Deedar (1951)

I was so f*ing happy to see these words. An alternate title could be When Bad Things Happen To Good People. The denouement has Dilip Kumar stabbing his own eyes out. And up until then it’s nothing but misery, suffering and pain.

I will say that it is a well-crafted film, with superb performances—especially by Dilip Kumar and Ashok Kumar. But for a girl who already worries too much about eight dollar cups of coffee and what the world is coming to it’s unredeemably depressing.

Shyamu and his widowed mother work for Seth Daulatram Rai (Murad). Rai’s daughter Mala has befriended Shyamu, but when she is thrown from her horse while riding with Shyamu, Rai boots him and his mother from the house and their jobs. They wander aimlessly until Shyamu’s mother collapses and dies. Some villagers notice vultures circling overhead and find him sobbing over her body.

He is taken in by a man with a daughter named Champa and a son whose name I never catch. Tormented by grief and missing his beloved Mala, Shyamu goes out into a sandstorm in the night and is blinded by the sand.

When Shyamu (now Dilip Kumar) grows up, he becomes a singer and supports his adopted family. Champa (Nimmi) adores him, I’m not sure why since he doesn’t do much but talk about lost love and the futility of our cruel existence. But she loves him anyway.

Back at Daulatram Rai’s, a grown-up Mala (Nargis) is introduced to her fiance, Dr. Kishore (Ashok Kumar).


It’s love at first sight for Mala and Kishore, as he heads off for a short vacation. In spite of their short acquaintance, he manages to write a lot of love letters to her.

At home, Champa and Shyamu continue their uplifting conversations.

She’s not wrong!

One day Shyamu goes into town to sing for their supper (Naushad’s music, by the way, is pretty—but not much more cheerful than the plot). Kishore is there, and is drawn by the song. He immediately takes Kaviraj (Shyamu’s “good” name) under his wing and arranges for his vision-restoring surgery in the city. Mala arrives to visit Kishore and is equally enchanted with Kaviraj’s talent. But even the prospect of regaining his sight does nothing for his repartee.

Finally, the day comes when Kishore takes Kaviraj to the city for his operation. Champa and her brother are pleased for their Shyamu—her brother hoping that eyesight will double Shyamu’s income for some reason, although I would think the blindness-pity thing would be more profitable—but Champa is also sad.

It’s certainly true that her brother isn’t too useful. Dr. Kishore and Kaviraj bond over the fact that they are both in love, little knowing that they both love the same girl. True to his word, Kishore restores Kaviraj’s sight.

An ecstatic Kaviraj tells his doctor that now his sight is restored he wants to see his beloved—Mala, Daulatram Rai’s daughter. Kishore is thunderstruck. Kaviraj begs him to take him to see her.

Kishore says he will take Kaviraj to see her, but asks him not to remind her of their childhood, and Kaviraj agrees. Unwitting Mala invites him to stay at her house; she has arranged a gathering so he can sing. Over the next few days (or weeks, it seemed endless) we watch as Kishore becomes ever more tormented, and Kaviraj ever more obsessed with Mala, who remains stubbornly oblivious—even when Kaviraj sings their childhood song to her.

Champa comes to find Kaviraj and he sends her away, telling her that he’s found the person to whom he belongs. She goes home to starve with her brother since their sole source of income has deserted them.

(Is it just me, or does Nimmi have a giant head?)

Kishore is feeling increasingly unworthy since he only loves Mala whereas Kaviraj worships her. He even encourages Kaviraj to keep hoping! I want to shake him. Well, them. All of them. A psychiatrist in this house would have a field day!

Then Mala mentions their upcoming marriage to Kaviraj. He is astounded when she tells him about it—I am astounded that he doesn’t already know. They’ve been spending days together, all three of them. How could it not have come up before, even once?

Kaviraj now is torn between his loyalty to the man who restored his vision, and the woman he has loved since childhood. He gives clueless Mala one more chance to recognize him by asking her to look deep into his eyes.

She fails his test miserably. He is crushed by the realization that she loves Kishore, and doesn’t remember him. He looks into the mirror and blames his sight since his eyes are the doors to his heart or some nonsense like that.

He takes up a sharp object (the picture is too dark to really tell what it is) and as Kishore breaks the door down, he blinds himself.

What will happen next? Can this possibly turn out well? The strange answer is, well, yes. I guess it does.

I am sure that others who are more analytical (and perhaps smarter) could write about the psychological intricacies of the characters and impart some sort of wisdom into the film. I left out some stuff like Kishore slamming his hand in a door on purpose. Deedar may deserve it—as I said, it’s well done. But it’s just too grim for me.

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33 Comments to “Deedar (1951)”

  1. So this where Dilip Kumar got his reputation as tragedy king! Thanks for sharing your views about it Memsaab. Will keep out of the way of this movie to stay happy!!! :-)

    • Actually the tragedy roles began from JUGNU (1947), MELA (1948), SHAHEED (1948), NADIYA KE PAAR (1948), ANDAZ (1949), JOGAN (1950), DEEDAR (1951), URAN KHATOLA (1954) and so on till DEVDAS (1955) whereafter Dilip Kumar switched to doing some lighter roles such as in AZAAD (1955) and LEADER (1964). GANGA JAMNA (1961) again had him doing the tragedy role.

  2. “unite me with my fuel”???
    I want to be united with fuel too- cheap fuel pls, no more than 50% of current prices, thanks v much. I wonder who is orchestrating with beautiful unison, but i will wait eagerly.

    seriously, this sounds like pure torture; i ‘d have laughed shamelessly through the most tragic parts- did u?

  3. No, she doesn’t have a giant head, she has a small body.

  4. Nice review memesab.After reading this i found that the movie Deedar is a ever green love story.Pls tell me who will get mala at last? or it would b nice if u give me a link to download this awesome movie.

  5. Hmm. Misery. No Shash. Might give this one a pass. (Though I’m curious about this Dilip Kumar that everyone says SRK owes so much to.)

  6. Bollyviewer: This film and many others. Dilip Kumar eventually consulted a psychiatrist who told him to take on some happy roles (this happened sometime in the 60’s I think).

    Shweta: re fuel—LOL!!! No, I didn’t laugh—it was actually too well done to laugh at. It just depressed me horribly.

    Anonymous: Yes, teeny tiny. She looks like a bobble-head doll.

    Sanket: SPOILER BELOW!
    If love=obsession then yes, it’s a love story. But Mala never remembers Shyamu, and he goes back to Champa after he pokes his eyes out and she takes care of him happily ever after. Mala marries Kishore, I assume.

    ppcc peep: SRK owes Dilip Kumar? For what? I have never heard this! Do tell!

  7. Hee haw! This is awesome! And one more addition to my list of never-watch movies. And what’s this? You did not giggle at the teary parts even a little? Tsk tsk.

    And yes, ppcc peep is right. SRK idolizes Dilip Kumar. Considers him his greatest acting inspiration and other such hoo-haa. I think Saira has even remarked once that if they had a son, he would have looked like SRK.

  8. I have vague memories of Rishi-Sridevi-Vinod starrer Chandni (don’t think I even finished watching the movie); but there also the 2 men meet & become friends over the fact that they both love.. but it never comes out they both love the same girl until much later. Am thinking.. if I’m to bond with a new friend over love, don’t I also share a *tiny* detail like my beloved’s name??

  9. Well…there were some plot holes :-) I pointed out that I couldn’t believe that Dilip didn’t already know that Kishore and Mala were an item. How BLIND can you be??? Ha ha ha.

    No, it wasn’t in the least bit funny. Even the scene where he puts out his own eyes–it was too, too realistic to be funny. Not even slightly.

    I didn’t realize that SRK idolizes DK…his acting inspiration hasn’t inspired him much in acting! although I can see the resemblance (big nose, floppy hair, puppy dog eyes…).

  10. I just saw this entry (I am working my way through your blog, it is great); hmm, I actually like this movie, despite its depressing story, though I can’t quite put my finger on why I like it. I tried showing it to a friend, but she was not impressed, though she expressed much surprise that nobody died.

    What really amazed me is that Kishore smokes in almost every single scene. Really, he seems to be surgically attached to a cigarette.

  11. Well, it was a really well done film—well acted, well told, etc. It was too depressing for my taste, but lots of people don’t mind that (or sad movies wouldn’t do well anywhere, and they do).

    I didn’t notice the cigarette thing, maybe because even Hollywood films from that period featured a lot of smoking (women too). It was de rigeur if you were cool! :-)

  12. The smoking is quite extreme, even for the period. I think the only time he doesn’t smoke is in the operation theatre.

    Given the fact that I enjoyed watching Aadmi, I am probably someone who likes watching sad and depressing movies.

  13. That’s what makes the world go around!

  14. Revisiting this review, Memsaab, and I have decided (1) that I shamelessly love the angsting emo king that is Dilip Kumar and (2) that this looks gloriously angst-filled. I’ve already placed my order with Grumpy Uncle! Wheee…!

    But first, even though Dilip looks puffy and aged, is Dil Diya Dard Liya… an evil, boozy Pran?! OMG be still, mera black dil!

  15. This is angst-filled, all right, don’t know how glorious it is though. But I look forward to your clever analysis of it! :-) It’s chock full of symbolism, you might love it. I just prefer happy happy joy joy.

    Dil Diya Dard Liya—yes, Pran is drunk and evil and quite awesome. Your black heart may love the movie, mine did not (it did love the Pran parts though).

    • DIL DIYA DARD LIYA was inspired by the famous WURTHERING HEIGHTS novel by Emily Bronte. So there are parallels of Catherine (Waheeda Rehman), Heathcliff (Dilip Kumar) and Hindlley (Pran). This movie, when released in 1966, did not do well as per the standards of the movies of Dilip Kumar who had by then completed 22 years in the film industry as a hero – which role he would be doing at least for the next ten years.

      Dilip Kumar has ghost directed this movie. The most telling scene of Pran’s abusive condemnation of Dilip in this movie was directed by Dilip Kumar himself.

  16. DEEDAR (1951) was a golden jubilee hit all over India. Yes, a lot can be written about this movie. But briefly, what’s important in appreciation is the empathatic understanding about rural India, its poverty, lack of materialism and education, abundance of idealism including the selfless love and devotion, rigidity of caste and class-consciousness, and many other things that are or were peculiar to India, especially just after four years of Independence.

    There was a casting coup of sorts with Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Nargis and Nimmi. The female stars had little to do; but watching Dilip and Ashok was a great delight for the movie-goers. I especially liked your observation about one only “loving” Mala (Nargis) and the other “worshipping” her. To the question why does Kaviraj (Dilip) prefers the “defeat” the answer is provided by Dilip himself something like: Main Muhabbat ki Baazi Jeet Ke Sharafat ki Baazi nahin haarna Chaahtaa…”

    The songs of DEEDAR are still popular in elite circles and MER KAHAANI BHOOLNE WAALE along with O DUNYAA KE RAKHWAALE (BAIJU BAWRA) provides a benchmark for the aspiring singers.

    DEEDAR stands out as a classic picture and a sheer delight for Dilip Kumar’s fans.

    • Yes, I think your first paragraph says it all.

    • It was so depressing for me. Very well made though. I don’t have issues with devotion or even sacrifice, except when it’s pointless and unwarranted. One of my pet peeves too is people wallowing in their own misery, maybe because I have suffered from chronic depression myself and don’t need to see it onscreen! But Dilip did make quite the career out of characters wallowing in misery for a long time. I admire him a lot for getting help when it spilled over into his real life, and for being public about it when it wasn’t really “cool”…I have Azaad and really need to bump it up on my “to watch” pile :-)

      Thank you for your very thoughtful comments on the film and Dilip :-) I appreciate them and learn from them!

      • Your welcome Memsaab.

        At least DEEDAR had some comic relief in the form of actor Yakub (good for nothing brother of Nimmi). This guy too was an all-rounder actor of his time. You’ll remember the scene where he goes about stealing chickens and also attempting to earn through singing and selling clothes. The black humour was very touching.

  17. Ever notice that every movie that Nargis and DK made are really depressing and always keeping them apart? This movie, Mela, Jogan, Andaz, Babul…

    One of the Bollywood industry’s biggest faux pas (if not the biggest) is capitalizing the union between its greatest actor and actress.

    I give Mehboob credit for establishing some forbidden (albeit delicious_ chemistry between them in “Andaz” then trying to get them together in “Aan.”
    -Would’ve been Nargis’ and DK’s first happy movie together
    -Made up for all the chesmitry they lacked in past movies
    -Am confident their chemistry would’ve left Raj Kapoor in the dust.
    -Might’ve made more “happy” movies together

    I would’ve been content if Nargis and DK just did Aan together, but, no; she turned it down to do more films with Raj Kapoor (ARGH!!! Another reason to dislike him!!!)

    Alas, this is something my broken heart will never recover from… You can help by replying to my post though, Memsaab. =)

    • Heh (I love your name!)…One of my pet peeves also with Raj Kapoor is that Nargis threw away the best years of her career on him, and he never did her justice: it was always all about HIM instead.

      I guess she and Dilip Kumar had some sort of falling out pretty early on in the 50s which didn’t help. I would have loved to see them do a “happy” film together for sure.

      • What you say memsaab about some sort of falling out between Dilip Kumar and Nargis may be true. The reason is not far to seek. In my opinion, Nargis was the stronger character who had started earlier than Dilip Kumar who, in turn, reached dizzy heights of popularity just by 1951. So it’s possible that there might have been a sort of personality clash between these two right from 1948, i.e. the year of Mela. Dilip Kumar has hinted in his biography but without naming anybody that he had by then made enough niche for himself so as not to give in to a demanding heroine. (not the exact words, but that is how I understood the import).

        Of course we would have loved them doing AAN together but that was not to be. In fact Nargis did not come back to Mehboob Productions till 1957 (Mother India) by which time she fell in love with Sunil Dutt who put a stamp of approval on their love by marrying her instantly. She must have learnt by now that she had been used to the hilt.

      • Thank you, Memsaab. I also like your username. =)

        I would’ve understoof Nargis’ actions if she had to choose between “Aan” and “Awaara.” however Awaara was released 1951 while Aan was released 1952, so maybe that was not the case(?)…

        Keeping that in mind, I agree that Nargis my have wasted the best years of her career on him since of their “chemistry” is drab in other films and don’t recapture the intensity of “Awaara.”

    • @Forlorn_rage: The person who was upset the most was Mehboob Khan himself and it was precisely for that reason that he took up the challenge of giving the role to a rank newcomer. Remember it was he (actually his wife) who had groomed Nargis for Taqdeer (1942). It would be Sardar Akhtar again who would be grooming Nadira for Aan.

      • Thank you for that tidbit. I was just thinking that Nadira’s style in “Aan” reminded me so much of Nargis in “Andaz.” It is very obvious that Raj was supposed to be played by Nargis. However, that’s where the similarities end.

        Nadira’s stiff face, bulging eyeballs, and cartoonish facial expressions were entertaining to an extent, but unacceptable as Dilip Kumar’s romantic leading lady.

        What did you think of Nadira as Nargis’ replacement?

        • Your description of Nadira is apt. Perhaps Dilip Kumar felt the same way but was helpless since Mehboob Khan was THE Producer and Director. However, what DK said to Nadira in English goes even beyond that description. It was said in English and Nadira just smiled. It was only on learning the meaning of that word that she stopped speaking to him and the two never ever spoke again off the set.

  18. Nimmi’s giant head! Hahaha! You are very observant.

  19. Forlorn Rage,

    Nargis and Dilip Kumar did have a happy reunion in Anokha Pyar (1948). It was a love triangle between Nargis, Dilip and Nalini Jaywant, but in the end Nargis and Dilip end up happily together :)

  20. awesome movie awsome performance by dilip kumar sahab

  21. RIP Dilip Saab. What a talent, what a life! I only saw Shakti and I can say I was quite mesmerised by how untheatrical and natural you were as opposed to the other actors during the late 70s (including my favourite Amitabh Bachchan). Fortunately, looks like the Golden Trio will be creating something interesting in heaven.

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