This may not have been the mood we would have liked for Eid.
Social distancing, at a time when the order of the day is to embrace.
This festive time, stay indoors and and get the Eid feeling from watching these amazing films.
Subhash K Jha recommends these films, but adds that he is not recommending Pakeezah and Umrao Jaan. They are beyond recommendation, says Subhash.
Mere Mehboob (1963)
IMAGE: Sadhana and Rajendra Kumar in H S Rawail’s Mere Mehboob.
Set in the city of nawabs and kababs, Mere Mehboob with its recreation of Lucknawi adaab was like the rich malpuas served for Eid.
Over-saturated colourful frames leapt up in flamboyant flames as the cast played a romantic game of musical chairs.
Naushad’s music added an extra dimension of allure.
The film swirls and twirls in its own bubble of shayari and ada-kaari with no sense of continuity.
One of the hit songs Jaan-e-mann ek nazar dekh le has the actress Amita singing in both the voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle!
But the film conveys an old-world charm, well-preserved over the years.
Interestingly, all the main actors — barring Nimmi — were Hindus playing Muslims.
Even Director H S Rawail, who excelled in the Muslim social genre, was a Hindu.
Secular Bollywood at its best.
IMAGE: Ashok Kumar, Shashi Kapoor and Meena Kumari in Bimal Roy’s Benazir. Photograph: Kind courtesy National Film Archive
Moving away from the splashy colours of Mere Mehboob, this Bimal Roy production — directed by S Khalil — is a portrait of sobriety.
Shot in black-and-white, it tells the story of the Fallen Woman Benazir, played with magnificence by Meena Kumari, and the two brothers Nawab (Ashok Kumar) and Anwar (Shashi Kapoor), who come under her spell.
Besides its proclivity to rein in melodrama and avoid the pitfalls of cultural stereotyping, Benazir boasts of an incredibly layered music score by S D Burman.
Though Meena Kumari was no dancer, Lata Mangeshkar’s Husn ki baharen liye, Baharon ki mehfil suhani rahegi and Alvida jaan-e-wafa still have the power to make our hearts dance.
Benazir was a flop, probably because ardent fans of the Muslim Social did not subscribe to its love for sobriety.
Time to rediscover this gem.
IMAGE: Rati Agnihotri, Poonam Dhillon and Rishi Kapoor in B R Chopra’s Tawaif.
Everyone swears by the reformist tone of B R Chopra’s Nikaah, which took on triple talaaq.
But to me, Chopra’s Tawaif is more florid, fun and frisky, hence a delectable Eid confection.
Rati Agnihotri, in the best role of her career, plays the title role of the courtesan Sultana.
But it is Rishi Kapoor who steals the show as Dawood, the handsome well-to-do Muslim who is compelled to bring the tawaif home to his scandalised family and fiancée (Poonam Dhillon) as his biwi.
Corny and kitschy, the film showed how Rishi could steal a film from right under the centrally cast heroine’s nose.