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Samadhi (1950)

SURESH KOHLI
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Ashok Kumar, Nalini Jaywant, Shyam, Kuldip Kaur, Mubarak, David, Ram Prasad, and Shashi Kapoor

I Spy Nalini Jaywant made a successful on screen pair with Ashok Kumar
I Spy Nalini Jaywant made a successful on screen pair with Ashok Kumar

A patriotic spy thriller, “Samadhi” revolves around Subhash Chandra Bose's clarion call to the youth to join his revived Indian National Army, and liberate the country from the British. To raise funds in Malaya, Bose auctions his garland which the wealthy Shekhar (Ashok Kumar) not only buys, but also joins the INA, leaving behind his blind father Badri Prasad (Ram Prasad), and kid brother, Pratap (Shashi Kapoor) much to the dismay of his elder brotherSuresh (Shyam), an officer in the British army. Suresh is in love with Dolly D'Souza (Kuldip Kaur), a British spy doubling up as a singer. She also has a younger sister, Lily (Nalini Jaywant) with whom Shekhar instantly falls in love while watching the sisters dance to the memorable “Gore gore o banke chore” number (Lata Mangeshkar, Amirbai Karnataki), which does not escape the uncanny eye of Boss (Mubarak).

Netaji in the plot

He persuades Dolly to put Lily on the job of getting a copy of INA's troop movement that Shekhar is carrying to Bangkok. She not only manages to get on the same plane as Shekhar but also the seat next to him and when it crash-lands, and Shekhar is unwilling to wait, Lily too joins him. Her conscience starts pricking by the time she manages to copy the letter and resentfully passes off to save her sister from possible trouble. Suresh is hurt in the ambush that follows. Dolly looks after him. Both the sisters are forced to be a part of the plot to assassinate Netajiand when that does not succeed the Bossthreatens Lily with dire consequences if she does not get the details of the mission that Shekhar would be heading, which she does after the couple profess their love for one another.

The betrayal leads to the massacre of the contingent, and Shekhar is presumed dead. But he is badly wounded, and unearths the fact that the D'Souza sisters are spies, hands them over to the INA which sentences both to death after a summary court martial. They are, however, pardoned by none other than Netaji himself, and admitted into the INA. Shekhar also eventually gets killed in the operation to blow up a bridge on India-Burma border. This turns out to be his last patriotic act for the country, and so the film's title “Samadhi”. However, Ashok Kumar's official biographer, Kishore Valicha bungles with this fact and rather erroneously states: “His acceptability in the role of an army officer posted in Burma to fight against the Japanese was phenomenal.”

The confrontation scenes between Ashok Kumar and Shyam are amongst the highlights of the film. Baby faced Nalini Jaywant, by this time hopelessly in love with her hero, too performed well, especially in scenes where she had to overcome personal emotions, and betray Shekhar's confidence.

Made under the banner of Filmistan, the 165-minute saga, written and directed by Ramesh Saigal (ostensibly based on a true story), despite a weak and contrived script, handles various conflict and dramatic situations and succeeds through brilliant performances, particularly by Ashok Kumar and Kuldip Kaur (one of her finest performances). The film turned out to be the year's biggest hit with a gross profit of Rs. 75 lakhs, together with another Ashok Kumar-Nalini Jaywant starrer, “Sangram” (Rs. 50 lakhs), “Babul” (Rs. 70 lakhs), “Dastaan” (Rs. 65 lakhs), and “Jogan” (Rs. 62 lakhs). The film also had two other Lata solos, penned by lyricist Rajinder Krishan, and set to music by the inimitable C. Ramachandra who also lent his voice to “Subhash Chandra ke naam se Hindustan ka naam”, and “Kadam Kadam badhaye ja”. Credit also goes to K.H. Kapadia who managed to shoot stage-managed scenes rather convincingly considering the little facilities available in those times.

SURESH KOHLI

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