48 Years of Pakeezah (04/02/1972)
“आपके पाँव देखे, बहुत हसीन हैं, इन्हें जमीन पर मत उतारिएगा. मैले हो जाएंगे- आपका एक हमसफ़र”
“Aapke paaoo’n dekhe. Bahut haseen hai’n Inhe zameen par mat utariiyega. Mele ho jaayenge –Aapkaa ek humsafar…”
Pakeezah is a cult classic film, written and directed by Kamal Amrohi, who was known for his perfectionism. The music is by Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad Ali. The film starred Meena Kumari, Raaj Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Nadira, D.K. Sapru and Veena. Meena Kumari’s performance as a golden-hearted Lucknow nautch-girl drew major praise. However, this was to be Meena Kumari’s last performance.
Kamal Amrohi’s PR man said: “Shah Jahan made Taj Mahal for his wife, Kamal Sahab wanted to do the same with Pakeezah.” The concept, Kamal Amrohi says was irretrievably fixed with his love for his wife Meena Kumari. According to Kamal Amrohi, he hoped to create a film which would be worthy of her as an actress, and worthy of the love he felt for her as a woman. Meena Kumari regarded the film as Kamal Amrohi’s tribute to her.
The film tells the story set in Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the century, its central character is a Lucknowi nautch-girl, for her to fall in love was forbidden, it was a sin she was told, a nautch-girl is born to delight others such is her destiny and yet her restless soul could not suppress her surging desire — To Love and Be Loved. It was ostensibly (perhaps loosely) based on Kamal Amrohi and Meena Kumari’s own love story.
From its mahurat on 18 January 1958 to its release on 4 February 1972, Pakeezah took 14 years to reach the silver screen. Pakeezah released on 3 February 1972, with a grand premiere at Maratha Mandir theatre in central Mumbai and was released for the audience the following day. Meena Kumari attended the last premiere of her life along with Kamal Amrohi.
Already battling cirrhosis of the liver, Meena Kumari was ill throughout the filming and died only a few weeks after it was finally released. It was Meena Kumari’s last great performance and one that solidified her reputation as a legendary actress. An Indian critic has said Pakeezah was “Poetry, fantasy and nostalgia rolled into one on an epic scale”.