It’s been four years since Suchitra Sen left for her heavenly abode on 17.01.2014. One of the greatest actresses of the Indian screen, Suchitra Sen was always in a league of her own and will remain so in the history of Indian cinema. She always maintained an aura of mystery around her till her last breath and now when she is no more, that era is bound to continue forever.
Suchitra Sen mostly acted in Bengali movies but did a handful of Hindi movies too. And most of these Hindi movies are classics. Today I am reviewing one such classic movie only in which Suchitra Sen has done a double role starring opposite Ashok Kumar and Dharmendra, two different heroes coming from two generations. This movie is Mamta (1966).
Mamta (love of the mother for the kid) is the Hindi version of a Bengali movie – Uttar Phalguni (1963) in which Suchitra only has played the lead role starring opposite Bikash Roy and Dilip Mukherjee. This Hindi version of Uttar Phalguni is damn impressive and can be termed as excellent by all standards.
This is the story of a poor girl Devyani (Suchitra Sen) who is in love with a rich boy Manish (Ashok Kumar). Both are determined to get married but when Manish goes abroad for higher studies in the field of law, Devyani is not able to save herself from the cruel destiny. She is forcibly married to a much elder person who is alcoholic and characterless. She begets a daughter and being concerned for the future of the little one, she runs away and leaves the kid under the guardianship of a nun called Mother Mary. Her ill-fate does notleave her and she lands being a courtesan to be known as Panna Baai.Manish returns from abroad and when he finds Devyani in the form of Panna Baai, the courtesan; he is taken aback. Devyani does not go with him but hands over her little daughter to him for bringing up. That daughter grows up as Suparna (Suchitra Sen’s second role) and becomes a lawyer just like Manish. She falls in love with Indraneel (Dharmendra). And one day, destiny brings the aged mother and the young daughter in front of each other in the courtroom when the daughter is the public prosecutor and the mother is facing trial for a murder. The movie ends on a highly emotional note.The story of Mamta or Uttar Phalguni has been penned by Nihaar Ranjan Gupta.However this story contains shadows of a very old and lesser known Hindi novel of eminent Hindi author Acharya Chatursen – Narmedh (the yajna involving sacrifice of human life). Anyway I won’t call it plagiarism. May be due to the inspiration taken for the story of the movie or due to pure coincidence. The screenplay has also been written very well and proficient director Asit Sen has directed it superbly. Dialogs are also impressive.
The story of the movie is an emotional one and hence it’s the emotional sequences that impress the most. The mother’s relentless and abundant love (Mamta) for the daughter appears out and out real and proves to be a tear-jerker for the sensitive viewers. However the courtroom drama taking place in the climax of this social drama is also very imposing. Ample doses of romance are also there and the songs are the icing on the cake. Cinematography, art direction,editing and other technical aspects of this colour movie are up to the mark. It’s a movie which scores in all the fields.Roshan has composed the music of a lifetime for this movie with the help of the lyrics of Majrooh Sultanpuri containing high literary value. Rahen Na Rahen Hum Mehka Karenge Ban-Ke Kali Ban-Ke Saba Baagh-e-Wafa Mein fills the listener’s heart with the fragrance of eternal love. Ditto for Chhupa Lo Yoon Dil Mein Pyar Mera Ki Jaise Mandir Mein Lau Diye Ki. In addition to these two songs, Lata Mangeshkar has sung the immortal Ghazal also for Suchitra Sen in this movie – Rehte The Kabhi Jin-Ke Dil Mein Hum Jaan Se Bhi Pyaaron Ki Tarah. Lata’s lesser known song – Vikal Mora Manwa Unn Bin Hai is also there. And which romantic heart is not thrilled by listening to the evergreen romantic duet of Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle – In Bahaaron Mein Akele Na Phiro, Raah Mein Kaali Ghata Rok Na Le ?
Mamta is, by all means, Suchitra Sen’s movie and she has entered the skins of both the roles – that of the mother and that of the daughter. That’s a splendid performance in two entirely different roles while being cast opposite two different heroes in them – Ashok Kumar who is much older to her in age and Dharmendra who is younger to her in age. Both the heroes have also delivered natural performances and the complete supporting cast has also done justice to the assigned roles.Mamta carries immense repeat value due to the impactful presentation of the sentimental story, the immortal songs and above all, the memorable performance of Suchitra Sen. It was remade as Dard (1981) by changing the gender of the lead character and casting Rajesh Khanna in double role. Though Rajesh Khanna was nominated for the Filmfare award for the best actor for his performance in Dard, he was far behind the mesmerizing performance of Suchitra Sen in Mamta.
Mamta did not win any awards (though got nominated in four categories in the Filmfare awards of 1967). However just like the case of Mughal-e-Aazam, the commercial success and the praise that it won all over was a much bigger award for this movie. While paying my tribute to the great diva of the Indian screen – Suchitra Sen, I wholeheartedly recommend this movie to all the movie buffs.
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