Chirag (1969) is a family drama directed by Raj Khosla starring Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh which is remembered more for the immortal song of Mohammed Rafi – Teri Aankhon Ke Siva Duniya Mein Rakkha Kya Hai. It is feelgood cinema of the sixties containing Bollywoodish twists in an apparently ordinary story but in the end, everything is not shown as being set right which separates it from the other family dramas. Besides, by default perhaps, it has an ingredient of a husband’s sincere love for his wife which remains intact despite all the negatives taking place in their conjugal life. And that, in my opinion, is the thing which brings Chiraag out of the category of regular potboilers and makes it a memorable movie.
Chiraag (lamp) starts with a rich but small family of Gayatri Devi (Lalita Pawar) and her son – Ajay (Sunil Dutt). Gayatri Devi is a widow who has lost her husband and now, resultantly, got over-possessive for her the only son who, just like his late father, is fond of fast driving. He falls in love with a girl from a modest background and Gayatri Devi bows before the wish of her son under a hope that the girl chosen to be her daughter-in-law will beget her grandchild and thus the lineage of the family will continue. This girl is Asha (Asha Parekh) who is not having parents and has been fostered by her elder brother (Om Prakash) and sister-in-law (Sulochana).
After the marriage, Asha gets overwhelmed by her husband’s abundant and unconditional love whose flare never fades. However when she is not able to conceive and bear a child for seven years, the affection of her mother-in-law for her gets incessantly diluted with the passage of every succeeding day. Things move from bad to worse when she accidentally loses her eyesight. Now Ajay, leaving all the worldly things, starts devoting the maximum of his time to her care. This further irritates Gayatri Devi who now starts feeling that her daughter-in-law is a burden on the household. Her confidant employee (Kanhaiyalaal) instigates her to go for Ajay’s second marriage and starts making his moves cleverly in such a way that his niece – Sandhya (Snehlata) gets married to Ajay.
One day, Ajay is deliberately sent outstation by Gayatri Devi and in his absence, Gayatri Devi sends Asha to her brother’s home. However there too, she approaches her and tells her that her getting out of Ajay’s life only will make Ajay’s life better and he’ll be able to become a father by marrying another girl. Asha decides to commit suicide and jumps into the nearby river. However Gayatri Devi’s desire of getting Ajay married again does not come true because he loves Asha so much that he’s not able to imagine some other woman in her place. His coming to know of her mother’s activities regarding Asha creates a distance between the mother and the son. However Gayatri Devi who is no less obstinate than her son, puts pressure on him to remarry by her hunger-strike.
On the other hand, Asha is saved by a fisherman (Nazir Hussain) and his wife (Dulaari). Now Asha comes to know that she is pregnant and bearing the lamp (Chiraag) of her husband’s dynasty in her womb. By the time the preparations of Ajay’s second marriage are complete at his home, Asha’s confinement has taken place in the fisherman’s hut and she has given birth to a son. The fisherman and his wife arranges Asha’s reaching her brother. In order to handover to Ajay the lamp of his dynasty, i.e., his son, Asha reaches him when the ceremony of his second marriage is taking place. The movie ends on a happy note when Ajay is less happy to see his son and more happy to see his blind wife alive who is dearer to him more than anything else.
Chiraag’s screenplay has been written in a pretty ordinary manner but partially due to the good direction of Raj Khosla and partially by default, this plain family drama has become quite impressive. The wafer-thin story line has been supplemented by songs, dances, comedy and romance. The story moves at a very slow pace in the first half and for some duration in the second half also but the final outcome is satisfactory. Since the very first encounter of the lead pair in the story, the filmmaker has underscored Ajay’s abundant love for Asha which is as deep as the ocean and as infinite as the sky. Ajay’s very first visit to Asha’s residence has been designed by the script-writers to create comedy but by default, it ends up highlighting Ajay’s unconditional love for his sweetheart which wins her over like anything. And after the marriage has taken place, Ajay has no complaints for Asha for anything including her not being able to conceive. He is quite happy by showering his love on her, demanding nothing from her, expecting nothing from her. And when he loses her, there is no end to his grief. Nothing can console him. Nothing can render any relief to him. It’s his love which moves as the undercurrent in the entire story. In the climax too, he regains his joys not through the fact that he has become a father but through the fact that his child’s mother, i.e., his beloved wife is back. The director could have provided the movie a routine Bollywoodish happy ending by showing that Asha gets her eyesight back but he has not done so and ended the movie with Ajay and Asha’s reunion only. The best song of the movie – Teri Aankhon Ke Siva Duniya Mein Rakkha Kya Hai – is played in the background of the scene of their reunion despite the fact that Asha is still blind. A sensitive viewer like me can derive the conclusion from it that instead of Asha’s external eyes, the eyes of her soul are important for Ajay.With this story, the movie would have been barely of two hours duration. However songs and dances have been inserted to add to the length. Madan Mohan has composed pretty good music with the help of Majrooh’s lyrics. Other than the timeless – Teri Aankhon Ke Siva, the other songs of the album viz. Jab Dekh Liya To Chhupenge Kahaan, Chhai Barkha Bahaar, Bhor Hote Kaaga Pukaare Kaahe Raam, Chiraag Dil Ka Jalaao, More Bichhade Saathi etc. are also quite good to listen (and to watch as well). Lata and Rafi have sung all the songs.
Technically the movie is up to the mark. The art director and the cinematographer have created the environment according to the requirement of different sequences. Certain nature-based scenes have turned out to be immensely beautiful.Performances are praiseworthy. Especially Sunil Dutt has done exceedingly well in the lead role of a loving husband. Asha Parekh as the loving wife and daughter-in-law first and a blind woman thereafter, is satisfactory in her performance. Lalita Pawar and others are also perfect in their respective places. Mukri has done good comedy as the hero’s friend.Summing up, Chiraag is a good family drama which can be seen for entertainment and also for a message that the love between a husband and a wife should be such that it remains unaffected by all kinds of contingencies emerging in their marital life.
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