A spectacular portrayal of a forgotten era engulfed in love, betrayal and tragedy. Here we take a trip back in time to relive the inception and journey of this all time cult classic.
The film took a surprising 14 years to be completed. Kamal Amrohi & Meena Kumari originally planned it as a Black & White venture in 1958. But with the introduction of colour technology and cinemascope, Amrohi starting shooting it from scratch. The project, however, came to a halt in 1964 and was only revived in 1968 when Sunil Dutt & Nargis convinced Meena Kumari.
Initially in 1958, Ashok Kumar signed on to play the role of Salim ,who was supposed to be a businessman. Later in 1968, Bollywood icons Dharmendra, Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt were considered for the role of Salim which was eventually accepted by Raaj Kumar. The role was modified from a businessman to a forest ranger to match his rugged build.
As Pakeezah, Meena Kumari projected an introverted quality which led to people labelling her as the ‘Tragedy Queen’. Her melancholic performance and breathtaking portrayal of character caused people to admire her innate acting prowess.
The exemplary actress, singer and poet, Meena Kumari succumbed to her illness just two months after the film was released. At first, the film had a moderate response at the box office, but as the news of her death spread, the movie starting gaining popularity. It was declared a hit and given iconic status and is still remembered as Meena Kumari’s final film.
Pakeezah won the award for Best Art Direction at the 1973 Filmfare Awards and was also nominated in categories such as Best Film, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Music.
Kamal Amrohi was a popular Indian film director and screenwriter of his time. He was commercially successful, intelligent and showcased his great eye for detail in his work. He painstakingly sketched all the set designs, camera movements, and even personally selected every costume worn by all the actors, including minor characters.
Pakeezah was the first film telecast by Doordarshan in the early 70s.
It began broadcasting from Amritsar in Punjab and towards Lahore in nearby Pakistan, where thousands gathered, travelling all the way from Karachi to watch the spectacle.
The crowds thronged the streets of Lahore to watch television screens placed at almost every street corner.
Ghulam Mohammed was the supremely talented music director of Pakeezah. Sadly, he did not live to see the success of his film.
Inspite of his brilliant work in his previous films, he did not get his due in the Indian Film Industry.
In fact, when Shankar-Jaikishen was awarded the Filmfare for Best Music category, Pran raised his voice in favour of Ghulam Mohammed, who he felt was more deserving for the award.