Aurat (1967)


As many of you know, I tend to avoid films with titles like “Woman” or “Daughter-in-Law” or “Sister” or “Bride” like the plague they generally are. But after my dear friend and devoted Rajesh fan Suhan sent me a link to one of the songs from this, I investigated further and discovered that, besides a very young Rajesh, the cast included a very young Feroz Khan, the lovely Nazima, PRAN! and a host of other stalwarts (Padmini, Lalita Pawar, Leela Chitnis, Mohan Chhoti, OP Ralhan, Baby Rani—OH Baby Rani. How I love/hate you). I figured with these people and the lovely music by Ravi maybe I could survive the Red Mist that I would likely be afflicted with, and I am so glad I took the chance.

I found it unexpectedly sweet and funny, and if the story went a bit overboard in places…well, such is life. Plus, no Red Mist at all! Or hardly at all. While it is certainly true that Padmini sacrifices early and often, her actions make sense and she is no weeping helpless pushover.

Parvati (Padmini) is the eldest of eight children: seven daughters and one son, Suresh (Rajesh Khanna). They live with their widowed mother (Leela Chitnis)—a sweet but ditzy woman—and although they are poor, Parvati holds down three jobs as a maid in order to purchase eyeliner by the boat-load and put Suresh through medical school. As was/is common, all the family’s hopes and dreams are focused on Suresh’s eventual success and prosperity. Parvati is diligent, dependable, and indispensable; in short, she verges dangerously on being perfect. But she avoids that particular pitfall by yelling at her mother when she is particularly dense, or becoming exasperated with a lecherous employer.


She also has a dreamboat of a boyfriend: Anand (Feroz Khan), whom we meet when she’s washing clothes in the river and he interrupts with a lovely song (and she is really cute too, playfully spouting water out of her mouth like a fish).


Anand is involved in a property dispute which, if he wins, will net him 4 lakhs, enabling him to marry Parvati and help out the family. Unfortunately at the same time as he is convinced by his shady lawyer that his chances of winning are slim, Parvati discovers that her usual source of loans has dried up and the bill for Suresh’s final year of medical school is due; AND (because if things are bad in Indian cinema they must always get worse) Parvati’s mute sister Kamla has “come of age” (i.e. is curled up in a corner) and now they will need dowry for her too.


But on Parvati’s visit to the now destitute moneylender, she is spotted by Manoharlal (Pran), a wealthy widower with six children who is about twice Parvati’s age and looking for a young and beautiful second wife.


He is smitten with her on sight, and sends his representative to offer his proposal—a proposal which infuriates Suresh (who has no idea that things at home are so tight, because Parvati keeps it from him and he always has his nose in a book). But Parvati, being the sensible and responsible eldest girl that she is, has other ideas. She agrees to meet Manohar and strikes a bargain with him: she will marry him if he agrees to support Suresh through the rest of medical school and provide for the rest of her family.

Unbeknownst to Parvati, however, is the fact that Manohar is such a bad person that his younger brother Ratan (OP Ralhan) has moved out of his house and squeaks out a living as a taxi driver; and Manohar’s sister Asha (Nazima) and mother (Lalita Pawar) refer to him in every sentence as a “rakshas” or “shaitan” (no blindly indulgent ma-bahen here!). If they knew Manohar was looking for a bride they would interfere, and he knows it.


Anand is somewhat annoyingly placid and philosophical about the whole thing, which makes me think maybe Parvati has had a lucky escape even if he is a handsome hunk of man with a welcome mat on his chest.


When Manohar’s family find out about the marriage though, it is apparent that Dadi Ma anyway has maybe watched too many fillums featuring wicked stepmothers.


I love Lalita Pawar in everything, and she is hilarious with these kids, who are themselves less annoying than most of their ilk in cinema.

Of course, they soon discover that Parvati is a paragon of virtue, and bond quickly with her. There are some very funny scenes as the children are first terrified of her, and then begin to trust her—and she has a thing or two to teach Asha about kids who are old enough to have developed spines and neck muscles.


At this juncture, I am struck again by how different this film is from the usual female-sacrificing-her-all types of films: in her new home, Parvati is soon much loved and appreciated by her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and stepchildren. She seems quite happy and fulfilled, and certainly her life is better than it was as maid to three households.


The only one unhappy with her success in his home is selfish Manohar who wants her to dote on him; he takes Parvati away to Mussoorie so that he doesn’t have to share her with the rest of his family. There, he tries to reform prim Parvati into a modern woman. I love the sight of Pran doing up Padmini’s hair, and although she goes along with him she makes it clear that she’s not happy about it. And after the party—which features a great little dance scene where I look hard for my friends Terence and Edwina—she goes back to her regular style with no repercussions.


Meanwhile, back at home, Suresh (who moved with Parvati to Manohar’s house) has fallen in love with Asha and she with him. So so sweet (and two pretty love songs)!


I am always happy to see Nazima, and she is very cute with Rajesh. But alas! Parvati is pining for the family, and convinces Manohar to return home. He finds Suresh and Asha romancing, flies into a rage, and throws Suresh out of the house. He also stops paying for his education; and although he’s only been giving a bare minimum to the rest of Parvati’s family to begin with, he stops that support as well.

What will Parvati do? By now she loves Manohar’s children as her own, as well as Dadi Ma and Asha, and she is Manoharlal’s wife. Plus, it’s 1967 so leaving him is probably not much of an option. But her own mother and siblings have nothing to eat, Suresh’s education is at a standstill, and he is himself now looking for a job instead of studying. Will all of her sacrifices have been in vain?

Do watch Aurat to find out. The moments of irritation are far outweighed by the humor, sweetness and the lovely songs of the rest of it, plus the last hour is more devoted to the secondary family members than to Parvati and Manohar and they are fun. It’s a great cast (OP Ralhan deserves much more of a mention than I’ve given him but I don’t want to spoil the ending). They are having a good time and their talents are mostly put to good use; the Gemini production team of SS Balan and SS Vasan seemed good at that. Best of all the women (especially Nazima’s Asha), despite the societal environment they live in, are strong-minded and stand up for themselves and each other.

If nothing else, look up the songs—but honestly I recommend this film, surprised as I am by that!

29 Comments to “Aurat (1967)”

  1. You’ve sold me on this film. Must watch. It does seem so much better than other films of their ilk. But oh, WDIGTT? Laughed out loud at Parvati holds down three jobs as a maid in order to purchase eyeliner by the boat-load .

    Good to see you back! :)

    • Ha ha, I’m glad you noticed that :) I like to slip such things in to see if anybody actually reads my posts (not that I’d blame anyone who doesn’t!) It is a fun watch, preferably with like-minded people.

      • Heh, watched this one. And to my surprise, I quite liked it. Parvati is quite a strong character, isn’t she, for all the theatricality of the dialogues? I liked that when she chucks her brother out of the house, she tells him to come back when he finishes his studies and has a job. I really, really liked that she didn’t give me diabetes, and she didn’t drown in her own tears. Quite, quite nice. Thank you for reviewing this. :)

  2. As I told you Memsaab, I seem to have given it a much more careful watch with you – I remember being too revolted by Pran and the TYAAG [!!! :-)] of Padmini in earlier viewings. And you are right, there were REASONS for what Padmini did, rather than being an egregiously self-sacrificing martyr. I loved Lalita Pawar calling her son a ‘paapi’ (sinner) – very refreshing to see a clear-headed Ma! I liked also that everybody loved and cared about each other in both the families other than the odious Pran.

    How sweet was the young Rajesh Khanna:-) But I can’t think of him and Nazima without remembering ‘Doli’. I think that is one you should steel yourself through just so we can hoot at what you come up with! We haven’t had one of those ‘Dulhan’ type reviews from you in ages and I miss them including the trolls that try to convince us of what ye olde bharatiya naris should be like :-D

    And yes. Some of those songs of ‘Aurat’ are just so lovely. Sharing here.

    Humein tumse mohabbat hain –

    Shola ulfat ka –

    Thanks so much. So wonderful to have you writing again!

  3. I loved that remark about the boatload of eyeliner too. ;-) And though I’m almost certain I read about this film in Gautam Chintamani’s biography of Rajesh Khanna, I obviously had forgotten about it, because I read your review with no recollection of having come across this particular story before. Sounds delightful – though, as Anu rightly asks, WDIGTT?!

  4. Yes , I have watched this film- first as a child at Rivoli Cinema- Matunga Road , Mumbai [ now defunct and a shopping complex cum residential tower ] and later on different T V channels like B/w T V of Hathway and Zee Classic. Even initially I liked the film and liked it more when I saw it again.. The music by Ravi was passable and the song Hame tumse mohabbat hai- was popular. Padmini was riding on the succes of Jis desh mein ganga behti hai and was popular

  5. Memsaab, I really must put our blogland acronyms and phrases into a post! WDIGTT is short for Where do I get the time? :)

  6. It’s classic.remake of tamil film chitti of padmini herself by avm productions.
    Blockbuster in both hindi n tamil.

    Mr radha played pran s role n muthuraman of rajesh. …op ralhan role by nagesh

  7. Memsaab u must review
    Dharm aur qanoon
    Prem nagar
    Hum dono
    Ghar Parivaar
    Rupaye Dus Karod
    Dil e nadaan

  8. Hello memsaab how are you? i have to say i am in love with the way you talk about ,criticize and sometimes make fun of movies really you are gifted talent unbelievable funny my friend
    you are as always and forever right Aurat is a nice lovely movie i watched this movie before the main reason was superstar Rajesh Khanna as i am huge fan of him watching 90% of his movies but Aurat proved to be beyond my addiction to RK movies it caught me with surprise i really enjoyed it
    i also want to thank you very much for an amazing reviews for movies like and as far as i can remember right now Roti , Prem Kahani ,Maha Chor,Fiffty Fiffty ,Apna Desh,Safar ,Dil Daulat Duniya ,Aakhri Khat,Joroo Ka Ghulam and the movie that broke my heart as this is the 10% the only movie i have not yet watched for Rajesh Khanna i can not find it anywhere online is Baharon Ke Sapne after reading your review for it i even got more angry as it makes me want to watch it more
    keep the amazing work and please try to review more movies for superstar Rajesh Khanna

  9. You actually liked this film! This film as far as I remember was a flop and I remember watching it later on in life on TV. Those days we in India had black and white TV, colour television was yet to make an entry. I did not like the film.
    How times change, Feroz Khan was opposite the heroine and Rajesh Khanna, then a newcomer was in a supporting role. Years later in Safer, it was Rajesh Khanna who was the reigning superstar was in the lead and Feroz Khan was in a supporting role. That is what the film world is all about.— Shilpi

    • I did like it, for all the reasons I said :) It had a lot of funny little moments, good humor and it was sweet. Lots of shades of gray, not just black/white good/evil.

      It was nice to see no egos between the actors, it was truly an ensemble. Hope all’s well Shilpi! :)

  10. Thanks for the wonderful review :) I had tried to watch it on youtube long back but was turned off by long scenes and theatricals from Padmini in the first 15 mins. It probably deserves another chance – I just hope it’s not one of the several instances where your review is more enjoyable than the movie itself ;)

  11. Nazima’s Wikipedia page says she is living in Dadar but I heard she passed away ages ago.

  12. Taking on from where Shilpi left, it also amazes me that Padmini took on a supporting role in Mastana 3 years after Aurat. I recall that from 1966 to 1971, Padmini did a lot of A-list and B-grade movies like Chand aur Suraj, Nanha Farishtha before spoiling it all with the trashy role in Mera Nam Joker. In Mastana, she was paired with comedian Mehmood.

    Mehmood had some regulars like Shubha Khote, Aruna Irani, Helen & Mumtaz (before she hit the jackpot). He even acted with Sonia Sahni in Johar-Mehmood brand movies. So it was a surprise that Mehmood was able to rope in Padmini. That too after she was a much married actress… I always wonder if it was the need for financial security that prompted the legendary Padmini to come back to India after she married US-based Dr Ramachandran. She disappointed a lot of people down South with her bosom-baring acting in Mera Naam Joker.

    BTW, I realise that today 23rd July is Mehmood’s death anniversary.

    • After marriage, padmini’s husband went to london for higher studies, so she acted in movies after marriage for time pass. she had her most memorable films like mera naam joker, thillana mohanambal etc after marriage. It was only after 1970, her husband started clinic in new jersey, america. so by 1971 she shifted to U.S. but she had some films in her hand, that she completed by 1971

  13. BTW, SS Vasan and SS Balan and Gemini decided to make “Lakhon Mein Ek” with Mehmood in the lead. No actress was willing to play the lead. The makers did not want an actress who had played supporting roles. This was in 1971. Eventually Radha was chosen to play the lead and she did full justice to the trust imposed in her by S S Balan. She was from FTII and so this was a great opportunity to escape from the stamp of a sex-pot that had haunted her after “Do Raha”. Unfortunately, Radha did not get many roles of substance later on…so sad….but she did show ample potential.

  14. Thanks for the review , now I want to watch Aurat. Actually I am frantically searching for a Telugu film called ” Pinni ” [ meaning Mausi ] . Now I am more than convinced that Aurat is a remake of Pinni [ or vice versa ] . The stories are similar . It has a tamil version too , in that too Padmini acted , but in Telugu it is Devika.

  15. Hi Memsaab! hadn’t checked out the website for a long gap and was pleasantly surprised to see this review of Aurat. It was produced by Gemini Studios and was directed by my late grandfather, SS Balan (and credited as co-directed with his father SS Vasan), his Hindi debut as director (His first Hindi screenplay was Grihasti (1963) that was remade in Tamil as the film Motor Sundaram Pillai as his directorial debut in 1964).

    Aurat was a remake of a 1966 social drama called Chiththi in Tamil by KS Gopalakrishnan and Padmini reprised her role in Hindi. [The Telugu version with Devika is also a remake of the tamil which was a very big success]. It is a tad bit melodramatic and feels relentless of course, but it is a powerful story around this powerful mother figure that Padmini makes and which Indian doesn’t love a good “rehabilitation” or “curing of evil” story! :) lol. I am not sure if it started out from a popular tamil novel/series adapted to screen.

    There are a few interesting things about this film…

    My grandfather actually told me that Aurat was the first film that was offered to and signed by Rajesh Khanna though not the first complete and released which was Chetan Anand’s film – this release became his second or third! Which is why he is only in a supporting role as the brother. I think the original titles said “Introducing” Rajesh Khanna if I am right. My grandfather and Rajesh saab were good friends and kept in touch for decades – whenever my grandfather was in Bombay (not in the last 25 years!), drinks and dinner with Mr Khanna was apparently a must. So, in a way I guess he had the distinction of picking Mr Khanna and giving him his first chance. It also so happened in this period Mehmood and my grandfather were also very good friends having worked together previously, especially close during the making Lakhon Mein Ek, the remake of K.Balachander’s Ethirneechal. At the time, my grandfather S.S Balan was remaking three different K.Balachandar movies in succession, the next one was Sanjog (1970), a remake of K.Balachandar’s tamil Iru Kodugal. It was then that Mehmood introduced a gangly youngster and struggling actor who was living in his outhouse at the time to be considered for a chance. Finding an interesting talent, perseverance and Mehmood’s referral, this young actor was signed for his debut lead role opposite both Mala Sinha and Aruna Irani. The actor was just about finishing a supporting role and his first film, Saat Hindustani. The actor was none other than Mr Amitabh Bachchan. Unfortunately even though one of the first few films released of Mr Bachchan’s, the film was both delayed by the demise of my great grandfather Mr SS Vasan in 1969 and it flopped very badly.

    It’s quite amazing to me that the same man identified and helped two superstars of Indian cinema in their career’s formative stages – both actors were able to sign more films just based on the fact Gemini had signed them. What’s even more incredible to me is that in his entire life my grandfather never ever made a big deal out of it – in fact I myself only came to know this after I specifically asked him about the films and we started talking about Rajesh Khanna when he was ill prior to his demise a few years ago. Till then I had no idea that they were even associated aside from general industry connects!!!!

    An interesting system of film production was born in the mid 60’s and Aurat marks an interesting milestone in that. My great grandfather S.S.Vasan after having been a founding member of both the Film Federation of India and the South Indian Film Chamber was invited to be a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1964-1965 and became one of the first members from the Film Industry to become a member of the parliament. What this meant was that he shuttled between Delhi where he had to be in Parliament between 1965 and 1969. He was fighting for industry status. My grandfather who was the Joint Managing Director of the parent distribution company, labs, studios and magazines was running the show supportive to his father. Both of them had taken a startling but difficult decision earlier in the decade and vowed never to use black money/cash in business – which was a near impossible task 50 years ago – but they stuck to it even when stars preferred cash and would give them cheques with the added taxes. This they felt would be important in order for the film business to be accorded industry status.

    The second thing was a new packaging service that launched off indie productions in Tamil. What they did was offer people who wanted to produce a film to come to Gemini and there was a package of services from script to set to even budgets as well as financial backing – in cases where the content was of high caliber, a deal was made where the studio would help them make an indie production in Tamil while financing them from the sale of rights to remake in Hindi. This film sparked off that tide of films that allowed gems like Bhama Vijayam (remade as Teen Bahuraniyan), Ethirneechal (Lakhon mein Ek) and Iru Kodugal (Sanjog) to be made in Tamil, cementing K.Balachandar’s career. Aurat had a very successful run that encouraged remakes. It was unfortunate however that the other remakes barring Lakhon Mein Ek did not fare as well in the box office.

    This comment has become as long as a post! I better stop. It was great to be nostalgic and resurface memories and trivia!! :D

    • Not too long at all! It’s fascinating, thank you for sharing! There should be a book about Gemini Studios, honestly, and your forefathers. I am always happy to see the twins twirling with their trumpets in the opening credits, it’s a sign of quality to come.

  16. This movie was definitely an entertainer and somewhat a break from the run of the mill bahu parivar drama with its quirky and fun plot. Nazima is a breath of fresh air alongside a very young Rajesh Khanna! Padmini did overact in a lot of her scenes, but overall a fun drama film!

  17. Just to add – the story was authored by VM Kothainayaki, a freedom fighter and who was also India’s first woman publisher – the novel serialised in her magazine Jaganmohini and later became Chitti and then Aurat as Krishna Ramkumar has pointed out. Kothainayaki was not comfortable with her name appearing on film and so the story is simply credited to VMK in the Tamil version.

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