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Madhumati
Directed by Bimal Roy
Written by Ritwik Ghatak (Screenplay)
Rajinder Singh Bedi (Dialogue)
Starring Dilip Kumar
Vyjayanthimala
Johnny Walker
Editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Release date(s) 1958
Running time 179 mins
Country India
Language Hindi

Madhumati is a 1958 Indian Hindi film directed by Bimal Roy and written by Ritwik Ghatak. Music by Salil Choudhury, lyrics by Shailendra. The movie stars Dilip Kumar, Vyjayantimala, Pran and Johnny Walker. It was one of the earliest films to deal with reincarnation and had a gothic noir feel to it.[1] The first and only collaboration between Roy and Ghatak, it was one of their most commercially successesful and influential films.[2]

Contents

Plot

On a stormy night, Devendra (Dilip Kumar), an engineer, drives down a hill road with his friend, to fetch his wife and child from the railway station. A landslide blocks their path and the friends take shelter in an old mansion just off the road. Devendra finds the house uncannily familiar. In the large front room he finds an old portrait which he recognizes. His friend and the old caretaker join him, and Devendra, amidst flashes of memory from another life, sits down to tell his story while the storm rages outside. Anand (Dilip Kumar) had come to Shyamnagar Timber Estate as its new manager. An artist in his spare time, he roamed the hills and forests with his sketching pad and fell in love with Madhumati (Vyjayantimala), a tribal girl whose songs have haunted him from a distance.

Vyjayanthimala as Madumati.

Soon Anand meets his employer, Ugranarayan (Pran), a ruthless and arrogant man. Anand refuses to bend down to him like the others, and incurs his wrath. Anand also has enemies among his staff who have been fudging the accounts till his arrival. Sent away on an errand suddenly, he returns to find that Madhumati has disappeared. Anand learns from Charandas how Madhumati had been taken to Ugranarayan in his absence. He confronts Ugranarayan whose men beat him unconscious. Anand's life is saved, but his mind wanders. One day in the forest he meets a girl who looks exactly like Madhumati. She says she is Madhavi (Vyjayantimala), but Anand refuses to believe her, and is beaten up by her companions when he tries to plead with her. Madhavi finds a sketch of Madhumati in the forest and realizes he was speaking the truth. She takes the sketch to the rest house where Anand now stays, and learns his story from Charandas. Meanwhile Anand is haunted by the spirit of Madhumati who tells him that Ugranarayan is her killer. Seeing Madhavi at a dance recital where she dresses as a tribal girl, he appeals to her to pose as Madhumati and appear before Ugranarayan and help him get a confession out of him. She agrees. Returning to Ugranarayan's palace, Anand begs permission to do a portrait of him. Next evening with a storm brewing outside Anand paints Ugranarayan. At the stroke of eight, Ugranarayan sees Madhumati in front of him. Shaken, and goaded by Madhumati, he confesses the truth. The police who have been waiting outside the room now come and take him away. Anand suddenly realizes that the questions the false Madhumati asked were on matters unknown to him. How did Madhavi know where Madhumati was buried? The girl just smiles, and moves towards the stairs. Madhavi dressed as Madhumati rushes into the room. She is late, for the car failed on the way. Anand realizes that Madhumati herself had come and runs up to the terrace where her ghost beckons him. She had fallen from the same terrace trying to escape Ugranarayan. Anand follows her falling to his death. Devendra's story is over. "But," he says "I finally did have Madhumati as my wife. In this life - Radha." Just then news comes that the train in which his wife was travelling has met with an accident. The road has been cleared, and the two friends rush to the station. From one of the coaches, Devendra's wife Radha (Vyjayantimala) appears unhurt with her baby...

Awards and nominations

Won
Nominated

Influence

Madhumati was influenced by Mahal (1949), the earliest film on reincarnation and which Bimal Roy was the editor for.[1] Madhumati itself went on to become the source of inspiration for many later works dealing with the theme of reincarnation in Indian cinema, Indian television, and perhaps world cinema. It may have been the source of inspiration for the American film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975) and the Hindi film Karz (1980), both of which dealt with reincarnation and have been influential in their respective cultures.[2] Karz in particular was remade several times: as the Kannada film Yuga Purusha (1989), the Tamil film Enakkul Oruvan (1984), and more recently the Bollywood film Karzzzz (2008). The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and Karz may have also inspired the American film Chances Are (1989).[4] The most recent film to be directly inspired by Madhumati is the hit Bollywood film Om Shanti Om (2007), which led to the late Bimal Roy's daughter Rinki Bhattacharya accusing the film of plagiarism and threatening legal action against its producers.[5][6]

Other later Indian films featuring reincarnation as a main theme include:

Reincarnation has also appeared as a main theme in the following Indian soap operas and television serials:

References

  1. ^ a b Mishra, Vijay (2002), Bollywood cinema: temples of desire, Routledge, pp. 49–57, ISBN 0415930146  
  2. ^ a b Doniger, Wendy (2005), "Chapter 6: Reincarnation", The woman who pretended to be who she was: myths of self-imitation, Oxford University Press, pp. 112–136 [135], ISBN 0195160169  
  3. ^ Filmfare Awards 1958
  4. ^ Doniger, Wendy (2005), "Chapter 6: Reincarnation", The woman who pretended to be who she was: myths of self-imitation, Oxford University Press, pp. 112–136 [128-31 & 135], ISBN 0195160169  
  5. ^ Ashanti nags Om Shanti Om Mumbai Mirror, 7 August 2008.
  6. ^ Shah Rukh, Farah Sued: Writer Claims SRK stole his script for Om Shanti Om

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Mother India
Filmfare Award for Best Film
1958
Succeeded by
Sujata
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