Sunday, March 4, 2012

PARAKH (1960)

The post master of Radhanagar who didn’t receive a single letter received a surprise letter that brings the sudden transformation of village’s few crooked and greedy souls- a temple priest, a feudal landlord, a rich contractor and a doctor. The letter was written by a famous businessman from town and he announced to donate a big amount for village’s welfare and he wanted to hand it over the money to the most upright and honest man of the village. As soon as it was declared, it becomes a race of transformation which brings social order and equality to village but it won’t last long. The only concerning man is a school master but the scheming syndicate of crooked quarter made him surrendered in the election race. But the man who declared the bounty is keeping his eyes on the village and he knows who’s genuine and who’s pretending.

Before watching the film, I didn’t expect much from this quite underrated Bimal Roy classic except Salilda’s four golden nugget compositions crooned by Lata Mangeshkar, two of them are personal favorites from long. But there’s so genuine and natural in Bimal Roy’s craft and his directorial command over the medium that he managed to bring something out of every known or than little known actors. Quite surprisingly the moral fable like story of the film is scripted by Roy’s favorite composer Salil Chaudhary. The only low point of the film is the misfit cast of Vasant Chaudhary, the man cast opposite refreshingly young and beautiful Sadhna who’s just in her twenties. She was much exploited as mystery lady clad with a white sari but here she looks something so breezy and full of life. Whether the songs such as ‘O Sajna Barkha Bahar’, ‘Mila hai kisike jhumka’ or the scenes, Roy represented her on screen as a poetry with his refined close-ups capturing her raw act, unglamorous look and refreshing expressions. But what’s surprise of the film is fine supporting acts from some of the brilliant character actors of their time. Both Motilal as post master’s assistant and Kanhaiyalal ( remember Sukhilala of ‘Mother India’) as the ear poisoning priest are two so natural performances of the film to notice and perhaps nobody can beat them in some of the roles they have done in the golden era of 50s and 60s Hindi cinema.

Soothing tunes, poetic visual frames and a genuine and lighter moral tale with fine character acts and a twist; need we demand more from this Bimal Roy B&W classic!

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