Lovers in the Rain

Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat had cinema history written all over it.

Written by Harneet Singh | New Delhi | Published: November 24, 2013 10:23:12 pm

Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat had cinema history written all over it.

In the middle of the night,the brooding hero stands in the balcony of his houseboat and plays a melancholy tune on his violin. The heroine hears the strains and is instantly drawn to him. She defies the night,her parents’ presence,rows a boat all by herself and rushes to reach her lover. The hero holds her in one hand and the violin in the other and declares,“Is waqt jis tarah is violin ki tarah tum mere haath mein aa gayi ho,jee chahta hai tumhare dil ke taaron ko bhi ched doon ki tum sar se paon tak jhanjhana utho.”

The moment,the man,the woman and the violin would go on to become one of the most iconic scenes of Hindi cinema. It would also come to represent the emblem of RK Films. Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat has cinema history written all over it. Barsaat was Kapoor’s first directorial hit. It was after this film’s success that he bought RK Studios in 1950. It was with Barsaat that the RK-Nargis-Shankar Jaikishan-Shailendra-Hasrat Jaipuri-Lata Mangeshkar team was established. The film introduced Nimmi as the mountain girl Neela.

Barsaat presents love stories of two friends,the hedonist and philandering Gopal (Prem Nath) and the sensitive poet Pran (Kapoor). The film is about two points of view. While Pran believes,“achche bure ka mayaar ek hi hai,aur woh ki kisi ka dil na dukhaana,kisi ke jazbaat,kisi ki bhaavnaon ko thes naa pahuchaana,yahi punya hai aur yahi paap.” Gopal believes,“Yeh 20th century hai… agar aaj ki duniya mein taraqqi karna chahte ho,toh har cheez ko materialistic angle se dekho.”

Both the friends fall in love with mountain girls — Gopal with Neela (Nimmi) and Pran with Reshma (Nargis). While Pran and Reshma defy odds in the pursuit of their love,Gopal is dismissive of Neela’s love. He promises that he would return to her with the barsaat (rains),but ruthlessly keeps her waiting. The haunting lines,“Mil naa sake haaye… mil naa sake hum…” in the title song Barsaat mein humse mile underline the tragedy of Neela’s endless wait.

It’s part of cinema folklore how Kapoor spotted Nimmi on the sets of Mehboob Khan’s Andaaz. In an interview to a film magazine,Nimmi had stated that it was Kapoor who changed her name from Nawab Banno to Nimmi. She described how she got her debut role. “I’d come from Lahore with my aunt and was staying at Mehboob Khan’s house. His Andaaz was almost complete and Raj Kapoor,who was acting in the film,had launched Barsaat. He was in search of a new face… I had gone on the sets of Andaaz and was sitting besides Nargis’ mother Jaddanbai. Raj Kapoor came up to Jaddanbai,wished her and then looked at me. He returned to the floor and told Mehboob saab,‘I want this girl for my film.’ I wanted to accept the offer but was worried about my grandmother’s reaction. I was called for a screen test… The next thing I knew was that I had been chosen for Barsaat,” said Nimmi.

And then there was Nargis. Like in all RK films which starred the iconic couple,here too her name features before Kapoor’s. In Barsaat,she makes her appearance after more than half an hour of the film but owns the movie with her mix of impish charm — she scrunches her nose while talking — and her passionate pathos when her love is tested,leading her to voice the firm belief of lovers that “maut se sirf pyaar hi lad sakta hai”. The Raj-Nargis palpable chemistry is timeless,and it’s not just about the violin scene. In a beautiful interaction before the song,Meri aankhon mein koi bas gaya re,there’s a moment when he tells her,“Dekho meri aankhon mein… kya dikhta hai.” She comes really close to him,peeps into his eyes and tells him,“In mein toh main dikhai deti hoon.” And then she giggles.

Barsaat owes a lot of its beauty to Jal Mistry’s beautiful frames. Ramanand Sagar’s lines become a tad too verbose at times but the impact can’t be denied. The film’s music is soulful. While Jaipuri wrote most of the songs,it is believed that Kapoor offered Rs 500 as signing fee to poet Shailendra for making his debut as a lyricist for Barsaat mein and Patli kamar.

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