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Khazanchi (1941)


Ramola in Khazanchi (1941)

This is an example of the work of the studio in Lahore that was a centre of the Indian film industry before partition and is now the home of ‘Lollywood’ or the Pakistani film industry. A huge hit, it is one of the films that helped to establish the musical style of the Hindi film industry in subsequent years.

Shadilal (M. Ismail), the khazanchi (cashier) must take some jewellery to Bombay. His son Kanwal (S. D. Narang) wants to marry Madhuri (Ramola), the daughter of the rich Durgadas (Durga Mota), but the wicked Ramesh (Ajmal) is determined to marry her to get his hands on her wealth. The news comes from Bombay that Shadilal has murdered an actress and stolen her jewellery, although it seems that Ramesh was involved in hiring a vamp and putting powder in his drink…

The film puts great emphasis on the modern, with shots of clocks, banks, bicycles, train and phones. It uses many outdoor locations, and its stars, who are mostly fairly ordinary-looking, though well dressed, give strong performances. (Pran, who goes on to play a villain, then also a hero’s friend in Hindi films, has a small role in the film.)

The outstanding feature of this film is its music composed by Ghulam Haider, especially ‘Saawan kenazaare hain’, ‘Ek kali naazon ki pali’ and ‘Nainon ke baan’. Originally a dentist from Sindh, Haider had previously worked in Calcutta but his first hits were those he composed for Pancholi, introducing the young Noor Jehan, although Shamshad Begum was the main Pancholi singer. Khazanchi was Haider’s biggest hit, his music drawing on Punjabi and light classical styles; using Punjabi rhythms and instruments like the dholak (a kind of drum), it became a huge craze across the country. After this he moved to Bombay, where he had several hits and famously ‘discovered’ Lata Mangeshkar, before moving back to Lahore after partition, leaving the field open for Naushad, the other music director who, with him, shaped the history of Hindi film music – Rachel Dwyer

Cast and Production Credits

Year – 1941, Genre – Drama, Producer – Pancholi Production, Director – Moti B. Gidwani, Music Director – Ghulam Haider, Language – Urdu/Hindi, Country – India, Cast – M. Ismail, Ramola, S.D. Narang, Manorama, Durga Mota, Ajmal

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  1. Have you seen Khandan? If so do you know who played the role of the heroine’s sister and child Najma? The credits in the CD are incomplete and the film credits with 4 Shamshad Begum songs are cut off.

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