Mahal (1949 film)

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Mahal 1949 film poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byKamal Amrohi
Produced byAshok Kumar
Savak Vacha
Written byKamal Amrohi
StarringAshok Kumar
Music byKhemchand Prakash
Kedar Sharma (lyrics)
CinematographyJosef Wirsching
Edited byBimal Roy
M. Shanker
R. M. Tipnis
Release date
Running time
165 min.
LanguageHindi / Urdu
Box office80 lakhs (in 1949)[1]

Mahal (Hindi: महल, English: The Mansion) is a 1949 Indian Hindi film directed by Kamal Amrohi and starring Ashok Kumar and Madhubala. It was India's first reincarnation thriller film.[2]

Produced by Bombay Talkies studio, this, Kamal Amrohi's directorial debut, launched both playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and the leading lady Madhubala into super-stardom.[3][4] Its songs, particularly "Aayega Aanewala" sung by Lata Mangeshkar, are perennial favourites. Rajkumari sang two other well-known songs from the film, "Mein Woh Dulhan Hoon" and "Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayenge". Their lyrics were written by Nakshab. Rajkumari also sang these songs live on a Channel 4 (a UK TV station) programme called Mahfil, aired on 24 March 1991.

Mahal made Lata Mangeshkar famous and established playback singers as stars in their own right. Before Mahal, records listed character names and the first batch of records credited "Aayega aane wala" to Kamini, the character played by Madhubala. When the song first played on All India Radio, its phone lines were flooded with callers inquiring the singer's name. All India Radio had to find this out from the record company before it could announce Lata Mangeshkar's name on the air.[5] The film was included in the British Film Institute's list, "10 great romantic horror films".[6]


The movie was a groundbreaking supernatural suspense thriller and one of the earliest known films dealing with reincarnation. Mahal became one of the biggest box office hits of 1949 in India [7] and paved way for Indian gothic fiction.[8]


Mahal is a story of reincarnation and a ghost story. In Allahabad, there is a beautiful abandoned palace. When a new owner, Hari Shankar (Ashok Kumar), comes to live in this palace, the old gardener narrates the story of incomplete love.

40 years ago, a man built it and his lover, Kamini (Madhubala), began to live in it. She would wait all day long for the man to come to her at midnight, but he always left before it was morning. One stormy night, the man's ship sank and he drowned. Before leaving Kamini, he tells her that their love will never fail. A few days later, Kamini also died.

When Shankar goes to a bedroom, a photograph falls from the wall and Shankar is astonished to find the man in the photograph looks exactly like him. Then, a woman is heard singing and Shankar follows her voice. He finds her sitting in a room, but she flees when she sees him. Shankar's friend Shrinath (Kanu Roy) arrives and Shankar expresses suspicion on his being the man of the incomplete love story in a previous life. Shrinath tries to calm him, but then the woman reappears. They follow her to the terrace, where she jumps off into water and the two men find nothing when they look down. The next day, Shankar heads back to Kanpur. At Naini, he gets off from a train and goes to the palace. Kamini tells him that she is real, but Shrinath interferes and warns Shankar that she will draw him to death. The ghost appears again and tells Shrinath to stay away from them. Enraged, Shrinath tries to shoot her but fails. Kamini tells Shankar that if she could enter into a body of a woman whom Shankar likes, she could return to life. She tells Shankar to see the gardener's daughter's face to check if she's beautiful and he can accept Kamini in that face. Meanwhile, Shankar's father arrives after hearing everything from Shrinath and takes him home. Shankar gets married to Ranjana (Vijayalaxmi). He decides to move far away with his wife in order to forget Kamini. After two years, a disturbed Ranjana wanting to know where Shankar goes every night, follows him when he goes to meet Kamini. Kamini tells him to kill the gardener's daughter so that she can use her body. Knowing everything, Ranjana drinks poison and goes to police station to give a deathbed confession against Shankar of betrayal and poisoning her. Shanker is submitted to the court and the daughter of the gardener, Asha, is also called upon there being accused of the cause of distance between Shankar and Ranjana. Later Asha is revealed to be Kamini. She then accepts that she has played the role of Kamini because she had fallen in love with the man in the photograph, who looks like Shankar. But Shankar is sentenced to death. Later, the police come to know about Ranjana's letter and free Shankar. Shankar rushes to Shrinath's place but dies. The credits roll as a grieving Kamini and Shrinath walk away.


Many established actresses and new faces were screen-tested for the coveted female lead. The part was written with the then-reigning superstar, Suraiya in mind. However, after two screen tests, the fledgling Madhubala, only 16 at the time was selected. The film was key in defining her screen persona and establishing her as one of the most successful and illustrious actresses of the 1950s.

  • Ashok Kumar as Hari Shankar
  • Madhubala as Kamini/Asha
  • M. Kumar as Hari Shankar's Father
  • Vijayalaxmi as Ranjana
  • Kanu Roy as Shrinath
  • S. Nazir
  • Eruch Tarapore
  • Sheela Naik
  • Leela Pandey
  • Neelam
  • Kaneez
  • Jagannath
  • Mohsin
  • Laxman Rao
  • S.A. Baker
  • Ramastri
  • Raja Salim


For lyrics written by Nakshab, the music of the songs was composed by Khemchand Prakash. Tun Tun was initially offered to sing "Aayega Aanewala", but she refused the offer because of her contract with Kardar Productions.[9]

  • "Aayega Aanewala" - Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
  • "Chun Chun Gunguruva Baje Jhumba" - Singers: Rajkumari, Zohrabai Ambalawali
  • "Ghabrekar Ke Jo Hum Sir Ko Takraayan" - Singer: Rajkumari
  • "Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya" - Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
  • "Main Wo Hansi Hun Lab Pe Jo Aane Se Rah Gayi" - Singer: Rajkumari
  • "Ek Teer Chala Dil Pe Laga" - Singer: Rajkumari
  • "Mushkil Hai Bahot Mushkil" - Singer: Lata Mangeshkar


Bimal Roy, who was the editor for Mahal, would later go on to direct Madhumati,[8] which itself went on to become the source of inspiration for many later works dealing with the theme of reincarnation in Indian cinema, Indian television, and perhaps world cinema. It was the source of inspiration for the American film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975) and the Hindi film Karz (1980), both of which dealt with reincarnation and have been influential in their respective cultures.[10] Karz in particular was remade several times: as the Kannada film Yuga Purusha (1989), the Tamil film Enakkul Oruvan (1984), and Om Shanti Om [11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Box Office 1949". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Palace Of Delusion:Kamal Amrohi's Mahal is our first reincarnation thriller". Outlook. 4 June 2012. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014.
  3. ^ Roshmila Bhattacharya (6 May 2013). "Testing times for Madhubala". Pune Mirror. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  4. ^ Sidharth Bhatia (4 May 2013). "Kamal Amrohi Producer Kamal Amrohi was the master of old-world elegance and heartache". Mint. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Birth Centenaries" (PDF). Press Information Bureau. p. 3. Retrieved 25 December 2011.
  6. ^ Michael Blyth Updated: 22 May 2015 (22 May 2015). "10 great romantic horror films". BFI. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  7. ^ Mahal (1949) Archived 13 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Classic Films at upperstall
  8. ^ a b Mishra, Vijay (2002), Bollywood cinema: temples of desire, Routledge, pp. 49–57, ISBN 0-415-93014-6
  9. ^ Manish Gaekwad (24 March 2016). "Redemption song: 'Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon' by Tun Tun". Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  10. ^ Doniger, Wendy (2005), "Chapter 6: Reincarnation", The woman who pretended to be who she was: myths of self-imitation, Oxford University Press, pp. 112–136 [135], ISBN 0-19-516016-9
  11. ^ Ashanti nags Om Shanti Om Archived 24 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Mumbai Mirror, 7 August 2008.
  12. ^ Shah Rukh, Farah Sued: Writer Claims SRK stole his script for Om Shanti Om Archived 13 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.

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