Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959)

I love it when a film exceeds my expectations, not that I really had any for this one. But from the very first scene I was involved in the characters and engrossed in the story. Yes, there is a lot of self-sacrifice—but it’s mostly done by the hero, not the heroine, and it actually benefits people! And it had a message which might have made people think about social norms in a new light! I am totally on board with that.

I also liked the Rajendra Kumar-Meena Kumari pairing, one I haven’t seen before. Plus there’s the criminally underrated Minoo Mumtaz and a bevy of absolutely lovely songs by Ravi, including two of the best children’s songs ever, and a cat birthday song (how could that possibly be bad?). It reminded me a bit of the later Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, a film I also somewhat unexpectedly liked.

Honey Irani is billed, not inappropriately, in the manner normally reserved for the likes of Dog Moti and Pedro the Ape Bomb.

Our story opens at a hospital, where a nurse (Bela Bose! I was thrilled to see her in such an early film, and in a pretty large role too) informs Dr. Anand (Rajendra Kumar) that his pregnant wife has just been admitted.

Before the day is out, Anand’s wife has died although the baby boy survives; and another pregnant woman—a recent widow—named Ratna (Meena Kumari) has also been admitted. This time she survives while the baby dies, and when she asks to see her baby Anand takes pity on her weakened and sad condition and sends her his son.

The only witness to this act of generosity is Nurse Sarla (Neelam Bai) who thankfully does have the good sense to ask if he knows what he’s doing. Had I been the hospital Chief of Staff, I would have sent him home from work after his wife died and told him not to make any hasty decisions—but then we wouldn’t have a plot, would we?

Anand leaves town now to try and forget his tragedy, while Ratna settles in with her new son and brings him up with the help of her mother-in-law (Mumtaz Begum). Four years pass, and Anand finally returns to take up work at the hospital again after getting some sage advice from…well, a sage.

What could he possibly be yearning for, I wonder!

In the meantime, little Raju (wonder child Honey Irani) is growing up completely loved and spoiled (but not to the point of being obnoxious!) and his mother sings him songs like the cute and funny “Chal Mere Ghode Tick Tick Tick” and the to-die-for beautiful “Tim Tim Karte Taare.”

I really adore the picturization of “Chal Mere Ghode”—I so hope that Honey Irani remembers filming that song with Meena; it must be a special memory indeed if she does (I am enthralled by Meena’s acting out the story and I’m technically a grownup)!

So sweet sad Anand is back in town longing to see his little boy, who is thoroughly and adorably bonded to his awesome mother. It doesn’t take long for Raju to bond with Anand either, when Anand comes looking for him. Who doesn’t love a rishtaa that’s written in the stars (and the blood)?

And beautiful lonely Ratna gradually forms her own attachment to the handsome lonely doctor.

What could possibly interfere? Well: the rules of society and small-minded nosy people, of course, beginning in Ratna’s own home.

Ratna’s busybody sister-in-law Kamla (?) has moved in with her husband, lawyer S. Prakash (Sunder) and their little boy Ramu. She disapproves of the widowed Ratna spending time with Anand, even with Raju as a chaperone. Soon her disapprobation has spread to her mother, and poor Ratna is forbidden to let Anand meet her or Raju.

At the same time, a selfish and ill-tempered nurse at the hospital named Maya (Minoo Mumtaz) has set her heart on marrying Dr. Anand, even though he is patently uninterested in her. She sets out to trap him and with the help of other petty judgmental people succeeds in forcing him to marry her.

This works out about as well as you’d expect, which is to say not at all. Maya is only interested in shopping and partying, and she proves unable to have children as well. Once again I am forced to conclude that I have more in common with the vamp of the piece than the heroine.

She sings a fabulous song on the occasion of her cat’s birthday, “Aaye Ho Toh Dekh Le.” The poor cat is flung about quite mercilessly, but it’s too much fun.

Look up all the songs online, do. Each one is a gem.

Now we have three miserable people—Anand, Ratna, Raju—and the situation seems at an impasse. Then Anand’s estranged but wealthy father dies, leaving Anand’s child (should he have one) the bulk of his estate and a Rs 10000 a month allowance. Maya’s eyes go *k-ching k-ching* at this news, but she can’t have children. Guess who her aunt is? None other than Nurse Sarla—the only person besides Anand who knows Raju’s real parentage.

Will heartless Maya force Anand to tell the truth? Can Ratna give up the little boy she has raised and thought was her own? What about poor little Raju? Will society ever learn not to interfere in the personal lives of its people? It never makes them happy.

Besides the gorgeous songs, the performances are outstanding. Meena is great as Ratna, a mother but a woman too, and she has nice chemistry with Rajendra Kumar (who is perfectly adequate as heartbroken Anand). Honey Irani really IS a wonder child in this: Raju is sweet and unself-consciously hilarious and adorable—not irritating. I was totally invested in his well-being and in the relationship between mother and child.

And Minoo is great as Maya—she gives what could have been a two-dimensionally evil character shades of gray and a vulnerability that adds depth to the proceedings. The story itself is nothing very new, but it is incredibly well done. If you’re in the mood for a strong family drama with lovely songs, then Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan may be the film you should see. (Please note: there are spoilers in the comments—they are marked but beware!)

And I need help identifying two more people: one is the woman who played Kamla (SK Prem? or Kusum Thakur?) and the other is a man I see everywhere—he played a prosecutor in this. Maybe Ravikant?

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54 Comments to “Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959)”

  1. Hello Memsaab. I don’t know if you know me as one of your new readers. Another well-written review. I also love watching Hindi films especially from the 1960s. Btw the billing that was given Honey Irani in this film was rather commonly given to kids who played a major role in any film from that time. I recall the kid in ‘Ek Phool Do Mali’ being given a similar epithet although personally I had found him rather annoying. Sajid Khan, Sunil Dutt’s younger version in Mother India was rather more deserving of that title but don’t remember if he received it.
    Once again congratulation on a great blog. I have been hooked. I love that you can bring a new and fresh perspective onto things and therefore lend greater objectivity as well. And are not afraid to voice your opinions about the so-called greats which if done by an Indian is considered nothing short of sacrilege.

    • Hi pammi and welcome :) And thanks for commenting! The kids are normally much more annoying than not, but Honey was certainly an exception to that rule. So.Very.CUTE. I wanted to squeeze the breath out of her little body, but in loving way not an enraged way :D

      I am generally not afraid to voice my opinions about anything :) and glad that you appreciate it!

  2. I remember this movie well, especially the ending, SPOILER, which surprised me considering the norms of 1950’s Hindi cinema. In comparison, “Kati Patang” (1970), which came out more than a decade later, seemed skittish, especially when director Shakti Samanta said: “It was a risky subject but I was convinced that the audience would realise from the very beginning that Asha Parekh was not really a widow and would thereby accept Rajesh Khanna’s fumbling attempts to woo her.” (from

    • SPOILER HERE TOO: Yes, I was thrilled beyond belief by the change of heart on Ratna’s MIL’s part, and by the fact that they were able to get married—others have said here too, and I’ll say it again: the pre-1960s were much more progressive (especially the 30s/40s) than the later decades. And it also points to one reason I don’t completely adore Kati Patang, although I do like it :)

  3. How right you are! The pre-60s were really progressive!
    I had nearly forgotten all the songs of the film. I thin they must have showed this film at least 3-4 times on DD when I was small.
    Rajendra of the 50s and early 60s is so adorable!
    And Meena ka jawab nahin!
    A pity that Minoo didn’t get more dances!

    • Well she got two and seriously that cat birthday song is FAB even if I cringed on behalf of the poor kitty :) Love the songs, and loved Rajendra and Meena together.

  4. Thank you for reviewing this film with two of my favourite stars Meena and Rajender. I wasn’t going to read the review in case you had ..err.. not written what I wanted to hear. ;-)
    Agreed, songs are excellent.

    • Do I usually write things you don’t want to hear? :D

      • LOL! Not at all. :-)
        It’s just when it comes to meena Kumari.
        Its my feeling that she is unfairly accused of crying. Most heroines in most films cry at least once if not twice.
        I agree that in some of her last few films (as heroine) she has tragic roles and may not be liked by some, but other than those the rest of her films, according to me, just have normal amount of crying.

        • Hmm. Then why is she known as The Tragedy Queen? I think she cries WAY more than, say, Mumtaz or Sharmila or any other actress I can think of. In the 60s, at least. Of course it’s her role that demands it, but I cannot stand to watch it! I really wish she had had a happier life :(

          • I think she was called The Tragedy Queen because of the tragic roles she played like the one in this film or the one in Sahib bibi …. etc and not because she cried in her films, which I maintain is exaggerated by some, giving her the name ‘weepy’ :-)

  5. Those songs were fantastic. “Chal Mere Ghode” was adorable! Thanks for posting them.

  6. Lovely review, Greta. One can see that you liked this movie. :-) Pretty decent and apparently progressive storyline, good acting by Rajendra Kumar and Meena Kumari, a cute kid (for a change ;-)), Minoo Mumtaz, lovely songs – what’s not to like?

    “Chal Mere Ghodey, tik tik tik” is a 100% “this song is in THIS movie?” moment for me. I know this song from as early as I can remember (and I daresay, rather presumptuously, that most kids of my generation would have known this song from a very early age, it was THAT iconic a song for kids!). Till I read your review, I did not even know that it was a movie song – I just grew up with it without knowing its background.

    That nurse angle may have reminded you of DAAPP. As such, Rajendra Kumar and Meena Kumari were also in Dil Ek Mandir, one of the landmark movies of 1963, having also Raj Kumar and lovely songs.

    CKRK reminds me a bit of Ek Hi Raasta (1956), BR Chopra’s movie about widow re-marriage.

    Meena Kumari is such a delight when she does not do her weepy act. I am a big fan of hers – she was really beautiful, with a wonderful smile. And I always found her a very good actress too. She was just lovely in Aarti, for example. And of course, the fun-filled Miss Mary.

    Once again your teaser questions had me smiling. “Will society ever learn not to interfere in the personal lives of its people?” You know the answer as well as I do – NEVER. :-) I guess most Hindi movies count on society’s interference. :-)

    Btw, that does look a bit like Ravi Kant though I have no clue how SK Prem looks, so cannot say with any certainty. Have seen a fair number of Ravi Kant movies but still do not feel comfortable saying that he is this guy for sure. :-)

    • I’ve been singing that song to my Gemma all morning (she’s deaf, fortunately). I too love non-weepy Meena. She did do some weeping in this but it was justified! and she and Honey were just the best mother-child pair. Ravikant is one of those people whose name I always see, and this guy is one of those people whose face I always see. Would be nice if they go together!!!

  7. Ohh my gosh, I think this little cat needs to go to the Masala Pradesh Filmi Pound! I would be pretty flattered if I was a cat to have such a lavish party and such a funky song devoted to me! Poor cat forced to dance! This looks like a good film for Rajendra and Meena who make a a nice couple and I cant resist any Irani kid!

  8. Super review as always Memsaab
    I have to re watch this again soon .) but with so many veterans in this, MUST watch for those who have not seen it.

    No no G. this guy is S K Prem-

    Be back soon again.

    Cheers .)

    • I figured SK Prem was probably a man, but you never know. And he doesn’t look familiar to me at all, cannot think what he must have played in this…must have been a pretty big role though since his name is so far up in the credits :\

  9. This sounds much better than the other Meena Kumari-Rajendra Kumar starrer I’ve seen in the recent past, Akeli Mat Jaiyo. Dil Ek Mandir was a little too tragic for my liking, though it had great music.

  10. I’m going to go see the songs now, didn’t know ‘Chal mere ghode tik tik tik’ was from this film.

    I think Meena Kumari was always lovely with kids, kind, and loving and fun too.

    Daisy Irani did a similar film with her and Sunil Dutt, and Ashok Kumar – B. R. Chopra’s ‘Ek hi Raasta’ with a more tragic end. :( And Daisy Irani was one spoilt brat in that.

    The two sisters made such adorable little boys, didn’t they? So bright, and confident.

    • Banno,

      Did yu see Qaidi No. 911 (1959)
      here both the talented sisters are there.
      Check some samples of the super songs Composed by very very under rated Dattaram Narvekar .)

      – Mithi Mithi Baaton Se Bachna Zara -Latadi n Daisy
      – Pyaar Bhari Yeh Ghatayen Raag-Mannada n Latadi

      I managed to get a VCD of this wonderful movie, unfort lot of it is cut but then again I am glad of whatever I got, it brought back big hall nostalgia from back home in NAIROBI.

      Cheers .)

    • The lullaby (Tim Tim…) is really beautiful too. I think I have usually seen Daisy as quite the spoiled brat, I don’t have the affection for her that others do :( But Honey was definitely bright and confident and hilarious. Right up there with Master Raju, my other favorite kid :D

      • Yes, Master Raju is my favourite too. And Master Alankar, who played quieter roles. Pallavi Joshi’s brother, and is now a doctor, I think.

        • I like Master Alankar—a very handsome and serious kid :)

          And I need to see more of Daisy too, I have only seen her in a few things. But Honey, she has stolen my black black heart. At around 3:53 in Chal Mere Ghode, she just cracks me (and Meena) up…

  11. Here we have the same problem with our Bollywood, a guy like Ravikant who did a wonderful job in many movies as a lawyer, doctor etc is uncredited in majority of the phillums, I am 99 per cent sure it is him, saw him a few months ago in Raat Aur Din (1967).

    The lady, 90 per cent sure she is Kusum Thakur, if we see Jhoola from 1962, here she played Sushila.

    What happened to her, no1 knows !

    Hopefully we will have 2 more faces identified. Cheers .)

  12. I am huge Meena Kumari fan and I had no clue that the iconic ‘Chal Mere Ghode Tick Tick Tick’ featured her. A big thanks!

    Honey Irani reminds me of song ‘Main Bambai Ka Babu’ from Naya Daur . These a brief moment of delight in the song when Honey does some awesome head bopping.

    Check at 1:20

  13. Memsaab, chal mere ghode tik tik is something most Indians grow up with. I now want to see this movie after reading your review though I am not very fond of Rajendar Kumar (saw Saathi and that soppy movie with sadhna that has the song bedaardi balama tujko mera man yaad karta hai – name eludes me right now) earlier on. Neither am I fond of weepy Meena Kumari movies. But this one sounds good – perhaps i should include it in my next shopping list! B&W does put me off. Both Daisy and Honey Irani were superstars on their own those days. They did have a certain brightness and intelligence. Masters Raju and Alankar are indeed good child actors of the 70s.

  14. Folks,
    Nirupa Roy wud beat all hands down as far as cryin’ n weepin’ is concerned in Bollywood, ofcors.

    Yeah I agree with Pacifist Meena was called The Tragedy Queen because of her tragic roles she played.

    Interesting bit on Daisy, she was credited in Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke (1957) as Roop Kumar …. Chatpat !!! This movie had very good songs composed by very under rated Dutta Narvekar Bhau.

    Another lovely song, I rate it on same level as Chal Mere Ghode is from GHARANA, beautifully filmed on the Lady POWER, LALITA PAWAR called
    daadi amma daadi amma maan jaao and sung by Asha and Kamal Barot, I do not recall who played the kiddie roles when this song was picturised. I am sure one of them was Daisy? must check my phillum one day again.

    Cheers .)

    • She played tragic roles and WEPT ALL THE WAY THROUGH THEM. And yes, Nirupa would be in contention for the most weepy Maa ever anyway. She wasn’t weepy in her heroine days though, at least not in the films I’ve seen.

  15. And also—I am now certain that the guy above is Ravikant, he was in Brahmachari which I watched again last night too :)

  16. Was checking my Hemantda list and suddenly remembered a beautiful number, superb phillum, acting and above all kiddie song-
    “kabuliwaala aaya”-

    Sung by Hemantda , Usha Mangeshkar, Sabita Banerjee, Ranu Mukherjee
    Music by Salil Choudhury
    Lyrics by Gulzar and Prem Dhawan

    The kiddie Child actress Sonu was splendid, now according to imdb, Sonu is male ? and was quite a all rounder.

    Btw Meena’s earlier phillums also, a few, were not weepy weepy like for eg.

    Shararat (1959)
    Miss Mary (1957)
    Mem Sahib (1956)
    Aladdin Aur Jadui Chirag (1952)
    Halaku (1956)
    Shatranj (1956)
    Chandni Chowk (1954) .. on my wish list
    also I am told Tamasha (1952) was a very gd movie, not able to find any print


    • I’ve seen lots of sparkly beautiful laughing Meena in films from the 50s…that’s what makes me so sad about what happened in her life and her career. I would love it if she were STILL around, sparkling and laughing as she did then :) I’ve written up three of the films on your list here I think.

  17. Hi,
    This reminds me of another movie, that had an excellent subject and Meena played a very different role, unfortunatey the ending wasn’t good, it seemed like the director just lost interest at the end and wanted to complete the movie asap. The songs are good too. Check it out.
    Movie – Chand *ing: Meena Kumari, Manoj Kumar, Balraj Sahni, Pandari Bai. Directed by Lekhraj Bhari and music by Hemant Kumar.

  18. OMGosh, I am throwing a party exactly like that video of “Aaye Ho Toh Dekh Le” for Cat Freddy on his next birthday!

  19. And there is Nazir Kashmiri as the judge. :-)

  20. I wonder what made Meena do the weepy sterotyping roles, was it what she was offered or did she pick these herself or was it her personal life which made her do this… I wonder I wonder…

    But def wud hv loved to see her more in bubbly roles, def capable of any role, she died far too early.

    and yeah just u/l for DO readers this beautiful song from Kabuliwala, a kiddie number which was very famous, still is and quite hard to get.

    Other songs of this movie are easily available-

    kaabuliwaala aaya kaabuliwaala aaya kaabul-khandahar se- Hemant Kumar, Ranu Mukherjee , Sabita Banerjee, Usha Mangeshkar .MD Salil Choudhary Lyrics by Prem Dhawan


    Cheers .)

    • Ash – I recommend you watch Azaad (1955) which stars Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari. She’s got a lighter role and the movie also a treat.

      • Thx Shashi for the tip .), yes indeed this movie is superb esp it has one of my top fav songs also-

        apalam japalam japlaayi re duniya ko chhod teri gali aayi re aayi re aayi re

        I used to have a VHS, which got destroyed, so a replacement and a rewatch is very much due, never miss any movies of Chitalkar Bhau, he was Maestro of Music.

        Btw just putting up soon another Dilip-Meena starer- Yahudi 1958, super duo of SJ with the magic baton. And a full load of Veterans like Helen, Cuckoo, Minoo Mumtaz(rare to see all 3 together), Indra, Baby Naaz, Murad, Nazir Hussein, Sohrab Modi, Anwar Hussein, Nigar Sultana, Tiwari.

        A must watch to catch up these folks. and the movie has hard coded Subs Memsaab !

        I have not checked if yu have already seen and done a review, if yu have pls excuse for over looking.

        Cheers .)

  21. I I would love to see the movies all of you are mentioning ie Meena Kumari in non weepy roles. Alas, i think most of them must be in B&W – am rarley enticed to see B&W movies unless it is really good like Anupama, Seema, Bandini, Sujatha, Anari etc (not bad list himm for some one who does not like B&W)!

  22. S Saw this movie last night. The ending was a real surprise coz I kept thinking – it will end tame. U r right about movies in 40s and 50s being more progressive. Perhaps it had a lot to do with the subcontinent’s history at that time – tragic loss of lives and the upheavel that followed partition plus the fact that we had some progressive film makers who were bold in addressing social customs that needed to change. What ever, minoo mumtaaz and Bela Bose were a real delight. The scenes bet Minno and Honey were really good. Songs were fab.

  23. Yes, the lady is Kusum Thakur. Take a look at her in the movie Talaq starring Rajendra Kumar.

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