 year old is a little tiresome coming from a near 40 year old, but I’d gush about it like she does about Dev Anand……. also, realising that gushing at the object of one’s affection, especially when it is work may not be so tiresome) (Being a fellow Caprocorn, I find it a little hard to ‘gush’, but do assume the sentiment, please) Looking forward to Engraved in Stone being available in the US. I cannot download from the Amazon UK site – tried it and failed.

        • Sucheta, you have made my day. Thank you so very, very much. :-)

          I am so glad you enjoyed The Englishman’s Cameo. As soon as Engraved in Stone is available as a Kindle download in the US, I’ll let you know.

          And I know exactly what you mean by finding it difficult to gush. ;-)

          • I finished the Eighth Guest last night, and it was even better. Your writing is more focussed and sharper (I guess the short story is your favourite medium), but I LOVED all the themes you covered under the stories. Brought the period completely to life.(and I want and don’t want them to be made into movies) Made me want to go on a trip to Delhi to see it with your vision all over again, and not just as a sterile set of old buildings. I’m going to read it again today, this time to focus on the writing, the tools you’ve used, the creation of the atmosphere and space, and enjoy it beyond the mysteries…. LOVE it.

            • …and now you have made my week. Thanks ever so much, Sucheta! I’m so happy you liked The Eighth Guest – I like it better than The Englishman’s Cameo too, partly because I’m more of a short story writer (as you observed, too), and partly because I’d become a little better at plotting by the time I got around to writing most of these stories.

              Thank you, again! :-)

  13. Generally, I don’t compare remakes with their originals, or I would end up hating most of them. So I thought ‘Kohraa’ was pretty decent. I didn’t mind the hindi remakes of ‘Sabrina’ and ‘Kramer and Kramer’ even after comparing them.
    “the courtroom scenes (rarely a strong point in Hindi cinema, anyway)”
    I think if these courtroom scenes were to be realistic, films won’t be as entertaining.

    • Yes, if it’s not compared to the original, Kohraa isn’t a bad film. But even then, there is illogical character development and plot holes that annoyed me.

      True, about the court scenes – they would probably be pretty boring if they were realistic. Despite that, I do expect some logic there too. (For example, I found the court scenes in Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke or Kanoon easier to believe – yet gripping).

      Was Yeh Dillagi the Hindi remake of Sabrina that you mention? I liked that one too, despite the pretty ugh fashions of that era. :-) Which was the remake of Kramer Vs Kramer?

      • Yes, ‘Yeh Dillagi’ was the remake of Sabrina (1954). I have no idea how Madhuri Dixit was rated numero uno or whatever over her contemporaries like Kajol,Manisha and Juhi who I find better than her when I compare their films.Kajol easily bettered her in acting and ‘big’ hits.
        Kramer vs Kramer was remade as ‘Akele hum akele tum’ (1995) directed by Mansoor Khan, son of Nasir Hussain. He made 4 films ,all inspired from Hollywood classics. Aamir Khan had a looong list of ripoffs in the 90s alone , not all of them are documented and I prefer the young Aamir over the ‘better’ actor nowadays.(actually I like younger versions of all Khans, even Saif)

        • Madhuri was probably the most classically pretty of them all, but I do think the others were equally (if not, in some cases, more) talented actresses. Juhi Chawla is an old favourite of mine – I simply love her.

          Okay, I did wonder (fleetingly) if Akele Hum Akele Tum was the remake of Kramer Vs Kramer – but I’d seen the Hollywood film when I was so young, I barely understood it.

    • Mmm. Thank you for that, Chris. I’m listening to the Chandni Chowk song, totally new for me and so good – I actually like this better than Rahein na rahein hum, it’s so soft and romantic and lovely.

  14. The only redeeming thing about this movie are the songs. Everything sucked big time. Even Waheeda looked awful – acted well no doubt but looked awful I thought. Even for the role in Bees saal baad – she looked like the wrong choice. A Vyjantimala would have been a better looking village belle than her.

    Btw, I discovered something about Waheeda – she looked better in her black&white movies than she did in her colored ones. Just finished watching Patthar ke sanam and she looked awful there – too old for the lead hero. Same in Ram aur Shyam. The only color movie she looked fab in was Guide (and perhaps Prem Pujari and Aadmi). Otherwise, she was past her prime in the color days.

    • I don’t think it ‘sucked big time’, but it’s certainly very far from the best Hindi suspense film around. As for Waheeda, I think she looks best when she’s wearing very little makeup – so I thought she looked lovely in the scenes where she’s not decked up (one reason why I don’t like her look in Yeh nayan dare-dare: too fussy and overdone). I thought she looked lovely in Guide, and also in Aadmi, though I’ll draw the line at Prem Pujari and also Patthar ke Sanam. My favourite films of hers are her black-and-white ones.

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