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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Of kings and kingdoms (Kohinoor)

I love films like Kohinoor. You don't have to think much. You just go with the flow of the story. Good people, with odds clogging their life, have to battle against the bad ones. But there's no scope for fret. For, the end is always happy. The good guy wins, beating the bad guy to pulp. He gets to sit on the throne accompanied by the beautiful princess. Lighthearted and jaunty, Kohinoor is a perfect example of the archetypal royal saga. Replete with songs, swordfights, schemings and dances, this 1960 adventure flick from S.U. Sunny is one enthralling joyride...
Rana Devinder Pratap Singh is the crown prince of Kailashnagar. As expected there is the conniving dewan who wants his son to usurp the throne by bumping off the prince.
But, this prince is too astute for that. He senses the dewan's plan, protects his skin and goes away promising to come back soon and retain his royal rights. Incidentally, he is also supposed to marry Rajkumari Chandramukhi, the princess of Rajgarh. And, as necessary he is dumbstruck by her beauty. But, the senapati of Rajgarh has his evil eyes on the pretty damsel and wants her for himself. So, the fight ensues between the prince and the senapati. In the way, we have a plethora of wonderful songs, lofty dialogues and magical adventure! Very appealing!!
There, I've summed it up. Now, I can spend the rest of the post waxing eloquent about Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari and Naushad. Dilip Kumar used this role as a breather from his tragic roles so far. Thank God! For, he is too swashbuckling to be true. Swift and smart, he is a killer as the prince. And, funny, too. He does not have to garb himself in regal fineries, his princely walk and clever talk is enough to prove that this man means business. He is attractive and dashing, chivalrous and brave. He thinks fast, acts even faster. He charms with style and romances with panache. And when he sings, the universe sings with him. He is deft with the sword as well as the sitar. He has honey in his voice and passion in his eyes. He is at ease riding a horse and is very open to a mongoose riding his sturdy shoulders! This prince wears many caps. And, he wears them with style.
Rana Devinder is in love with Chandramukhi. No one can blame him for that. She is bliss for the senses. Pretty as a picture, she is graceful, naughty and charming. When her ringlets curl up on her temples, she looks like a China doll, when she breaks into Dil mein baji pyar ki shehnaiya, she is the peacock (or maybe the deer), nimblefooted and gleeful. When she is riding the horse with her prince singing Koi pyaar ki dekhey jadugari, she is like the breeze, billowing away pleasantly on his face and heart. When she is drawn to her love with the strains of Do sitaron ka zameen par hain milan she is the lovestruck damsel. And when she faces her lover for the first time, her eyes mirror the storm in her heart, the storm raging from the first flutterings of love. Shy and coy, she looks even prettier. Yes, the already gorgeous Meena Kumari looks even prettier.
And, when her heart is breaking when she is separated from her love she is the 'pujaran' of her 'andha devta'. Ethereal in her black costume and the flowing tresses enveloping her fair face like a heavy cloud, she is an ethereal woman. Gosh, what range Kumari had!! And, what beauty!!!
The adventurous film has awesome comedy, too, handled superbly by Kumar and Kumari (now, doesn't that sound very husband-wife like?) as well as Mukri. For instance, when Dilip Kumar dresses up like a jogi and tries to meet Chandramukhi singing Zara man ki khiwadiya khol, I find his expressions extremely comical. What a way to dupe the stupid senapati, played wonderfully by Jeevan (how can Chandramukhi force herself to fall in love with this cunning yet foolish man? And, he looks ridiculous, too!). Then there is the endearing scene where the two lovers meet for the first time. Lowering her peepers with a shy smile, Chandramukhi says, "Socha tha aapse aise milungi, aise saamney ayoongi... Ab dekho mere haath bhi nahin kaap rahein hain, bas dil zor se dharak raha hain!" Simply marvellous!
Then there is the hilarious scene where Devinder Pratap fools the inebriated Senapati in front of the mirror. Just watch that for yourself. And, also the romantic duel Chalenge teer jab dil par...
The film's supporting cast includes Kumkum as Rajlakshmi, the nartaki. She moves like the lightening, I must say. In Jadugar qatil, you can see her devotion and love for Devinder Pratap. Here is a lovestruck girl, ready to go to any lengths to make her man happy. She dances with her heart as Devinder plays a playful tune on the sitar.
I think the highpoint of the film is Madhuban mein radhika. Is it real? That song, I mean. Magical, harmonious and earthshatteringly melodious, this classical beauty is a masterpiece from the great Naushad (the film's score, and Rafi, Asha Bhonsle and Lata Mangeshkar, are astoundingly great!). The crest and trough of the notes, the union of Mohd Rafi's vocals with the tabla, the sarod, the sitar and the jal tarang, couldn't have been better. Coupled with the poetic dance of Kumkum (didn't know she could move so well), this song is truely historical in its composition and picturisation. And of course, Dilip Kumar's lipsyncing. Tell me something. How many of you feel that it almost looks as if Kumar himself is singing the song? So immaculate are his hand and lip movements? And, his smile!! Sigh...
I sometimes feel Kohinoor should have been in colour. Especially during Tan rang lo, the playful holi song. Its light, frolicky tune and mirthful picturisation is so infectious. Dilip Kumar is having oodles of fun teasing the young girls with his pichkari! Meena Kumari is absolutely gorgeous, her pretty face caked with a riot of colours. Red, yellow, green, blue, purple, or should I say, the colours of life and love, livens up this joyful number...
Absolutely breathtaking!!

6 comments:

  1. Oh yes!! you have said it!! This movie IS ethreal and so are the lead actors!! I have watched it sooo many times.. still can't get enough of it. My love for Meena kUmari triple folded after watching her in Kohinoor (one for her breath-taking beauty, 2nd for her inhibited dancing and third for her comic timings with Dilip Kumar). why, oh why didn't she do many such roles???
    Dilip Kumar, IMO, is a thorough package of acting, good looks, style, charisma and comic timings!! and man, he had a way with music! (Trivia - He learned to play sitar a month prior to the shooting of Madhuban mein radhika naache re... " Rafi sahab IS the voice of Dilip sahab, in every true sense!)and what comedy!
    I loved his shatabdi-express dialogue delivery as Kohinoor Baba!! Doubled up with laughter on his "Damn-phool"!
    Loved mukri too.. esply after the song Dil mein baji pyaar ki shehnaayiaan.. a perfect foil to Dilip sahab.
    Coming to music - my fav. is "Zara man ki kiwadiya khol..." and "Chalenge teer jab dil par..." (Meena Kumari at her best, looking stunning.. and what expression!) I loved her performance in the scene, following the song.. the way she says.. "Na".)

    Such a lovely movie.. It's there in my top 10 list!! :)

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  2. @Punya: Thank you Punya for that awesome bit of trivia. Yes Meena Kumari is just so breathtakingly beautiful!!! Dilip Kumar is dashing absolutely. I now want to see Aan just for him and Nadira!! Yes, that "Na" is just too cute! Thanks for the comment and keep reading :)

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  3. I have to agree with you, Sharmi - the highpoint of Kohinoor is definitely Madhuban mein Radhika naache re. What a mind-blowingly fantastic song! Everything about it is superb: the music, the way Rafi sings it, Kumkum, Dilip Kumar (even the way he plays the sitaar - I seem to recall reading somewhere that he actually was trained in music, so could play the sitaar; don't know if that's true).

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  4. @Dustedoff: I swear. It almost seems as if the universe is singing with him. Don't know about his musical training. But Punya (above) says that he learnt to play the sitar for this film. Gosh what perfectionism!! All the songs of this film are mindblowing. Another two are Dil mein baji and Do sitaron !! Thank you for the comment :)

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  5. I luuuuuuuuuuuv this film. But u know what, I luv it in black-n-white better, the way it is. These B/W movies have a different charm altogether. And more so because these actors looked so gud in the B/W era than in the color films. Imagine both the lead actors lebelled as the king and queen of tragedy come together and the affect is such a laughter riot....amazing na! They both have such a good cominc timing and god, they both look sooooooooo gud in! Music is simply mindblowing. I had reviewed this film for Dilip Kumar's birthday -
    http://sunheriyaadein.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/kohinoor-1960/
    An in my previous post (10 favourite songs of Dilip Kumar), bollyviewer had commented :
    I would also include the songs my favorite Dilip-Meena film, Azaad – another comedy starring the tragedy King and Queen.
    I have been trying to get hold of Azaad since then but with no luck.

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  6. @Sunheriyaadein: I totally agree with you Archana about B&W films having a certain charm of their own. It's just that Tan rang lo sounds and looks so colourful that I sometimes miss the technicolor. But apart from that the film is perfect and unmatched :)
    I now want to see Aan and Azaad :)

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