Amar (1954)

This is my least favorite of the Mehboob Khan films I’ve seen, and it is such a pity. It boasts a fine cast with excellent acting, absolutely gorgeous music, stunning cinematography, detailed sets and costumes. The visuals, the ambiance and the characterizations all convey a wild Romanticism, but the plot collapses into an unholy mess halfway through. The pivotal event around which it revolves is completely incongruous with the characters we have come to know (not to mention that I have a serious quarrel with some of the resulting fallout). It feels like Mehboob didn’t show up at all to work on the second half; it’s as if he realized that he was confused about what he was trying to say, knew he had screwed it up, didn’t have the energy to care, and finally just gave up.

According to Bunny Reuben’s biography of Mehboob, the film was originally to be directed by one of Mehboob’s long-time assistants, Mehrish, who worked on the story. Mehboob took the assignment back into his own hands because distributors weren’t willing to offer enough money for it otherwise, and he needed to recoup some of his astonishing expenditure on Aan. I don’t know how it might have fared had Mehrish directed it instead, but I wish I did; Mehboob himself did not do it justice.

Well. There is still plenty to enjoy even so. Most of the songs I have heard before, although I had not known or remembered that they were from this film. They are unbelievable: Naushad truly outdid himself for this film, especially the thematic “Insaaf Ka Mandir Hai Yeh.” Faredoon Irani’s camera work is breathtaking (so is the lighting); although I sometimes wished for color, given the exquisite detail in the sets and costumes (so much pretty!), his use of black and white film is among the best ever, by anyone, anywhere.

Madhubala and Dilip Kumar were in the midst of their affair, and it shows in their sparkling chemistry (which is actually part of the problem for this instead of a blessing), and Nimmi is wonderful as the simple but irrepressible milkmaid Sonia who finds herself in an untenable situation not of her making. Her theatrics are more, well, theatrical than the understated performances of her co-stars, but it’s impossible not to love her.

The film opens with Sonia greeting the day eagerly as she tends to the animals in her care (birds, goats, cows, you name it). She cheerfully chatters away at them, although when her prattling leads to a reminder of her stepmother (Husn Banu) she falters a bit.

(What a pair of faces, na? So sweet.) This dark shadow passes quickly, though, and when she goes inside to find her stepmother still sleeping it’s obvious that, beatings or not, she is uncowed (pun partially intended, sorry).

Her elderly crippled father clearly loves her and like many before him seems sorry to have inflicted his second wife on her (and himself); he watches in horror as she ties a cow to her stepmother’s bed and then makes it run. I laugh and laugh along with her.

It’s not hard to see why the dour town bully Sankat (Jayant) has his heart set on marrying her; it’s also not difficult to see why she doesn’t care for him at all!

His possessive attitude towards Sonia extends to his land as well, and he has beaten up some of the village men and torn down the tents they put up on his land for the annual fair, a long-standing tradition. When the police charge Sankat with a crime, he goes to see Amarnath (Dilip Kumar), a lawyer known in the village for his sense of fair play.

Amarnath has met Sonia earlier that day, when her dupatta flew off in the wind and wrapped itself around his head, causing him to fall off his horse—to her mischievous amusement.

When he chases her in anger, she accidentally slams his hand in a gate; remorseful, she tears a strip from that same dupatta and bandages his finger with it. There is a spark of attraction there, but neither acts on it.

Predictably, Amar turns down Sankat’s request to represent him and delivers a short lecture on how Sankat’s money does not entitle him to be selfish.

Amar’s father, who lives in a city elsewhere, wants him to get married. To that end, he sends a photograph of the girl he has chosen for Amar’s approval.

That girl is Anju (Madhubala), the daughter of the local (to Amar and the village) zamindar, Rai Sahab (Ulhas). The angry villagers (led by the CSP, Mukri, a villager who has become a lawyer himself albeit a cowardly and ineffective one) go to the zamindar to ask for justice and that their fair be allowed to take place on Sankat’s land as it always has. Rai Sahab does not care about their problems, but Anju intervenes when her father will not.

Sankar is as rude and uncooperative to Anju as he is to everyone else, and he further tells her that Amarnath is representing him in court. Furious, Anju goes to see Amar, who recognizes her as the girl his father wants him to marry. He is smitten immediately and allows her to go on thinking that he is Sankat’s lawyer even as he flirts with her.

Anju hires a battalion of lawyers on the villagers’ behalf, and goes with them to court on the day of Sankat’s trial. It does not go well for her, as the lawyer Sankat has actually engaged does his job well—and hers tells her she should just give up!

Amar, who is present in the courtroom, steps in to help her and wins the case: Sankat’s land deed specifies that he must let the villagers hold their fair on it every year; it was a condition of the sale.

At this point, Mukri also spills the beans to Anju that Amar is the man her father has chosen to be her husband, stunning her.

The villagers are elated at winning their case and begin preparations for the fair. The other girls push Sonia forward to thank Amar with a garland of flowers when he goes through the village soon after, but she is nervous in his presence and he treats her with irritated contempt.

Not one to be kept down for long, Sonia bathes and makes herself pretty for the festivities—incurring the wrath of her stepmother when she borrows her mirror. Anju and Amar arrive together (by now seriously falling in love) as honored guests and are seated in the front row to watch the entertainment: a stunning song and dance led by Sonia.

As she dances, Sankat watches in anger and frustration. I should say here that the songs are not subtitled, which is a great loss—it was clear that the lyrics (for all of the songs, but especially this one) held shades of meaning that I couldn’t fully appreciate, and held messages in it for and between Amar and Anju that I couldn’t decipher. Boo!

At the fair’s end, a storm blows up and Sonia makes her way home. She soon realizes that Sankat, torn apart by jealousy and rage, is following her and a frightening cat-and-mouse game commences, which includes some amazing photography—especially when Sonia hides underwater in a pond as Sankat fishes around for her in the dark water, his dhoti billowing near her head.

It is totally riveting, and scary!

Actually to this point I have been pretty enraptured by the whole thing: the story, the characters, the great touches of humor. But now the film trips and falls flat on its face with a resounding *thud*.

Sonia manages to escape Sankat by taking refuge in Amar’s house. He finds the terrified and exhausted girl in his library:

and rapes her!

I am stunned. The plot synopses that I have read say that he “seduced” her, but there is no seduction here. As portrayed in the film itself, it is purely and simply RAPE in all its ugliness.

It makes no sense at all. For all his arrogance, Amar has shown himself to be a principled and compassionate person, and by now he is head over heels in love with his beautiful fiancee Anju: there is sizzling chemistry between them. Poor Sonia is devastated; she makes her way home, stumbling through the rain and wind, to find Sankat waiting at home with her father and stepfather. They are all startled by her vehement defiance.

The rest of the film stumbles along in equal desperation. Having failed miserably to set the stage properly for this turning point, there is nowhere for Mehboob—or the cast—to go with it. It limps along to a lame conclusion as Amar broods and complains about how guilty he feels and tries to justify it.

Uhhhh…NO, Amar. She had fear and desperation in her eyes, you asshat.

Madhubala succeeds against the odds in her portrayal of an increasingly bewildered Anju trying to understand what has happened to her romance, but who can now root for her love story to succeed? I can’t! She deserves much better than a rapist! (And she is so incredibly, luminously, beautiful.)

And Sonia…oh lovely, lively, independent Sonia. She turns into a wet dishrag of a bhartiya naari—the man who raped her is now the center of her universe, the man she loves, the man to whom she will forever faithful.

Arghh.

I am left with nothing but the pretty pictures and the lovely songs and an unfulfilled wish to understand what on earth the film is trying to say. It seems to me that with a little care the spark shown between Amar and Sonia could have been nurtured a bit; along with a lessening in the intensity of his relationship with Anju, it could have resulted in an impulsive actual seduction—NOT RAPE—making a believable catalyst for all the second half angst. What the h-e-double-toothpicks, Mehboob? What were you thinking? Plus the ending just makes me want to stick needles in my eyes.

This is a movie I wish I could recommend wholeheartedly; so much of it was profoundly lovely. But it also let me down so terribly: which is kind of a metaphor for the story itself, if you think about it, and just as disappointingly hard to believe.

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98 Comments to “Amar (1954)”

  1. memsaab this time I am first to thank you for reviewing my fav actress Nimmi’s movie.Songs are so beautiful.Gr8 to see two beauty queens of b/w era together.

  2. I’m in complete agreement with every part of your review, except the “wonderful Nimmi” part. Indeed, this was the movie that sealed my acute dislike of her – she’s such an unholy mess! :-(

    • I agree with you, Shalini.

      Nimmi’s always playing the exact same drama princess who flaunts her purity in my face till I could slap her or vomit (since I can’t slap her). Can’t decide whether she’s more annoying here or in “Barsaat.” Unfortunately, she was a frequent co-star of Dilip Kumar (why not someone better?).

      • @shalini & rage: admittedly i’ve never seen Nimmi on screen, but in all fairness to her, its possible that she was typecast in such roles.

        • Besides, we have to remember that social values 60 years ago were a far cry from today. Regressive as most of them may seem, its pointless imposing contemporary sensibilities to society of another era. What is right and acceptable in one generation will inevitably become unacceptable for subsequent generations. Many of the values we hold sacred today will surely be denounced some decades from now.

    • I love Nimmi because she is so completely one-of-a-kind. She always looks (and plays) these startled deer type of roles, and is SO VERY theatrical.

      And she almost always loses the guy (usually Dilip) so she’s kind of a kindred spirit too :D

    • I’ll stick up for her, too. I think she’s wonderful in this. It’s her movie all the way while Madhubala doesn’t have much to do other than to look beautiful (very, very beautiful) and act virtuous, and Dilip Kumar is a creep posing as a good guy. And I liked her in Barsaat as well. Sure, Nimmi may be a one trick pony, but it’s a very good trick. The fact that’s she’s always the ‘drama princess’ is at least partly the fault of the producers who kept casting her as one. She was a skilled, if somewhat overly dramatic, actress

      • Probably most of my favorite scenes are the ones with her AND Madhubala—they are lovely together…I particularly love the scene where she teases Madhubala about finding the ring, not realizing that she is hurting her by doing so.

        That smile of hers (Nimmi, although Madhubala’s too) just lights up the screen.

      • What do you think of her in “Aan”? I liked her in that. One of her best (probably best) roles. She was so radiant in it, the techinicolour helped too. =)

  3. Woot! One of the first ones on here!

    When I first read about this movie, I thought to myself. Oooh, a dirty-minded Dilip Kumar who isn’t presented as a completely heroic figure. I was excited to get a chance to watch this potentially guilty pleasure, thinking it only failed b/c of the controversial subject matter. >=)

    … Then I watched it and feel the exact same way about this movie that you do, Memsaabji. I got too exasperated by the whirlwind of over-the-top drama and nonsensical plot revelations to even find it a guilty pleasure. =/

  4. The story of this movie was based on some old greek tragedy. Alas, I dont remember which.

    A situation arises when a moral man commits an immoral act and suffers pangs of guilt before owning up to it. But it looks like the screenplay/director could not handle it well.

    In the song Nimmi is singing about love, which makes Dilip and Madhubala blush.

    The screencaps are beautiful, they make me want to see the movie.

    • There were so many small things (relatively small) which could have been changed to make all the difference, and this a great film. I truly think that it was mostly Mehboob’s fault that it didn’t work (and possibly Dilip’s—according to the Mehboob biography, he interfered a great deal during the making of this and Mehboob let him; the major flaw in the film is Dilip and his character though)…

      Thanks for the info re: the lyrics—is that all? Seemed more significant somehow…but I guess there’s not much that is more significant than love!

      The film is beautiful, absolutely lushly gorgeous. Just don’t expect much from the story in the second half—the first half has some lovely funny moments though :)

  5. Can’t agree more with your review. It went completely WTF mid-way. I kept wondering if there were scenes missing, something to explain this. I’m not sure I like Nimmi, but she is very beautiful, and she does tug at your heartstrings despite all her theatricals.

    • I just love her…and actually I think she is what the French call ‘jolie-laid’—‘pretty-ugly’. She sometimes looks quite ugly, but she is always compelling. I tend to think that if someone is overly theatrical it is at least half the director’s fault—I have seen her more subdued at times, although she does let loose when allowed :D

  6. Dilip Kumar, a rapist??? I can’t believe it!!!

  7. The music is gorgeous (as so many Naushad soundtracks are), but I’d read about the plot before, and for some reason, I had a feeling that it wouldn’t work well. (Maybe for me, as with many people, it was just the idea of seeing Dilip Kumar in such a role…)

    I liked Nimmi the most in Bhai-Bhai – she played a different, lighter (and actually smarter) role, except for a little drama near the end. Though she was pretty good in Barsaat… She didn’t leave much of an impression on on me in Aan, but then, my attention was so distracted by Nadira. Also, Nimmi’s madwoman act was a bit too ridiculous in that. I wouldn’t consider her one of the greatest actresses (or dancers), but I like her in most films, and also in some of the legendary off-screen stories (pulling her hand away from the puckering lips of Errol Flynn :) …)

    • Dilip as a rapist could have been interesting had he been willing to go all the way with it. I think a much better way would have been (as I said in review) to show him as man tempted during a moment of weakness…but as it is, he just failed completely to convince me in his role of anything.

      I haven’t seen Bhai-Bhai (likely to avoid just for the title alone ;-)…I like Aan for the candy, but it’s not one of my favorite films either and Nadira definitely had the upper hand in that one. My favorite Nimmi role is probably in Aandhiyan (which I could have sworn I wrote up, but apparently haven’t!). Interesting film, and she was really good in it.

      Baburao Patel called her “Nimmi of the unkissed lips”—after Aan she was the object of much curiousity in the western press, who couldn’t believe that she had never been kissed in real life.

  8. I remember reviewing this many months back, and having mixed feelings about it. Mostly, I found Nimmi terribly irritating and I couldn’t stomach the idea of her falling in love with her rapist. That was too much. :-(

    • I found DILIP terribly irritating—and yes, Nimmi falling for her rapist is ridiculous, although it’s nothing new in Hindi cinema (well maybe it was back then but I’ve seen it more than enough times since).

      Do you think Anju realized he had raped her? That was one question I had which was never answered, because Nimmi’s starry-eyed worship of him by the time Anju caught on to everything obfuscated the real issue.

    • @dustedoff – I was imagining that if the movie was made in the 70s, Nimmi would have been justified in falling in love with her rapist had the role been played by Ranjeet.

      What say, Greta? ;-)

    • If it was Premnath, people are content to have him stay the villain/rapist, but since this is Dilip Kumar we are talking about- they had to make the rape alright by having the girl fall in love and offer herself up for her rapist’s repentence.

      Anyone agree?

  9. I have attempted to translate the song “ek baat kahoon mere piya”. it is not a good translation, but it should serve the purpose I think!

    Maybe it can help you to understand the development of the plot better

    ik baat kahuu.N mere piyaa sun le agar tuu
    I would like to say soemthing, dear,

    o piyaa sun le agar tuu
    if you would just listen
    ik baat kahuu.N
    jab dil me.n nahii.n paap to phir soch naa kar tuu
    if no sin is in the heart, then don’t brood over it.
    ik baat kahuu.N

    chhoTe se mere man me.n hai kyaa kah nahii.n paa_uu.N
    in my little mind, what is, I can’t put it in words
    mai.n to kah nahii.n paa_uu.N
    kahate hu_e sharamaa_uu.N bhalaa kaise bataa_uu.N
    I’m too shy to say it, how can I convey it
    mai.n kaise bataa_uu.N
    o sab kuchh hai in aa.Nkho.n me.n zaraa dekh idhar tuu
    Everything is to be read in the eyes, if you would just look here
    o piyaa dekh idhar tuu
    jab dil me.n nahii.n

    do naino.n ke panaghaT pe lage pyaar ke mele
    On the banks of the eyes, are love fairs
    aa.Nsuu bhii hai muskaan bhii jo chaahe so le\-le
    tears as well as smiles are offered, take what you wish
    ho saajan bhare baazaar se khaalii naa guzar tuu
    o dear, through the streets of laden bazaar don’t go empty-handed
    piyaa khaalii naa guzar tuu
    jab dil me.n nahii.n

    And to other readers, who understand Hindi: do feel free to correct me, if I have missed something or with a better suggestion.

  10. I haven’t seen the movie. So I can’t comment on it much (not that it has ever stopped me from commenting ;-)

    I find it very courageous of Dilip Kumar to accept a role of a rapist. As you have said it is a rape and no seduction.
    Although, I don’t encourage it, somehow I do understand Sonia. It seems she had already fallen in love with Amar and for her the exchanging of the garlands was a sign of marriage. And rape in marriage was not legally persecuted in many countries till the 70s even in European countries.
    But I do understand, that for modern viewers like us, her behaviour would get on our nerves.

    In older times this would have been called rakshasa or pischacha vivah, which though enumerated was looked down upon in the scriptures. Sonia would most probably have never heard of these terms but have heard of cases.

    BUT please don’t misunderstand me. rape is an EVIL thing and not to be justified by any excuse! No one is anybody’s property!!!!!!!!!
    Marrying off the victim to the rapist, though might have given the society a feeling of being just, it is just an eye-wash and counterproductive.

    I agree with Philip’s comment to the film:
    “Such little cross-class indiscretions, when elite men take advantage of rustic and especially low-caste girls, are known to be routine enough in rural areas, and generally hushed up with money or intimidation. What’s different here is that Amar is a man of both principle and cowardice—a combination that might strike some viewers as odd in a “hero” (the Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema observes that the film was not a commercial hit, “possibly because the audience refused to accept Dilip Kumar in a negative role”)—who suffers crushing guilt yet cannot bring himself to openly confess his indiscretion. One may assume that he is constrained by social circumstance: by the impossible class gulf that divides him from Sonia, and by the fact that an admission of guilt would wreck his reputation, his career, and his hopes of marrying his beloved Anju. For her part, Sonia bears his secret (and, it soon turns out, his child) with a slightly-loopy stoicism and puppy-like loyalty”

    • I would find it more courageous if Dilip had actually portrayed Amar as a man with weaknesses who might be capable of rape, but he didn’t.

      Had he indeed played Amar as cowardly, or a little less “heroic” in the first half it could have worked. Since he failed utterly to do that it doesn’t come across to me as a “negative” role, just a nonsensical one. The idea that the Amar we’ve come to know in the first half would rape Sonia is just ludicrous. Rape is a violent and brutal act and I simply don’t buy the premise that any man can succumb to the “temptation” at any time—that is just hogwash. Sonia herself is clearly brutalized by the experience—her anguish afterwards is beautifully shown. So it too makes it just ridiculous that she then decides that she loves him.

      My point here is that it isn’t the story idea which is bad, it’s the execution in the acting and direction (and possibly writing) which turns it into the nonsensical.

      • I also believe “that any man can succumb to the “temptation”” is hogwash.

        But MAYBE (why am I defending this?) the story writer/director/whoever was trying to convey that even people like Amar are capable of rape in a society where villagers and tribals are considered to be a fair game. The only thing is that Amar has a conscience.

        But since I haven’t seen the movie, I can’t really know how he is portrayed and how I would perceive it. Thus it is all theoretical.

        But basically, I do believe that each of us is capable of violence. In which form the violence can surface is different from person to person.

        • Well keep in mind that Amar is “provoked” to his violent act by a rain-soaked and terrified girl taking refuge in his house. If we are supposed to believe that he feels she is fair game for rape because she’s “just” a simple village girl then probably he shouldn’t have been shown as such a sympathizer for their rights up until then.

          • “Amar is “provoked” to his violent act ”

            That is the part I hated the most! ‘She had poison in her eyes’. The attempt at justification.

            As for the second part: the one thing doesn’t rule out the other!

      • Amar was the one movie where I *wanted* a rape scene…just for clarity’s sake!

        From what I remember the only way we know that something happened between Amar and Sonia is by Nimmi’s reaction afterwards…she says something like “I hate men”, right? There is no scene in the movie where Dilip is shown actually attacking Nimmi…

        I actually find the WTF element in a movie like “Amar” for more unforgivable and fatal for the movie than some crazziness directed by Brij.

        • I agree, it’s so much more frustrating to see this kind of talent gone awry, especially when it *just misses* being truly great. (Yes, the rape scene is not shown except as he advances on her with that lamp swinging, and she is shown briefly trying to fend him off—then it cuts to her stumbling home through the rain, crying.)

          God love Brij and his ilk though. I am watching a Vinod Khanna-Sridevi film now as an antidote to all the seriousness of late :D

  11. Haven’t seen this movie so it is difficult to talk about how unrealistic the second half may have seemed compared to the first half.

    A couple of points though.

    1) I have not seen much of Nimmi. I only remember her in Mere Mehboob and I thought she was ok as Rajendra Kumar’s sister. If I am not mistaken, she was a major star in her time. I remember seeing an interview with BR Chopra where he said he cast Vyjanthimala for Sadhna only because he could not get his first-choice Nimmi to give him dates. She was a big star then and very busy.

    2) Most of the shock or disbelief here seems to come from the thinking that a guy who is portrayed as so virtuous in the first half just cannot be a rapist!!! To me that appears to be more like not wanting to believe this to be possible, rather than it not being possible. Because I believe it is possible that a man in Dilip’s situation finding a vulnerable Nimmi is quite capable of losing his senses. Mind you, I am not FOR ONE MOMENT supporting or condoning his act. There is absolutely NO justification whatsoever for rape. I am just saying that, even if unlikely, it is not entirely impossible in that situation. I know it sounds disgusting and depressing and these things should never happen but we do not live in an ideal world.

    And maybe that may actually have been Mehboob’s point in this movie. To show that element of human weakness in even the most apparently virtuous of men.

    Not sure I am making sense. Since I have not seen the movie, I better shut up now. :-)

    I have heard the songs of this movie though. Lovely. Especially “insaaf ka mandir”.

    • I don’t think it’s unbelievable as a CONCEPT, it is just unbelievable HERE because of poor execution.

      Dilip’s character in this is such that it is like asking me to believe that someone like you would rape a helpless and frightened girl for no other reason than because she is THERE. She does not make any attempt at seduction. His attack on her just comes out of nowhere. Certainly any of us is capable of despicable things, but most of us require some sort of trigger to do them. There is no trigger here, and nothing before the event or after it leads us to believe that he is anything other than a decent and educated man, and such men I firmly believe will not act like this without some sort of catalyst. He clearly knows it is a wrong thing to do—or he wouldn’t be ripped apart by guilt later.

      Love the songs, pretty much all of them (and there are plenty of them!)…

    • A lot of good and accurate point from someone who hasn’t seen the movie. Also, thanks for bringing up “Mere Mehboob.” I forgot completely that Nimmi was in that. It was refreshing to see her as something other than the victim. Same goes for her playing herself and having a red-carpet moment in Kala Bazar. xD

      Would’ve been interesting to see her in Sadhna. I dare to say the Vijayanthimala is the breathtakingly beautiful version of Nimmi.

  12. Does Amar repent his acts?

  13. The only redeeming thing about Amar is Naushad’s wonderful music– apart from Madhubala’s radiant beauty, of course. And I kind of liked Husn Banu as the wicked stepmother, but then I am a Husn Banu fan!

    • I really really loved the cinematography too…would have made a great silent movie, ha ha (except for the music, of course, which IS exceedingly beautiful).

      I love Husn Banu too! Have not seen much of her but I was totally struck by her in Dard, loved her. Do you know much about her?

      • I also saw Husn Banu for the first time in Dard, and loved the “ye afsaana nahin zaalim” song picturized on her. A really special song for a very special reason. The reason being … I will do a post on that sometime. Suspense for now!

        But, no, I haven’t found much information on her. Still looking. I love her vivacity.

  14. I haven’t seen this movie, but the two screen shots: the temple at night, and Nimmi under water, make me want to see this just for the sheer beauty. And ofcourse for Madhubala, who I absolutely adore. She is looking gorgeous in her fourth screen cap (those eyes make me wanna go back to 50s just to see her in real!!).

    Brave for the director to cast Dilip Kumar in a negative role. Inspite of your review (or maybe because of it) I really wanna see this movie.

    P.S: Harvey its Gandharva Vivaha (marriage), not rakshas or pishach (which means demon). Although a clear definition is not available but it means marriage by simple exchange of garlands (similar to what Nimmi did) or marriage by consummation.

    • Gandharva vivaha is as far as I know a little bit more than exchanging garlands including consensual sex. Shakuntala and Dushyant had a gandharva vivaha. Rakshasa or pishacha vivaha is against the wishes of the girl including rape. Thus, my (maybe not very clear) classification (!). ;-)

      • Yes you are right about it Harvey. Turns about Wiki actually has an entry on it, although it says “abducting the bride by force and ‘persuading’ her to marry”. Suppose it comes from Ramayana.

        Another interesting term i just came about is “Asura Vivaha” where the groom is not good enough for the bride but has enough wealth to please her parents. I wonder if Hindi movie writers are aware of these, we have seen “Asura Vivah” so many times in Bolly movies. :)

    • I am glad to have seen it, would not discourage anyone from it—it is just poorly constructed story-wise. But if you love Madhubala then it’s really well worth it :)

  15. BTW…Actually the film was supposed to star Meena Kumari instead of Madhubala and quite a few reels were shot. She had a tiff with both Mehboob and Dilip and walked out if it. What do you think would have been the outcome were she to have completed it instead of Madhubala?

    • Who knows? It might have improved the film only because Dilip and Meena might not have had the so-obvious attraction that he has with Madhubala, making his character’s “infidelity” a *little* more believable. But Madhubala was good in this, Meena likely would have been too. So not sure it would have made much of a difference :)

  16. Sorry, I forgot to mention that another reason I was confused by the film is the character of Sankat, who changes just as drastically as Amar.

    SPOILERS:
    At the beginning, Sankat is the villain and a potential rapist who would’ve had his way with Sonia if he didn’t her to Amar, who raped her instead. But after that, Sankat takes up for Sonia, defends her before the villagers, and even vows to bring her “husband” to justice. He even dies getting Amar to confess his wrongdoing…

    Wtf? Why does the villain turn honorable while the “hero” turns dishonorable? IT MAKES NO SENSE!

    • Agreed, Sankat’s arc isn’t very well crafted either! :)

      • Judging from all the smiley faces you have put on your comments, I’m guessing you found this movie a lot more amusing than you’re letting on. Admit it! >=)

        • I think I pretty much said how I feel about this movie in my post.

          • Sorry, I should’ve been more clear (I was trying to avoid a super-long post). Lol, I know we share the same sentiments about how messed up the film is.

            I was just wondering if you found the melodrama the least-bit unintentionally humourous. I know I did, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get through the film at all or make my multiple, eclectic comments on here.

          • No, because I didn’t find it that melodramatic—Nimmi is just Nimmi, I expect it from her…I didn’t hate this film, I was just very disappointed at how spectacularly it failed to make its point.

            I do enjoy the comments people leave, hence the smilies :)

  17. I’ve never been able to finish watching this movie- your review helps me understand why.

  18. Just returned, and what do I do? Visit here and at dustedoff’s.
    Lots to read!!! :-)

    Wanted to put in my word.
    IIRC Dilip Kumar had just received the news of his father’s death (or on his deathbed) and was feeling terrible and angry because he had had a tiff with his father, and hadn’t made up before this.

    Don’t know if I’m mixing up 2 films, but I think it was at that emotionally riotous moment he turns round and finds Nimmi there. That’s how the story went, not that I’m offering an excuse. :-)

  19. Amar was the most favorite movie of Mehboob Khan. This movie was way above the standard of even today. The acting of Dilip Kumar was ultimate. His acting method with eyes and controlled body was just majestical. The songs of Naushad cannot be compared. The direction of Mehboob was too much for ordinary people. This movie is intellectually very very high. I myself watched the movie no less than 20 times. Dilip Kumar has said, I still don’t understand how Shikast, Devadas, Amar got floped. But, I do understand why these movies did not receive well by audiences. Our public was and still immature. They get excited after watching the foolish movies like Amar Akbar Anthony. They like superficial dramas. Dilip also said, I worked extremely hard for these 3 movies and became Tragidian King. I gave my soul. Anybody who says this movie is not good is not a movie man. He should go and watch some dramas. I totally disagree with the artcile.

  20. Mr. Forlon, can you watch the movie one more time please. Sankat was in love with Nimmi. And he knew that Nimmi was in quite and subtle love with Dilip Kumar. After the rape, Nimmi started to behave diffeently. Since Sankat wanted to marry her, he got sympathized with Nimmi and obvisouly he was more so got suspicious of Dilip Kumar, since Nimmi had shown the movie some glimpses of his incilination towards Dilip Kumar. This movie was made in a very controlled fashion. We are unfortunately used to shouts, open confrontations, loud romance et cetra. This movie was intellectually very very high. This was the one of the finest pieces of works created ever on Indian Cinema. Every actor is best in the movie. Dilip’s controlled body language complimented with eye expressions is just amazing. No wonder, Amar, Shikast (another superlative movie) and Devadas of Dilip got flopped on the screen, but made him the tragidy King. Amar was also the favourite movie of Mahboob Kha, the greatest dirctor of all time.

  21. What this film wanted to say? This is a stroy of a handsome, rich and highly educated man called Amar. The movie is centralized on the consiousness of a man who is honest, rich, well to do. He accidentally got into an abhorrant act, otherwise, he would not intentionlly do that. He got up in a situation that he raped a woman to whom he despised, looked down. Now the struggle of this man how to overcome this act that happened because of him only. The struggle of this man to break the relationsip with another woman who is extremely beautiful, rich and equal. the tussle between two women, and his consiousness is the subject Amar. If about 10 movies of Dilip Kumar is picked up, one would Amar. This movie is far superior than Ram aur Shyam, Leader, Shakti, Bairaag, Kohinoor, Azaad and others.

    The majestical song of Rafi, “Insaaf ka mandir hai ye” is the ultimate justice between Dilip, Nimmi and Madhubala. When Madhubala found out that something had happned, she gets Dilip into Mandir and ask him to take off the mangal sutra and give to Nimmi. Vow. Heart-breaking scene man. That was one of the finest picturised shot ever.

    Amitabh rightfully said, one of my most favourite movie of Dilip Sahab is Amar. Jeetender said, I watched Amar numerous times.

    • ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL. Nobody “accidentally” rapes anybody. Those are my fundamental issues with the film.

      • Accidental means, he got up into a situation that is not created and planned by him. He is still guilty, that is the final result of the movie. Nobody is telling the man is not guilty. But he was not a professional rapist. He has not forced the situation upon him. The situation has gotten to him. That is the difference. He paid the price, very heavy price. We are not talking law and order here. Let us not be too technical here.

  22. You are taking the issue in iliteral sense. The man did not chase the girl. The man did not go out to her home and rape her. The man saw her several times and demonstrated his despise because of her ugly looks, because she is poor and dirty. Behind those feelings, the man also demonstrated his inner feelings towards a young, but poor girl called nimmi. That can be done only by Dilip Kumar. The rest of the slot in the indian industry has to shout, has to dramatised the situation. Dilip is free of all those artificial demonstrations. Basically it is a guilt of a man belongs to aristrocratic family. Well educated, and above all very good looking. The last scene in the temple when he has to abandon the far more beautiful Madhubala, educated and equal to the man, and painfully he has to listen to his inner feelings and has put the managal sutra to Nimmi. That was heart breaking. Amar did not impress public, but it has left amazing feelings on the intellectuals, film producers, directors, writers, actors and others.

  23. I totally agree with Ratan Gupta’s comments. Excellent sir. The problem with us but Mr. Gupta is our public is tuned up to over acting. They want Amitabh to shout in front of Bhagwan in Deewar. The whole shot of Amitabh shouting is absolutely non-sense. Go and watch. What is good in that? Why was he shouting? The same is in Muqaddar ka Sikinader. The movie is a melo drama from start to finish. These movies are designed for Riksaw Pullers – like dozes of drugs. If Indian poor are absused and assaulted, the blame should go to the people like Amitabh Bachan, Dharmendar, Jeetender and others. They have made millions and millions on these uneducated destitutes. It is like free meal.

    Because of the movies like Amar, Satayajit Ray, the world class director has said, Dilip is the greatest actor of method acting. He never lost his compusure. He never comprimised. He could have at least acted, if he had to lower his standard, no less than 400 movies. 90% of movies Dilip Kumar rejected. Even Naya Daur, unless Ashok Kumar personally called him to accept. Sri 420 was offered to him. Awara was given to Mahboob by Khaja Ahmed Abbas. Dilip rejected them all. Gumrah was made on Dilip’s personal life when he was involved with Kamini Kaushal. Dilip rejected that movie too.

    Raj Kapoor used to say, my fans are poor, rickshaw pullers, destitute, street men, while the fans of Yousuf or Laale, he used to call Dilip Kumar are beautiful and highly educted women, intellectuals, rich, princes, well versed people”.

    Who are the greatest fans of Dilip? Raj Kapoor, Amitabh, Jeetender, Dharmendar, Manon (he got his name because Manoj is the name of Dilip in Shaheed), Shah Rukh list will continue.

    Recently Kamla Hassan sent a huge banner of Dilip of Ganga Jamuna for his autograph, Dilip graciously did it. When Raj Kapoor watched Shakti, he called Dilp and said “Laale, you have once again proved that you are the only actor in India, none dares challenge you”.

    Rishi Kapoor once said, during Prem Rog’s shooting, my father was shouting on me, chintu I want Yousuf in this shot. I was confused, who is this Yousuf, then I realized Pitaaji was referring to Dilip Kumar. This was the impression Dilip has left.

    Amitabh said, if any actor is telling that he is not impressed with Dilip is just lying.

    Go and compare the shot of Mandir of Deewar with that of Dil Diya Dard Liya. In just one word Dilip has acheived everything while Amitabh has destroyed the whole shot. Compare it.

    Kishore Kumar used to say, acting seekho to Dilip Kumar se, the rest is just cake walk, a drama, a show.

    Rekha said, when she was doing a film with Dilip, she said, after doing that film, I realized how Amitabh cheated the public by copying Dilip.

    Finally, Amar would always be Amar. Such movies cannot be made again and again. I love to watch this movie once again. Oh’ Naushad’s songs, vow, unforgetteble man. Tere Sadke Balam ………… both Dilip and Madhu are Pathans and the best pair Indian Industry produced. Their costumes and prsentations, vow man. Had it been in color. Vow. I request the people to color this film. Please do it.

  24. When Uttam Kumar of Bengali movies watched pre-trail show of Sagina Mahtu, another milestone of Dilip Kumar (bengali version), he told the bengali director, thanks for not castimg me, I could not have matched DilipDa. This was the story of a labour union leader in Brtish Raj. This was similar to Marlin Brando’s previous version. Dilip Kumr was outstanding in bengali version. Randhir Kapoor, after watching the movie has said, Dilip is the greatest actor of Asia.

    Recently, Rajya Sabha member, Jaya Bachan has said, Dilip is the only real actor and superstar.

    After 1961, most of the great directors were dead. Some of them migrated to Pakistan. Shaukat Rizvi, Zia Sarhadi, A R Kardar, then Bmal Roy dead, Ramesh Sehgal gone, Mehboob dead, Asif dead, S Mukharji dead and many other. Who could have directed Dilip Kumar. Amazingly, nobody took the initiative to hook up Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal to Dilip Kumar. They could have made Amar type movies until mid 80’s. What a loss? The golden era started in 1949 with Andaz ended at Ganga Jamuna in 1961, even though Dilip gave Sagina, Ram our Shyam, Shakti, Dil Dya Dard Liya, Aadmi, Sanghursh but he was ovwhelming in these movies. He was out director’s reach. I am comparing apple to apple, Dilip to Dilip.

  25. LOL, some big fans of Amar have shown up here.

    Memsaab makes a valid criticism of this movie (which I haven’t seen). The actions that take place in the library don’t correspond to the Amar character that had occupied the film before the incident. Consistency is important in dramatic cinema and Amar seems to fail in this department. No need for huge lectures about how old cinema is the only good cinema. You guys don’t have to insult Amitabh, etc. to say how good Dilip Kumar is.

    • Thanks Upendra, but if there is one thing I have learned here it’s that some people only see what they want to see. Useless to try and have a conversation with them.

  26. Upendra LOL? And Memsaab ‘Useless to try and have a conversation with them’?

    Amar is flawed – but you have missed the some nuances that still make it a memorable film – an educated elite, all polite and humane can also stoop to sexual violence on an illiterate beauty (purple prose but I guess you get my drift). As in the film, it can all be behind doors and not seen. I could see what Dilip (or Mehboob?) was aspiring to – it was a studied performance by Dilip (not always faltering)- but I think he still failed in finally not being able to to show a broader breath where greatness and vile exist together in a character. And there can be victims who so deliriously love a person, they still love the person who has perpetrated the violence. The ending was of course too much of wishful thinking (It could be fine in a fable but not here). Still the songs, cinematography, editing and Jayant make it a memorable film for me.

    • Well if you read my review you will see that I agree with you—there were many beautiful things about it (I didn’t “miss” the nuances—it’s when the nuances went away that the film went downhill), and it’s a shame that the flaws in the script and to some extent Dilip’s performance caused it to fail in the end FOR ME. People coming here to browbeat me with their adoration of Dilip though are not interested in discussing the film, only in changing my mind. I watched the film with an open mind, and enjoyed many things about it but for ME, my personal opinion, the film failed ultimately. It has nothing to do with my feelings about Dilip’s career as a whole.

  27. And one more point Memsaab: You cannot understand Hindi/Urdu? My God- you are missing the actual gems of old films- the SONGS. The translations are often awful and lacking and it does not convey the various feelings behind each choice of phrase/word – Mr. Shakeel Badyuni who wrote the lyrics for Amar is especially a STAR song writer. Please get yourself a good tutor – preferrably Urdu (it will make Hindi all the easier) – you need not go for nose up in the air ghazals. Just ask the tutor to help you with the nuances of these old songs. And hopefully if you live with someone who can speak Urdu – it may slowly give you feel of the ‘nazaakat’ (to translate the word I would say ‘grace’ but it does not convey the whole meaning or nuance) of the language.

    • Believe me, I know that not understanding Hindi/Urdu is a big obstacle. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done to get an Urdu tutor (costs money, takes time)…unless you are volunteering? :)

      • Exactly, ‘unless you are volunteering’,

        So, we non-Hindi speakers are supposed to learn a foreign language to be able to understand the poetry of the songs? I have a better idea. How about Eros and Shemaroo and T-Series and the others hire subtitlers that can actually speak the two languages. India is full of good English speakers. I work with 2 outstanding ones who subtitle songs and movies, and they don’t get paid a dime (or a rupee, if you prefer). DVD companies from other countries have no trouble finding people to make competent translations (except for Hong Kong sometimes). It’s just another example of shoddy work on the part of the Indian DVD production companies. Sometimes they don’t subtitle the songs at all! It’s not our responsibility to learn the language; it’s theirs to provide decent subtitles.

        Yes, I deeply regret not being able to truly understand the poetry of a Sahir Ludhianvi in a song, or a Mirza Ghalib, but I see no way out. Unless the Indian companies some day get their act together. And that’ll never happen.

        • Hear hear, Tom! I so appreciate the Hindi-Urdu-English-fluent people who come here and who help you and me understand the beauty of the language, instead of just criticizing. And of course you put a lot of work into treating these movies with care, which is more than anyone else can say. I think the fact that we can love this cinema even without the benefit of proper subtitles says a lot about Hindi films, and it says a lot about us and our willingness to plod along too, knowing we are missing a lot, but enjoying what we don’t miss. I also find it very condescending when people assume that because I don’t like a film that they do, it’s because I “don’t understand it.” There is a lot in filmmaking that transcends basic language, or should.

          • Tom and Memsaab, funny to see that you’re both dealing over here with that familiar line about how you must be missing out so much if you don’t know Hindi/Urdu… I got the same line regarding Urdu less than three weeks ago at the eclectic blog Moments of Tranquility, when Fawad said to me:

            Richard S, happy to know that you like both Faiz and Noor Jehan. They are cultural gems. I hope that you are able to read or understand them in Urdu, irrespective of ethnic origin. So much context simply doesn’t translate well.

            She was very nice and complimentary to me in the exchange that followed, especially when she saw what I was doing in my blog. But unfortunately, I have gotten a little weary of being told how much I’ll miss out if I don’t know the language. And obviously, it’s not enough even to have decent translations, because, from many people’s perspective, things will “get lost” in translation anyway.

            Memsaab, as you were kind of pointing out, I think many people who have grown up with the Hindi or Urdu language as well as the films just can’t get how appealing these films can be to some of us for reasons beyond any ability to understand the language. I’ve caught some surprise about that sometimes while shopping for DVDs in Jackson Heights. (People will ask, “Do you know Hindi?” Or Tamil, etc. – I’ve written about that…) But, as you said, the fact that we do love this cinema even without…actually says a lot, about the cinema and, yes, maybe a bit about us. :)

            And one more thing, regarding Shalini’s comment about living with someone who speaks Urdu to get the “grace” of the language… Well, it is a beautiful sounding language, and I spent a lot of time for several months some years ago staying over in the home of someone who spoke Urdu. I loved the sound of the language when, say, she spoke it to her family and friends on the phone, etc. (In fact, I would go far enough to say that I liked to hear her speak Urdu as much as Gomez liked to hear Morticia speak French on The Addams Family (Americans should get the reference :).) Yes, I got plenty of the grace from hearing that language…but, damn, I hardly got the meaning of any words at the time.

          • Ha ha ha!!!! I literally LOL’d at the Gomez-Morticia reference :D Hilarious.

            It’s funny, because even without comprehending much Hindi or Urdu (although I’m slowly understanding more and more of it) I seem to know when I’m missing out on something special, and when I really am not. There is a lot more to the film “language” that doesn’t involve dialogue by itself…in any case, it’s incentive to keep trying to learn, which I am doing within the limitations I have :)

  28. P.S. Oops, sorry, it was Salim who said that stuff I referred to, not Shalini. (With the limited space and time involved in sending out a comment, I’m afraid I missed the nuances between these different names. :) )

    • No problem, Richard. What’s in a name. …. I apologise as I seem to have touched a raw nerve here. It does indeed speak a lot about your breadth of appreciation (all of you) that you enjoy these old movies even though in translation. And Memsaab – I was not criticizing I was just trying to point out a gem that you were missing. And film songs being film songs – what can they be, by and large, BUT love songs (isn’t that the case everywhere?). The content in translation will not always seem profound – unless in the hands of someone really fluent in both languages. But its your LOVE for these films which is REALLY GENUINE that makes this a great site. More strength to you.

  29. Hey Memsaab

    It is true! Amar is one of those films that could have been Great but ended up just being Good.

    But I have nothing against the character of Amarnath… nor the actor playing it. If I have watched this movie over and over again it is because of the complexity of the protagonist (a perfectly gray and yellow character) and Dilip Kumar’s rendition of the same.

    However, I have issues with the director who had such a great story idea in mind and such brilliant actors involved in the project and yet he managed to make a hash of it all… I mean who in the world would love and defend their rapist…but Sonia does, which I think is the biggest loophole in the plot.

    Apart from that and the court room sequence (which is rather bland for a movie like this) I think most other things fall in place for me and I would like to share my understanding with you…

    Firstly, the rape scene might seem Out of The Blue but when you sit down and think about it you find that you had been blind to so many insinuations. The first scene where Amar meets Sonia there is an undercurrent of attraction in the way he eyes her while she bandages him.

    Also in the song “Ek Baat Kahoon” you can clearly see that even while Amar is being playful with his fiancee Anju, he is constantly looking at Sonia (and towards the end of the song he even searches for her in the crowd) with an overtone of inexplicable steeliness.

    It is right there -his lust, or attraction or whatever you may call it- if only we wanted to see it. But we don’t because it is too subtle and we just let it pass as inconsequential.

    But I would stick my head out and say that the rape scene wasn’t all that unnatural or unexpected. It was a natural progression of the character who had been crudely attracted to this village girl for long and when he had her in his power his lust overtook him and he did what he did. Although later in his right frame of mind he regrets it, he also tries to escape its repercussions because too much is at stake if he confesses to his crime.

    I think it is one of the most complex and human-like characters I have seen on screen. Unlike the typically white or black roles that we have in hindi/urdu films this one is a gray and a yellow character of virtues and vices and cowardice. And no could have played it better that Dilip Kumar, who in his inimitable subtle way has succeded where many fail with all their loudness.

    Also the character graph of Sanket is something of great interest to me. In the first few sequences we detest and dislike him because we see in him the quintessential villain. But as the film progresses we know that behind all that violence and brawn is a man with a soft heart who loves a girl truly and stands by her when he is needed to.

    The end, although idealistic, makes sense because only when a man overcomes his weaknesses will he become truly Amar(immortal)

    But in spite of everything Amar misses the mark of greatness due to poor subject handling by the director, who I think lost direction in the second half and made Sonia defend Amar which was the biggest misstep in the films journey to greatness.

    • I didn’t miss all those instances of obvious attraction (in fact I mention it in my review) but I don’t think it excuses his raping her in the least. As you say (and as I said in my review) it is largely poor direction, possibly scripting, that doesn’t give the actual rape scene any nuance at all. The way it is played out in the film, it is RAPE. Had it been seduction instead, which would have been believable given the moments of clear attraction, the film would have been great. But rape is not the same thing as seduction, NOT AT ALL.

      As it stands, he ought to go to jail for it, period, and the message sent by having his victim fall for him and want to marry him is disgusting and not worthy of any of the people involved in making the film.

  30. Hey,

    The attraction doesn’t excuse his crime… I never said it does. Don’t get me wrong.

    But it does provide some ground for his acts on the rainy night. The rape isn’t UNNATURAL in the movie is all I want to say. It can happen. And it happens almost everyday in India.

    However, I am in no way exonerating him. Or trying to defend him. It is just that things like this take place and I found it BELIEVABLE (not LIKABLE).

    That said, I like the character’s complexity because it was closer to human nature of erring and escaping and not some Paper-Character with only one shade (either white or black)that we often have on screen

    Of course the director became a Nut case when he drove Sonia to love/defend Amar…that was only because he had to steer the story somewhere and he didn’t know where…So there you have it…a victim falling in love with her molester… that’s bizzare to say the least. At the pace that the director was going, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Sonia abetted Amar in his future acts of crime…

    • NO NO NO! See, THIS is my fundamental point: rape IS unnatural. Rape is NOT a natural result of attraction. Rape is a violent crime and should be treated as such. If Indian men do not GET THAT then I despair for the women of India.

      People who don’t understand that will not understand my problem with this film.

  31. Each to his own… What’s natural and unnatural I guess we will only know when we are ourselves placed in testing situations.

    Sitting in our comfy living rooms, we may not be able to judge these things well.

  32. Well, I missed out a couple of things in my previous post…the thing that you said about seduction…I absolutely am in agreement with you on that count.

    It was just the thing this movie needed, for it would have been in greater alignment with Amar’s persona in the first half; also it would have given a good anchorage to the second half, where Sonia begins to love and defend him…That would have been far more palatable than her defending a rapist.

  33. U Mentioned at the start of this article that the music director Naushad “outdid himself” for this film…………Are you jocking???
    He allready delivered great musicals like Rattan (1944), Shahjehan (1946) Anmol Ghadi (1946) Andaz (1949) Aan ( 1952) and BAIJU BAWRA (1952) {TO NAME A FEW}

  34. There is a big confusion in my mind. Memsaab can you tell which of these fared well at the box office and which of them did u like = Aah, Aan , Aas and Aag?

  35. i love this movie . Its one of my favorite movie …….have seen 27 times .

  36. Its not just unlikable but unbelievable as well. What’s unbelievable is to show the protagonist as a man of conscience who feel guilt. Someone who falters in a weak moment and commits the sin of illicit but consensual sex might repent later. He might have lost his righteousness to lust for one moment but regained his senses the very next. That is believable.

    But the problem is it was rape. While raping you don’t get support from other party as in consensual sex. You don’t even get reluctant submission as in bought sex or compelled sex. You get pleading for mercy and you see horror, pain and helplessness in eyes which is of unmeasurable proportion and can’t be expressed in words. If all this cannot stop a man from completing the act then he is heartless. A thought might come and one also might commence it but to actually go through it all the way and complete it one not just has to be deaf to his inner call but also deaf to the girl’s mercy cries and blinded to the horror in her eyes. If those mercy cries could not melt our protagonist’s heart and could not stop him, it’s unbelievable that he later got guilt pangs. He is simply incapable of feeling guilt. If it wasn’t a rape but a consensual or a bought sex or a compelled sex, guilt pang was more believable.

    Sadly, believing that a conscientious person can be so heartless and that person capable of such heartless act is capable of feeling guilt too, makes one intellectual and high class while refusing it’s possibility and refusing to marvel at the so called intellect of the creatives makes one of low intellect, one of the crowd, a rickshaw wallah and what not. That’s the sad reality of today’s world which believes that it has “come of the age”, has “grown up” and has “matured” from the state of “immaturity and childishness”.

  37. On my recent flight back to India I apparently had the option of choosing from 1200 entertainment channels I chose to see this movie. :-)

    Why? For one, because I hadn’t seen it yet and it is supposed to be one of Dilip Kumar’s classics. But more importantly because it seems to be one of memsaabstory’s classics, :-) In terms of the amount of debate and discussion it has generated. When I read the review here almost exactly a year ago, I was intrigued by it. And by all the comments. It seemed a movie worth watching if only to form my own opinion after seeing it.

    So see it I finally did.

    I will quickly pay my tribute to the songs – loved them, especially “insaaf ka mandir” and “ek baat kahun”. Also, I thought the photography was excellent, esp in that water scene with Jayant chasing Nimmi.

    But I will admit that I felt slightly disappointed overall. Maybe because I felt a potentially powerful storyline had not been done justice to.

    For one, I thought it somewhat difficult to believe that rape situation. For many reasons.

    Firstly, Dilip was shown to be a virtuous and honourable guy. Ok, such guys can also have a weak moment – and maybe that was what Mehboob wanted to show. But then he should not have taken pains to show how rapidly the Dilip-Madhubala love was blossoming. Clearly Dilip was head over heels in love with Madhubala.

    What’s more, it is not as if Dilip did not know Nimmi beforehand and she’d completely bowled him over in that library scene, making him lose his senses. He knew who she was, he’d been pretty indifferent to her all along. And now that he was in love with Madhubala, he’d been even less interested in Nimmi.

    So an honourable and virtuous guy, madly in love with a girl and completely uninterested in another girl, suddenly rapes this other girl just because she lands up in his house on a stormy night, drenched? There is one and only situation in which I can imagine this happening. That is, if he had been so drunk as to not be in control of himself. But even that did not seem to be the case.

    All this made the whole rape thing far-fetched for me. Mehboob should have at least put one prior weakness out there that could have been a trigger, namely:
    – either don’t show Dilip to be such an honourable guy
    – or don’t show him head-over-heels in love with Madhubala
    – or show him having some prior interest in Nimmi
    – or show him to be completely drunk and therefore not in his senses at all that night (he just had a drink but seemed to be perfectly in his senses when he entered that library).

    If any of these three had been true, it may just have made the rape a bit more credible.

    Then, the whole “guilt” thing. You know what? For an apparently honourable man who has committed one mistake, Dilip takes an awfully long time to confess his crime. In fact he doesn’t even do it properly. He is in denial for a long time, then slowly begins to feel responsible – but again not really responsible enough to take charge. I know this may well have been Mehboob’s main point – to show how difficult it is to come to terms with what you’ve done if you are basically an honourable person. Esp since you are highly respected in society. But somehow, for all Dilip’s acting ability (I don’t fault him) the manner in which the underlying guilt is slowly made to manifest in him also lacks credibility in my eyes.I never once got the feeling that he actually cared for Nimmi, It was almost as if he was doing her a big favour by finally accepting her, it was almost as if he was making a big sacrifice by letting Madhubala go. Somehow this did not sit well with me. HE commits the rape, HE is in denial – and then finally HE is made to look like a hero for “sacrificing” his love at the altar of “honour and duty”. What about Madhubala? I know this was 1954 but still…The second half of the movie, in trying to put together all the conflicts and emotions of the story, ends up almost being mechanical and contrived, I thought.

    Having said all this, I must say I did find it a very interesting subject for a movie. Like I said, it had great potential. Only, some aspects could have been developed differently or more strongly IMO.

    • I’m glad you finally got to see it, and thanks for coming back here and commenting. That is pretty much exactly how I felt about the film, so much potential frittered away on some big flaws which could easily have been avoided. I think Mehboob Khan was capable of much more than this (Dilip too) and it disappointed me a lot.

      • Yes, and the biggest flaw for me (which I forgot to mention) was that Nimmi kept worshipping the guy who raped her. What was Mehboob trying to say? Was he trying to say that she was attracted to him anyway (tbh, that song “ek baat kahun” at the fair is loaded with “look at me too” messages) and her self-worth was SO low that when she got raped by this guy she idolized, given her pathetic social status compared to his, she actually surrendered herself completely not just physically but also mentally to him?

        I just couldn’t get my head around that – it was bad enough that she got raped, it was far worse that she continued to worship the guy. Or could it have been a reflection of the times? We are talking 1954, after all. I think the social class differences in India in those days were far more stark and social oppression far more prevalent and numbing. Stories of zamindars (land-owners) using and abusing peasant women were not uncommon, even if they were talked about only in hush-hush tones. So maybe we need to look at this movie through the prism of India in 1954?

        Of course, this is not to justify the route this movie took, whether in creating that rape situation (rape in ANY situation, as we’ve discussed, is unjustifiable) or in the raped defending the rapist (which IMO is also equally unjustifiable). Whether 1954 or 2011, this does not change. But yes, the mindset of the oppressed poor in India in 1954 may have been very different from 2011 (well, I’d hope things would’ve improved by 2011).

        Whatever, it IS an intriguing movie, no doubt about that. One can be disgusted by the way the plot developed , one can be fascinated by the shades of grey in Dilip’s character (or not) but it is the type of movie that you do tend to discuss later. :-)

  38. Dear Memsaab,

    I haven’t seen this movie; your review and readers’ comments are so lucid that I feel I have seen this film! I’d love to see this movie, in spite of its obvious flaws.

    As for Nimmi being the ‘sacrificial lamb’, yes, I saw her in Barsaat, where she acts as Premnath’s (1949 – he was extremely good looking!) girlfriend. She pines for him, while he chases other girls and she kills herself in the end.

    Anyway, coming back to Amar, as you rightly said, the music is just mind-blowing. Since I am a great fan of Naushad, I was expecting the music to be this good! The two songs mentioned by the readers are great, but I have a weakness for the following songs:

    1. Jaanewaale se mulaaqaat na hone paayi (so classical, so touching, I get the goose pimples whenever I hear it!)
    2. Na Milta Gham To Barbadi Ke Afsane Kahan Jaate

    Lata’s voice is so sweet and clear in these two songs, it is almost ethereal…

    Regards,

    Vinod

  39. i thought amar was a good film, but you are right the second half just doesn’t really connect, it was sort of choppy but being a fan of great old bollywood actors/actresses i watched it. it is way better then all the movies that are produced today excapt some exceptions: movies with kajol, aamir khan, SRR and a couple of others are always worth seeing.

    i looove nimmi too, she great in her first film barsaat, she is actually one of my all time favorite actresses.

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