Madhumati is an old Hindi gem

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One of the Hit Bollywood pair Dilip Kumar and Vyjantimala starrer ‘Madhumati’ was holding the record of maximum Filmfare Awards – nine total, for 37 years. It was nominated for 12 awards, including best actor and best actress but got for 9 in all and surprisingly not for Best Actress and Best Actor. It also grabbed the Silver Lotus being the Best Feature Film in Hindi. The film was also selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 31st Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

Cast :- Dilip Kumar, Vyjantimala, Pran, Johny Walker
Directed By :- Bimal Roy

ScreenPlay :- Ritwik Ghatak
Dialouges :- Rajinder Singh Bedi
Music :- Salil Choudhary
Editing :- Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Prodcued By :- Bimal Roy

The film starts with a stormy night. Devendra (Dilip Kumar), an engineer, is driving down a hill road with his friend, to fetch his wife and child from the railway station. A landslide blocks their path as they are forced to take shelter in an old mansion just off the road. Devendra finds the house uncannily familiar. In the large front room he finds an old portrait which he recognizes. His friend and the old caretaker join him, and Devendra, amidst flashes of memory from another life.

He sits down to tell his story while the storm rages outside. Anand (Dilip Kumar) had come to Shyamnagar Timber Estate as its new manager. An artist in his spare time, he roamed the hills and forests with his sketching pad and fell in love with Madhumati (Vyjayanthimala), a tribal girl whose songs have haunted him from a distance.

Soon Anand meets his employer, Ugranarayan (Pran), a ruthless and arrogant man. Anand refuses to bend down to him like the others, and incurs his wrath. Anand also has enemies among his staff who have been fudging the accounts till his arrival. Sent away on an errand suddenly, he returns to find that Madhumati has disappeared. Anand learns from Charandas how Madhumati had been taken to Ugranarayan in his absence. He confronts Ugranarayan whose men beat him unconscious. Anand’s life is saved, but his mind wanders.

One day in the forest he meets a girl who looks exactly like Madhumati. She says she is Madhavi (Vyjayanthimala again), but Anand refuses to believe her, and is beaten up by her companions when he tries to plead with her. Madhavi finds a sketch of Madhumati in the forest and realizes he was speaking the truth. She takes the sketch to the rest house where Anand now stays, and learns his story from Charandas. Meanwhile Anand is haunted by the spirit of Madhumati who tells him that Ugranarayan is her killer.

Seeing Madhavi at a dance recital where she dresses as a tribal girl, he appeals to her to pose as Madhumati and appear before Ugranarayan and help him get a confession out of him. She agrees.

Returning to Ugranarayan’s palace, Anand begs permission to do a portrait of him. Next evening with a storm brewing outside, Anand portrays Ugranarayan. At the stroke of eight, Ugranarayan sees Madhumati in front of him. Shaken, and goaded by Madhumati, he confesses the truth. The police who have been waiting outside the room now come and take him away. Anand suddenly realizes that the questions the false Madhumati asked were on matters unknown to him. How did Madhavi know where Madhumati was buried? The girl just smiles, and moves towards the stairs. Madhavi dressed as Madhumati rushes into the room. She is late, for the car failed on the way. Anand realizes that Madhumati herself had come and runs up to the terrace where her ghost beckons him. She had fallen from the same terrace trying to escape Ugranarayan. Anand follows her falling to his death.

Devendra’s story is over. “But,” he says “Finally I could get Madhumati as my wife, in this life as Radha.” Just then news comes that the train in which his wife was travelling has met with an accident. The road has been cleared, and the two friends rush to the station. From one of the coaches, Devendra’s wife Radha (Vyjayanthimala yet again) comes out unhurt with her baby…

Bimalda’s Madhumati is nothing but a fulltoo hindi movie filled up with all the bollywood filmi masala, love story of a shehari babu and beautiful Gaon ki chori, a greedy zamindar villain, Johny walker’s Comedy and revenge and reincarnation. Despite of all these factors, the director has groomed it so well to keep the audience haunted by scenes as teh story develops.

Its a movie in which you will find a hero – a nature lover, fairy like heroine who is a part of nature and understands it very well, gifted with a magnetic charisma for people and nature, gifted with an enthralling beauty… there is a villain to hate from the bottom of the heart… there are beautiful folklore surroundings with a zamindar’s haveli… and also there is a nuisance of comedy – still tolerable one..

Vyjayantimala completely bowls over by her performance.. all the three characters played by a single heroine are completely different. Dilip Kumar’s portrays a hero who is emotionally tortured and is looking for his love – he has his mastery in such kind of roles – and has given excellent performance. How can we go without mentioning Pran.. after all his portrayal of the villain.

Bimalda has used every small detail carefully and tactically to make a beautiful movie.. let it be the small details with Madhumati, the birds being her friends warn her   every time, or the swinging chandeliers in Haveli or Madhumati just running to a closed window in haveli.. the suspense of what happened to her.. light and shadow play by the horrified villain. Salute to the great director and his great supporting team with Hrishida again as an editor here, Ritwik Ghatak for the Story and the screenplay, Rajinder Singh Bedi for the Dialogues… these three have made a great movie.. and of course the great musician…

Madhumati is recognised as classic, also has a high class music score by Salil Choudhary and a melody queen Lata Mangeshkar’s voice and Mukesh and Rafi too. Special mention to Aaja re Pardesi – one of top ten evergreen songs by Lata, Rafi’s Suhana safar aur ye mausam hasin and Toote hooye khwabon ne, Zulami sang aankh ladhi, Ghadi ghadi mora dil dhadake, chadh gayo papi bichchua,   Dil tadap tadap ke kah raha hai and Jangal mein mor nacha are all are amazing.

There were movies inspired from this plot – Karz, NeelKamal, Janam Janam, Tum mere ho and Om Shanti Om but Madhumati still keeps the crown of being the best one.


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