Prem Kahani (1975)


With a title screen (and title) like this, you’d expect a happy movie, right? Wrong! It’s incredibly sad. I sobbed for a good hour. But it’s also really good. The story takes place against the backdrop of India’s fight for freedom from British rule (although no attempt to recreate the period through costumes or anything has been made), and is a love triangle between two best friends and the girl they both love. What saves it from descending into jingoism and melodrama are the marvelous performances by Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz and Vinod Khanna; Raj Khosla’s deft direction; and the lovely songs by Laxmikant Pyarelal with beautiful, meaningful lyrics by Anand Bakshi.

This is a pretty long post, because there’s a lot to say about this film. It isn’t perfect, but does so much just right that the imperfections don’t matter.

Rajesh Narain (Rajesh Khanna) is about to graduate from college and dreams of becoming a teacher. His best friend is Dheeraj Kumar (Shashi Kapoor), who has just been promoted to Superintendent of Police and is on his way to his new posting.


Rajesh promises to visit him after he goes home to see his older brother and his family. Brijesh Narain (Trilok Kapoor) publishes a newspaper and is an active participant in the Quit India movement. Rajesh is in love with Kamini (Mumtaz), who lives with her parents next door to Brijesh. Her father Rai Bahadur Sinha (KN Singh) is a supporter of the British, and Brijesh’s activities are a constant irritant for him.


Rajesh himself is mostly apolitical. He wants to teach literature; he’s a poet and a dreamer. This doesn’t go over too well with Kamini’s father, who has found a nice guy with a good government job for Kamini. But Kamini loves Rajesh, although Rajesh is reluctant to approach Sinha with a proposal when he doesn’t have a job yet. They are so cute together! as always! and sing a lovely duet, “Prem Kahani.”


Things are about to take a tragic turn, though. Brijesh leads another peaceful protest march, but instead of being arrested again, he is shot dead.

His grief and anger move Rajesh to join his late brother’s comrades. They try to talk him out of it—one sacrifice per family is enough, they say; who will look after Brijesh’s wife and daughter?—but he will not be deterred and they finally give in.


Meanwhile, Kamini’s father flatly refuses to give his blessing to her marriage with Rajesh. She defies him and goes next door to ask Rajesh to marry her (I love how bold she is!).

He flippantly rejects her, pretending to have never been interested in marriage, only in romancing her. Of course his real motives are that he doesn’t want her to become his widow, but he doesn’t tell her that and she is deeply hurt.


Kamini, thank goodness, sticks up for herself.


But she’s devastated; at home she tells her mother that she’ll marry whomever her father has picked, that she doesn’t trust her own judgment any more. Rajesh is upset too, but he’s made up his mind to sacrifice all for his country.

Soon after this, he and his band of brothers catch the man who ordered his soldiers to shoot Brijesh. Supposedly he’s English, although he looks like an Indian with blue contact lenses; however, the filmmakers do manage to find a gori lady to “act” (badly) as his wife (“No, no please have mercy!” in a monotone).


Hilarious! Rajesh kills the “Englishman” (she pretends to swoon…oh, it’s really bad). This naturally puts a big price on his head, and soon the police everywhere are looking for Rajesh as he continues his revolutionary activities. After some months, he goes to visit his bhabhi and Munni; their house is being watched though (duh!) and the police soon arrive looking for him.

He hides in a pile of blankets, and as Munni watches terrified, her mother puts her hand over Munni’s mouth and nose to keep her from giving Rajesh away. Unable to breathe, Munni dies—this is based on a very sad true story, which you probably have already heard, but it seems a bit unnecessarily over the top here. The police leave without finding Rajesh, although one havaldar shoots his rifle into the bedding where he is hiding, wounding him badly in the arm. This wound is nothing compared to his grief over Munni’s sacrifice, of course.

He needs someplace to hide while he recovers from his injury, and he tells his fellow revolutionaries that he’ll go to his friend Dheeraj’s in Ghazipur. With Dheeraj being the SP there, nobody will suspect him of hiding Rajesh. One of his friends arranges a ride for him with a truck driver named Sherkhan (Vinod Khanna).


Vinod!!! Sherkhan drives Rajesh to Ghazipur, but has to break through a police roadblock to do so. The police note down the truck’s license number, but lose him in pursuit. Sherkhan and Rajesh arrive at Dheeraj’s house and find it lit up like a Christmas tree: it’s his wedding day.

Inside, Dheeraj is shyly approaching his new bride for the first time with a gift—a book of Rajesh’s poetry.


He doesn’t have long to wait on that score, because the wounded Rajesh bursts into the room. Despite his injuries, he wants to meet his best friend’s bride.


Yes, of course: it’s Kamini. She has married Dheeraj per her father’s wishes. The humanity! They are shocked to see each other, and appalled, but Dheeraj remains cheerfully clueless; plus, he’s a little bowled over by his new wife’s beauty. This is quickly replaced by concern, as Rajesh faints into Kamini’s lap.

Outside, Sherkhan is stopped by a police havaldar and arrested.

After bandaging up Rajesh, Dheeraj and Kamini spend an uncomfortable wedding night sleeping on the floor and the sofa, as Rajesh is occupying the bed. In all fairness, he has offered to leave but Dheeraj won’t let him.


Oy, clueless man! In the morning, Dheeraj goes to work, leaving Kamini to take care of Rajesh. It’s exceedingly awkward, as you’d expect, and their rare exchanges of conversation mostly consist of sniping at each other.

Dheeraj arrives at the police station to find havaldar Kotwal (Yunus Parvez) interrogating Sherkhan. He prevents Kotwal from beating Sherkhan for the moment, but Kotwal goes to a higher official for permission to torture him into confessing and gets it. When Rajesh asks Dheeraj if the Pathan has been caught, Dheeraj lies and says he hasn’t—Rajesh is relieved.

Of course, the tension at home is thick enough to cut with a knife. Bewildered, Dheeraj attempts to break it.


Through a gorgeous duet (“Phool Ahista Phenko”) which is fortuitously subtitled for me since the lyrics are brilliant, Rajesh and Kamini communicate their feelings to each other. Kamini expresses her anger and hurt, and indignance that Rajesh should be upset with her that she’s gotten married. Rajesh reveals his sorrow at hurting her and tries to placate her a bit. Their expressions during this wonderful song match it in intensity. I begin sobbing.


When you pluck the rose, pluck it with care
Gently pluck the rose, for roses are delicate
In any case, they are unfortunate to blossom among thorns 
Gently pluck…

Gently pluck the rose, for roses are delicate
You do have a lovely little grouse
But isn’t it unjustified too? 
Those who always hurt people
Say this when they are themselves hurt
They say, gently pluck the rose, for it’s very delicate 
The ones who make people weep eventually cry one day
The rose…

Pluck it gently, for roses are delicate
They hurt not, they are the ones who hurt
Pluck the rose gently

You do have sympathies for the beauty of the rose
And why not? You’re a man too

One answer for a thousand questions
Let not the eyes deceive you
Pluck the rose gently 

This is Hindi cinema at its finest, honestly. So much communicated so beautifully in one simple song! How to explain it when someone says “Oh, Bollywood—those are musicals, right?” Sigh.

Anyway. I don’t stop sobbing, because the torture of Sherkhan has commenced. He stoically and steadfastly refuses to say anything about Rajesh. Dheeraj at one point even gives him veiled permission to tell the truth rather than suffer any longer, but he refuses. There isn’t much else Dheeraj can do for him without drawing attention and suspicion to himself, and his helplessness and frustration shows on his face.


Kamini sings another lovely song at a party Dheeraj holds to celebrate their wedding with friends and colleagues. She sings about her “prem kahani” as “water drawn away from the river”—it’s quite sad but beautiful, and after the guests leave, Dheeraj stops her on the stairs.


When they are back in the room with Rajesh, Dheeraj asks him what happened to his romance with the girl he loved. Rajesh (who has overheard Kamini’s song downstairs) explains everything as Kamini listens silently. At the end, though, she tells him that he should have been honest with the girl and that instead of getting married to someone else:


Poor Dheeraj heartily concurs with her and it’s Rajesh’s turn to fall silent. Meanwhile, as Sherkhan endures his continuing torture in silence, Kotwal gradually becomes more suspicious of his superior officer as he discovers clues that he is hiding something.

How can this tangled web resolve itself? Will Sherkhan finally be broken? Will Dheeraj learn the truth about Rajesh and Kamini? Will he be able to save himself from certain arrest, and Rajesh from hanging? What will happen to Kamini and Dheeraj? Or Kamini and Rajesh?

The story builds to its climax perfectly. Yunus Parvez’ performance as Kotwal is very good. The building of his suspicions about his SP is done just right, and is very believable, as is his determination to do his job and capture the fugitive Rajesh. I’ve already said that the main characters have done their jobs exceptionally well too—the performances by all are subtle, believable and nuanced. The undercurrents of patriotism and sacrifice required for the fight for independence is not overdone or cliched for the most part; the heart of the story though is of relationships, of building them and sustaining them, and of letting go when necessary. Well worth seeing, Prem Kahani is another wonderful film from Raj Khosla (and I continue to love his peeping Tom camera angles!).


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81 Comments to “Prem Kahani (1975)”

  1. Poor shashi- y is he always giving his new brides poem books of their exes (im thinking of Kabhi Kabhi :S). I remember seeing this movie and totallly loving Vinod- so loyal- so strong- so handsome :D

  2. The first time I saw this (several years ago, anyway) I could only focus on Shashi and Mumtaz; I felt so sorry for the Shash for being so clueless, and couldn’t understand why Mumtaz didn’t realize she had traded up :-) I like Rajesh better now, and although I still can’t stand the self-sacrifice at someone else’s expense, at least Mumtaz didn’t a) take it lying down and b) fail to make that very point to him when she had the opportunity.

    And yes, this time Vinod…Vinod broke my heart. Such a Pathan! Such a loyal and true manly man! *sob*

    I really loved all of them this time around.

  3. Memsaab—agree on the really wonderful music (and lyrics) which is par for the course for most RK films. But how sad it was and I hate sad especially where Mumtaz is concerned :-) For me, Mumu = joyous, vivacious, and I feel she labors at ‘sad’ unlike some of her contemporaries, e.g., a Sharmila, especially with RK.

    Shashi and Vinod were good, as you say, but in certain instances RK really excelled IMHO. A few years ago, SRK in an introduction to RK during some award function mentioned Kaka’s stature as THE ‘romantic’ hero par excellence in Hindi cinema but also noted that in focusing on this ‘avtaar’ of his, it was easy to miss how sensitive he was as an actor. He was a past master at underplaying, and the understated tones were misunderstood to be ‘dominated’ by a media used to grandstanding, mistaking loudness for good acting (to quote my friend Anaad). There are a couple of scenes in this film which bears this out: the one with the lovely and apt Noor Jehan song in the background and Mumtaz by the window in the rain—contrast his minimalism with what Mumtaz does. And he does such a great crying jag [*hurting the heart* :-)], again underplayed but so effective when his brother is killed.

    I thought he matured as an actor as the ‘superstar’ tag began waning. His tragedy is that despite critical acclaim, these films were not successful at the BO in the time of the action-packed masalas and then in the general deterioration that ensued after the early 1980s. Prem Kahani, which released in the year of iconic films like Sholay and Deewar, the Rishi-Neetu popular starrers (Khel Khel Mein, Rafoo Chakkar), Hema’s dream girl phase (Sanyasi, and Pratigya with Dharam) and the inexplicably successful such as Jai Santoshi Maa and Julie didn’t really stand a chance. It did kind of ok but wasn’t a huge hit despite Mumtaz’s assertion to the contrary (see below).

    “We were a lucky pair! Rajesh Khanna was a star who made a lot of difference to my career. In seven years from Do Raaste to Prem Kahani we starred in eight major hits but no flops! Show me a single lead pair with this record – even Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol have done only five hits. Interestingly, the two films in which we did only cameos – my Raja Rani and his Aaina – were the only ones that flopped!”


    Sorry, this got kinda long just to make the point that I liked Prem Kahani too :-)

  4. It was directed by Raj Khosla? Hmm… no wonder I was engrossed inspite of all the plot elements that I hate! Why are Bollywood hero’s love interests less important than their “friendships”? The only nice thing (apart from Vinod who was great!) was that Mumtaz ticks off Rajesh and then proceeds to get married as well. But, I was so mad with Shashi for first throwing his friend and wife together and then turning around and accusing them of tricking him! And then Rajesh’s sacrifice – why couldnt he have done that before and saved his poor niece and left Shashi and Mumtaz in peace to have a great romance? ;-)

  5. Oh my… you liked this much better than I did. I don’t mind Rajesh Khanna in theory but in practice I find that he often hogs screentime at the expense of other storylines that I find more interesting. This would have been a great movie for me if it had more Shashi + Mumtaz falling in love post-marriage, more self-sacrificing Vinod, and A LOT less of everyone talking about what a great guy that Rajesh Khanna is and killing their children for him to mope around the screen.


  6. Suhan: He did underplay this part beautifully, his crying when his brother dies is *so heartrending* indeed. It could have so easily deteriorated into maudlin self-sacrifice, but somehow his dignity and Kamini’s anger kept it from that. The music just killed me.

    bollyviewer: Yes…what a director he was. He made films with such strong female characters, God love him. The Shashi/Rajesh bromance was funnier to me than irritating…just so clueless. I think I’ve just accepted the idea that Indian men are happier around their friends than their wives! Shashi had a right to be upset and suspicious, after all they hadn’t been exactly truthful with him.

    And it wasn’t Rajesh’s fault that his dumb bhabhi suffocated poor Munni. That was just stupidity on her part (plus, I suspect that the true story the incident is based on had just recently happened, or something; I remember that an episode of M*A*S*H* used it too around this time).

    Filmi Girl: LOL, you did hate this I remember. I think it would have been unrealistic for Shashi and Mumtaz to make much headway in the falling-in-love department with a huge obstacle like Rajesh living in their bedroom! But I thought the film did a very good job at showing their blossoming “like” for each other, and how they had so much in common (viz. Dheeraj always agreeing with her when she and Rajesh had their poetry spats). It’s probably just as well that Mumtaz didn’t meet Sherkhan, because she probably would have ditched those two for him, and I wouldn’t have blamed her!!!

    *SPOILER* But I did think it was pretty evident that she and Dheeraj would go on to live a long and happily married life together by the end, which saved it from being too sad of a film for me to like. *END SPOILER*

    • I thought this Prem Kahani is a great film aswell, and I,m trying to get the cd of the actual film and can,t find, any ideas on which websites or has anyone got one to sell. Please give ideas.

      thank you

      • I’ve had good luck with and, plus eBay…there are lots of online sources these days although of course some are better than others :)

  7. Great posts, the actors look good and the plot, or plots just keep coming. Thanks. Plus it’s snowing on your blog, just like outside. It’s like a bollywood winterland of fun.

  8. Stella_1: Heh. This film actually did only have one basic plot, but that plot had a lot of twists.

    And I truly love the snow. It makes me feel festive. Now all I have to do is start my Christmas shopping. Awww…festive mood ruined.

  9. I think I would ditch almost anyone for Vinod Khanna at peak awesomeness. *Yum!*

    I didn’t know about that real life incident, which would put the filmi incident in better context – although it still doesn’t excuse everybody yapping about what a great guy Rajesh is while he proves again and again that he is *not.*

    I think I’ll stick with my tough guy Rajesh Khanna from “The Train” and leave melodrama Rajesh alone. He and I do not mesh well.

  10. Really? I’m showing my age again!!! Some poor woman in Vietnam (I think) smothered her infant because it was crying as she and a group of other people hid from enemy soldiers searching for them…it was really very sad and I hate that it was used like this, both by PK and M*A*S*H* (and probably others), although clearly the tragedy of it tore at many people’s hearts.

    I do have to say that I like tough guy Rajesh better too. But I feel like that about pretty much everybody, including heroines!

  11. OMG! I HATED THIS MOVIE! it wasn’t that it was devoid of prem or pyar but mumtaz tight saris and funky prints really wasn’t really 1940’s! And Rajesh was such an idiot here, honestly to dump mumtaz so callously and then she called him an idiot in my subtitles and i went “YAAY you tell him!” But i do love the Shash and Vinod coming in to add some more chemistry to their already smoking duo!

  12. Rum, is that you? :-) The costumes were really devoid of any attempt to make it a period film; Mumtaz’ saris were SO 1970s and so were Rajesh’s shirts with their huge collars ;-)

    But I still liked it anyway.

  13. I’d see anything with Mumtaz and Shashi Kapoor in it. I’m beginning to like Rajesh Khanna too, just because of you.

  14. lol that was me memsaab, i hope i wasn’t injurious to your dil for squishing it about this movie, I tried to like it coz my mum’s fave hero was Shash and Rajesh and she was “Ain’t he just a sweet heart” he wasn’t but i tried valiantly to like him but naa

  15. Great movie with fantastic songs.

    Some trivia for you from an interview that Mumtaz did with the BBC in the 1980’s. The song ‘Chal Dariya Mein Doob Jaye’ was actually the very last scene that Mumtaz acted in before her marriage & retirement from movies.

    I’ll try & find this interview some day & share it … !

    Asli Jat

  16. The title fooled me when I watched this and I was not in the mood for the seriousness that followed. I may have to watch it again to see whether I like it better, now that I know what is going to happen.

    I was less hopeful about a happy marriage for the two given what happens in the end. But maybe this was my general grumpiness about the movie not being what I expected coming through.

  17. Ah, how on earth have I missed this all these years?! Vinod Khanna! Shashi Kapoor!! Rajesh Khanna!!! Mumtaz!!!! (okay, now I’m running out of exclamation marks, but you get the idea). I gotta see this.

  18. i saw the movie I think, when I was 8 or something and can’t remember a thing. Good that you wrote this review. Sounds to be a good movie with good direction.
    Never knew, that it starred Shashi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna as well.
    Saw parichay day before yesterday. Vinod Khanna looks great in Parichay and here as well.!

  19. Banno: If you’re prepared to be sad, it’s a really lovely film…:-)

    Rum: I don’t take anything personally! Rajesh’s character was a complete idiot, but I really love that Kamini didn’t let him get away with it. I think he realized his mistake by the end. Hope so!

    AJ: Oh, I’ll have to watch that song again! It’s a good one to go out on.

    Gebruss: I think the first time I watched it I thought it would be a happy movie too…it definitely isn’t, though :-) So tragic. But so good IF you are prepared for it.

    dustedoff: Yes, that was what went through my mind when I looked at the cover again, exclamation points and all! I first watched this before I really had any clue and it was much better now that I did :-)

    harvey: This must be a Parichay I haven’t seen…will look for it! :-) Vinod is just insanely good in this film, both looks and performance. Amazing.

  20. IMDB finds three parichays on thier list.
    1. Parichay (1972)
    2. Parichay (1941)
    3. Parichay (1954)

    which one did you mean? I didn’t even know, that the other two existed!

    The Parichay,which I saw was of Gulzar. Vinod Khanna plays a minor role of Jeetndra’s friend. And even though he wears specs, he looks great. Or maybe because he wears specs, he looks great. I don’t know and I don’t care. would you believe, i dreamt of him last night in this role (that of a friend!). We were just chatting.

  21. How bizarre. I have only seen the 1972 one, and I don’t even remember that Vinod was in it! Of course, I don’t remember what I had for dinner last night either.

    How fun to dream about Vinod! I dream about Sanjay Dutt and Shah Rukh for some reason (same thing, we are always friends just hanging out)…but I’d love to dream about Vinod! Was he nice? :-P

  22. Well, Vinod is not that prominent in parichay. So it is understandable.

    It is really funny indeed, cause I hardly dream about filmstars. Well, on the other hand, i don’t watch so many movies. As a substitute I just read your blog. (I feel like the aunt in P.G. Wodehouse, who sends her nephew to experience the night life in London and report it to her)

    No, Vinod wasn’t in a good mood, he had the blues. And I was trying to do a Byron Katie to him.

  23. LOL@Wodehouse :-) I watch these looonnng films so you can have a life!

    Poor Vinod. I am sure you cheered him up!

  24. Wodehouse: this is called social service!
    Vinod: that’s a secret. ;-)
    Okay, I admit, I can’t remember!

  25. I must say the screenshots posted are so wonderful to look at. And just about all characters in the movie look great. K N Singh was still around in 1975 ? I was not aware.

  26. Rum – we totally share the same taste in heroes!! LOL!

    And I wish I dreamt about Vinod Khanna, too! Although I *did* dream I was at Disney World last night, which wasn’t so bad…

  27. Atul: It’s a beautifully photographed film, as are all of Raj Khosla’s…everyone did look good, although Rajesh’s bad hair issues were beginning ;-) KN Singh was still around! I’m always glad to see him.

    Filmi Girl: You and Rum can have Anil, and I’ll take Rajesh (even with bad hair) :-D

  28. Both memsaab and somebody else above who found Vinod Khanna good in glasses in Parichay should see “Imtihan” – 70s movie in which VK acted as a college professor – very tall and handsome, good acting too. Tanuja was the heroine. Some good songs in that movie too.

  29. Super Star Rajesh Khanna is in love with Mumtaaz and they go around singing great songs composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal. However, due to family compulsions Rajesh Khanna joins the freedom fighters and is on the run. Mumtaaz gets married to Shashi Kapoor, an old friend of Rajesh Khanna and whilst on the run, Rajesh Khanna takes refuge in the house of Shashi Kapoor to find his old love there. *SPOILER* Confusions come in the lives of these three and ultimately Rajesh Khanna gets killed by Mumtaaz. *END SPOILER* Great movie with very good music. The movie has excellent and great performance by the Super Star Rajesh Khanna and he is ably supported by Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna( in a small but dynamic role) and Mumtaaz. The songs of the movie are even hit today. A must see.

    A small request to Memsaab to publish a small write up on Super Star Rajesh Khanna’s birthday which is falling on 29th December, 2008.

  30. Anonymous: I’ve started Imtihaan and then got interrupted and haven’t got back to it yet. But he is v.v. sexy in his professor avatar, I agree!!!! Need to finish watching it.

    Manohar: I added a spoiler alert to your comment Manohar! Some people don’t like to have the ending given away :-)

    Will try to do a birthday writeup for the Superstar :-)

  31. Yes please do watch Imtihaan. VK is really very handsome in this movie. Tanuja too has done a good job.

    I think you will like the movie although one would question Bindu’s role and antics. No spoier’s from me. Hence I won’t elaborate further on this comment.

  32. sorry about the spello. I meant no “Spoilers”

  33. Thanks a lot and I salute u memsaab I am glad to hear

  34. What a fantastic review, memsaab !
    More than any movie, I actually like the way you review the movie.
    It has a beautiful flow about it, whether you like the movie or not.
    And you notice subtle details that I would NEVER pick up. :-)
    And the clips are also well-picked.
    So, 10/10 for your reviews. And if I could give you more, I would.

    Coming to Prem Kahani, yes, it is certainly not the fun-movie that people might imagine looking at the title. I was also taken in by the title and expected masti.

    But I also liked the movie a lot. Good story, good acting, good songs – and Raj Khosla’s direction, so it had to be gripping ! That man was a master director, one of the very best.

    Keep those reviews coming. I was travelling for a while, so was not around but am back now. And I can see that I have a lot of catching up to do.

  35. Thanks, Raja, that is really kind of you :) Raj Khosla is one of my favorite directors too. Next week I won’t be posting much (Christmas holiday) so you’ll have plenty of time to catch up!

  36. I watched this with my mom in New Excelsior – Bombay. New Exelcior was then a NEW theater… located near Sterling Cinema… This w movie was the FIRST movie shown at New Exelcior.

  37. The movie was televised last evening on SAB TV here in India. I saw it and loved it. (Even though I was once a Rajesh Khanna fan I had skipped it all these years because I had heard it was a sad one).

    Rajesh has always been a fabulous actor, I think his hair ruined his career – and of course his weight. He was so handome in Akhiri Khat….

  38. Shashi and Mumtaz and Vinod Khanna are fabulous too…

  39. I started watching this on my trip to Brussels last week and finished it today. It was indeed a very good film. The songs were lovely. I’m surprised you didn’t include a screen capture of Sashi ordering Mumtaz and Rajesh to make out on the bed.

    ….also the scene with Mumtaz leaving the window open and rain falling on her … she starts to make those facial expressions that made me think “girl don’t tell me the rain is getting you all hot and bothered!”

    • Hmmm…I think YOU need to do your own write up of it with screen caps! :-D I will look forward to reading it!

      I’m glad you liked it, I think it’s a lovely film.

  40. Hi it is an wonderful story it is an made here ,Ah, how on earth have I missed this all these years?! Vinod Khanna! Shashi Kapoor!! Rajesh Khanna!!! Mumtaz!!!! (okay, now I’m running out of exclamation marks, but you get the idea). I gotta see this.

  41. I am really surprised to see the comments regarding this lacklustre movie which is utterly purposeless and giving a bad taste to all the Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz fans. Quite contrary to the name, the movie is lacking romance. The characters, the situations and the storyline everything is clumsy and unreal. Despite being a period movie, the costumes and the hairstyles have been shown quite modern. By all means a bore emotional and artificial saga. Music is the only plus point of the movie. Perhaps the worst movie from the list of the Raj Khosla direction who had earlier directed gems like Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Woh Kaun Thi and Anita and later Dostana.

    • Ha ha! I loved it. But that’s what makes the world go around. Certainly I liked this one better than Woh Kaun Thi and Dostana, although I loved MGMD, Anita and almost all the rest of Raj Khosla’s other films.

  42. You will also love Mera Saaya which is definitely a classic and miles ahead of Prem Kahani. The romance shown in Mera Saaya is quite realistic and touching the heart of the viewer instead of the shallow love of Prem Kahani visible only in the title.

  43. Do watch it. Mera Saaya is a classic from Raj Khosla par excellence. Perhaps the best work of Raj Khosla.

  44. Watched Mera Saaya again by now ? If yes, please revert back. I consider it as the best directorial work of Raj Khosla. Do you agree ?

  45. No doubt it is a major major senti movie generally I m not so prone to tears even I sniff sniff…. : (
    Rajesh and Shashi baat kuch jaami nahin ; wish there was more of Vinod and Shashi the few scenes they had together they had cracking chemistry.
    Wish we had more of Shashi and Vinod films,they would have been g8t for us ahemm ahemm more eye candy…..:D

  46. Saw Prem Kahani last week – thanks to your reference. Songs were good, first half was interesting, Mumtaaz’s character was well etched, VK was handsome. Despite all this I didn’t like the movie so much esp the 2nd half. I personally think this is one of the weakest movies from Raj Khosla who has directed so many good movies. BTW, a very well written review and I enjoyed reading it and the comments that followed.

  47. Not sure if this film was a hit/flop/average. As per mumtaz, it was a hit.

    But when shashi kappor was asked why he did not do any film with kaka thereafter (he played tina’s uncle in alag alag with kaka several years later), he said ” I think producers did not cast togther since we were considered a flop pair after prem kahani”.

    As for kaka getting more screen space, it is understandable since shashi was nowhere near kaka in terms of popularity.

  48. PREM KAHNANI was Jan.1975 as best of my rememberence,slickly directed by master maker,set in pre era of independece period strugle between 1945/47,Late Raj Khosla,had such master abilty to choose each time a different/difficult subject and do a great job,after all he too was product of NAVKETAN,though he too fatered with two subject,one was DO PREMEE 1980,though the same year he had huge hit DOSTANA OCT 1980,and the last movie he directed NAQAB OCT 1989 as soon afterwards he passed away,IN believe somewhere in 1991,if I am not wrong.His casting was always perfect in accordance with script,This was second time he was working Rajesh / Mumtaz ,the first time with Shashi uncle,and time and again from very begning of Vinood uncle in regular intervals,not to forget that for even his last movie NAQAB the first choice was Respected Vinood uncle,before Rishi Sir ,but Post his retirement ,for sometime,Vinood uncle was unsure of himself,that will be able to give full justice to the role,back to this movie,this was last outing for Rajesh uncle/Mumtaz aunty,a mature love story justifing their age,amature Shashi uncle,mind blowing specially crafted role for Vinood uncle who outshown everybody,and wicked/eveil Late Yunus Pervez uncle, as to best of rememberence,this one was eveil that even God will be afraid to come near him,sometimes I do think we should have remained in same age bractet of being ten years old,and these stars in same age bracket ofmid thirtees,CAN we have personas of DHARAM uncle,FEROZuncle, SHASHI uncle,VINOOD uncle,JEETU uncle,very simple answer NO,all of them have my childhood heros and even now they hold same place with me,I wonder were we lucky to watch last phase of good cinema,Personally I was horrified to see the rating given to remake of JEETU uncles HIMATWALA half star,I think even if producers of original HIMATWALA(PADAMALYAS)had rereleased april 1983 movie with widevision/enhaced sound it would have run for few weeks,My advise to post 1985 genaration,watch PREM KAHANI,and judge yourself what senceless crap is danced on our heads.RAVINDER MINHAS,JALANDHAR CITY,PANJAB,

  49. i waNt to know the suits which rajesh wears in aan milo sajna’s song acha toh hum chanlte hai – is what type of a suite? he looked really very beutiful….yup handsome..also whats the name of the attire he worn in Souten’s song Shayad Meri Shaadi Ka khayal and the title song of Ashiq Hun Baraon Ka?????Please reply me

    Have found the folowing information that
    Rajesh wore polo-neck sweaters with muffler and BELTS AROUND SHIRT in Andaz., Leisure suit in Roti and Chhailla Babu, Shiny White And White Stripe Ton in Prem Nagar, Pink suit in Ajnabee, Jacket lapel in Ajanabee , Mehbooba and Aap Ki Kasam, Western business attire in Prem Bandhan and Amardeep , Drape suits in Kudrat, Dhanwan, Double breasted Suits in Prem Nagar,Souten and Sherwanis in Mehboob Ki Mehndi, Rajput , Fiffty Fiffty

  50. I love old Hindi movies not all of them, but generally think that most of the old hindi movies (at least the ones that are popular) were light years ahead of most of the trash that gets churned out, especially when compared to the useless 80’s (watching some of the Jeetendra and Dharmendara movies, I think you would find more enjoyment watching paint drying on a wall). I know, that this blog celebrates Hindi movies, and the love for Hindi movies, and I consider myself a fan and love hindi movies. But I have to also admit, that generally Hindi films are made with low production values, are mostly mediocre, stolen scripts and badly picturised, and almost at all times made with a non-professional and cavalier attitude, to the extent of taking the audiences for granted and taking them for a ride.

  51. I just watched this film for the first time, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Even if I didn’t already trust your reviews implicitly, I think I would have had to see this for the cast and the director alone. Having watched Kuchhe Dhaage (Love it!) a while back based on your glowing review, I am now starting to think that if there are two things you can count on Raj Khosla for, they are:
    (A) A brilliant eye for framing, lighting, and atmosphere.
    (B) A character driven story that builds to a satisfying climax–a climax that works because it’s emotional weight has truly been earned throughout the course of the film.
    Also, for being a tearjerker, this film manages to be extremely satisfying emotionally. That’s also hard to do, but Khosla pulls it off in both films. (I’m going to have to seek out more Khosla immediately!)

    The film is technically strong, but I also felt that every lead actor in this film gave a career-defining performance. Shashi is as good as he ever was, playing the tone of the room like a fiddle. Mumtaz and Vinod also bring the right levels of intensity. And then there’s Rajesh . . . who for some reason seems to always spark rabid fan/blogosphere debates : ) Rajesh may not be at his “best” looks wise here, but then again, I personally don’t think the magic of his performances could ever be summed up by sex appeal. (Although, looks-wise, I do prefer his roles where he has or gains a mustache at the “serious” point in the course of the story–and think it would have worked to his advantage here.) He did serious and humorous and romantic equally well–and he didn’t do it mindlessly. He also played a lot of flawed people in his films, and I don’t think he expected the character’s to be received sans-criticism (if that happened anyway, due to his fans, one can’t really blame him for it). When he does overact (here or elsewhere), I think he makes the mistake of over-committing to his vision of a character’s general motivations, rather than the mistake of gliding by on his star power. I had never seen him or Shashi act together before (does it ever happen anywhere else?), and I was fascinated to see the outcome of the tug-of-war between two very different acting styles. Similar to watching him with Amitabh in Namak Haraam, I felt like I was watching a very intense battle of wills and personalities the whole way through . . . which in the case of both films, works very well in underscoring the interpersonal “dosti” conflict upon which the plot turns.

    Given all that . . . I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t seen PK on more favorites lists. Perhaps it’s a side affect of Rajesh Khanna’s declining popularity by ’75, or perhaps people tend to go into this one looking for a sweeping romance or political statement and instead get a layered drama about people (their weaknesses and their strengths and their choices) and come out feeling cheated. Which is too bad.

    Overall, I’m not surprised at the intensity of this particular review’s comments section, because if there’s one thing this movie leaves you with, its FEELINGS! Thanks for once again leading me to a “keeper.” :)


  52. Memsaab I have always loved your reviews. I would like to share a trivia with this film: I read it in an interview of Yash Chopra in some magazine years ago. After Daag (1973) Yash Chopra began planning Kabhi Kabhie with Rajesh Khanna and Raakhee in lead roles. Yash had already signed Rajesh for Deewaar too. One day Yash visited Rajesh on the sets of Prem Kahani to discuss something about Kabhi Kabhi – and discovered that Prem Kahani had the same story as Kabhi Kabhie. He quickly suspected that Rajesh had borrowed the idea of Kabhi Kabhie and gave it to Raj Khosla. Yash promptly dropped Rajesh from Kabhi Kabhie by saying “Tumne apna director select kar liya, ab main apna hero select karoonga” (You selected your director, now I will select my hero) and signed Amitabh for the film. He then dropped Rajesh from Deewaar too.

  53. Hello Memsaab, hope you are doing well. this is my first comment though I have been reading your blog. Prem Kahani was a big flop and contrary to what most of you have mentioned it was a big bore. I am surprised that most of you liked it. Mumtaz was kind of over-rated.

    As regards Yash Chopra and Rajesh Khanna, I think they did not get along well during the shooting of 1973 release “Daag” and Chopra did not take kindly to the tantrums thrown by the superstar who was fast losing his sheen, There is no resemblance between the story of Kabhie Kabhie and Prem Kahani so that bit of gossip is absolute balderdash.

    Strangely, many directors who worked with Rajesh Khanna never worked with him afterwards- may be there were a few exceptions like J Om Prakash.

    Hrishikesh Mukherjee too never repeated him after Namak Haram though he did work with Amitabh for a while.

    • 1)It is to the credit of Rajesh Khanna, that he very successfully balanced both sides of film media: commercial and art cinema in his career and always maintained his dignity and gravity as a refined, versatile and a very sober household actor-star in his career for 25 years from 1966-1991. Besides, he simultaneously worked with well established North Directors/Producers on the one hand like B. R. Chopra, Hrisikesh Mukherjee, Shakti Samanta, Vijay Anand and at the same time with totally new directors in their debut films like Ismail Shroff, Danny Denzongpa, Miraj, Rishi Kapoor and also with A grade Soutern directors and producers like K.Balaji, D.Rama Naidu, A.C Trilogcnader, A.Bhimsingh, C.V.Sridhar, Devar and also worked with the already famous directors in Southern Cinema world but new entrants in Hindi films in their debut Hindi films like K.Balachander, IV Sasi and Bharatiraja and also working with southern directors who were active in Hindi Cinema like S. S. Vasan, S.S.Balan, K.Raghavendra Rao, Dasari Narayan Rao.

      2)Many directors either remade their regional films in Hindi with Rajesh Khanna in the lead or remade Rajesh’s movies in their regional language. Director K.Balachander remade his own Tamil film Arangetram into Aaina and C.V.Sridhar remade his Illaimai Oonjal Aadigirathu into Dil E Nadan and producer of the original Chitti in Tamil remade it as Aurat, K.Ragavendra remade his own Telugu film Trishulam into Naya Kadam, director K. Bapaiah remade his own Telugu film Mundadugu into Maqsad, Bharatiraja remade his Siggappu Rojakal into Redrose, I.V.Sasi remade his own Malayalam directorial venture Kanamarayathu into Anokha Rishta and director Dasari Narayana Rao remade his Telugu films MLA Yedukondalu into Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtaar. Many of Rajesh’s movies were remade in Telugu as well like Avtaar was remade in Telugu as “O Thandri Teerpu” (1985) starring Murali Mohan and Jayasudha and NTR remade Roti into Neram Nadi Kadu Akalidi (1976) and ANR remade Daag into Vichitra Jeevitham and Aap Ki Kasam was remade into Edadugula Bandham (1985) starring Mohan Babu and Jayasudha and director Krishan-Panju remade Anuraag into Neela Malargal with Kamal Hasan and Sridevi.

      3)[on being asked about his bad phase 1976-78] It saddened me when the good films with great performances by me and the whole cast, good music were flopping in the period 76-78.I remember the next day Balaji offered me Amardeep out of the blue.It gave me second lease to my career.Sohanlal Kanwar, Narinder Bedi, B.R.Chopra, Yash Chopra, Samanta, Shomu Mukherjee and many people from South India stood by me and backed me like producer D. Rama Naidu, C. Dhandayuthapani and directors like Devar, K. Bapaiah, C.V. Sridhar, K. Raghavendra Rao, A.C. Trilogchander and Narayana Rao Dasari.They kept saying commercial failure of those good films in 76-78 had nothing to do with me and I should not let negativity affect me. I am thankful for the scripts they offered me from 1979. I had 35 more Golden Jubliee hits, including 25 became platinum jubilee hits and in addition had 14 other silver jubilee hits and other 9 average hits from 1979-1996.It’s important that producers of my films should make their money and get returns from my film as I believe films must be economically viable projects but what gives me satisfaction is not box office success but when fans appreciate my performances and say the film was good.

  54. Mohan Kumar wanted to cast Rajesh Khanna for Amir Garib in 1974 but Khanna said Mohan would have to wait for 1 more year if he wants him.So Mohan made Amir Garib with Devanand and later Mohan could get Khanna’s dates only 9 years later for Avtaar. Later Mohan directed Amirt in 1987 with Khanna.

    Many of films starring Rajesh Khanna were remade in Tamil with Sivaji Ganesan in the lead like Namak Haram was remade as Unakkaga Naan, Aradhana as Sivakamiyin Selvan, Dushman remade as Neethi, Avtaar as Vazhkai and similarly movies starring Sivaji in Tamil were remade in Hindi with Rajesh Khanna in lead like Tamil film Babu(1971) remade by original’s director as Babu(1985) in Hindi, Vasantha Maligai remade by same producer into Prem Nagar and Dheepam was made by its producer K.Balaji into Amardeep in Hindi. Director Jambhulingam who made Nam Naadu starring MGR, remade it in Hindi with Rajesh in the lead as Apna Desh, then MGR remade Hindi films of Rajesh Khanna into Tamil like Ninaithadhai Mudippavan was remake of Sachcha Jhuta, Haathi Mere Saathi into Nalla Neram, Humshakal into Oorukku Ozhaipavan and Jaishankar remade Dharm Aur Qanoon into Ezhudada Sattungal.

  55. Dharm Aur Qanoon was remade into Ezhudada Sattungal wherein sivaji ganesan played dharam’s role & jaishanker played kaka’s role. .

  56. Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed “Naukri” with rajesh & raj kapoor after Namak Haram. Naukri was the remake of the tamil film “Mudhal Thethi” stg, sivaji ganesan.

    Jayapradha in an interview to Filmfare commented that producers/directors down south had a very great respect for rajesh khanna & that was why he was their first choice for remakes of worthy films.

  57. A story with a happy ending Memsaab :-)

    “‘Prem Kahani’ may be long forgotten, even by ardent Rajesh Khanna and Shashi Kapoor fans, but it was the film that provided crucial tips on how to restore the century-old Royal Bombay Opera House.

    The climax scene in the 1975 film, little known despite its stars being reigning icons of the time, gave restorers a glimpse into the magnificence of Mumbai’s opera house, which reopened last year after seven years of painstaking work.

    A listed heritage building in Baroque style, the Opera House was inaugurated by British monarch King George V in 1911 and completed in 1916. It began its journey as ‘the finest theatre in the East’, but suffered monumental neglect during its stint as a cinema hall before its eventual closure and abandonment.

    ‘Prem Kahani’ gave restorers the connect they were looking for. Mumbai-based conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah, who led the restoration project for the former royal family of Gondal, the current owner, says it was “leap of faith” given the myriad challenges they faced.

    “It was an old film starring Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor and Mumtaz that helped us in knowing vital components of the old design. A scene towards the end of the movie was shot in the Opera House, where the original balconies and the frescoes could be seen. It was a big help,” Lambah told PTI over phone from Paris.

    ….. ‘Prem Kahani’, a romance set in the 1940s, provided a glimpse into what once was through a magic show in the theatre……Earlier this month, UNESCO honoured the building with the ‘Award of Merit’ in the 2017 Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation……Now, the Opera House has become the toast of Mumbai again as a venue for concerts – pop, classical and jazz – plays and films, scripting its own story of revival and restoration.”

  58. I know I am a week late, but sorry to hear that one of your celeb crushes is no more. RIP David Cassidy.

  59. Oh yeah, just in case you wanna know how I knew, I looked at the comments section in your Rajesh Khanna Remembrance blog post.

  60. RIP Shashi Kapoor

  61. RIP Shashi Kapoor. A truly end of an era. Vinod Khanna earlier this year and now him. :((

  62. Oh Shashi :-‘( How I loved him in ‘Kalyug’, ‘Junoon’, here in ‘Prem Kahani’ of course and all his angsty roles. The fun ones too. All the old beloveds slipping away. Am beginning to feel it my bones – AGE. *GASP*.

  63. There is a song being played when Rajesh Khanna n Mumtaz are alone at home and it is raining outside. Rajesh gets up to close the window so that rain does not drench the bedroom. Mumtaz thinks otherwise. Her rising n falling bosom is indicative of that. The song being played in the music recorder is KUCHH BHI NA KAHA OR KEH BHI GAYE. When I saw this movie at Regal in Connaught Place with my fiancee in late eighties when it was re released , it was the first time time I ever heard this song and was obsessed by it. it was not an internet or google search age so it took me nearly a decade to find the original song. It is from a Pakistan movie AZRA of early sixties and sung by great Noorjahan saahiba. as picturised in our Prem Kahani the original by Noortjahan in Pakistan film Azra

  64. memsaab, I absolutely love your writing and comments:) I’m in the process of rediscovering RK films and and the conversations here are really lovely.

  65. Hi. I know that I am commenting here after a long time . But I have to say that the movie touched my movie. I saw the comments below and I was shocked that they r saying Rajesh is an idiot . Sorry to say what wrong did he do? Are u all don’t know how the widows were treated long before. They were not respected and considered as misfortune. . So, Rajesh who is apolotical and imaginitive thought to fights because he can’t see his family destroyed by British and also he don’t want to live like a slave. When his bhabhi stuffs that child’s mouth it is not his fault. At last, Rajesh tried to prove that kamini always fulfilla her promises on marriage and so he did like that and finally succeeded . He also killed many British officers like that . At last he accomplished both in his freedom mission and also his life by saving other’s life ie.dheeraj and kamini life.
    Sorry for my long rant.
    I liked the movie very much.
    Nice review .

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