Pakeezah (1971)

 ●  Hindi ● Running Time: TBA

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As shown by the presence of 40s Bombay Talkies cameramen Wirsching and R.D. Mathur as well as the composers Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad, Kumari’s best- known film had been planned by her and her husband Amrohi as their most cherished project since 1958, when Amrohi intended to star in it himself. The film started production in 1964. When the star and her director-husband separated, the filming was postponed indefinitely. After some years, during which Kumari suffered from alcoholism, she agreed to complete the film. The plot is a classic courtesan tale set in Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the century. The dancer and courtesan Nargis (Kumari) dreams of escaping her dishonourable life but she is rejected by the family of her husband Shahabuddin (A. Kumar) and dies, in a graveyard, giving birth to a daughter, Sahibjaan. The daughter grows up to become a dancer and a courtesan as well (Kumari again). Sahibjaan’s guardian, Nawabjaan (Veena), prevents Sahibjaan’s father from seeing her or knowing who she is. Later, Sahibjaan falls in love with a mysterious, noble stranger who turns out to be her father’s nephew, Salim (R. Kumar). Salim’s father forbids his ward to marry a courtesan. The film’s climax occurs when Sahibjaan dances at Salim’s arranged wedding where her own father also discovers her identity and claims her as his child. Finally her desires are fulfilled and she marries Salim, leaving her past behind. The film’s main merit, however, resides in its delirious romanticism enhanced by saturated colour cinematography. Includes the all-time Lata Mangeshkar hit songs Chalte chalte and Inhe logone ne.
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Did you know? It took 14 years for this film to be completed. To begin with, the film was launched in 1958, jointly planned by Kamal Amrohi and 'Meena Kumari'. It was launched in black-and-white, but when colour came in vogue, Amrohi scrapped those portions already shot and decided to start again. Later, Cinemascope came into vogue, and Amrohi acquired a Cinemascope lens from MGM and scrapped the plain colour portions too. Then Amrohi and Kumari separated in 1964, bringing filming to an indefinite halt. Finally, the film was resumed in 1968, and though by then Kumari was suffering from alcoholism and was in critical condition, she was still Amrohi's only choice and she agreed to complete the film. Read More
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Direction

Director

Production

Producer

Distribution

Distributor

Writers

Story Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography

Art

Art Director
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Costume and Wardrobe

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Film Type:
Feature Film
Language:
Hindi
Colour Info:
Black & White
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
Stereoscopy:
No
Tracklist
Music Label: HMV Records
01 
02:38
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Parveen Sultana
02 
02:29
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Mamata Unit
03 
02:18
04 
05:53
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
05 
03:59
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
06 
03:42
07 
02:41
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Parveen Sultana
08 
03:41
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
09 
05:53
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
10 
04:53
Music Director: Ghulam Mohammed
Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Trivia:
It took 14 years for this film to be completed. To begin with, the film was launched in 1958, jointly planned by Kamal Amrohi and 'Meena Kumari'. It was launched in black-and-white, but when colour came in vogue, Amrohi scrapped those portions already shot and decided to start again. Later, Cinemascope came into vogue, and Amrohi acquired a Cinemascope lens from MGM and scrapped the plain colour portions too. Then Amrohi and Kumari separated in 1964, bringing filming to an indefinite halt. Finally, the film was resumed in 1968, and though by then Kumari was suffering from alcoholism and was in critical condition, she was still Amrohi's only choice and she agreed to complete the film.

Kamal Amrohi sketched all the set designs and camera movements, and personally selected every costume, right down to the bangles worn by the minor characters.

When the film was resumed in 1968, several financiers asked Kamal Amrohi to replace the music with slightly trendier music. Amrohi said that he would have agreed, had 'Ghulam Mohammed' lived on, but he could not betray a dead man who had given him twelve beautiful songs. In keeping with the times, though, he kept only six songs in the film.

During the making of the film, composer 'Ghulam Mohammed' and cinematographer Josef Wirsching died, leaving director Kamal Amrohi at a loss. Eventually, though, composer Naushad was brought in to compose the background score; and after Wirsching's death, over a dozen of Bombay's top cinematographers stepped in as/when they had a break from their other assignments, and they maintained an even look.

Due to some problems, Nadira quit the film. At this, Kamal Amrohi sat down and wrote a line of dialog that created a new character, which was taken by Veena.

In 1958, Ashok Kumar had signed on to play the role of Salim, who was to be a businessman. When filming was resumed in 1968, Dharmendra, Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt were considered for the role. When Raaj Kumar accepted the role, it was modified from a businessman to a forest ranger to match Kumar's rugged build. Ashok Kumar was still on, though now he was to play Hakim Saab; but he instead played Shahabuddin, while Hakim Saab was played by D.K. Sapru.

Kamal Amrohi acquired a Cinemascope lens from MGM on a royalty basis for shooting the film. However, he detected a focusing error in the rush prints that had been missed by the cameraman and even the UK lab team that processed the film. On hearing of this, MGM instructed its Indian subsidiary chief not to collect any more royalty and gave the lens to Amrohi as a gift.

In 1972, veteran actor Pran turned down his Filmfare Award for Be-Imaan (1972), because while the Filmfare Best Music Award had gone to Shankar-Jaikishen for his own film Be-Imaan (1972), he felt that _Pakeezah (1971)_ had not been awarded on merit and that the late 'Ghulam Mohammed' was more deserving of that award.

Due to her ill health, Meena Kumari was not able to do the dance sequences herself. Hence 'Padma Khanna' (I) acted as a double for the purpose. She can be seen in all the long shots of dances in the movie.

Kamal Amrohi was told that he and his crew would receive a special award for _Pakeezah (1971)_ - for a consideration. He flatly refused to "buy an award."

Meena Kumari died two months after the film released. Until then, it had had a lukewarm response at the box-office, but afterwards it became a hit and acquired cult status. It also unfortunately acquired the unfortunate distinction of being considered as Kumari's last film.

Waheeda Rehman paid a brief visit to Meena Kumari on the sets.