Starring Ashok Kumar, Asha Parekh, Pradeep Kumar, Achla Sachdev

An ugly Pyare (Ashok Kumar), shunned by the world, and a ravishing Kavita (Asha Parekh), enchanted by his voice….He is smitten with her, mistaking her sympathy for love. But she has another man in her life. It was an uncomplicated plot with outstanding music and composed acting. Yet, it did not fare well, for many reasons. It is a movie forgotten but the music lives on.

Raj Kumar (Ishwarlal) and wife Kamla (Achla Sachdev) are blessed with a son. But he is ugly. The mother is told by Dr. Mathur (Tapan Bose) that the child is still-born. The doctor gifts the child to a Muslim couple where Rahmat (Kanhaiyalal) brings up the child as a musician.

Before his death, Rahmat reveals the truth to Pyare, who discovers his true roots from Dr. Mathur.

The best efforts of Dr. Mathur go waste and lead to circumstances where Sudhir (Pradeep Kumar), in love with Kavita, is trapped by his friend (Iftikhar) in a devious plot that culminates in Pyare making a sacrifice.

Ashok Kumar is lent the divine voice of Mohammad Rafi and the mellifluous Manna Dey at different stages with Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh and Suman Kalyanpur contributing richly as Sachin Dev Burman holds the key to this movie's progress. You sit through in expectation of some stirring stuff from one of the film industry's most revered composers. You are not disappointed.

The film was based on a Bengali novel by Dr. Nihar Ranjan Gupta. The cast was glamorous even though Pradeep Kumar was beginning to fade as a star. But Asha Parekh, at 20, had established herself as one of the top grade actors, having belted out a few hits. But this movie was not about Asha Parekh, Pradeep Kumar or Ashok Kumar. It drew its strength from the off-the-screen stars like Sachin Da and lyricist Shailendra. That Sachin Da had son Rahul as assistant only added to the quality of music.

Towards the end of the movie, your heart goes out to Pyare, the protagonist of the story, at pain to find a place in a society that only welcomes beauty. In a heart-wrenching scene, when a young lady shrieks at the sight of his ugly countenance, Pyare seeks the comforts of darkness, away from the “cruel' world even as his father consoles and convinces him that his life is not about his appearance but the golden voice that God has bestowed him with.

Immortal offering

“Poocho Na Kaise Maine Rain Beetayi” is Manna Da's immortal offering as Pyare sings it at his father's deathbed. There is a tale about the song that Manna Da narrates in his autobiography.

“One evening, around 9 p.m, he (Sachin Da) dropped in after dinner, clad in sleeveless vest and lungi, a piece of paper in hand. Fetch your harmonium fast and note down this tune. You must record this tune tomorrow.

Remember, it's based on Raga Ahir Bhairav.” Manna Da gave his best and thus was born “Poocha Na Kaise Maine Rain Beetayi”, an all time great. There is a Rafi great too, this one based on Raga Bhairavi. The song, “Naache Man Mora Magan Tikta Dhigi Dhigi”, is a defining moment as Rafi is accompanied by Pandit Samta Prasad on tabla.

It is said that Ashok Kumar worked hard to get his expressions perfect as a celebration of the wonderful offering by Rafi and Pandit Prasad. The song is a tribute to Rafi Saab and Pandit Prasad, blissful voice and magical fingers; and of course the master musician Sachin Da!

You can listen to Lata-Rafi poignant “Tere Bin Sune Nain Hamare” and an outstanding Mukesh and Suman Kalyanpur duet “Ye Kisne Geet Chhedaa”. A Lata solo “Tere Khayalon Mein Tere Hi Khwabon Mein” completes the musical journey which sees Sachin Da at his classical best. Hats off to Ashok Kumar for accepting a role that depicts him in a form few would in this glamorous film world.