Badal (1951)

badal_premnath_madhubala

badal_robinhood2

Robin Hood meets Hindi cinema! How can that possibly be a bad thing? I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It stars a young and handsome Premnath and the beautiful Madhubala (in fact they began a real-life romance during the filming of this, according to her biographer), and are very nicely supported by Purnima (in my opinion just as lovely as Madhubala) and Agha (so young! and cute! and funny too).

The setting is a sort of medieval (and feudal) Hindustan, where the reigning Maharaja is away and has left administration of his realm to his old, ineffectual and greedy Jagirdar. The Jagirdar has allowed his equally greedy—but more effective—men, led by Jai Singh, to loot the farmers and villagers. They are taxed beyond their ability to pay, and are imprisoned or left homeless when Jai Singh snatches away everything they own. Needless to say, the villagers are frightened of Jai Singh; all except defiant Badal (Premnath).

When Jai Singh murders Badal’s aging and fragile father, nobody has the courage to attend his funeral except gentle Maina (Purnima) who silently loves Badal from afar.

badal_pyre

Her brother Himmat (Agha) is Badal’s best friend; he inadvertently (since he’s quite a coward himself) spurs Badal onto revenge against Jai Singh. Badal goes to the Jagirdar’s palace and overhears Jai Singh boasting to his appreciative boss about killing four men that day. He sneaks into Jai Singh’s room and confronts him at sword point, taking the gold coins that Jai Singh had collected from the peasants that day (like most bullies, Jai Singh is a blubbering fool when his life is at risk).

badal_blood

He spares Jai Singh’s life for some unknown reason and escapes on Jai Singh’s horse. The next day Jai Singh announces a reward for Badal’s capture, and then shows up at Maina and Himmat’s house, where he threatens their aged father too. Badal comes in disguised as a man from a neighboring kingdom, and gives Jai Singh (Hiralal) the money. Jai Singh is quite theatrical!

badal_jaisingh

A word about Badal’s “disguise” here: it consists of nothing more than a teeny little wafer thin mustache and a soul patch, but it appears to fool everyone, even Maina. Sometimes he doesn’t even bother to change his clothes. And another word about his costumes: Premnath in this film is very skinny, and he wears an assortment of costumes ranging from a short skirt to a sleeveless jumpsuit and gladiator sandals to an Elizabethan-style doublet. My favorite though is this fur poncho thing with a mock turtleneck.

badal_meeting

He calls a meeting of the local people and tells them all to grow a pair. Their courage bolstered by his success, they agree to join him in fighting against their oppressors. Woo hoo! I do love an inspiring leader in a good versus evil confrontation. A band of dacoits is duly formed, who will rob the rich and redistribute their wealth to the poor.

This is followed by a celebratory song, led by Maina. Isn’t she lovely? The songs are, too, by Shankar Jaikishan.

badal_purnima

I worry that poor Maina is doomed to die, since she’s a good person and in love with the hero, but isn’t the heroine.

The heroine is about to arrive on the scene. The Jagirdar receives a letter from his daughter Ratna telling him that she is on her way to see him. He orders his men to go and provide a security escort for her. Meanwhile, Badal has entered the Jagirdar’s house and when the men leave he makes the Jagirdar empty his safe. The costume and makeup people had a great time with this film; check out the Jagirdar’s beard!

badal_respect

His security detail is too late to save Ratna (Madhubala). She has been kidnapped by Himmat (after she gives him a tight slap!), who takes her to their hideout. When Himmat tells Badal about his derring-do, gallant Badal is less than pleased. Apparently women are out of bounds when it comes to looting and vengeance.

badal_girl

Badal dons his disguise again (pencil thin mouche and flavor saver) and stages a rescue with the help of poor Himmat. He gallantly escorts Ratna away from the hideout, singing a song on the way—and it’s evident that they are smitten with each other.

badal_luurve

He tells her that his name is Baga. They stop at Maina’s house: I guess Baga has as little faith in his disguise as I do, since he asks Maina to take Ratna all the way home. Maina’s heartbreak is evident, as she sees Badal and Ratna together and figures out the obvious. Ratna insists on Baga taking her home, though, and when they reach the Jagirdar’s palace her father luckily does fail to recognize the man who has just recently cleared out his safe. Instead, he’s grateful!

After Baga/Badal leaves, Ratna sings a song about their newfound love.

badal_ratna

Jai Singh has designs on Ratna himself, marriage-wise. She dismisses him scornfully, but he’s not a good enemy to have. Then the distant Maharaja gets word that there are dacoits in the area, and he writes to tell the Jagirdar that if the dacoits aren’t caught then he will replace him. Seeing her father’s distress, Ratna suggests that they ask Baga to help catch Badal. She doesn’t know where Baga lives, though, so she goes to Maina’s house to ask for help finding him.

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Maina is a little startled by this request, but she goes to look for Badal, leaving Ratna there alone. Jai Singh arrives (having been sent to protect her by the Jagirdar) and takes the opportunity to press his suit once more. Ratna tries to fight him off and is aided by the arrival of Badal (still in “disguise” and now wearing his doublet).

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During the ensuing fight though, the smattering of facial hair comes off and Jai Singh recognizes his arch-enemy immediately, although poor Ratna doesn’t.

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Horrified to discover that the man she loves is the man her father fears and loathes, she flees. What will happen next? Will she find out the truth about her father? Will she forgive Badal? Or will Badal be captured?

If you want to know, watch this fun little swashbuckler of a film. Premnath and Madhubala are lovely together, the songs are nice, Agha is cute and funny, Purnima is sad and noble, the villains are villainous—and the story moves along at a good pace. Here’s just a little more eye candy…

badal_madhubala

badal_premnath

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24 Comments to “Badal (1951)”

  1. rofl- i wonder if he was supposed to look like zorro- his franchise began in 1919 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorro), so i strongly suspect so. I love how noone can recognize badal :D

  2. Yes, Badal in disguise looked pretty much exactly like Badal NOT in disguise. Was v. funny.

  3. I’ve been working my way through the recent BBC Robin Hood series; I wonder if my husband would notice if I replaced one of the discs with this instead. ;-)

  4. Lovely review.It looks like this movie was great fun.

    Perhaps it was this movie that set the trends of disguises, whereby a thin mustache would be enough to fool all other characters in the movie, but even the dummies among the audience will be in the know. Later this kind of disguise became the norm in Bollywood.

    Oh, Madhubala looks so youn and pretty in this movie.

  5. This was the first movie I remember seeing of Prem Nath in his pre-plump days. And yes, even as a kid, I was pretty much bowled over! Fun movie, despite the far-from-adequate disguises ;-)

  6. Prem Nath and Madhubala – wow! Like dustedoff, even my kiddie self was bowled over. And thats my intelligent contribution to this post (I am sure you’ll understand when I tell you that I am re-watching Junglee and am a bit distracted by Shammi-Saira! ;-) )

  7. OK finished Junglee (I swear Shammi was looking at me this time!) – now I can concentrate on Badal.

    Prem Nath’s disguises (a small moustache and a mole/patch and lo, you are unrecognisable) was parodied so well in Sur Asur where two friends on the run decide to disguise themselves – one friend puts on a moustache while the other puts a small mole behind his ear and they realise that are both unrecognisable!

    I think I have seen this one long ago (or some other Prem Nath swashbuckler with equally great songs – Aab-e-Hayaat perhaps) and need to re-visit. Now I need a second job to finance my DVD buying! :-(

  8. Am I mistaken or is Premnath Raj Kapoor’s brother in law?

  9. Premnath was indeed the brother in law of Raj Kapoor.

  10. ajnabi: He might notice, but given the beauty of Madhubala and Purnima, he might not care! :-)

    Atul: Even for Bollywood disguises, this one was pretty lame. But very fun film nonetheless.

    dustedoff: Premnath was SO skinny! Loved his outfits too.

    bollyviewer: They are a great combo (did they make any other films together?)… Ooh Junglee! Shammi is always looking at me, though, sorry.

    harvey: Yes indeed Premnath’s sister Krishna married Raj.

  11. This looks like fun! And LOL on the disguise – I *love* Bollywood disguises. Somebody should compile a nice photo essay of the worst offenders – obviously fake beards, wigs, men in full hijab…

    (And young, fun Madhubala is always a treat!)

  12. That would be a HUGE photo essay!!! :-)

  13. If Superman can turn into Clark Kent with just a pair of glasses, why can’t Bagal turn into Baga with some facial hair? ;)

    As for Jagirdar’s beard, it is not some fantasy by the make-up man: http://www.arco-iris.com/George/images/rajput.jpg

  14. You make an excellent point, Amey! :-D

    Jagirdar’s beard was so neatly curled—he looked like a king on a playing card or something. I loved it!

  15. Wow I shouldn’t have changed the channel when i saw this on zee cinema in London, it looked so enticing and swashbuckling but alas I watched another Premnath movie Barsaat,
    Jagirdar’s beard is the best beard i have ever seen so far, so curly and evil!
    Premnath’s muchha looks hilarious as if he drew it on!

  16. Yes, but Rum if you hadn’t watched Barsaat instead you would not have contributed the phrase Barsaat Cry™ to the blogosphere :-)

  17. Hi Memsaab,

    here is some trivia about another movie starring Premnath called ‘Aurat’.

    This was based upon the biblical story of Samson and Delilah & also starred Bina Rai (they fell in love during it’s filming).

    My father (who is quite a film fan) tells me that following this film the sandals worn by Premnath became something of a rage & were known as ‘Samson’ sandals’ … Haven’t seen the movie, so I’m not sure exactly what they looked like !

    Asli Jat

  18. I’d bet they look just like the gladiator sandals he wore in this one :-) Very biblical.

    I think Bina Rai helped Premnath get over his Madhubala heartbreak when she started two-timing him with Dilip Kumar—not very smart, since Dilip and Premnath were friends!

  19. The songs are exceptionally good.
    to mention a few….
    Unse pyaar ho gaya
    do din ke liya mehmaan

  20. Yes, the songs are excellent. Two of them are my all time favorites:

    1. Yeh dil na mujhse chupa; a delightful duet between Lata and Mukesh
    2. Mein raahi bhatak ne waala hoon; a beautiful Mukesh solo.

  21. @memsaab and all those who think Madhu ji was two timing Yusuf Sahab and Premnathji…Don’t think it’s true because in an interview not very long ago, her sister Madhur Bhushan had said that Premnath ji had expressed an interest in Madhuji but she backed out saying her dad was very strict.So guess all the stories of her sending a rose to his make up room etc is most likely a figment of somebody’s imagination.After all, she was so beautiful, men would like her on their own and she didn’t need to really run after anyone. It’s been also said that much later all three-Bharat Bhushan, Pradeep Kumar, Kishore Kumar proposed to her but she accepted the third, which itself was sort of an error.

    And even she had a crush on Premnathji who looked so dashing at that time, unlike much later, what’s the big deal?She was only 17/18 at that time. People make mistakes in life and she was human after all, though she was a star.There are some things which are easily pardonable in life and this could easily be one of the cases…But guess the bigger mistake was- being too obedient a daughter and not being able to stand up to her domineering father which later caused bigger heart aches for this beauty. Many feel that Dilip ji too needed to ease his ego. He was around 30-35 when they were seeing each other. Love is greater than ego any day.

    Also, guess at that time( in the 50s) there were some issues involving a Muslim marrying a Hindu…If Geeta Baliji was a Muslim too, the Kapoor family would have objected more to her match with Shammiji.What do you think?

    That way Dilip ji was the best choice for Madhu ji. He looked great at that time and they would have made a great couple.Wish Daddy Ataullah and Yusuf Sahab had sorted out their differences and things wouldn’t have ended painfully for this ethereal beauty. Even if she was sick, she would have been happy on the personal front and maybe that would have added some more years to her life.

    But since all this happened long ago and people around 60 years ago thought differently it’s difficult to be sure of things. And most of the people involved are gone, so I guess it will be better if I too keep the comments subtle.

  22. Also I think Premnath ji’s family at that time would have accepted Beena Rai faster than Madhu Bala as a daughter-in-law. Much later it was said Kishore Kumar ji’s family didn’t accept her either. That’s why too Dilip Kumar was the best choice for Madhu Bala. It was the 40s and 50s after all…Even stars had such issues then.Wish they had a happy ending to their love story. Her love was pure and she did try for a reconciliation through well known journalist/ writer/ publicist Bunny Reuben. But it was not be …Too sad:(:(

  23. Thanx for posting the comment. Also Dev Anand and Suraiyya faced some opposition because of religion and it’s said she loved him too and hence never married. So another example is there about religion causing issues in love even for the rich and the famous in the past.

    One correction- Meant to say….And even if she had a crush at 17/18 on Premnathji who looked so dashing at that time, unlike much later, what’s the big deal?

    Young Madhu Bala looks gorgeous in the pics in this lovely post. Dilip Kumar should have married Madhu Bala and made her happy and extended her life with love and happiness…Really truly like many other people who have done their research Dilip ji needed to ease the ego, say sorry and forgive her uneducated father for controlling her so much for so long. Of course it was difficult but not impossible. For the sake of an out of the world beauty like that…

    Check these links for more on the true love story, what sis Madhur Bhushan aka Zahida, married to music director said and what some people who have done their research said—–Guess many readers here would already know, still putting this up…

    http://gleez.com/articles/entertainment/why-dilip-kumar-never-married-madhubala-bollywood-vintage-love

    http://gleez.com/articles/entertainment/why-dilip-kumar-never-married-madhubala-bollywood-vintage-love/p2

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