Cinema of the Week: KATHPUTHLI (1957)



Real Life Love Story gets botched up in Reel:

KATHPUTLI (1957) Written, Produced & Directed by Amiya Chakravorty was his Last Film and was based on his real life love story, with the older Balraj Sahani portraying him on the Screen and young Vyjayanthimala portraying his muse Usha Kiran. But unfortunately Amiya died midway during the making of the Film and the Story, Screenplay everything got affected & botched up by the incoming Producer & Director which not only spoiled the theme but also the flow of the Film.

The Real:
Everybody is aware of Amiya Chakravorty’s affair with young Usha Kiran, since the Daag (1952) days. She who was in her extreme youth and was attracted to his older charm and fell madly in love with him who was married with children and sixteen years older to her. It was quite a big scandal at that time and she used to be tormented with guilt. But Amiya’s wife was a very magnanimous lady and was willing to step out and give them their freedom. That really jolted Usha and she made the biggest, wisest, and yet the most painful decision of her life. She assured the lady that she would never ever seek her husband again no matter what happened.

Usha Kiran knew a handsome, well educated young man who used to frequent a relative’s house. She met him and had a very long heart to heart talk with him. She emptied all her emotional baggage, and asked him whether he was still willing to marry her. He smiled and agreed. She became Mrs. Kher in 1954.

During the making of KATHPUTHLI, Usha was expecting her first child and Amiya Chakraborty died. That was the only time she ever brought up the subject with her husband after they were married. She asked his permission to go to Amiya’s funeral. Her husband was most understanding and insisted that she should go. That is the only time she ever stepped into Amiya’s house, after she had promised his wife about not meeting him.

The Reel:
KATHPUTHLI (1957) is all about a dancer/singer who is in love with a Puppeteer & married to him only to realize that an aged widower with a Kid is all out to build her career and make her a Star much to the chagrin of her husband and how she deals with it.

It is a Shrirangam Productions movie. It is produced by Amiya Chakravarty and Ajit Kumar Chakravarty and Directed by Amiya Chakravarty and Nitin Bose. The reason why there were two Producers and Directors for this movie was that Amiya Chakravarty died during the making of this movie and therefore the movie had to be completed by others.

The movie starts on a very good note but goes haywire after half an hour. The story is just too flimsy, based on a frail plot stitched together with songs. What irks the most is the wishy-washy relationship between the three lead characters. The chemistry between Jawahar Kaul and Vyjayanthi Mala is close to nil right through, and it is hard to believe these two people were in love. On the other hand, there were definite signs of a deep affection between Balraj Sahani and Vyjatanthi Mala—but the Movie would have us believe this was more along the lines of a guru-shishya relationship, a mentor and a mentee’s mutual respect and liking. Balraj Sahni is one of those actors who has lot of respect and he’s excellent in Kathputli as the father trying to bring up an ailing child on his own; as the tentative lover and as the mentor who’s ready to champion his protégé through the roughest of patches. And he also looks very handsome in a genteel sort of way. Amiya Chakrabarty, who had made classics like Daag, Patita, Badshah and Seema could not complete the movie and Ajit Chakrabarty and Nitin Bose completed the film. Wonder if that’s why the movie is so vague. Despite all this, Kathputli is still a good Movie to watch..

The Music:
With Lyrics by Shailendra & Hasrat Jaipuri and Music by Shankar-Jaikishan at their best, the Movie has 8 melodious songs and “Bol rikathputli” is one of the Masterpiece. SJ for the first time used Subir Sen to playback for Balraj Sahani and the melodious song “Manzil Wohi hai Pyaar ki” became a huge hit and he sang few more songs under SJ baton afterwards. The 8 lovely songs are as under:
1. Baakad bam bam baaje damroo –Hasrat Jaipuri-Lata.
2. Bol ri kathputli – Shailendra-Lata (2 Versions)
3. Haay tu hi gaya mohe bhool re-Shailendra-Lata.
4. Itne bade jahaan mein -Shailendra-Lata.
5. Manzil wohi hai pyaar ki raahi badal gaye-Shailendra-Subir Sen.
6. Mini mini chi chi-Shailendra-Mukesh, Lata.
7. So jaa re so jaa mere raaj dulaare so jaa-Hasrat Jaipuri-Lata.

Vyjyantimala’s superb dancing, is of course, a great showcase for most of the songs: nearly all are picturized on her except one picturized on Kamala Lakshman who herself is a reputed dancer.

Here is the Youtube Link to the song “Mini mini chi chi” sung by Lata & Mukesh picturized on Vyjayanthi Mala & Agha which is Stage performance

Venkata Raman G's photo.
Venkata Raman G's photo.
Venkata Raman G's photo.

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