Prem Patra (1962) is a movie produced and directed by the legendary film director Bimal Roy. This beautiful movie is an emotional drama containing many twists and keeps the viewer engrossed for more than two and a half hours. It’s one of the lesser known movie of Bimal Da but renders a heart-soothing experience to the viewers.Prem Patra (love letter) starts with the life in a medical college where Arun (Shashi Kapoor) is undergoing his MBBS course. A very talented youth Arun is all set to get a scholarship to pursue higher studies abroad when a fake love letter written by someone in his name to Kavita (Sadhana) shatters his dream to become a big doctor. Circumstances force him to accept an offer made to him to marry an illiterate girl Tara (Seema) who comes from a rich family and get the sponsorship for his studies in return. Arun goes abroad where he keeps on getting letters from his betrothed Tara. These letters are actually not written by Tara but by Kavita, Tara’s friend and the girl who was at the nucleus of the love letter controversy that changed Arun’s life forever. However these love-soaked letters make Arun falling madly in love with his would-be wife.
While doing some experiment while pursuing his medical course abroad, Arun happens to meet an accident and loses his eyesight. Now blind Arun comes to the house of his would be in-laws (he is actually an orphan) and starts waiting for the operation of his eyes as planned by the doctors. Meantime is adequately taken care of by a girl who considers serving him as her biggest duty. He is under an impression that this girl is his betrothed Tara. However it’s not Tara who has already fallen in love with another guy Subhaash (Sudhir). It’s Kavita who considers herself as responsible for spoiling the career of Arun. Blind Arun is never able to forgive Kavita who had complained against him to the college administration for that ‘love letter’ without trying to ascertain the truth. And now he is being served like a devoted nurse (and also a devoted sweetheart or wife) as Kavita’s penitence for that. The movie ends on a happy note.This sentimental story of Prem Patra written by Nitin Bhattacharya is very good and emotionally appeals to the audience when comes on the screen but the lengthy side tracks (including a comedy track) unnecessarily inserted block the flow of the main story. This digression irritates because the main track itself is very interesting and engaging for the viewer. The side stories have added avoidable extra footage to the movie which could have been shorter, crispier and taut without them. The movie is entertaining and impressive all the same. The spectator finds himself as flowing with the story and effortlessly falls in love with the lead pair.There are two very big plus points of this charming black and white movie. The first one is performances. Both Shashi Kapoor and Saadhana were in the initial years of their careers at the time of this movie and they have delivered lovely performances. They are not style icons here as they became in later years. They are simple, sober and straight out of real life instead. All others including Seema (now better known as Seema Deo) playing Arun’s betrothed and Parveen Chaudhary playing Ratna who is the daughter of Arun’s guardian and is in love with him; are also perfect in their respective places.The second one is music. Salil Chowdhury has come up with one of his best musical scores with the help of the lyrics of Rajinder Krishan. Lata Mangeshkar and Talat Mahmood have sung two very beautiful, delicate and touching duets – 1. Ye Mere Andhere Ujaale Na Hote Agar Tum Na Aate Meri Zindagi Mein. 2. Saawan Ki Raaton Mein Aisa Bhi Hota Hai. Other songs – Ab Aur Na Kuchh Bhi Yaad Raha, Khush Ho Rahe The Pehle Thukra Ke Zindagi Ko, Do Ankhiyaan Jhuki Jhuki Si etc. are also admirable.Technically this black and white movie is good. However the editor could have done it a favour by shortening its length. It’s not a lavish movie. It has a very simple milieu with the post-interval session mostly taking place in a rural setting.Prem Patra is not among the best of Bimal Da’s works. This simple movie is lovable nevertheless and nobody will regret after watching it. I wholeheartedly recommend it mainly to those who are fond of watching golden oldies.
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