Gunga Jamuna (1961)

A still from 'Ganga Jamuna.'   | Photo Credit: 05dfrGunga

To many of the connoisseurs of Hindi cinema, “Gunga Jumna” is a classic entertainer at its best with a powerful story, outstanding performances and riveting music. In fact, some even advocate it as a must see movie for film students to understand how a taut script under a deft director, can make for an appealing entertainer.

For those brought up on the modern day cinema and its media built hype, “Gunga Jumna” is an eye-opener as to why good stories will always be the real “super stars” and why content must dictate the form rather than the other way round.

Sibling rivalry

While the story is the king and the film was a precursor to many other about “sibling rivalry”, in the hands of an adroit Nitin Bose, Dilip Kumar is the “super star” as he essays a character that blends rustic comedy, romance, tragedy and villainy in a magnificent role of a lifetime.

The “Badshah of Acting” enacts each scene with such ease and finesse that you are left astounded by the sheer brilliance of his genius since his body movements and dialogue delivery change in tune with the development of the character and story.

Despite all the histrionics of Hollywood and Bollywood legends, one doubts if anyone could have enacted the transition of a carefree village lad to a desperate dacoit with such élan and class as Dilip Kumar does with his immaculate simplicity. Just two scenes, one of kabaddi match, which he plays in gay abandon and the dance to Rafi classic “Nain Lad Jayee Re”, are enough to show why Dilip Kumar is an acting institution in himself.

But this is not to deny credit to the sterling performances by Kanhaiyya Lal and Vyjayanthimala, who lend credibility to the story with their life-like enactments of village rustics, ably supported by Nasir Khan, Anwar Husain, Nazir Hussain and Leela Chitnis. Aided by awesome dialogues (a large quotient in Bhojpuri dialect) by Wajahat Mirza, the 1961 film produced by Dilip Kumar was ultimately a great directorial triumph of Nitin Bose for its gripping emotional drama.

Brothers in arms

Starring real life brothers Dilip Kumar and Nasir Khan as two brothers on opposing sides of the law, it stirred the imagination of the masses due to its sensitive story of the protagonist (Dilip Kumar) who is upright despite being an outlaw.

The story revolves around the struggles of Gunga (Dilip Kumar) as he fights a corrupt landlord (Anwar Hussain) and turns a desperado to avenge the honour of his mother. Despite the economic struggle, he labours to bring up his younger brother Jumna (Nasir Khan) as a law abiding citizen but, in a strange coincidence, loses his life to the brother-turned-police officer's bullet.

The drama is punctuated with some stirring romantic interludes between Dilip and ladylove Vyjayanthimala as well as great camaraderie between Dilip and village elder Kanhaiyya Lal, providing cine buffs with delicate moments of rustic revelry, comedy and pathos. The exquisite camerawork by V. Balasaheb enhances the exotic appeal of rural India and Naushad's music and Shakeel Badayuni's lyrics only add to the brilliance of the cinematic treatise.

The film was a trendsetter for movies like “Deewaar”, “Trishul”, “Amar Akbar Anthony” which had similar themes of two brothers on the opposite sides of law.

But what sets “Gunga Jumna” apart from the other films is the execution whereby our common every day struggles are given a lifelike existence on the silver screen. Not a single situation or scene looks contrived, illogical or grotesque and, rather than a ‘willing suspension of disbelief', the audiences empathise, laugh and cry with the characters in a willing acceptance of reality.

While the songs like “Insaf ki dagar pe” (Hemant Kumar), “Nain lad jayee re” (Rafi), “Dhoondo dhoondo re sajna” and “Do hanson ka joda” (Lata Mangeshkar) are immortal favourites, even the background score dazzles in the company of exemplary scenic and costume designing.

Yet what rankles is that though the film bagged three Filmfare Awards (Best Actress Award for Vyjayantimala, Best Dialogue Award and Best Cinematography Award), in a strange travesty of justice, Dilip Kumar lost out the acting award to Raj Kapoor!

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 12:22:03 AM |

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