WHAT happens when for certain humane considerations a girl marries a man she doesn’t love? What does the other man with whom she is truly in love do under the circumstances? How does the husband react when he discovers his wife’s love for the other man?
That “Gumrah” provokes these questions is the first good—and for Hindi films, unusual —thing about the film. The second good thing is that the film answers these in a manner that in the final analysis is dramatically satisfying.
Meena (Mala Sinha) finds herself torn between her love for the singer-painter Rajinder (Sunil Dutt) and her little nephew and niece who have been rendered motherless by her sister’s sudden death. Thinking that her love for Rajinder should outweigh all other considerations, she who sleeps with the two little ones on either side decides one night to sleep on the floor beside their bed, so that they might get used to living without her. When she wakes up in the morning, however, she finds both of them cuddling up to her on the floor. That decides it for her. She marries their father, a flourishing barrister, Ashok (Ashok Kumar).
A delightful touch indeed, and in its own way quite convincing. But from then on the screenplay falters. One would expect that Meena, torn as she is, would at least carry her heart’s burden to her lover. What actually happens is that she marries Ashok and Rajinder disappears from the scene, only to reappear at the celebration of Meena’s wedding anniversary on which, conveniently enough, her husband himself is not present owing to his business preoccupations! The two little ones who were responsible for Meena’s marriage would in real life have made their presence felt much more after she marries their father. But it is not so in the film. They hardly put in an appearance for a considerable period of time and their place appears to have been completely taken by Rajinder.
The story provides opportunities for dramatic conflict which the screenplay keeps missing. Leela who blackmails Meena tells her that she is Rajinder’s wife. The first thing Meena should have done is to face Rajinder with the charge. In the film, however, she allows herself to be blackmailed to near suicide and only then does she ask Rajinder whether it is true that he is already married. The surprise twist in the ending itself provokes another question. We refrain from asking it here in order not to reveal the end. After seeing the film you are going to ask it, anyway.
B. R. Chopra’s polished direction manages to gloss over these weaknesses. In the scene showing Leela being chased by Meena across Bombay’s Fort area, he builds up suspense in masterly fashion. He is very ably aided by the performers, dominated by Ashok Kumar as the flourishing barrister and cuckold husband. Sunil Dutt and Mala Sinha are also adequate. Karan Dewan and Shyama as the fighting couple, clients of Ashok, and, to a lesser degree, Deven Varma and Vandana as the cook and the Goan ayah respectively, ably enact the plots within the plot. The dialogue which is rather trite and halting in the opening scenes, probably out of necessity to impart needed information to the audience, warms up to Akhtar-ul-Iman’s customary brilliance through the interplay of characters as the film progresses.
The songs are in fact poems. Their lyrical excellence predominates, for which credit must go to Sahir Ludhianvi. In an industry where plagiary is so common, it was a nice gesture on his part to give credit, where it is due, to the Urdu poet Riyaz. Incidentally, the unacknowledged Hindi version of the popular “Che Sera, Sera” song turns out to be a faded and flat copy.
Good story material, competent direction and adequate performances, technical and lyrical values make this film worth saving, and they save it from the frail, loosely contrived screenplay.
Year – 1963
Language – Hindi
Country – India
Producer – B. R. Films
Director – B. R. Chopra
Music Director – Ravi
Box-Office Status –
Cast – Ashok Kumar, Mala Sinha, Shashikala, Nirupa Roy, Nana Palsikar, Vandana, Sunil Dutt, Deven Verma, Shyama, Karan Dewan
Miscellaneous Information –