Lala Rookh (1958)

A couple of years back, I dedicated one month of blog posts to the readers of Dusted Off. Since then, many more readers have begun following this blog. Some drop by, leave a comment, or like a post. Some lurk in the background. Some become staunch friends.
It’s been a while, so I thought it was time to repeat what I’d said back then: Thank you. Thank you for reading my blog, for encouraging me, and keeping me going. It’s because of you that I blog. It’s for you that I blog.

To express some of my gratitude for my blog readers, February 2013 on Dusted Off is dedicated to you. All the posts this month will be related to blog readers: reviews of films recommended by readers, lists requested by readers, and so on.  To begin with, a film that I’ve wanted to see ever since Shalini recommended it three years ago. I finally found Lala Rookh in Induna’s catalogue a few months back, and pounced on it.

Talat Mahmood and Shyama in Lala Rookh

Lala Rookh begins in the province of Noorabad, the Shahenshah of which is Shah Murad (Talat Mahmood). Shah Murad, like innumerable other rulers of fairy tale and legend, has a penchant for going out, incognito, amidst his subjects to see how they actually live. One night, Shah Murad, dressed as an ordinary man, goes out with his servant, Mansoor (?).

Shah Murad and Mansoor go out in disguise

While walking through the town, they happen to peek in through the window of a house where a banquet is in progress. A dancing girl is strutting her stuff, and the host (having been persuaded by his guests to do so) is singing.

Hassan sings a song...

The camera follows us after the song ends and the host—his name is Abul Hassan (Lotan)—is summoned to another room by his old mother. The old lady admonishes Hassan for spending their last few bits of money on hosting such a lavish party, but Hassan shushes her. These guests are his friends, he says; should he be in need, they will come to his aid.

...and receives a scolding from his mother.

Unfortunately, the curious friends have eavesdropped on this conversation. When Hassan returns to the feast, they prove that they’re not just curious, but also fair-weather, friends. They say nasty things to him, tick him off when he tries to ask for some monetary help, and rush off without so much as a by-your-leave. Poor Hassan is left much disillusioned. Shah Murad and Mansoor watch on, unseen.

Murad looks on

Hassan has barely recovered from this ordeal, when his servant announces the arrival of two strangers. These are Shah Murad and Mansoor, introducing themselves as weary travelers; could they please get a bite to eat? Hassan, who’s a simple, generous soul, immediately forgets the disappointment he’s just faced (and his penury), and makes these two unexpected guests comfortable.

Two strangers arrive asking for a meal

Hassan sets a platter of food before the two men, and while his back is turned, Mansoor quickly shovels the food up his sleeve. When Hassan looks back, his two guests are begging to be fed, and saying they’re so hungry. Poor Hassan doesn’t have money for more food, but he’s so incurably generous, he takes off his coat and sends his servant off to sell it and buy food—which Mansoor again, on the sly, hides.

The mystery of the disappearing food

This tomfoolery goes on for a few minutes, until a desperate Hassan—who’s had to sell off his turban and waistcoat too [thank goodness he’s not reduced to his knickers], is driven to grabbing a knife to cut off his own arm to feed his guests. Murad realises at this point that the joke’s gone too far, and stops Hassan just in time. He and Mansoor reveal the joke to Hassan (though they don’t tell him who they are), and praise his generosity. And when a vastly relieved Hassan wishes he could be the ruler of Noorabad…

Hassan is praised for his generosity...

…they surreptitiously drug him, cart his unconscious self off to the palace, and let him spend a day there, enjoying all the luxuries of being a pseudo shahenshah. Within a couple of days, Hassan has fallen in love (with a palace maid called Para), has been given enough money to live in comfort for a year, and has been married to Para. As a result of all this, he is not just very happy, but also becomes a friend of Murad’s, who has finally revealed his identity.

... and generously rewarded

All this while, the wazir (?) has been pestering Murad with the reminder that it’s time for Murad to fulfill his late father’s promise, of marrying Princess Lala Rookh of Malikabad. Murad has never seen the girl in his life and baulks at the thought of having to kowtow to a pledge he didn’t make. He tells the wazir that he, Murad, is the shahenshah; in Noorabad, his word is law. Why should he kowtow to another’s choice when it comes to a decision as important as his marriage?

The wazir comes to meet Murad

Despite all of Murad’s cribbing, though, he realises that he doesn’t actually have much say in this matter. The wazir has already warned him: the ruler of Malikabad will be deeply offended if Murad calls off the wedding; the insult could well lead to war between Noorabad and Malikabad. Furthermore, Lala Rookh and her entourage have already set out from Malikabad, headed for Noorabad and the wedding.

The wazir tries to plead

Murad decides he can’t just sit around and wait. He will go, in disguise, to see what his intended bride is like. If he can meet her as a poor man, he might be able to gauge her character better. Is she marrying him only for his wealth and power? Or is she capable of finer feelings?

Murad confides in Hassan, outlining this plan, and Hassan agrees to accompany his lord and master.

Murad decides to see his intended bride

[This unilateral decision does not go down well with Para, Hassan’s bride, who is rather miffed at being left high and dry while her husband goes off gallivanting. She, however, takes the matter into her own hands by joining the duo—disguised as a man and passing herself off as her own brother. Even Hassan does not realise who she actually is].

So Murad, Hassan, and a disguised Para arrive at the place where Lala Rookh (Shyama, looking her usual gorgeous self) and her entourage are encamped. There’s music and dance, and the princess looking serenely on from behind the curtain that veils the doorway of her tent.

Lala Rookh watches a dance

…when, suddenly, Murad and Hassan notice a bunch of bandits sneaking up on the camp. Our heroes leap to the rescue, and there’s some very hurried but effective swashbuckling, as they—and Lala Rookh’s own soldiers, who also join in—send the bandits scurrying (or lay them low). In the process, unfortunately, Murad is wounded pretty badly and is barely able to stand when he is presented to the princess’s wazir, who heads her entourage.

A wounded Murad, Hassan, and Para are brought before the wazir

Hassan begins to introduce them, and Murad just about summons up the strength to interrupt. “I am a servant of Shah Murad’s”, he says, and faints.
When he comes to, it is to find that the grateful princess is herself tending to his wounds. Murad opens his eyes to find her mopping at his bloodied forehead, and he’s quite dazzled.

Murad gains consciousness

Lala Rookh (though she looks shy and confused at being faced by this handsome stranger) rallies around and asks him, since he is a servant of Shah Murad’s, what Shah Murad is like. After all, she is curious, having never even seen her future husband.

So Murad describes her betrothed to Lala Rookh: Shah Murad, he says, has one leg shorter than the other. “Saari duniya ko ek aankh se dekhte hain,” he adds, and Lala Rookh cheers up, thinking that even if he limps awfully, at least Shah Murad is a just ruler—until the wounded stranger qualifies his statement by adding that Shah Murad, after all, has only one eye.

Lala Rookh learns about Shah Murad...

He goes on to give her more details. The harem, for instance—“But I’d been told that Shah Murad does not have a harem!” the poor princess protests—“Oh, hardly worth noticing. Just about a hundred and fifty, or maybe two hundred, women,” says Murad gleefully. “And of those, he had about six executed just the other day. And a dozen others recently committed suicide.”

By this time, poor Lala Rookh is starting to panic. What has she been pushed into?!

... and does not like what she hears

She doesn’t get much time to nibble at her fingernails and worry herself into a tizzy, because her wazir, who is a very zealous chaperone, arrives just then. He raises his eyebrows at the princess dirtying her hands looking after a lowly commoner, and makes it quite clear that he does not approve of Lala Rookh’s being so attentive to this stranger.

The wazir tries to dissuade Lala Rookh

The wazir has cause to become even more annoyed as the days go by. The young stranger reveals himself to be a poet, and Lala Rookh (and I don’t blame her for this, considering all that she’s heard about her betrothed) asks him if he and his two friends will join the entourage and come along with them. Murad agrees, naturally. Soon, he’s singing songs—ostensibly for the entire company present, but really for Lala Rookh.

Murad, the poet, sings at the camp

The two of them are soon very much in love, and Lala Rookh sneaks off every now and then to meet her sweetheart at night, well away from the camp. They sing and talk (she calls him Ajnabi, ‘stranger’), and his presence drives all thought of her impending doom from Lala Rookh’s mind.

Murad and Lala Rookh

The wazir, however, is nothing if not diligent. He has been keeping an eye on all of this, and one evening, he and his henchmen trail Lala Rookh to her rendezvous with Murad. Just after Lala Rookh has bade farewell to Murad, the wazir’s men attack, stabbing Murad in the back. The wazir then tries to reason with Lala Rookh to give up her love, and when she refuses, reveals that he has had the poor man killed.

The wazir tries to reason with the princess

Lala Rookh flies at him in a rage, is overpowered, and is quickly tied up and bundled onto a tent-like howdah atop a camel—and the caravan sets off, as fast as they can, heading towards Noorabad. The wazir has made up his mind: if he has to haul his princess to her wedding against her wishes, he will do so.

The caravan sets off for Noorabad

What now? This is all a terrible muddle, because Murad (last seen sinking to the ground in a faint, with that bloody dagger sticking out of his back) is after all Lala Rookh’s bridegroom. The wazir doesn’t know it, and neither does Lala Rookh.

There are no surprises in store, actually (at least not for the viewers, since we, unlike Lala Rookh, already know that the man she loves and the man she is supposed to marry are one and the same). But there’s a sweet love story, plenty of fun, and enough to make this film worthy of being much better-known than it is.

Talat and Shyama

What I liked about this film:

Loads. I loved the simplicity of Lala Rookh: it was such an uncluttered, uncomplicated story. A little in the style of the traditional Amar Chitra Katha (or even Shakespearian?) tale, where one half of a romantic pair leads the other one on by being in disguise till the very end. There are no villains (the wazir, while he tries to nip in the bud Lala Rookh’s growing romance with the poet, is really just doing his job—and isn’t actually a bad man).

The songs, written by Kaifi Azmi and composed by Khayyam. My favourite is the lovely Pyaas kuchh aur bhi bhadka…tujhko purdah rukh-e-rosha se uthaana hoga, though Hai kali-kali ke labh par tere husn ka fasaana (sung by Rafi in a film where all the other songs in a male voice were—unsurprisingly—by Talat), Alvida, alvida jaan-e-wafa, and Le jaa meri duaaein are also good.

Talat Mahmood and Shyama. Shyama I have long regarded as one of the loveliest actresses in Hindi cinema; Talat I have always thought of as one of the finest male singers. Here, he proves that he can also be good old-fashioned eye candy. As Shalini so aptly put it, Talat Sahib is hot. Utterly hot.

And, in a refreshing departure from the hero who can be easily recognised even when in disguise, Talat manages to look, sound and behave totally different when pretending to be the one-eyed, lame, stuttering Shahenshah of Noorabad.

Murad in disguise

Lastly, one particular aspect of the film that appealed to me was that its main focus was the romance between Lala Rookh and Shah Murad. There is the brief thread of a comic subplot consisting of Hassan and Para, but the bulk of the story is Lala Rookh and Murad’s, uncluttered by complications. Perfect time-pass.

What I didn’t like:

As far as the film was concerned, not really very much, though I did feel a bit sorry for Lala Rookh, who was driven to tears (and more) because her husband-to-be was being flippant. He should’ve had pity on her much sooner. But then, half the deliciousness of the romance would’ve gone down the drain…

I also wouldn’t have minded it if the Hassan-Para angle had been left off completely after they’d got married. Once Lala Rookh and Shah Murad met and fell in love, I wanted the story to focus only on them. (On the other hand, that just may have turned a bit monotonous after a while, so that too I can understand).

But. And this a major but – what I did not like at all was the way the film ended, and I have a very strong suspicion that Friends Video (whose track record is none too great, anyway) are the ones to blame. Here I’d been, approaching the end of the film, watching poor Lala Rookh trying to shrug off the advances of her yucky bridegroom, totally unaware that under that disguise, he was actually the man she loved. I was grinning from ear to ear, waiting in eager anticipation for Murad to reveal himself.

And what happens? A sudden switch of scenes to Hassan and Para, who’re having some financial troubles and have picked a crooked way out of them—and then we’re back to the palace, for a couple of seconds where Murad and Lala Rookh, now happily married, are smilingly walking along. Huh?!

Considering the rest of the film has a very coherent script, this just did not make sense. I suspect Friends—not content with plastering a very intrusive logo over a quarter of the screen, and pasting a watermark across the centre—have decided they know best when it comes to editing films. It’s about time someone took some sort of punitive action against these morons.

Rant over.

Little bit of trivia:

Lala Rookh was produced by Ismat Chughtai, and was based on the poem Lalla Rookh by the 18-19th century poet, Thomas Moore.  In Moore’s poem, the princess Lalla Rookh is a daughter of Aurangzeb’s, and is betrothed to the prince of Bukhara. On her way to their wedding in Kashmir, Lalla Rookh falls in love with a young poet called Feramorz, who joins the entourage and travels along with them.

The bulk of Lalla Rookh consists of Feramorz’s poems, and can be read here. Each section has a brief portion in prose, where the story of Lalla Rookh and Feramorz is narrated.

51 thoughts on “Lala Rookh (1958)

  1. The trivias are a treat. Thank you :-) And don’t you think classic Bollywood cinema deserves its own Criterion Collection?

    • “And don’t you think classic Bollywood cinema deserves its own Criterion Collection?

      Oh, absolutely. Long, long overdue. :-)

      Glad you liked the trivia. Those ‘did you know’ things always fascinate me. And I must confess, even though I read only the first poem from Moore’s Lalla Rookh – “The Veiled Prophet” – I did read all of the prose sections, and thought the film did pretty good justice to the story of Lalla Rookh and Feramorz.

      • Of course, I love trivia! First, they’re so much fun to read. And second, Madhulika, they show that you’ve walked that extra mile to write your review. You’ve done your research, you’ve done more than just watch a film. And that’s what counts! :-) The trivia are like the DVD extra or the booklet that we won’t find in titles from Friends. I really hope someone took Bollywood seriously to make up an Indian Criterion.

        • Thank you, Hansda! :-)

          It’s sad, isn’t it, that even a lot of DVDs of classic Hindi films rarely have an extras section. Most trivia that I’ve come across for old Hindi films is from chance interviews I’ve come across, or from books, or other lovers of classic cinema.

  2. This sounds delicious, Madhu. Your review makes me want to watch it, preferably a better copy than Friends? (I can totally understand your frustration!)

    Hansda, I read somewhere that there was a company in India that was buying up the rights of films, and cleaning it up so they could make properly sub-titled DVDs; in fact, they referenced the Criterion Collection, and I remember thinking it was about time. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name, and search though I might, I haven’t been able to find out anything about it. I wonder if anyone else knows anything?

    • It’s a wonderful, fun, romantic film, Anu. I’m sure you’ll love it – the chemistry between Shyama and Talat is wonderful, especially in the scenes where he’s teasing her without her being any the wiser. :-)

      But I am feeling just so very irritated at Friends right now. Maybe if I’d watched the entire film earlier and knew how Murad finally reveals his identity to Lala Rookh (or how she gets to know), I may not have minded. But this was the first time I ever saw the film, and to have such an important part completely missing… unforgivable!

      I actually did find that someone has uploaded some songs and dances from a non-Friends version of the film. This scene, for instance, isn’t on my VCD:

      Damn Friends. Damn, damn, damn them. :-(

    • Hi, Anu. NFDC has come up with a Cinemas of India series with Shemaroo. These are remastered, collector’s edition DVDs of films in Indian languages. But they’re all arthouse and festival films. Not the popular ones. Enlighten Film Society is releasing arthouse world cinema in India and their DVD packs resemble those of Criterion’s. But I believe no one’s yet thought of remastering popular Bollywood cinema. It’s always a tacky Shemaroo or Eros or Ultra. That’s sad!

      • Madhu, I would have felt the same way as you. Which is why I hope to find someone else distributing that film. Not that any of them are any good actually. As Hansda says, the big three are equally criminal in their lack of commitment to quality.

        Yashraj used to be very good – they originally had the international rights to all of RK’s and Guru DUtts’ movies, and their DVDs of those films were cleaned up very, very well. Sub-titles were also much better than usual. Of course, the price matched the Criterion Collection’s, but at least, we got to see the films in their entirety, plus a lot of additional features. Unfortunately, when I recently went back to check because I wanted to buy Mera Naam Joker (the Shemaroo version has cut a whole 40 minutes off the film), I realised they do not sell them any more. :(

        Hansda, I know about the Cinemas of India series – I own quite a few of them. But this article was about mainstream films, and I remember thinking what a good thing it was. Unfortunately I didn’t think of bookmarking the page, and now, for the life of me, I cannot remember what the name was. :(

        • I know Khalid Mahmood was selling the DVD of Lala Rookh on his site devoted to his father. It was for some outrageous price, so I never bought it. But now, because the film proved to be so much fun, I think I just might pay up and treat myself to the DVD, after all.

          The problem with too many of these Indian video companies is that they focus on their DVDs to do their marketing, therefore the huge and intrusive logos – and a large chunk of space on the disk devoted to the other DVDs they sell. They’d sooner remove important scenes from the film itself than reduce their advertising on the disk.

          Not realising, possibly, that in the process they’re actually alienating people who’ll be cursing them for having spoilt a film for them. I doubt if I’m going to buy a Friends Video film again.

  3. I devoured this review with increasing excitement, until the sucker punch at the end! I don’t think I could stand watching a film knowing in advance that the ending had been butchered. A real shame too, because while I love Talat’s songs, I’ve never seen him in a film.

    • I’ve seen Talat in a couple of films before this – in Sone ki Chidiya (a negative role) and in Dil-e-Naadaan, where he and Shyama played a husband and wife whose marriage falls apart because she’s such a shrew. (This song, Zindagi dene waale sun teri duniya se dil bhar gaya, is from that film):

      Lala Rookh is by far my favourite of the few Talat films I’ve seen till now. But now I’m desperate to get hold of the real, unbutchered film and see how it plays out.

  4. Ooh, that sounds awesome! :D Yes, I really suspect Friends is behind butchering the ending… it’s about as bad as Shemaroo. (And I still haven’t forgotten their terrible treatment of the ending of Teen Deviyan. The scenes were there for a reason – to make a damn coherent story.. Argh. I should try to infiltrate those companies and see what they do with the footage! Hmm… sounds like a fun plan, North By Northwest style! (I watched that a couple days back. LOVE Cary Grant, oh my goodness! He is just such a great actor.)

    But whaaaat? Talat Mehmood in a film? Hmm. Might have to check it out! I also finished reading “The Englishman’s Cameo”. 1. Poor Muzaffar. Burnt hands aren’t fun, speaking from first-hand experience. 2. Gulnaaaaaaaar! What! How! Why! -cries- But I thought Muzaffar liked Gulnar! He did! Aww. :( 3. Am I really crazy for thinking that, the business with Gulnar aside, Muzaffar and Mehtab actually were really awesome together? 4. And I love how Akram and Muzaffar became friends eventually. Heheh!

    • Glad you like Cary Grant too, bombaynoir. Join the club! :-) Lots of us here who do.

      On the topic of Talat as an actor – he’s actually pretty good. I liked him in Sone ki Chidiya, and I simply fell in love with him in Lala Rookh. He was awesome!

      Heh. Yes, Muzaffar and Gulnar did get along, but not that way – she was too fragile (in a way) for him. And Mehtab was too calculating. Just not the sort of women, either of them, whom I’d have wished on Muzaffar. (Which gives me the opportunity to push the two sequels to the book – The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries, where he finally meets someone very interesting, and Engraved in Stone, which takes their story forward). :-D

      • Yay! I also watched “The 39 Steps” and I have to say, I really like Robert Donat too. At first I didn’t particularly like him, but when the film moved on, I started to sort of like him. And especially with that daring train escape! Loved him! Also at that funny political rally and stuff. And most of all, when he kissed the -married woman- who helped him get away from the police. Hahahaha! :D

        Sone Ki Chidiya? With Nutan! Ooh! Got to see that! At the moment, though, I’m trying to hunt down Jaal, Dev’s one, because I love his early 50′s films, too. I watched Bombai Ka Babu, and I bawled and bawled nonstop at the ending and was yelling, “DEV, TELL HER! TELL HER IT’S NOT TOO LATE SHE LOVES YOU TOO, TELL HER!”

        • Yes, I remember not much liking Robert Donat at the beginning of The 39 Steps, but I warmed to him very quickly. He’s also great in a film with Deborah Kerr, called Vacation from Marriage.

          Let me warn you: Sone ki Chidiya isn’t one of those frothy and sweet Nutan films. It gets pretty depressing in places. I did a review of it, here:

          http://dustedoff.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/sone-ki-chidiya-1958/

          …though it does have one of my absolute favourite Talat songs, Pyaar par bas toh nahin:

          • I like him so, so, so, much that by this time I’m ready to go out and buy some of his films. Okay, maybe not buy. Because 1. I’m broke, 2. I never go to DVD stores, and 3. I’ve got to use the chance to buy Hindi films instead. I’ll check out that film, and also I think, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”. I mean, he won the Academy Award over Clark Gable for Gone With the Wind. That’s saying something!

            Aww, depressing films. I’ve already been putting off Pyaasa and Kagaz Ke Phool ’cause they’re supposedly sad. I’ll see what I can do, though.

            And sorry, I didn’t mean to make it seem like I was ignoring the part about your books. My idiot browser cut that part out. I’m gonna go out and get those books as soon as possible! :D Wonder how Muzaffar’s girl is gonna be like! (Oh, and if you won’t kill me for saying this, when Muzaffar went to meet Mehtab, I was reminded of Dev and Nalini Jaywant in Kala Pani. :D)

            • I haven’t seen Goodbye, Mr Chips – but that’s mostly because I’ve read the book, and found it very sad. So not a film I’m looking forward to watching. Kaagaz ke Phool is sad, but in a melodramatic way which didn’t really touch me, and while Pyaasa is also sad, there is hope at the end. And the entire film is very well-made, as far as I’m concerned.

              Yes, now that I look back on them, the Muzaffar-Mehtab scenes are similar to the Nalini Jaywant-Dev Anand scenes in Kaala Paani. Maybe that was in my subconscious!

  5. This seems a delightful fairytale DO. And I agree with Hansda that you walked that extra mile to write the review and give all that information/Trivia.
    Shyama and Talat, both beautiful people, make a lovely pair. Such a pity about the ending. I dislike these people so much!!! Friends indeed!!!

    I didn’t know the song hai kali kali ke lab par tere husn ka fasana was from this film. I like it a lot.
    One question. Is the Lala Rookh and Feramorz real?

    Thanks for this lovely review of what seems like a lovely film too. :-)

    • Thank you, pacifist! I thought Shyama and Talat made a wonderful pair too. They had loads of chemistry, and their scenes where he’s pulling her leg and she doesn’t know that he is her betrothed, are very sweet indeed.

      I doubt if the Lala Rookh-Feramorz story has any truth in it, because Akbar had passed a law preventing all Mughal princesses from ever marrying (because even being married to a Mughal princess gave a man a right to the throne – so the law was made to reduce the number of claimants to the throne). Since Akbar’s time, therefore, the Mughal princesses couldn’t marry – so Lala Rookh, even if she existed, would never have been engaged to anyone.

      It’s a sweet tale, though. Very romantic!

  6. Now this sounds to be a good film! And Ismat Chugtai’s film to the boot!
    No wonder that it doesn’t have grovelling and self-sacrificing women.
    Such a pleasant story with no evil men or women. One hardly finds such stories.
    The songs sound wonderful and your review makes it worth to have a look!
    Wonderful Shyama and soulful Talat just add more tot he beauty it seems.
    Thanks for the well-written review!

    • Thank you, Harvey! :-)

      “Wonderful Shyama and soulful Talat just add more to the beauty it seems.”

      Talat is not at all soulful here, except possibly in the songs. Most of the time, he’s very mischievous! :-D I simply adored the two of them in this.

  7. Madhu, writing here because there wasn’t enough space under the comments there – Khalid Mohammed’s site is good, but it put me off with all the threats (I can’t think of any other word, really, considering the language) about plagiarism. I mean, none of us want our copy to be taken without so much as a by-your-leave, but this was so offensively stated, almost as if he assumed everyone who went to the site was going to steal the pictures and/or copy. :(

    It’s not just the DVDs that are outrageously priced; have you seen the prices of the CDs? :( :(

    But I would still love to buy Lala Rookh; let me know if it is the complete version (provided you buy it)?

    • I know what you mean about the ‘threats’, Anu. Yes, a little off-putting, that. I haven’t seen the prices of the CDs, because all my favourite Talat songs are easily available on CDs by major music companies anyway.

      If I do buy Lala Rookh, I’ll certainly let you know if it’s the complete version.

  8. Thank you Madulika for introducing a film of fifties.thare are innumerable films of this kind in Telugu . There is similar scene in the great ‘Malleswari’ where in the king and Minister disguised as ordinary people finds Malleswari (Bhanumathi ) dancing before NTR sheltered in a lonely place against rain. Ofcourse the story is entirely different . Incidentally Ismat chugatai is one who gave break to dev anand (romancing with life) .thank you once again and keep writing

    • I must start watching more regional Indian films; the only ones I seem to have seen (and those too very few) are Bengali ones. The problem is that very few films in regional languages are subtitled. :-( Or the subtitles are terrible.

      I didn’t know Ismat Chughtai gave Dev Anand a break – I thought Chetan Anand did.

        • Very little, Shilpi, unfortunately. :-( I can just about manage “Aami Bangla bolti chaai, kintu aami jaani na!

          The problem was that because my mom moved to Madhya Pradesh – and later Srinagar and Delhi, as my father was transferred – after her marriage, she never got a chance to speak to anyone in Bengali. And even at home in Calcutta, they used to speak a mix – Hindi, English, and Bengali. So I guess even mum was never a hard-core Bengali. ;-)

  9. I have heard about this movie on request songs on radio, and I am sure that this movie is only talked because of its one song only “Hai kali Kali ke Lab Per” and nothing else.

  10. I heard about this movie for the first time when I was doing a write-up on Kaifi saab for Atul’s blog. I searched for some Kaifi songs that had not been posted there yet – and a song from this film came up.

    After reading the story here (as usual narrated wonderfully by you), I wonder why this movie isn’t better-known. It sounds like a lovely, heart-warming story of goodness all round. And Shyama was a star at that time already, with Talat being a star singer, even if not a star actor.

    Am really glad you’ve written this review and brought the movie to the notice of so many other old-movie lovers. What I’m not happy about (not your fault!) is that more people may now order this movie, thereby increasing income of Friends Video! They really don’t deserve it, though I guess it can’t be helped.

    Thanks for this review, Madhu. Enjoyed reading it – your blog’s always lovely to read.

    • Thank you, Raja. And yes, this is (never mind what Roshni says!) a lovely little film – and Talat does full justice to his role. He’s wonderful; watching him just made me wish he’d done more of these sort of roles.

      Hopefully my disclaimer towards the end of the post will keep people from buying the Friends version of Lala Rookh. I know I will probably steer clear of Friends from now on. I’ve had some terrible experiences with them, but this has been the last straw.

  11. I’m very glad you had a chance to watch Lala Rookh and even more that you enjoyed it, Madhu. It really is a wonderfully entertaining film and the music is just lovely. You have every right to rage against “Friends”, I saw Lala Rookh on VHS and the ending is intact on the video tape.

    One of the things I noticed in Lala Rookh was how comfortable and confident Talat Mahmood seemed. He was convincing even in the romantic scenes – an area where he’s noticeably award in every other movie that I’ve seen of his.

    • Thank you so much for recommending Lala Rookh, Shalini! I loved the film – it was so entertaining and so much fun.

      And, while I haven’t watched enough of Talat to gauge how comfortable or not he was while acting with other actresses, I completely agree with what you say about him here – he seems very comfortable, almost as if he’s thoroughly enjoying himself in the scenes where he’s pulling poor Shyama’s leg.

  12. Seems like a nice film, never heard of this before.Thanks for the review.
    It doesn’t apply to this film but noticing one previous comment , has there been any list here comprising of ‘great songs in terrible movies’ before? If not then, I know it is a weird or maybe a radical suggestion , but can such a list be made? and will Mohammad Rafi dominate such a list?
    Personally,I’ll put ‘Pathhar ke sanam’ in that list and not due to Manoj Kumar, It was a bore (for me) and they killed off one character I liked in it for no reason (or was there a reason I don’t remember?), that was Mumtaz. May be one time I didn’t like the ‘resolution’ of a love triangle.

    • No, Chris – I’ve never done a list like that. But where would one stop? :-D There are too many films I’ve seen just on the basis of one good song, only to find that the film itself is terrible. Akashdeep, for example, which had that lovely song, Main akele yoon hi maze mein thha, mujhe aap kisi liye mil gaye. Or Tum apna ranj-o-gham, from Shagoon. Or any of the songs from Parasmani – such lovely songs, such an idiotic movie.

      I’d put Patthar ke Sanam on the list too – I didn’t like that film at all, despite the fact that I like Waheeda, Mumtaz, and Manoj Kumar when he isn’t being patriotic. I found it boring too.

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