Himalay Ki Bulandi Se Suno Aawaaz Hai Aai, Kaho Maaon Se Den Bete, Kaho Behno Se Den Bhaai (Please listen to the call has come from the heights of the Himaalayas. Ask the mothers to give their sons and the sisters to give their brothers for the cause of the motherland). These are the initial lines of the patriotic song – Watan Pe Jo Fida Hoga, Amar Woh Naujawan Hoga (The youth sacrificing himself for the motherland will become immortal) which is a part of this movie. Considering another Independence Day of India at hand, I am posting the review of this patriotic movie.
During a period of less than a decade (1962-1971), India had to face three wars forced on her by the enemies in her neighbourhood, i.e, China and Pakistan. We were backstabbed by China in 1962 and suffered a humiliating loss. However we inflicted crushing defeats on our another enemy, Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. We did not initiate any of these wars on our own, we only defended our land when attacked by the concerned wicked neighbour. Indian population suffered a lot of hardships and Indian economy was hit hard on account of these wars but we kept our head high with pride. These developments on the borders led to the making of many patriotic movies in Bollywood. One of them is Phool Bane Angaare (1963) starring Mala Sinha, Raaj Kumar and debutante Aashish Kumar in principal roles.
Phool Bane Angaare (flowers turned into cinders) starts with the love story of an army officer Captain Rajesh (Raaj Kumar) and a simple fatherless girl – Usha (Mala Sinha). Usha’s father had passed away long back and she lives with her widow mother and a brother who is several years younger to her – Aashish (Sushil Kumar). She only runs the household by her earnings through tuition. Due to negative happenings in their neighbourhood and seeing his buddy suffering in the hands of the mother-in-law of his widow sister, Aashish becomes insecure and starts feeling that if his sister gets married, he would have to suffer the same way in her in-laws’ household after the death of his mother. Considering the feelings of her young brother who is very dear to her, Usha postpones the execution of her marriage plan. Meantime Rajesh is sent abroad by the army on a difficult mission from which he is not able to return for many years.
During this period of Rajesh’s absence, his widow mother (Mumtaaz Begum) lives alone getting older and sick on one hand whereas on the other, Usha fosters her younger brother Aashish (their mother passes away during this timespan) who has now grown-up into a youth (Aashish Kumar). Aashish falls in love with a rich but spoiled girl Kamla (Nasreen) and marries her against the wish of his motherlike elder sister, i.e., Usha who knows the defective personality of Kamla beforehand (because she used to take her tuition). Post this marriage, Kamla starts misbehaving with her unmarried sister-in-law, i.e., Usha and Aashish being a henpecked husband, only adds insult to the injury of his sacrificing elder sister. Usha leaves the parental home and destiny makes her the governess of Rajesh’s ailing mother, thus bringing her to that house only which is supposed to be her Sasuraal (in-laws’ home). Rajesh’s mother had never seen the girl whom her son had been in love with and wanted to marry but she is won over by the nature, behaviour and service of Usha. Rajesh comes back after many years only to find his sweetheart in his home only. His mother comes to know the reality of Usha now and she arranges their marriage with utmost joy.
On the other side, Aashish who has always been a non-earning person, first sells the parental house under the influence of his wife and her brother (Mukri) but even then there is no end to his humiliation in his own home. Finally, he leaves home and joins army. China attacks India and war breaks out. Not only the husband (Rajesh) and the brother (Aashish) of Usha involve in the war as the Indian soldiers but Usha also contributes to the nation’s cause as a nurse. Raajesh is injured in the war but he returns to home whereas Aashish happens to die due to injuries in front of his loving sister Usha only, repenting for his guilt done to his sister in his dying moments.
The problem of Phool Bane Angaare is that it’s theme is not completely focussed on patriotism. It starts as a romantic movie and thereafter remains a family drama for the major part of it. The issue of defending the frontiers of the motherland and the patriotism required for that comes in the final part of the movie only. However in the final reels, the significance of patriotism has been underscored very well which was the need of the hour then (and is today as well).
The movie is quite an interesting one. Rajshri’s much acclaimed movie – Tapasya (1976) starring Raakhee in the lead role, appears to be on the lines of this movie only. As per the norm prevailing in that period, there are doses of comedy also through the characters of Johnny Walker and Shammi. Negative characters of Kamla (Nasreen) and her brother (Mukri) appear to be unnatural and over the top. However the movie has been prevented from getting derailed by the emphatic performance of Mala Sinha in the lead role of a loving elder sister who keeps the family responsibility above the love of her beau. Raaj Kumar has also done well in the role of a sincere lover. He has got less footage but amused the audience through his well-executed romantic encounters with his on-screen sweetheart. Debutante Aashish Kumar who later carved a niche for himself in the religous and mythological movies, has also done satisfactorily but the performance of child artist – Sushil Kumar who has played the childhood version of Aashish is more impressive and heart-conquering. The supporting cast is well in place.
Technically this black and white movie is just all right. The war scenes may not be outstanding but they meet the requirement of the narrative pretty well. The movie is not very long (plus the version presently available on CD / internet is an abridged one).
Kalyanji Anandji have composed good music for the movie using the beautiful lyrics of Anand Bakshi. Other than the patriotic song – Watan Pe Jo Fida Hoga (sung by Mohammad Rafi), the movie contains my favourite admiring song in the voice of Mukesh – Chaand Aahen Bharega, Phool Dil Thaam Lenge, Husn Ki Baat Chali To Sab Tera Naam Lenge. In this song, the beauty of the lady has been praised in such an amazing manner using extra-ordinary metaphors that this song has become a timeless classic in the tradition of admiring songs in the history of Bollywood music. O Raadha Poochhe Teri Sakhiyaan in Lata’s voice is also very good to listen (and to watch on the screen as It’s related to the mythological romance of Lord Krishna and Raadha). Sambhal To Le Dil Diwaana Zara Theher Jaana (sung by Lata) is another song which contains melody as well as lyrical beauty which was a trademark of the music of that period.
The title of the movie is as such due to a line of the patriotic song – Watan Pe Jo Fida Hoga, Amar Woh Naujawan Hoga – Chaman Waalon Ki Gairat Ko Hai Sayyaadon Ne Lalkaara; Utho, Har Phool Se Keh Do Ki Ban Jaaye Woh Angaara; Nahin To Doston, Ruswa Hamaara Gulsitaan Hoga (The self-respect of the residents of the garden has been challenged by the fowlers; rise up and ask every flower to turn into a cinder; lest O friends, our garden should be defamed). Today, after half a century, the scenario is no different for India. Hence these lines are very relevant today also for our country and the countrymen. While recommending this decent movie from the black and white era to the movie buffs, I appeal to all my compatriots to take a solemn vow to stand by our brave soldiers through thick and thin (this movie has been dedicated to them only) and do our bit also (whatever possible) to safeguard our country. Let’s not forget that we are safe only till our frontiers are safe.