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Ganga Jamuna (1961) – Review

Gunga Jumna (1961)
178 min|Action, Drama, Musical|25 Aug 1966
7.6Rating: 7.6 / 10 from 406 usersMetascore: N/A
Widowed Govindi lives a poor lifestyle in Haripur along with two sons, Gungaram and Jumna. While Jumna is studious, Gungaram is the opposite, but has a good heart and decides to use his ...

Commonsense being uncommon and the commonplace all too common in our films, one test which a reviewer adopts when judging a particular film is how far it rises above the stereotyped coincidences and anachronisms and succeeds in making you laugh or cry. In fairness it is to be stated that “Ganga Jumna” passes this test.

The widow falsely accused of a theft she has not committed, the marriage arranged against the wishes of the bride, the rich and lecherous brother-in-law of the zamindar who creates all the complications … all these are commonplace enough. The mainspring of the story, however, is the bond which ties Ganga to his younger brother Jumna. The conflict which is the essence of drama is posed when Jumna, as a police officer, has to track down Ganga who has become a dacoit. But in the rather long-drawn-out process of stating this conflict, the poor long arm of coincidence is almost fractured.

Take an example. Ganga, like his mother before him, is falsely implicated by the zamindar’s brother-in-law in a crime he has not committed. Now Ganga does not suffer from a martyr complex nor has he the political Leader’s predilection for going to jail. He can, if he so chooses, provide an excellent alibi. But in the dock, before the magistrate, he who is normally so outspoken becomes strangely silent. Not the magistrate, but the story teller sentences him to jail to initiate the conflict and provide the tragic twist. This is not only contempt of court, it is contempt of justice itself!

The awakening of love between Ganga and the untouchable Dhanno, the confirmed vagabond and the sharp-tongued shrew, gives to the story its human appeal. The zamindar’s brother-in-law’s interest in Dhanno foreshadows the tragedy about to befall the couple. As against this, it is not clear why Jumna, if he really loves Kamla, the zamindar’s daughter, has to have her literally thrust upon him. After 15,000 feet of film he hasn’t still popped the question to her.

Once the conflict is stated, however, suspense is carefully worked up to the rather forced denouement. The tear and blood- drenched end, for all its melodramatic excesses, does wring the heart.

Whether as rustic vagabond or desperate dacoit, Dilip displays consummate artistry throughout. The vitality and robust humor he imparts to his role make Nasir as his brother Jumna appear almost insipid. The contrast is even more true of their respective sweethearts. Vyjayanthimala as Dhanno makes her role live and behind the sharpness of her tongue she gives you a glimpse of the longing in her heart. Azra as Jumna’s sweetheart has little to do but look lonesome and pining.

The zamindar’s brother-in-law is more like the caricature of a villain than the real thing. He has all the vices you can imagine, and subtlety is certainly not one of the virtues of Anwar Hussain’s stagy and exaggerated rendering of the role.

Kanhaiyalal as the Munshiji, Nazir Hussain as the police inspector and S. Nazir as the school-master give an excellent account of themselves. Leela Chitnis as the widow gives another touching performance. Incidentally, this sets the mood of the story which, for all its laughter and ribaldry, has a sad streak.

It is thus that Nitin Bose gets the maximum out of each role and its performer to contribute to the film’s surge and sweep. Skilled photography by V. Babasaheb and editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Das Dhaimade are marshalled expertly for the same end. Even the music—it is not that Naushad has failed, but rather that, within his allotted task, he has succeeded too well, always subordinating the music to the story, content to echo and re-echo its emotional nuances.

Inspired is a worn word. It is difficult to find another to describe Nitin Bose’s direction. How he builds the story’s commonplaces into climaxes, never missing a single one, leaves one marvelling. The suspense and excitement which in foreign films one associates with, say, the colour and glamour of a bullfight or the harsh brutality of the boxing-ring, he achieves in filming the simple village game of hu-tu-tu. The extent of audience participation he is able to achieve in this sequence, among others, is a measure of his genius.

The dances do rather impede the story’s flow but they are all colorful and typical of village life. The one by Helen is entrancingly rendered and skillfully photographed.

Wajahat Mirza’s dialogue has a most refreshing undercurrent of humor.

The lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni vary from the rousing one in the village school to the doleful love song Dhanno sings for her beloved, imprisoned.

“Gunga Jumna” has enough of popular appeal to be a hit. It has also enough of artistic sincerity and technical excellence to deserve it.

Year – 1961

Language – Hindi

Country – India

Producer – Citizen Films

Director – Nitin Bose

Music Director – Naushad

Box-Office Status

Cast – Helen, Dilip Kumar, Vaijayantimala, Nasir Khan, Azra, Kanhaiyalal, Anwar, Nazir Hussain, S. Nazir, Akashdeep, Aruna Irani, Naaz, Praveen Paul, Leela Chitnis

Miscellaneous Information – Not Available.

Songs List

SongYearSingersMusic DirectorLyricist(s)
Chhalia re chhalia1961Mohammad Rafi, Lata MangeshkarNaushad
Dhondo dhoone re sajna1961Lata MangeshkarNaushad
Do hanson ka joda bicchad gayo re1961Lata MangeshkarNaushad
Jhanan ghoongar baje1961Lata MangeshkarNaushad
Na manu na manu dagabaz tori batiyan1961Lata MangeshkarNaushad
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