Purab Aur Pachhim, the brain drain continues…

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RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR | NT NETWORK

Manoj Kumar, the original dream merchant of patriotism started his Mr Bharat or Bharat Kumar persona and his brand of nationalism with the 1965 movie, ‘Shaheed’ based on the life of Bhagat Singh and then consolidated it with ‘Upkar’ (1967), which was inspired by ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, the slogan given by the then prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.

The overwhelming commercial as well as critical success of ‘Upkar’ sealed the fate of all future Manoj Kumar films. Therefore, it was no wonder that when his wife, Shashi suggested him a subject that had been giving nightmares to the Indian intelligentsia and politicians for decades, as the theme of his next film, he gladly jumped on it. Thus ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ was born, when Shashi told Manoj Kumar how her relative had shocked his family by going abroad to study and had never come back. The story idea was thus rightfully credited to Shashi Goswami.

Manoj Kumar, who made his official debut as a film producer with ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ by taking up the issue of brain drain, picked most of the actors from his previous film, ‘Upkar’, including Pran, Prem Chopra, Madan Puri, Kamini Kaushal, Krishan Dhawan, Asit Sen, Shammi and so on. Interestingly, the film also had Barbara Lindley, an English actress, who later went on to act in films like ‘Dracula’ (1974) and ‘The Best of Benny Hill’ (1974). Finally, Manoj Kumar wanted a heroine who could play an Indian girl trapped in the hippy culture, which had emerged in the West during 1960s.

Manoj Kumar felt that Saira Banu, the heroine of his 1962 film, ‘Shaadi’ would perfectly fit the bill. By that time, she had married Dilip Kumar and when Manoj Kumar went to sign her, he encountered the living legend himself. Manoj Kumar however told Dilip Kumar that he had come to sign his wife and added that one day he will come to sign the thespian. Thereafter, Dilip Kumar called Saira Banu and departed to his room. After 5-6 years Manoj Kumar kept his promise as he went to the same place to sign Dilip Kumar for his film, ‘Kranti’ (1981).

The film, which planned to juxtapose the lifestyles of the East and the West, was to be shot on a large set of a village comprising temples, houses and streets, built at Raj Kapoor’s farm in Loni, near Pune. In addition, the outdoor shooting was scheduled in Mumbai, Kanyakumari, Shimla, Badrinath and Benares, besides in three countries namely, UK, Germany and France.

Unfortunately after working for the film for a month, Saira Banu was suddenly taken ill with ulcerative colitis. She lost 20 pounds and had to be rushed to London for treatment. She was nursed back to health with great difficulty. Subsequently, she returned to work, but her face had swollen with the prescribed steroids. Manoj Kumar had to resort to long shots, covering her face with her hair. The close ups were shot later at her Bandra home.

The film was partly shot in England and provided enough glimpses of the city of Big Ben including the London Playboy Club, a floating disco club on the River Thames, a dog racetrack and not to forget the immaculate, well-combed gardens, trimmed lawns and the quiet corridors of Oxford University, together with a brief glimpse of the deer at its Magdalen College, where the song, “Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Tod de” was picturised. The film was shot in the premises of the renowned university, during the holidays.

Manoj Kumar experimented a lot while shooting for the film. Cinematographer V N Reddy with his exquisite camera movements, supported the director’s framing of scenes and shots, especially angular shots, besides the wide-angle London outdoors, and picturisation of the well-choreographed song, “Hai Preet Jahan ki Reet Sada” with slow character movements on a revolving stage set.

In a brilliant symbolism, Manoj Kumar shot initial pre-Independence sequences of ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ in Black & White, and shifted the film to colour from the scene wherein the Indian Tricolor is hoisted on August 15, 1947. In another cinematic device, a part of the title – ‘Purab’ – appeared when the film opened with scenes in India, while the other part – ‘Aur Pachhim’ – appeared when scenes in Britain came on the screen.

Music by Kalyanji-Anandji was another highlight of the film, with Mahendra Kapoor recreating the magic of the ‘Upkar’ anthem, ‘Mere Desh ki Dharati’, in “Hai Preet Jahan ki Reet Sada”. Songs like “Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Tod de” and “Purva Suhani Aayi re” and apt use of the traditional bhajan, “Om Jai Jagdish Hare” raised the musical quotient of the film. An unusual voice of Usha Uthup – then Usha Iyer – a pop pioneer was also used for a brief track, ‘Love me’, in the film.

When ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ went to the Censor Board, the film certification body surprisingly gave a U certificate to the film even though it had a 3-minute sleazy dance sequence in the Playboy Club, interspersed with extreme violence, besides an offensive, attempted-rape scene involving Saira Banu and Prem Chopra. Perhaps it was a case of the end justifying the means.

When released ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ received generally positive reviews. It did a business of `50 lakh per major territory, but commercially appeared lackluster as compared to ‘Upkar’, which had done double the business. Today, the film is a rage on satellite as well as cable television and DVD.

Even though the film did not win any award, its powerful impact was visible when it inspired the internationally reputed cosmetic surgeon, Narendra Pandya to leave his cushy Job in the US and return to India for good. The surgeon admitted to Manoj Kumar that he hadn’t been able to sleep peacefully for two months after watching the film, and then decided to return to his motherland.

‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ also became the blueprint for the 2007 hit, ‘Namastey London’ starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif.

‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ has come to be regarded as the best packaged, path-breaking and trendsetting patriotic film, riding on the righteousness of traditional values over the decay and corruption of societies lost to drugs, sex, and disregard for elders.

SONGS OF EAST AND WEST

Dulhan Chali

(Mahendra Kapoor)

Koi Jab Tumhara Hriday Tod de (Mukesh)

Om Jai Jagdish Hare (Mahendra Kapoor, Brij Bushan and Shyama Chittar)

Purva Suhani Aayi re (Lata Mangeshkar, Mahendra Kapoor and Manhar Udhas)

Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram (Mahendra Kapoor and Manhar Udhas)

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

(Asha Bhosle, Mahendra Kapoor)

Hai Preet Jahan ki Reet Sada

(Mahendra Kapoor)

Love Me (Usha Iyer)

Country: India/ Vishal International Productions

Language: Hindi

Date of Release: June 12, 1970

Duration: 142 min

Colour: Colour (Eastmancolor) | partly Black & White 

Format: 35 mm/ Mono

Director: Manoj Kumar

Producer: Manoj Kumar

Written by: Shashi Goswami and Manoj Kumar

Cinematography: V N Reddy

Lyrics: Indeevar, Santosh Anand, Prem Dhawan and traditional Bhajans

Music: Kalyanji-Anandji

Cast: Ashok Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Saira Banu, Pran, Nirupa Roy, Prem Chopra, Vinod Khanna, Kamini Kaushal, Krishan Dhawan, Bharti, Madan Puri, Manmohan, Shammi, Rajendra Nath, Asit Sen, Leela Mishra, Kuljeet, Joginder, Barbara Lindley and Om Prakash

TRIVIA

> Manoj Kumar originally titled the film ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’, but then settled for ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ and later allowed Dev Anand to use the original title.

> The part shooting of ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’ was to be done in England. However, as Manoj Kumar did not prefer travelling by air, he left for England by ship with some of his crew members one month before the other crew members and artists flew to the location.

> The English song played on the boat cruise on the River Thames with Manoj Kumar, Saira Banu, Barbara Lindley, Prem Chopra and others aboard remained a mystery for long. For years, many people wondered where the song came from. It was finally released in the 1998 dance album, ‘Bombay the Hard Way: Guns, Cars and Sitars’. It was listed with the title, “Ganges a Go-Go”.

>  The song “Chalo Bhag Chale Purab ki Oar” written by Verma Malik and sung by Lata Mangeshkar was recorded by Kalyanji-Anandji for ‘Purab Aur Pachhim’. It however could not be included in the film due to the length of the production. Subsequently, the song was included in another Manoj Kumar production, ‘Kalyug Aur Ramayan’ (1987) starring himself.

THE PLOT

In 1942 British India, Harnam (Pran) betrays a freedom fighter, Om (Krishan Dhawan), and as a result is rewarded. Om, killed by the British soldiers, leaves behind his wife, Ganga (Kamini Kaushal) and a son. Fearing social boycott, Harnam runs away from the village with his young son Omkar, leaving behind his old saffron-clad father, Guruji (Ashok Kumar) and a pregnant wife, Kaushalya (Nirupa Roy), who soon gives birth to a daughter, Gopi. 

India gains Independence in 1947, and Bharat (Manoj Kumar) who has grown up, goes to London for higher studies. In London, he stays with his father’s friend, Sharma (Madan Puri), who has a westernised wife, Rita (Shammi); daughter, Preeti (Saira Banu); and hippie son, Shankar (Rajendra Nath). Preeti has long blonde hair, wears mini-dresses, smokes and drinks and has no idea about Indian values. Bharat is shocked to see that many Indians in London are ashamed of their roots.

Soon Bharat and Preeti fall in love, but she doesn’t want to go and stay in India. Coincidentally, Harnam is also in London and has amassed lot of wealth. His wayward son, Omkar (Prem Chopra) calls himself OP and wants to marry Preeti.

On completion of his course, Bharat requests Preeti and her parents to visit India and see the prosperity of the country. Harnam and OP also accompany them. In India, while the group is on a pilgrimage, OP tries to kidnap Preeti and in the process shoots his own grandfather, Guruji. The death of Guruji opens the eyes of Harnam, who understands the importance of Indian culture and upbringing. Preeti undergoes cultural awakening, decides to marry Bharat and stay back in India.

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