An admission from a Dev Anand bhakt who loves Rajendra Kumar a lot but at the second place…the admission is about Sunil Dutt. What a handsome man he was, I was totally besotted by his graceful demeanour in so many films, that supple toned body (thank God no biceps!) that boyish smile, that tall and lean personality and what amazing dressing sense, and an awesome voice to go with it! Gumrah was just what I wanted to see but was very conflicted through the film. Not because there was an extramarital affair afoot but because this prudish teenage girl was actually seeing things topsy-turvy. She was sympathizing with Sunil and detesting Ashok Kumar, an actor she placed right on top ahead of all the other stars.
I never hated Ashok Kumar as much as I hated him in Gumrah, he was the kabab mein haddi of this beautiful romance. And look at his smug and sly role through the film. I never sided with him, in fact, instead of being grateful to Mala Sinha for marrying an older man with two children, he was actually setting a spy on her to find out what she was up to. Instead of being grateful that she was little more than a glorified nanny to his kids, he was behaving like a perfect villain. So I was conflicted. I believed in the institution of marriage but such a marriage to such a rascal?
The film made me grow up in a hurry and formulate a new answer: it’s ok to cheat on a man you don’t love and who is using you as a social and household convenience.
Phew. Who do I owe this to?
Sahir and the story-teller of Gumrah. Who made me love the lover, who made me condone the extramarital affair, who made me detest the smug undeserving husband.
And here is this song, right out of Sahir’s own personal life. Sudha was married and he was, much like Sunil Dutt in the film, single. He was hurting. Now I am imagining this but I guess they ran into each other at some film event and he saw her with her husband, and for a few moments recalled the shared past, the shared promises, the romance…all to no avail. Those shared looks, those evenings spent together, all washed away. In the film its thanks to the old fashioned way of palming off the younger sister to the recently bereaved husband. Nah….seen all this and have never liked this idea. A few months back he was a brother-in-law, and suddenly he is a husband? Makes my skin crawl!
But this poem…..what a poem, every word awesome…
Look at the personification…kitne bhoole hue zakhmon ka pata yaad aaya. “Suddenly I remembered the address of all the pain and suffering which I had forgotten”….oof! And then, “Aaj woh baat nahin phir bhi koi baat to hai, mere hisse mein ye halki si mulaaqaat to hai”. Stunning, stunning, stunning….can’t get better than this.
A big salute to you Sahir. You made me grow up. And a big salute to the awesome rendition of Mahendra Kapoor and Ravi’s bewilderingly beautiful song. Love this song…
(Originally written on 12th March 2016)
Lata Jagtiani is an author of several books including the biography, ‘O.P.Nayyar King of Melody’. She has been a lecturer both in India and abroad teaching English and Creative Writing to college students. She lives in Mumbai.