It’s been five years since Pran left for his heavenly abode on 12.07.2013. He was the cruel and deadly villain of Bollywood movies who was so much hated by the audience that for a very long period, the Indian parents were not ready to christen their newly born sons as Pran. Despite being a versatile actor, Pran Sikand was typecast in villainous roles for around two decades. While paying my tribute to the legendary on-screen villain who was a great human-being in his personal life, I am presenting the review of a black and white period movie in which Pran has played the title role and interestingly the title of the movie is after the villain and not the hero. This unique B&W classic is Halaku (1956).Halaaku was the grandson of the ruthless and fearsome Mongol invader Changez Khan. He occupied vast areas of Iraq, China, Russia, Afghanistan etcetera with his valour. However this movie deals with his occupying and ruling of Iran. This movie is a brilliant mix of romance, action and sentiments with Pran being all pervasive in the pivotal role of Halaaku.The love story of Parvez (Ajit) and Neelofer (Meena Kumari) is at the centre of the movie. The main twist comes in the story when the then ruler of Iran, Halaaku (Pran) happens to see Neelofer and stakes his claim on her. Living in a patriarchal social milieu, the women did not have any say in such vital matters of their own lives those days and the clear rule was ‘beauty belongs to the mighty’. In such a situation, quite naturally, the onus of saving Neelofer from Halaaku and also saving her love to meet a tragic death falls on her beau Parvez. The movie very impressively narrates how Parvez is able to demonstrate his valour to Halaaku and wins a bet compelling Halaaku to fulfill a promise made by him to Parvez. But the thing that wins Halaaku’s heart is not Parvez’s valour but his patriotism and putting his nation above his love and his sweetheart. Won over by the patriotism of Parvez, cruel and insensitive Halaaku is able to explore his soul and then he takes an unexpected decision. The villain comes out of the gaberdine of villain in the end and demonstrates his big heart and sensitivity towards others’ feelings.I had watched Halaaku on Doordarshan some three decades back and was taken aback by the stunning performance of Pran in the title role. Though the hero of the movie is Ajit, it’s Pran who won all the accolades of the audience and the critics alike through his mesmerizing performance. He is the villain of the story, mind it. Ajit and Meena Kumari have also done well as the romantic lead pair. Minoo Mumtaz playing the Christian wife of Halaaku (who is strongly against his marrying another woman, i.e., Neelofer) is also admirable.The complete supporting cast including the great dancer Helen has also performed satisfactorily.It’s difficult for me to say as to how much the story of the movie stands true to the history. However as the Salim-Anarkali love story is immortal despite not being corroborated by the history, the same can be asserted for this movie also. The script is very well written and the director (D.D. Kashyap) has ably directed it. There is no boredom in the movie and the narrative keeps the audience hooked throughout.All the technical aspects of the movie including its length are well in order and there cannot be two opinions that Halaaku is a very well made movie. The time of the thirteenth century A.D. has been created quite admirably on the screen.Shankar Jaikishan have composed highly admirable music for the movie with the help of the beautiful and touching lyrics of Shailendra. Almost all the songs are quite good to listen. Two songs of the album are immortal – 1. Aaja Ke Intezaar Mein Jaane Ko Hai Bahaar Bhi which is an unforgettable romantic song of Lata and Rafi, 2. Dil Ka Na Karna Aitbaar Koi which is a memorable sad song of Lata.With my salute to the one and only Pran Saheb, I recommend this classic movie from the black and white era to not only the admirers of Pran, Meena Kumari and Ajit but also to all those movie buffs who take interest in watching such gems from the treasure of Hindi cinema.
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