Cinema

Anpadh (1962)

Mala Sinha and Dharmender in a still from "Anpadh."   | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

“Anpadh,” a movie much ahead of its times, was a stirring tribute to a woman's fight for identity, self-respect and existence. It may not have stirred public emotions like “Mother India” did five years before this movie was released, but it had a strong social message for a nation trying to keep pace with the rest of the world.

The significance of education for girls was the theme of the movie that revolved around Mala Sinha. Her doting brother (Balraj Sahni) showers her with affection but deprives the young child of education.

Her illiteracy leads to various complications and challenges that dictate the course of the movie, which belongs to Mala Sinha.

Credit ought to be given to director Mohan Kumar who motivated her to grow in stature as an actress of immense range and quality. The role of a woman in distress is rendered so stunningly by Sinha in this neat movie that features performers mainly known for their acting skills. It may not have compared with some of her memorable roles in “Pyaasa,” “Dhool Ka Phool,” “Gumrah” or “Jahan Ara” but at 26, she is at her best right through this movie, justifying the star value she carried in the '60s.

Soulful music

“Anpadh” (illiterate), indeed, is best remembered for Madan Mohan's soulful music; Lata Mangeshkar's rendition of evergreen songs like “Aap ki nazron ne samjha” and “Hai isi mein pyaar ki aabroo…” and Sinha's stellar performance. “Aap ki nazron ne samjha” is a glowing tribute to Lata's magical voice, Sinha's controlled emotions on screen, and Raja Mehdi Ali Khan's lyrics that touch your heart; as if this song was composed and delivered for Sinha alone. The close-up shots in this song capture her beauty so immaculately!

The role allowed the leading actress to essay the life of a pampered sister, a graceful wife and finally a gritty mother. Being the script's central character, Sinha did justice to the role of Lajjo/Lajwanti and came up with a stand-out performance. The film reflected the life of a once wealthy village girl who, backed by her affectionate brother, opts out of school after being reprimanded by a teacher. Thereafter, how lack of education changes the course of her marital life is the core of the story.

Significantly, the importance of education is highlighted in a very subtle manner without any of the characters coming up with long-winding dialogues on the subject. With the script devoting a major share to the lead actress, Balraj Sahni, Dharmendra (her husband), Shashikala and a young Bindu, among some others, are reduced to making brief appearances compared to Sinha.

Bindu must certainly feel honoured that a lovely song like “Jiya le gayo ji mora sanwariya,” sung by Lata was picturised on her. Bindu, wearing salwar-kameez and sporting two plaits, is pleasing to watch.

The versatile Balraj Sahni, as usual, made his presence felt. Dharmendra, only two years old in the film industry, playing the role of an understanding husband after having humiliated his wife on learning of her illiteracy, managed to get noticed despite the screenplay leaving little meat for him. Bindu, as the college-going daughter, also did not have much scope to show her acting skills.

Shashikala, who like Bindu, went on to play some unforgettable roles as vamp, gives a feel-good performance as a character that helps a pregnant and hapless Lajwanti in fighting adversities.

Dhumal and Mohan Choti provide the comic relief in the film that is hugely dramatic at times. And, for a change, Nazir Hussain is not shedding tears. “Anpadh” is made memorable by the controlled performance of all the characters.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 9:09:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Anpadh-1962/article15715735.ece

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