This is the story of a rich blind man who falls for a poor girl, regains his sight and is forced to marry a wealthy girl whom his father has chosen. It’s very similar in many ways to Deedar in that blindness is associated with joy and sight with sadness, but a much happier film overall, to my great joy and abiding relief. I was on a mission to see more of Nalini Jaywant (who was Shobhana Samarth’s sister, according to imdb, making her Nutan and Tanuja’s aunt). She was lovely in this, and I really liked her pairing with Ashok Kumar, who is also absolutely beautiful.
He plays Ashok (!), the son of a wealthy businessman who lost his sight as a child. We can tell he’s blind because his eyes are eerily pale.
But I don’t have to worry that Dadamoni will really go blind, thanks to this credit:
His mother died from the shock, and his sister died from the shock of THAT, so now it’s just him, his father Rai Sahab and a cousin named Hari. Rai Sahab does a lot of charity work at the local hospital that he built in the hopes that someone would find a cure for Ashok. As the film starts, Ashok is returning from an unsuccessful trip to see a surgeon in Bombay. His car breaks down as he nears home, and while it’s stopped for repairs Ashok hears a lovely voice singing about a “mad love.”
On his return home his father is distressed to find that Ashok is still blind. His health isn’t good, and he asks Ashok to think about getting married to the daughter of an old family friend—a marriage arranged by his mother when he was a boy (before he lost his sight). Ashok doubts that anyone will want to marry a blind man.
I love how Ashok is the one who is blind, but everyone else suffers from “shocks.” Anyway, Ashok goes to visit a beautiful garden that he used to frequent (before his sojourn in Bombay) for some peace and quiet and to play the flute. This time, though, there is someone else there. Her name is Jamna (Nalini Jaywant) and she and her grandfather are new caretakers of the garden. She immediately pegs him as both blind and as a rich man, but he tells her that he is a poor man. She says “But you are so stylish!”
He tells her that he makes mud statues (murti) for a living and that his name is Hari (his cousin’s name). She teases him gently, and when it’s time for him to go he asks if he can come and see her again. She performs a puja every afternoon, singing the song he had heard the day before, and garlanding a Krishna murti there.
Enchanted by her light-hearted chatter and unquestioning acceptance of him, Ashok returns the next day, and the next. He calls her “Rani” and she calls him “Babuji.” One day he makes a murti of her by touch:
It’s very sweet, and she goes home with mud all over her face. He insists on keeping the statue because it’s “the most beautiful thing” he’s ever made, he says.
She gives him the garland she made for her puja, and she tells her grandfather about him. Her grandfather comes to meet him and they hit it off immediately too. He teases her when she dresses up for Ashok:
Ashok keeps the garlands she now gives him every day in a chest in his room, next to her statue. He buys a gold necklace for her, although he tells her it’s brass. They are so sweet, and I am rooting for them so hard. But…I know his deception has to catch up with him, plus his father is still bent on marrying him off to his friend’s daughter.
She is a real piece of work, this Kamala (Kuldip Kaur). She has come to meet Ashok on his birthday, accompanied by her parents and a gaggle of giggly friends.
She even looks like a complete bitch. A little aside: in his gossipy book “Stars From Another Sky” Saadat Hasan Manto writes that Kuldip Kaur and Pran had a long term affair. I must say I don’t understand what he saw in her.
Anyway, she makes no secret of her disdain for Ashok’s blindness, and her reluctance to marry him. This of course pleases him no end.
She puts on a different act in front of the older generation, and is asked to sing by Rai Sahab. She chooses a song about eyes and love of course. What a bitch.
Ashok takes the opportunity to change into his rustic garb and slip out of the house to meet Jamna. He gets disoriented in his haste, and ends up on the fire escape (or something like one), where he slips and loses his cane, and then falls, hitting his head.
If that weren’t bad enough, he gets up and walks out into the road, where he is hit by a car. When things go downhill, they go downhill fast!
Meanwhile, Jamna is wondering where he is and is worried. She convinces her grandfather to go with her to the hospital in case he’s been injured. Ashok is wheeled past them on a gurney on his way out of surgery, but her grandfather pulls her away, saying that Hari would not have so many people around him.
Predictably, this accident results in Ashok regaining his sight, with the also predictable result that now Kamala is ready and willing to marry him and his money. It takes months for him to recover, though, and during that time Jamna, unable to find him, goes crazy with worry. Her grandfather carts her off to Janpur, their home village, hoping that it will help her forget him.
When Ashok is back on his feet, he goes immediately to the garden. The new caretaker tells him that Jamna has gone to Janpur. At home, Rai Sahab wants to prepare for Ashok’s wedding with Kamala, but Ashok refuses. He tells his father that he is going to find the girl he loves.
He and Hari set off. But before they reach Janpur, Jamna has set off herself (with her grandfather, who is now gravely ill) to go back and continue her search for him. They pass each other unknowingly (this filmi trope never fails to distress me).
Jamna’s grandfather is dying by the time they reach Ashok’s home town, and she takes him to the hospital there, where he dies. Rai Sahab, visiting for his charity work, sees her distress and takes her home with him.
So now Ashok is out and about searching for Jamna, who is living in his home as Rai Sahab’s adopted daughter. Rai Sahab decides to call her Kiran after his late real daughter. It’s a little creepy, but Jamna doesn’t care; at this point she doesn’t care about much, poor sad thing. Rai Sahab sends her off to Bombay for music training.
Soon after, Ashok returns home, dejected. He is greeted by a friend of his father’s, who scolds him for his selfishness and for neglecting his father who loves him. Feeling guilty, and noticing that his father’s health is declining, Ashok finally agrees to marry Kamala.
No, no, no, NO! I cry. And she is an awful wife: a shrew who beats the servants and torments Ashok, who refuses to touch her or acknowledge her in any way.
What will happen when Jamna returns from Bombay and discovers that her “Hari” is really Ashok, and is now married? And a rich man, to boot! What will Ashok do when he discovers that his adopted sister “Kiran” is really Jamna? Will he stab his own eyes out? (No, wait, that was Dilip Kumar and Deedar.) Worse yet, what will That Bitch Kamala do? It’s a plot straight out of a soap opera, elevated by fine performances and lovely music by Roshan. I loved it.
Edited to add:
Noor Jehan is in this film too. Is this her? I have never seen her as a young woman so am not sure…