I love it when a film exceeds my expectations, not that I really had any for this one. But from the very first scene I was involved in the characters and engrossed in the story. Yes, there is a lot of self-sacrifice—but it’s mostly done by the hero, not the heroine, and it actually benefits people! And it had a message which might have made people think about social norms in a new light! I am totally on board with that.
I also liked the Rajendra Kumar-Meena Kumari pairing, one I haven’t seen before. Plus there’s the criminally underrated Minoo Mumtaz and a bevy of absolutely lovely songs by Ravi, including two of the best children’s songs ever, and a cat birthday song (how could that possibly be bad?). It reminded me a bit of the later Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, a film I also somewhat unexpectedly liked.
Honey Irani is billed, not inappropriately, in the manner normally reserved for the likes of Dog Moti and Pedro the Ape Bomb.
Our story opens at a hospital, where a nurse (Bela Bose! I was thrilled to see her in such an early film, and in a pretty large role too) informs Dr. Anand (Rajendra Kumar) that his pregnant wife has just been admitted.
Before the day is out, Anand’s wife has died although the baby boy survives; and another pregnant woman—a recent widow—named Ratna (Meena Kumari) has also been admitted. This time she survives while the baby dies, and when she asks to see her baby Anand takes pity on her weakened and sad condition and sends her his son.
The only witness to this act of generosity is Nurse Sarla (Neelam Bai) who thankfully does have the good sense to ask if he knows what he’s doing. Had I been the hospital Chief of Staff, I would have sent him home from work after his wife died and told him not to make any hasty decisions—but then we wouldn’t have a plot, would we?
Anand leaves town now to try and forget his tragedy, while Ratna settles in with her new son and brings him up with the help of her mother-in-law (Mumtaz Begum). Four years pass, and Anand finally returns to take up work at the hospital again after getting some sage advice from…well, a sage.
What could he possibly be yearning for, I wonder!
In the meantime, little Raju (wonder child Honey Irani) is growing up completely loved and spoiled (but not to the point of being obnoxious!) and his mother sings him songs like the cute and funny “Chal Mere Ghode Tick Tick Tick” and the to-die-for beautiful “Tim Tim Karte Taare.”
I really adore the picturization of “Chal Mere Ghode”—I so hope that Honey Irani remembers filming that song with Meena; it must be a special memory indeed if she does (I am enthralled by Meena’s acting out the story and I’m technically a grownup)!
So sweet sad Anand is back in town longing to see his little boy, who is thoroughly and adorably bonded to his awesome mother. It doesn’t take long for Raju to bond with Anand either, when Anand comes looking for him. Who doesn’t love a rishtaa that’s written in the stars (and the blood)?
And beautiful lonely Ratna gradually forms her own attachment to the handsome lonely doctor.
What could possibly interfere? Well: the rules of society and small-minded nosy people, of course, beginning in Ratna’s own home.
Ratna’s busybody sister-in-law Kamla (?) has moved in with her husband, lawyer S. Prakash (Sunder) and their little boy Ramu. She disapproves of the widowed Ratna spending time with Anand, even with Raju as a chaperone. Soon her disapprobation has spread to her mother, and poor Ratna is forbidden to let Anand meet her or Raju.
At the same time, a selfish and ill-tempered nurse at the hospital named Maya (Minoo Mumtaz) has set her heart on marrying Dr. Anand, even though he is patently uninterested in her. She sets out to trap him and with the help of other petty judgmental people succeeds in forcing him to marry her.
This works out about as well as you’d expect, which is to say not at all. Maya is only interested in shopping and partying, and she proves unable to have children as well. Once again I am forced to conclude that I have more in common with the vamp of the piece than the heroine.
She sings a fabulous song on the occasion of her cat’s birthday, “Aaye Ho Toh Dekh Le.” The poor cat is flung about quite mercilessly, but it’s too much fun.
Look up all the songs online, do. Each one is a gem.
Now we have three miserable people—Anand, Ratna, Raju—and the situation seems at an impasse. Then Anand’s estranged but wealthy father dies, leaving Anand’s child (should he have one) the bulk of his estate and a Rs 10000 a month allowance. Maya’s eyes go *k-ching k-ching* at this news, but she can’t have children. Guess who her aunt is? None other than Nurse Sarla—the only person besides Anand who knows Raju’s real parentage.
Will heartless Maya force Anand to tell the truth? Can Ratna give up the little boy she has raised and thought was her own? What about poor little Raju? Will society ever learn not to interfere in the personal lives of its people? It never makes them happy.
Besides the gorgeous songs, the performances are outstanding. Meena is great as Ratna, a mother but a woman too, and she has nice chemistry with Rajendra Kumar (who is perfectly adequate as heartbroken Anand). Honey Irani really IS a wonder child in this: Raju is sweet and unself-consciously hilarious and adorable—not irritating. I was totally invested in his well-being and in the relationship between mother and child.
And Minoo is great as Maya—she gives what could have been a two-dimensionally evil character shades of gray and a vulnerability that adds depth to the proceedings. The story itself is nothing very new, but it is incredibly well done. If you’re in the mood for a strong family drama with lovely songs, then Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan may be the film you should see. (Please note: there are spoilers in the comments—they are marked but beware!)
And I need help identifying two more people: one is the woman who played Kamla (SK Prem? or Kusum Thakur?) and the other is a man I see everywhere—he played a prosecutor in this. Maybe Ravikant?