Connect with us

Featured

Revisiting Shakti Samanta’s Amar Prem

Subhash K . Jha

Published

on

From its opening montage of a young rustic girl watching her callous husband bring home another wife, to the dying moments when the woman, now in her twilight years, is taken away to the relative comfort of her foster-son’s home as the festivities of Durga Puja break out on the streets of Kolkata… Amar Prem is a glorious homage to that favourite Bollywood archetype: the golden-hearted prostitute.

That Sharmila Tagore plays the woman whom men of all ages gravitate to in pursuit of some heavyduty nurturing is a very happy situation for the screenplay. In the film a 7-year old boy and a 30-plus man both desire the same kind of emotional attention from her.This prostitute is not about sex.She is about soul. Sharmila brings to this timeless adaptation of Bibhutibushan Bandhopaddhyay’s story , a kind of simpering beauty that levitates the lyricism of the tragic but uplifting tale to the level of a supremely seductive saga.

Sharmila’s character, a homeless childless woman who is tricked into a life of prostitution, is not just a mother-figure to the lonely neglected near-divorcee Anand Babu(Rajesh Khanna) she is also the woman the ill-treated neighbourhood imp Nandu(Master Bobby who played pivotal roles in a number of films including Ek Phool Do Mali and Amar Prem before disappearing into adulthood) keeps running to for solace and samosas, in spite of being severely punished by his stepmother(Bindu).

In one of the many sequences simmering with seductive synergy Sharmila wonders aloud why Anand Babu insists on coming to her when he has a home and wife.

“Even Nandu has a home and a family. Why does he come to you?” counters Rajesh Khanna, thereby raising an important issue. Indian men of all ages look for their mother in every woman they love. In Amar Prem the Oedipal complex is turned on its head…away from the bed. The men in Pushpa’s life want to be mollycoddled.Though she’s a prostitute she is never shown giving sex. Men want something far more basic from her. Pushpa is the Devi Maa reincarnated. So giving, the men forget she’s human after all.

Pushpa’s relationship with Anand Babu is purely platonic. She serves him drinks,provides him a much-needed shoulder to cry on. She is attentive and compassionate but never over-inquisitive. There is only one sequence where she actually asks him about his wife.And even there Anand Babu doesn’t tell her the truth about his marital life.

The truth is,his wife has no time for him.

Shakti Samanta was not just a master storyteller, he took grave risks with the draconian star system.At a time when Rajesh Khanna after the dream launch in Shakti’s Aradhana two years earlier, was the movie monarch the director cast Khanna as the third lead of Amar Prem.The film’s main dramatic and emotional resonance emanates from Pushpa’s unconditional love for the boy Nandu.Anand Babu comes later.

Sportingly Rajesh Khanna creates beautiful space for his character.The mutating paradigms of a life that knows no succour at home spills persuasively out of Khanna’s portrayal.He is a man who claims to hate tears and cries in tearless grief for love.

Perhaps sensing the superstar’s secondary status in the story Shakti Samanta gave Rajesh Khanna three memorable Kishore Kumar solos to sing. Each a landmark to this day.

But it’s Sharmila’s stylized but supremely seductive performance that holds the mutating plot together. Her heavy silk sarees, her elaborate hairstyles, the jewellery and quality of innocent coquettishness contribute cogently to making Amar Prem the experience that it is.

There are moments of honey-dipped Pure Cinema carpeting this delicately-threaded tale of a Devi and her two devotees. The sequence shot in red-light area leading up to Lata Mangeshkar’s timeless and pristine Raina beeti jaye is a classic study of divine seduction. It has its antecedents in the film Adalat which came 18 years earlier . The sequence of Nargis singing Lataji’s Unko yeh shikayat hai in Adalat and Sharmila singing Raina beeti jaye in Amar Prem are formated on the principle of the Divine Woman’s magnetic voice and beauty pulling the tormented man into reading the sleazy ambience of the kotha as a place of worship.

Rajesh Khanna actually expresses his appreciation of Pushpa’s singing with folded hands. The Fallen Woman is irreversibly deified.

Indeed Amar Prem makes a silently screaming plea in defence of the Fallen Woman. The girls in the brothel mingle and chatter happily as though they’re in a run-down boarding school .

The concept of the anointed whore-goddess has its roots in the way Saratchandra Chatterjee had portrayed Chandramukhi in Devdas. Amar Prem carries the mythical concept forward to a heartbreaking crescendo of deification. No matter where the Fallen Woman, Pushpa is tossed by destiny she manages to raise moral standards around her.

In the most evocative section of her journey from ravaged innocence to pained old age, Pushpa ends up as a maidservant washing vessels in a rundown lodge(a lot of aged prostitutes find themselves reduced to menial jobs at the end of their lives). In a vivid reversal of fortune the husband(Manmohan) who had once driven Pushpa out of his home now lies on his deathbed in a pokey desolate room. She gives him his last drink of water.Then when he dies, like a true traditional Hindu wife she breaks her bangle with a rock in a symbolical gesture of widowhood.

The above sequence would probably seem laughable in the contemporary socio-cultural context where women scarcely wear glass bangles, let alone break them. But think about it. The woman, the wife, the mother and the daughter …every role that a girl is expected to play is subsumed in Sharmila Tagore’s commodious persona without commodifying her.She is at the same time, a full-bodied woman and a divine entity, flesh and flash of eternity…She is Every-woman and yet not quite like anyone else.And when Nandu shows up at the end to take her away, we feel the same surge of relief for her that we feel when a comatose relative finally leaves for the other world.

Shakti Samanta’s son Ashim speaks on Amar Prem:

“My two all-time favourite films are Amar Prem and Anand. It’s just a coincidence that one of these happens to be directed by my father. I was 20 years old when my father made Amar Prem. I vividly remember the recordings of all the memorable songs. Pancham(R.D. Burman), Rajesh Khanna and my father were a unbreakable team.Though Amar Prem was a remake of Bengali film(Nishipadma) I feel our version of the story was far superior. Honestly I didn’t much care for the performance of the actress Sabitri Chatterjee who played Pushpa in the Bengali film. What Sharmila did in Amar Prem was remarkable.She completely re-interpreted the character, whereas Rajesh Khanna was asked to model his performance on Uttam Kumar in Nishipadma, which he did and then added his own personality to it. For its time Amar Prem was a daring experiment. It cast one of the most saleable pairs of the times as a man and tawaif. R.D. Burman’s music added a whole dimension to the drama. Do you know Amar Prem was the only film in which Pancham’s father Sachindev Burman sang his son’s composition? To this day listeners break down when they hear Burman Dada sing Doli mein bithaye ke kahaar.I’ve to tell you something very interesting about the most popular song Chingari koi bhadke in Amar Prem. There was no situation for that song in the screenplay. One day my father and the lyricist Anand Bakshi Saab were sitting together, as they usually did in the evenings, when Bakshi Saab recited Chingari koi bhadke for my father. On hearing the words my father was stunned. ‘I’m using this song in my film,’ he declared.When Bakshi Saab protested that there was no situation for the number in the film my father reassured him, ‘Leave it to me. I’ll find a place for it.’ And he did. There’s a unique quality of romance, drama and music in Amar Prem. The film never aged.”

Sharmila Tagore Speaks On Amar Prem:

“I had seen the original Bengali film before doing Amar Prem. Shakti-da had made both me and Kaka(Rajesh Khanna) see it. I quite liked the original film. It was more about the woman and her relationship with the child.I had recently become a mother, so it was relatively easy for me to do the motherly character. And Kaka’s role was to be done by Raj Kumar. But Kaka who had done Aradhana with me and Shakti Samanta, insisted on being a part of the film.Since Uttam Kumar had done such a fabulous job in the original Shakti-da made Kaka model his performance on the original. This was one of those films that just turned out right. We were not looking at the boxoffice.We just felt emotionally connected to the characters. The film became a hit and it continues to be liked by new generations. That’s the magic of the story. Also, I’d say a major reason for the film’s success was R.D Burman’s music and Anand Bakshi’s lyrics. The music and the words carried the story forward. I remember the premier of Amar Prem was attended by Field Marshall Manickshaw . And the very next day after the premiere the 1971 Indo-Pak war broke out.Kaka and I did many films together. We really worked well together . I was pregnant with Saif during Aradhana and with Soha when Kaka and I did Choti Bahu.Kaka and I had two major problems. He came much too late on the sets and our best profile on camera was the same.So when we were in the same frame together Kaka and I were always trying to get the cameraman to shoot our right profile….Remake Amar Prem?However Sharmila Tagore who played the central character in Amar Prem ,is not kicked by the idea of a remake. “Why a remake of Amar Prem? I think the concept of the all-giving all-sacrificing mother-figure is now outdated. I think a woman like the one I played in Amar Prem would be considered quite a loser by today’s generations. Remakes are by their very nature a safe zone to be in. But if we must have them then they ought to have a contemporary resonance.For example,Sujoy Ghosh wants to remake one of my films Aranyar Din Ratri. That makes sense to me.Satyajit Ray’s Aranyar Din Ratri about the divide between the city life and the forests has very deep resonances in the presentday. But Amar Prem with its saga of the sacrificial mother-figure would be hard to connect with today’s audiences.I’d advise Ashim Samanta to remake his father’s other’s other film Aradhana which also featured me and Kaka(Rajesh Khanna) in the lead. The subject of an unwed mother remains deeply contemporary.”

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must Read

Featured12 hours ago

Food For Thought,Thought For Food

Food and culinary skills played a big hand in Ritesh Batra’s highly-acclaimed global hit The Lunchbox and the Saif starrer...

Featured12 hours ago

Is Nagarjuna Planning A Family Film With his Superstar Daughter-in-Law?

At the moment no one from Nagarjuna’s family has a very promising career to look forward to .Nagarjuna himself is...

Featured13 hours ago

Bard Of Blood’s Paki-baiting Incenses Shah Rukh’s Paki Fans

Shah Rukh Khan has adventurously plunged into the streaming platform where, it is believed, all the excitement flows nowadays. The...

Featured13 hours ago

Janhvi Kapoor With Vijay Deverakonda in Fighter? Not Yet

Sridevi’s  popular daughter Janhvi Kapoor’s name is being  touted as  the  leading lady  for Vijay Deverakondain  the  forthcoming  Jagannath  Puri actioner  Fighter.However sources  in Bollywood inform that Jahnvi is  a long way ...

Bollywood News1 day ago

Maidaan Reunites Badhaai Ho Director With His Mentor

Director Amit Sharma found fame with his second feature film Badhaai Ho  in 2018. But he  actually made his directorial  debut with Tevar in  2015. The  forgotten ...

Bollywood News1 day ago

Kartik-Sara Get Serious, Parents Approve Of The Match

It looks  like Kartik Aryan and  Sara Ali Khan have found true love in each  other. The relationship, which started on a ...

Bollywood News2 days ago

Mika Apologizes For Pak Visit To Fuming Film Federation, Federation Tames the Transgressor

Singer  Mika whose career faced  an imminent ban after he  was caught performing at  a wedding in Pakistan,faced  the wrath  of  the...

Bollywood News2 days ago

Are Prabhas & Anushka Shetty Getting Married?

 The  most speculated-about couple  in  the Telugu film industry is no doubt  Prabhas and Anushka  Shetty. Are they  a couple or are they not?...

Bollywood News2 days ago

Angel Has Fallen Is A Mildly Engaging Actioner

Angel Has Fallen  Starring Gerard Butler, Nick Nolte,  Morgan Freeman Directed  by  Ric Roman  Waugh Rating: ** ½( two and  a...

Bollywood News2 days ago

National Award Winner Keerthy Suresh’s Hindi Debut Marginal

National awards  don’t always impress the  entertainment industry. Keerthy Suresh who was  so impressive as the iconic actress Savitri of  the  1950s , is struggling...

Bollywood News2 days ago

Mission Mangal Is Akshay Kumar’s 10th Hit In A Row

 Akshay Kumar’s uninterrupted  success run  at the  boxoffice continues. His  new release Mission Mangal has accrued approximately  Rs 120  crores in six  days  , making it a huge winner. Prior to this Akshay scored with...

Bollywood News2 days ago

Posham Pa Doesn’t Tempt Us To Invest In Its Scummy Characters

Posham Pa(Zee5) Starring Mahie Gill, Sayani Gupta, Ragini Khanna, Imaad Shah, Shivani  Raghuvanshi Directed  by Suman Mukhopadhyay Rating: **(2 stars)  It is heartbreaking to see how much Sayani Gupta and Mahie Gill have invested into her character  of...

Raveena Tandon  Raveena Tandon 
Bollywood News3 days ago

Raveena Tandon’s Presence Adds Huge TRPs To Nach Baliye

While many of her contemporaries  from  the 1990s  are struggling to  re-invent themselves Raveena  Tandon is  very comfortable balancing out the  various roles...

Bollywood News3 days ago

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Tarantino, Tum Aa Gaye Ho Noire A Gaya Hai

Once Upon  A  Time In Hollywood Starring  Leonardo diCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Margot Robbie Written  &  Directed  by Quentin Tarantino Rating:...

Bollywood News5 days ago

Shocking Sleazy Sridevi-titled Film To Receive Restraining Order

  How  far can  a  filmmaker  go in pursuit of  the audiences’ attention without seeming intrusive?  Sridevi Bungalow is the title  given...

Bollywood News5 days ago

The Real Reason Why Bhansali-Salman Fell-Out

 The reason for   Salman Khan’s patch-up with his director-friend Sanjay Leela Bhansali: opportunism The reasons for their fall-out are being falsely deflected  from  the truth...

Bollywood News5 days ago

Adnan Sami: “My Blood Boils Every Time My Nationality Is Questioned”

On  the  August  15 when Independent India turned 72, Adnan  Sami also celebrated  his birthday. However  trolls from Pakistan tried to rain on...

Bollywood News6 days ago

Khayyam The Zero-Compromise Composing Genius Is No More

 Khayyam  blossomed  into a popular  music-provider  very late in his career. For too long he remained sidelined by a sense...

Bollywood News6 days ago

Lata Mangeshkar Speaks On The Genius Of Khayyam

 There  is much reason  for   the Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar  to mourn the  passing forth  of  the  peerless  composer  Khayyam. “Among the many...

Lata Mangeshkars Interview With Subhash K Jha Lata Mangeshkars Interview With Subhash K Jha
Bollywood News7 days ago

On World Photgraphy Day Lata Mangeshkar On Her Secret Passion

Bet you didn’t  know this.But Lata Mangeshkar who is  legendary for her singing , is  an outstanding photographer.In fact there were  exhibitions  of...

Salman khan with a bike Salman khan with a bike
Bollywood News7 days ago

Salman Khan To Start Shooting For Inshallah On August 21

Nonsensical reports  suggesting that  the  shooting of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s  new opus Inshallah has been delayed , can now be put to rest.  It...

Lata Mangeshkar Birthday Lata Mangeshkar Birthday
Entertainment1 week ago

“Why Should Dhoni Retire When I Haven’t?” India’s Greatest Artiste Lata Mangeshkar Questions

The peerless Lata Mangeshkar who is now  approaching 90 says artistes  never  retire.  “It  is not  something one switches on  or off. If...

Entertainment1 week ago

Ajay Devgan Preps For Football Legend’s Role

 This month  , the  very adventurous Ajay Devgan will now  plunge into his most difficult role since Chandrashekhar Azad  in Amit(Badhai Ho) Sharma’s  film on Syed Abdul Rahim, said to...

Entertainment1 week ago

Ooooh, Those Unique Lovemaking Scenes

  Unique love scenes in films  are like scoops of eternity…never to be lost. Never to be collected in  a ...

Adivi Sesh Adivi Sesh
Entertainment1 week ago

Adivi Sesh: “We Never Expected Evaru Would Open So Well”

Adivi   Shesh  is  in seventh heaven….going on eighth.  His  new  film Evaru which opened  on August 15 has  garnered  huge appreciative audiences....

Entertainment1 week ago

Deepika–Salman Unlikely To Come Together

 We’ve  all been waiting to see  Deepika Padukone team  up with Salman Khan for a very  long time. It looks  like...

Parineeti Chopra Parineeti Chopra
Entertainment1 week ago

Parineeti Chopra No Booze, Please

Parineeti Chopra is now in London  shooting for  the  Hindi remake of  a very dark brooding intense  British  drama The Girl...

Entertainment1 week ago

Sujeeth: “I Am Too Small To Be Compared With Rajamouli Sir”

 The painfully  young Saaho director Sujeeth is not scared of  comparisons  with Baahubali. “I understand  Prabhas’ fans want to see a film that will equal Baahubali in...

Akshay Kumar Akshay Kumar
Entertainment1 week ago

Akshay Kumar Finds His Way Into A Women’s Film

Even when Bollywood makes movies  about  powerful women they need  the male presence  to bolster the  film’s boxoffice  prospects. That’s a sad fact....

Farhan Akhtar Farhan Akhtar
Entertainment1 week ago

Farhan Akhtar Sees A Goldmine In Telugu Cinema

Farhan Akhtar and  his  business partner Ritesh Sidhvani seem  to have  hit on a goldmine,  literally.After making more money  on...

Featured1 week ago

Mission Mangal Good To Go But Not Good Enough

Mission Mangal Starring  Vidya Balan, Tapsee Pannu, Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha,Nithya Manen, Kriti Kulhari Directed  by Jagat Shakti Rating:  ** ½ (two and a  half stars)  Inspiring,yes. But  in an uncomfortably perspiring  way. Mission Mangal, based...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Where Have All The Sisters Gone?

 There  was  a time  when the Sister  was an important,  integral  almost  mandatory part  of Hindi commercial cinema. Blockbuster films...

Featured2 weeks ago

Batla House Movie Review: It Pierces A Slice Of Horrific History

Batla House Starring  John Abraham, Mrunal Thakur Directed  by Nikhil Advani Rating: *****(5 stars)  There is a strong  storm brewing in our deeply polarized  society...

Bollywood News2 weeks ago

My Favourite Patriotic Song & Film: Bollywood Gets Sentimental On Independence Day

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan:  “Lataji’s Ae mere watan ke logon is my favourite patriotic song.” Shabana Azmi: “Kar chale him...

Bollywood News2 weeks ago

12 Films That Reformed Mindsets

Films were always meant to change  the way we look at life. Alas,they seldom do that. Busy as they are trying to desperately entertain us,movies forget their...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Evaru Is A Better Adaptation Of The Invisible Guest Than Badla

Evaru(Telugu) Starring  Adivi Sesh, Regina Cassandra, Naveen Andrews Directed  by  Venkat Ramji Rating: ****(4 Stars) No  matter how  cynical you are about suspense  thrillers, the end-twist...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Will Aamir Khan Rescue Imran Khan’s Career?

It doesn’t take great  powers  of deduction  to  figure out that Imran Khan who once was king in in Jaane Tu…YaJaane Na is now out of...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Kartik Aryan Flies To Bangkok To Be With Sara Ali Khan On Her Birthday

Just what  are Sara Ali Khan and  Kartik Aryan  trying to  show to the world by   being seen together   all over  the...

नम्रता-शिरोडकर नम्रता-शिरोडकर
Entertainment2 weeks ago

Namrata Shirodkar,“Sitara Is A full-On Star”

Mahesh Babu and his wife  Namrata Shirodkar’s 7-year old daughter   Sitara is breaking the internet with her dance performance to her father’s song Paala pitta from  the film  Maharshi. Proud  mother  Namrata just...

Sanjay Leela Bhansali Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Bollywood News2 weeks ago

The National Award For Music Composition Is Very Precious To Me,” Sanjay Leela Bhansali Revives Era Of Filmmaker-Composer

When Sanjay Leela Bhansali heard the news that he had been awarded the National award for best music  composer  for...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Move A foot To Ban Mika From All Indian Recordings After his Karachi Performance

 In a shocking disregard  for  public sentiments singer Mika Singh trouped  off  too Karachi  with his band and performed at  the wedding...

Prabhas Prabhas
Entertainment2 weeks ago

Prabhas Wants To Avoid Media

Telugu superstar Prabhas,  like Tamil cinema’s Rajinikant, Ajith and  Vijay, is  not happy with  doing  media interaction to promote   his film. Given a  choice Prabhas would  rather...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Dream Girl Proves Ayushmann Khurrana Is Not Afraid To Take The Leap

Dream  Girl was the  epithet  reserved for  the one and only Hema  Malini. It seems we now have a new Dream Girl. Ayushmann Khurrana has ...

Honey Singh Honey Singh
Entertainment2 weeks ago

Non-bailable arrest Warrant Against Honey Singh

Yo Yo!!  Does  anyone remember  Honey Singh? He took the charts by storm  some years  ago with his provocative misogynistic ...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Uri Owes Its Debt To Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar inadvertently proved a  source of inspiration for  Aditya Dhar’s Uri. Recounting  the  sequence  of events Aditya says, “I was doing research  on  what makes Indian...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Amit Sharma “My Next After Badhaai Ho Is A Much Bigger Challenge.”

Badhai Ho, Amit. Your film has won two  National awards. Amit is still in state  of  disbelief. “When the National awards were announced...

Entertainment2 weeks ago

Saaho Trailer Leaves Many Questions Unanswered…

 Hopefully, the answers would be provided on August 30 when  the film releases. But for now the  long-awaited trailer   that...

Bollywood News2 weeks ago

Rahul Rawail Gets Hatemail From Mammootty Fans

 The Southern  film industry is  known to be fanatical  about  its  actors. Hero-worship  has  gone  to  another level with Malayali fans  of ...

Sonakshi, Siddharth Malhotra Sonakshi, Siddharth Malhotra
Bollywood News2 weeks ago

Siddharth Malhotra Stuck In Kargil

The Jabariya Jodi has separated.  The lead pair from the just-released  film is shooting in  different parts of the world. While Parineeti Chopra is  shooting...

John Abraham John Abraham
Entertainment2 weeks ago

“John Had To Learn Arabic For Batla House,” Nikhil Advani Describes The Journey

Prolific filmmaker Nikhil Advani is  going through the best phase  of his career. His  Batla House looks as politically intense as  Anubhav Sinha’s  recently  released Article  15 and tackles an...

Advertisement

Most Popular