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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Man, woman and doctor (Dil Ek Mandir)

It's not for nothing that Raj Kumar received a Best Supporting Actor Filmfare award for his portrayal of Ram in C V Sridhar's emotional drama Dil Ek Mandir. For, here is a man who despite being diagnosed with lung cancer and waiting on the brink of desolation and doom, is buoyant, pragmatic and jocund all the time. He is not afraid of death and he has no qualms in securing a stable and safe future for his wife after his death. He relaxes the tension in the plot with his amiable repartee and is a foil to the otherwise morose and dejected doctor who is suffering from the pangs of unrequited love. If you ask me, Ram is one of the main reasons why I was able to complete the film.

There is one scene in this 1963 popular classic where Sita (Meena Kumari) implores Dharmesh (Rajendra Kumar), her former lover who she has to disappoint in love for some dire reason, to give up memories and move on. She tells him that since she is married to someone else now, Dharmesh brooding over her with the help on one sole picture is not decent and commendable. All this is eavesdropped by Ram. He knows now that there was a relation between his wife and this doctor and initially he was really hurt after learning so. But now he hears his wife almost begging Dharmesh to settle down and forget her. In the end, a tearful Dharmesh relents and tears the picture quite dramatically. Sita returns to her husband's ward and finds Ram sleeping. She wipes her eyes and walks out slowly. The camera focuses on Ram's face while he looks up and smiles. Yes, he is satisfied that his wife, as believed by him, is totally in love with him and is faithful to him. I guess a dying man does wish for this much during the last days of his life.
Ram's love for his wife is deep. The moment he realises that he just might not make it after the crucial operation, he extracts a promise from Dr Dharmesh, who he now holds as a dear friend, that his wife be duly remarried and not let to wither away as a weeping widow. I wonder why Dharmesh squeals hearing this. In fact, he should be happy that the husband is clearing the path for him!And if this is not all, Ram later goes on to take an oath from his wife that she will marry Dharmesh if anything happens to him. Isn't it absolutely selfless of him to do so? When his wife complains, he reasons with her saying that it is only practical that she marry again and live a complete life. After all, she is young and beautiful and would would come of her spending her years in loneliness and woe. After all, he knows that no one else will love and care for his beloved Sita as Dharmesh. He knows in the heart of heart that Dharmesh is a dejected soul because Sita disappeared from his life. He is putting matters right because it was because of him that the two lovers could not unite. His unintended entry into Sita's life brought gloom in Dharmesh's world. Sita does love him dearly but perhaps she does have a dead part in her for doing what she did to Dharmesh involuntarily.
There is another reason why I absolutely loved Ram's character in Dil Ek Mandir. He is forever upbeat despite knowing that these might the last few days of his life with Sita. He is immensely thankful to God for whatever he has got and makes the most of his breathing days. He jokes and chats up Sita, even though she is always worrying and apprehensive about what's in store. He never cribs about his disease and suffering and wants his wife to laugh always. He behaves normally; not like a patient. He wants his wife to sing to him and entertain him because he loves her crooning. How lovely is the emotion when he tells his wife that he wants to see her dressed up as his bride just the night before his operation. He wants to relive those magical memories. Here is a soul that is forever happy and buoyant.
Raj Kumar's first appears in the film wearing a suit. He looks really dapper in that. And there's something about all his attires in the film that's so smart and dishy. Moreover, I love his pairing with Meena Kumari. They look so good together. A prime instance is Pakeezah. One look at how Sita is taking care of Ram in the hospital and how she showers her undiluted attention on him, and you'd hardly know that this is reel life.
From what I made out, Ram's character in the film is a stark contrast to Dharmesh's persona. One man is forever fond of life and is ready to take all problems in his stride. Another man is incapable and unwilling to move on and live better. Dharmesh sometimes appears a bit too melodramatic and soppy. Rajendra Kumar looks good but I would love it if his character was a bit more steady. But I liked the concept of the doctor proving that he is way above killing a patient to get even with Sita. That part was well done.
Meena Kumari is weepy but very good. She looks lovely and is such a great wife to Ram. Loved every bit of her here. A dutiful wife, a pained lover who is trying to reason with her ex-lover and a wife who wants nothing else but her husband to get well. She suffers from superstitions but is not beyond reasoning.
Wish they built more on the comic sub plot of Mehmood and Shobha Khote. Lallulal is funny but Mainabansi is not fleshed out properly. These two make such an awesome couple on screen.
Another stellar part in the film is the stunning music by Shankar Jaikishan. They are on a melodious roll here. Every song is fantastic especially, Yahaan koi nahin tere mere siva, Ruk ja raat and Hum tere pyar mein. Seriously, what just happened to such beautiful melodies. Why don't we get these from the youngsters now!


  1. I agree with everything you've written Sharmi.
    Whatever one might have against the film at least it has a story and good acting. I too was quite taken up with the idea of a former lover (doctor) operating on the husband, and of course the wife doesn't trust him. The ending I felt was OK by me because it just meant the tremendous stress and strain he had been going through not only when Sita expresses her mistrust, but perhaps ever since he discovered she was lost to him. Some people can't move on and take it very hard.
    I liked the film very much.

  2. I found this movie just too melodramatic for my taste, but yes, I agree that Raj Kumar (even though I invariably don't like him!) was one of its few saving graces, along with the music. Rajendra Kumar's character was too maudlin for me.

  3. Couldn't stand the film, and while the acting (and the music!) was the saving grace of the film, I hated the men's characters. One (Rajendra Kumar) is busy living in his past; the other is busy making up his wife's mind for her. Who the hell told him his wife wanted to marry the doctor? Really speaking, you thought that was love? Ugh! If my husband were busy trying to pack me off to another man (and never mind he was dying and the other man loved me) without even *asking* me what I wanted, heck, if I were the wife, I would have left the two men to each other. *shudder* FSM save me from such 'love'. *shudder*

  4. @Sharmi: I saw this film long back and remember it being melodramatic. Yes, songs are nice!

  5. @Pacifist: I did like the film in bits and parts. Dharmesh should have been less weepy!!

  6. @Dustedoff: Yes, Raj KUmar's character was uplifting. And the songs were fab.

  7. @Anu: I don't know why but I think he did care for his wife hence he did all that he did. And he did overhear their conversation so I guess he guessed that she would be happy with Dharmesh. BUt I do get your point.

    1. No, no, my point was not that he *didn't* care for his wife! He did. And he wanted her to be happy and all that. I totally agree. But I have no patience with a love that decides for *me* what I should after *he* dies (or leaves me, or whatever). I find it condescending at best, and infantalising at worst that he should *take care of me* by getting me married off to another chap - there is nothing in the conversation that he overhears that suggests that *she* is still in love with Dharmesh.

      Besides, even if she were, isn't it up to *her* and Dharmesh to decide whether they want to be married after all? Why would I want a man to marry me just because of a promise he made to my dead husband? That would definitely take care of me even *dreaming* about marrying anyone! *shudder* The whole thing just icks me out.

      Sorry. :( It's a vicarious reaction to having *anyone* control my life to this extent. Even in the name of love. *Especially* in the name of love.

    2. @Anu: But Dharmesh did still love her!

    3. Sigh. You don't get my point. There are two men here who are bartering the future of the woman they supposedly love. As a woman, I find that demeaning - whether they love or not. Intentions do not trump the fact that she is not allowed any free will at all.

    4. @Anu: Okay, yeah, now i get your point. Perhaps you are right :)

    5. Completely agree with Anu. The sad thing about your point is to see an Indian woman defending the other side or not even being able to see the problem here...

    6. @Anonymous: Not defending exactly... opinions can differ right? And at last I do see her point!!

  8. @Sreenath: Yes the music was awesome.

  9. Hi,

    You have to keep in mind, that this movie was made in 1963, time when arranged marriages were the norm. If Raj Kumar & Meena had a child, it may have been a different story.
    Also, the whole movie cannot be just about Raj Kumar. Rajender Kumar was a `Jublee' Star, who had successful Jublee hits during the 60’s, for him to act in this movie, there had to be more to his role.

    This movie was a Jublee hit and during that time I don’t think people raised the question about Raj Kumar’s suggestion during that time.
    Times have changed now for better.
    This movie had great acting, wonderful songs and most of the movie was shot in a hospital.

    Thank you

  10. @Sharmi Dastidar: This was a remake of the original tamil film by Sridhar - Nenjil Or Aalayam - which translates to Dil Ek Mandir. One of the items you probably didnt notice was the pioneering black and white photography by Sridhar's cinematographer Vincent who made a mark from this film. Thereon they both became a hit-team. The tamil film also had melodious music by then music-maestros Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy and the songs are still top in the hearts. There is one more folklore associated with the tamil film - Sridhar completed the film in a record time of three weeks from concept to finish. Nenjil Or Aalayam remains a classic film in the realms of tamil film history. Dil Ek Mandir is a good remake and gave Sridhar a foothold in the Mumbai film world.....Ram

  11. @Ram: Thank you so much for all this trivia :)

  12. Dear Sharmi,

    Oh two Kumars in one movie, and both Raj too..
    Nice to know a well-acted role done by Rajendra Kumar,will catch this movie sometime.

    Though not a big fan of Rajendra Kumar.

  13. @Gaurav: hmmm, do, maybe just for the songs!

  14. The same movie was made in Tamil called Nenjil oru Aalayam.. Don't know which one came out first. But I love Meena Kumari's acting and the songs are lovely, especially Hum tere pyar mein saara aalam... lovely lyrics..
    Do visit my blog on cinema when time permits.

  15. Panchhee se chhudaakar us kaa ghar, tum apane ghar par le aaye
    ye pyaar kaa pinjaraa man bhaayaa, hum jee bhar bhar kar musakaye
    jab pyaar huaa is pinjade se, tum kahane lage aazaad raho
    hum kaise bhulaaye pyaar teraa, tum apanee jubaan se ye naa kaho
    ab tum saa jahaan mein koee naheen hai, hum to tumhaare ho baithhe
    tum kahate ho ke ayese pyaar ko bhool jaao, bhool jaao

  16. The movie is melodramatic no doubt but the song Hum tere pyar touchy. I liked the movie:)

  17. Now this is a movie that is ripe for a remake.
    The three lead characters will provide immense challenge and scope for today's actors.

  18. Fantastic commentary Sharmi..a lovely movie with great acting and memorable songs.