Cinema

Parakh (1960)

Simply evocative: Sadhana in “Parakh”  

The sensuous beauty of Sadhana and the magical voice of Lata Mangeshkar create one of the most captivating moments on the screen in this classic Bimal Roy film. “O Sajana, Barkha Bahaar Aai…” a personal favourite of Lata, is the highpoint of “Parakh” and captures an unglamorous Sadhana at her best. The other number, “Mila Hai Kisika Jhumka”, is a typical racy song with Lata again demonstrating her classical range.

Bimal Roy’s direction stands out as he makes the best of a Salil Choudhury story. The movie, released in 1960, is set in a village where the plot unfolds at a slow pace. It revolves around the village postmaster, who finds his life change dramatically when he receives a cheque for Rs. 5 lakhs from a certain Sir J.C. Roy. The cheque comes with a rider – the money would go to the most honest man in the village, someone who would use the wealth for the benefit of the people.

The search for the honest man begins and here Bimal Roy the director takes over as he propels the viewer on a rollicking ride. A ‘lame’ postman (Motilal) is at the centre of the plot. He is actually the scriptwriter of this plan that aims to bring prosperity to the village that he had left years ago.

Seema (Sadhana) is the daughter of the postmaster (Nazir Hussain), who also looks after an ailing wife. Seema loves Rajat, the village school teacher but nearly loses her love before it all ends happily. Interestingly, the title cast begins with Sadhana Shivdasani, a rare occasion when her name is spelt with the surname.

Greed influences the powerful people of the village who soon explore avenues to cheat and pocket the money. A landlord, the village priest, a money lender and a doctor join the race even as the school teacher withdraws himself. Basanta Choudhury plays his part of a school teacher and a silent lover well.

It is a simple tale that ends with the respected postmaster picked by the entire village as the most deserving candidate for the money but not before some drama and action that leaves the scheming quartet on the run as the villagers discover their deceit.

The most remarkable feature of the movie is the compelling manner in which the story progresses. The director takes a dig at the various shortcomings of the society in times when democracy is talked of as the solution to every problem. Bimal Da uses the platform to comment tellingly on the curse of untouchability, poverty, superstitions and false religious beliefs. The film was ahead of times in many ways.

There are long spells when Sadhana does not appear on the screen but then the presence of Motilal livens up the proceedings. Motilal carries the film on his shoulders with his flawless portrayal of a wealthy man reaching out to the common villager to serve him better. The performance won him a Filmfare best supporting actor award.

Bimal Roy was known to pay close attention to his choice of actors and he assembles a superb team where the irrepressible Kanhaiyalal matches Motilal with some fine acting. Jayant is lovable in his role of the rich land lord while Nazir Hussain is spared the customary tears. Asit Sen, Keshto Mukherjee, Rashid Khan contribute to make the movie a tribute to Bimal Roy’s impeccable direction. It was hardly surprising that Bimal Da won the Filmfare Award for the best director, third in succession, for this classic.

Parakh was not Bimal Da’s best but it was one of his best.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 6:04:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Parakh-1960/article16875895.ece

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