Another look at Dil Ek Mandir(1963)



My father’s transfer from Ambarnath brought us to Pune in 1976. It is here, that I saw this movie in Rahul cinema, in Shivaji Nagar with my Mother. Amma, is a huge SJ fan and loved these family entertainers.

So here we were, watching a huge musical hit.
Musical it is . A symphony is one where, a composition begins on normally low notes, and then gradually move up the octaves and ends in very high notes, almost reaching a crescendo..a point beyond which, there is nothing left for the composer to express.

Dil Ek Mandir in my humble opinion is one such symphony crafted by Sridhar. Except that the medium he has chosen to express is human emotions in distress and pain. His first frame in the movie is one where Dr Dharmesh, opens a drawer, pulls out a photo of him with a beautiful woman with him and the background plays “yahan koi nahi tera mere siwa” in mandolin.. and in walks his office help who tells him about his mother waiting for him.. He walks to meet his mother Achala Sachdev, who is pleading with him to get married, and he tells her with all love of a dutiful son that he is married to his profession,, and asks her to pray for his success. Out goes her Mother with tears in her eyes.. and the credit titles begin with Dr Dharmesh in deep silence…

This is the first note of this symphony…and from here the depth of pathos keep growing deeper and octaves keep scaling higher.
There’s this scene right after the pathos filled gem of a song, yaad na jaaye beete din ki..where Dr Dharmesh is seen looking at his photo with Sita, now Ram’s wife, who is to be operated in his hospital in 15days later. Suddenly you see, Ram walking in casually asking for some books to read ..and picks this magazine wherein lies this photo…and walks out with it.. He meets his wife, Sita with a cup of Ovaltine, and goes through the magazine, is shocked to see her photograph and the tense scene of how she manages to escape this catastrophe.. the background score heightens this scene ..she drops the photo down, pulls Ram into their room and comes back to pick that photo and sees it missing, and Dr Dharmesh is shown walking away… what a scene…!

Even the most serious symphonies ,have small pieces of soft and tender pieces to make the composition a great Sridhar uses Baby Padmini , playing Uma.. as that tender note in the serious symphony..Her role has been weaved in so beautifully and linked to the story and take the narration to greater heights..
The scene where Sita and Dr Dharmesh are talking about the reason for her marriage and Ram over hears all this. Has been done with such class..Another scene is the one where Sita demands her photo back, to ensure safety, and Dr Dharmesh destroys the photo and says “ mere yadon ki aahuti bhile lo” what a scene…!!

You have another scene, where Ram and Dharmesh, talk about the probability of success of the surgery and the eventuality in case of failure.. This scene is done exceptionally well, using their profiles in silhouette kind of back lit shot.. Sridhar’s filmmaking skills are at their best..

After this scene, the symphone moves into its final phase and Sridhar like a frenzied conductor of New York Philharmonic ..gets into a mold which is matchless is the annals of scene after another , the pace of climax is such that it leaves you spellbound..

Like a master magician, Sridhar prepares the audience for a grand climax, and adds all possible, bits to delay the climax and entertain their nerves before unleashing the big surprise..The song Ruk ja raat thehar ja ri chanda.. is one such soothing relief..but his minute hints of an impending disaster are enhanced by subtle superstitious bits like a howling dog, and a lamp being blown off, by wind, before an aarti.

This man knew his craft like no one else.. and he is so efficiently aided by the dialogue writer who has written some excellent lines to convey the feelings of each character..Raj Baldev Raj and Arjun dev Rashk deserve huge credit for scripting some of the finest lines ever in Hindi cinema, without ever going overboard with melodrama…

A classic is dreamt by one man by is delivered by collective harmonic contributions by a team.. and they have delivered a masterpiece, beyond comparison.. That , the movie was shot in 28 days and released makes it all the more intensive.

One thing I can add, is that while walking out of the theatre, I felt I was walking out of a funeral, of a memorial service.. every eye was swollen and red..Such was the impact of Sridhar’s narration..!

Acting, credits are shared by all equally, with Raj Kumar in his soft and subtle role excels with his natural acting.. Rajendra Kumar and Meena Kumari are good.. Shankar Jaikishan have infused the additional dimension to Sridhar’s narration..and make it a greatest movie ever in this genre.. with an album which ranks among 10 all time greats of all times..

A big Salute to Sridhar and his entire team, lead by Shankar Jaikishan…for delivering this masterpiece…

M Dharmakirthi

Dharma Kirthi's photo.
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