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Directed by Kamal Amrohi
Produced by Kamal Amrohi
Written by Kamal Amrohi
Starring Meena Kumari
Raaj Kumar
Music by Ghulam Mohammed
Naushad Ali
Cinematography Josef Wirsching
Edited by D.N. Pai
Release date
4 February 1972[1]
Running time
126 minutes
Country India
Language Urdu

Pakeezah (Pākīzā, meaning Pure) is a 1972 Indian cult classic film, written and directed by Kamal Amrohi, who was known for his perfectionism.[2][3] The music is by Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad Ali. The film Starred Meena Kumari, Raaj Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Nadira, D.K. Sapru and Veena. Meena Kumari's performance as a golden-hearted Lucknow Nautch Girl drew major praise. Sadly, this was to be Kumari last performance.

The concept, Kamal Amrohi says was irretrievably fixed with his love for his wife.[4]He hope to create a film which would be worthy of her as an actress, and worthy of the love he felt for her as a women.[4] Kamal Amrohi's PR man said "Shah Jahan made Taj Mahal for his wife, Kamal Sahab wanted to do the same with Pakeezah."[4]. Meena Kumari regarded the film as Kamal Amrohi tribute to her.[5]

The film tells the story Set in Muslim Lucknow at the turn of the century, its central character is a Lucknowi Nautch Girl, for her to fall in love was forbidden it was a sin she was told, a nautch girl is born to delight others such is her destiny and yet her restless soul could not suppress her surging desire "To Love and Be Loved". It was ostensibly, or loosely based on Kamal Amrohi and Meena Kumari own love story.

Pakeezah took sixteen years to reach the silver screen.[6] Pakeezah released on 3 February 1972, with a grand premiere at Maratha Mandir theatre in central Mumbai and Meena Kumari attended the last premiere of her life along with Kamal Amrohi.."[4]

Already battling liver cirrhosis , Meena Kumari was ill throughout the completion of the film and died only a few months after it was finally released. It was Meena Kumari’s last great performance and one that solidified her reputation as a legendary actress.[7] Indian critic has said "poetry, fantasy and nostalgia rolled into one on an epic scale".[8]


This movie is about the tawaif Sahibjaan (Meena Kumari), who is born to a courtesan, Nargis (also Meena Kumari). After being spurned by her lover Shahabuddin's (Ashok Kumar) family, Nargis is driven to a graveyard where she gives birth to Sahibjaan secretly. Nargis dies during childbirth and her sister Nawabjaan (Veena), a brothel madam, brings her up as her own. Unable to break away from the vicious circle, Sahibjaan grows up to be a beautiful and popular dancer and singer. The aggressive, Nawab Zafar Ali Khan ( Kamal Kapoor), wants to make her his own with the help of the brothel madam, and takes her to his boat for the night, which is attacked by elephants, saving Sahibjaan from a horrific fate, but throwing her in the fast flowing river, in a broken boat. Whence here she is taken to the riverside tent of Forest ranger Salim Ahmed Khan (Raaj Kumar), where alone with his diary, she reads how he was the same man who had written a beautiful couplet on her feet, and left for her to read it, while travelling in the same compartment some time before. She sings in rapture and love, remembering this beautiful interlude in her otherwise barren life. Salim Ahmed Khan returns to his tent and is pleasantly surprised to find her. Enthralled by her beauty and innocence, he eventually convinces her to elope with him, which she does. But trials and tribulations await Sahibjaan as she is recognized by men wherever she goes in the company of Salim. When Salim renames her Pakeezah (pure of heart) and takes her to a cleric to be legally married, she refuses and returns to the brothel. Salim eventually decides to marry someone else and invites Sahibjaan to dance at his wedding, to which she agrees. During this event, Nawabjaan recognises Shahabuddin and calls him to witness the irony of the situation; his own daughter dancing and entertaining his family. Shahabuddin's brother tries to shoot Nawabjaan to silence her, which leads to a very surprise ending.



Pakeezah took nearly 14 years to shoot because of a change in relationship between Meena Kumari and the director. Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi were married when Pakeezah was first conceived. Ashok Kumar was to have played the part of Salim, but the part was later played by Raaj Kumar. The character was changed from a businessman to a forest ranger to suit Raaj Kumar's more muscular physique. Both the film's composer Ghulam Mohammed and cinematographer Josef Wirsching died during this period. Later, renowned composer Naushad Ali stepped in and composed the film's background music as well as its title track. Over a dozen of Bombay's top cinematographers pitched in when they had time; they however managed to maintain its uniform look.

"I has lived with Pakeezah almost aslong as i lived with its creator ... to Meena Kumari Pakeezah means a performance. A great performance? That is not for me to say: that is for people to decide. For me to say is this: it is a performance to deliver which I have, as an actress, had to delve deeper into the secret wells of being than any actor or actress normally delves in the process of his or her professional work."[4]

—Meena Kumari about Pakeezah (1972)

Due to a variety of different reasons, Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi parted ways and the film remained incomplete. It was only when Nargis and Sunil Dutt saw the rushes of the film that they convinced Meena Kumari to complete it. It was mostly shot in Kamal Amrohi Studios, Mumbai.

Meena Kumari was very ill when filming resumed and one can note the difference in the portions shot in the early '60s with the ones shot during her illness. All the kathak dance sequences were performed by Meena Kumari herself except for the last dance sequencee wherein a body double (Padma Khanna) was used in the long-shots. Meena Kumari died weeks after the film was released. The film, which had been declared a flop when first released, became a success after Meena Kumari's death.[1]

Pakeezah made news during the Filmfare Awards in 1972 when Pran refused to accept his award for Be-Imaan because he felt that Ghulam Mohammed deserved a posthumous Filmfare award for his songs in Pakeezah.



Filmfare Best Actress Award - Nominations


Soundtrack album by Ghulam Mohammed & Naushad Ali
Released 1972 (India)
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Label Sa Re Ga Ma
Ghulam Mohammed chronology
Naushad Ali chronology
Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha
Review scores
Source Rating
Planet Bollywood 9/10 stars link

The soundtrack for the film was composed by Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad, with lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kamal Amrohi and Kaif Bhopali. Due to the demise of the composer before the completion of the film, Naushad was signed to compose the background score for the film. He also composed the songs, Nazaria Ki Maari, Title Music - Alap, Mora Saajan Sauten Ghar Jaye and Kaun Gali Gayo Shyam. These renderings are presented in the voices of the veteran singer Rajkumari, Parveen Sultana, Vani Jairam and Naseem Bano Chopra. There were total 18 songs recorded, however only 9 of them were used.

Track # Song Singer(s) Lyrics Composer
1 "Inhi Logon Ne" Lata Mangeshkar Majrooh Sultanpuri Ghulam Muhammad
2 "Chalte Chalte" Lata Mangeshkar Kaifi Azmi Ghulam Mohammed
3 "Nazariya Ki Mari" Rajkumari Naushad Ali
4 "Chalo Dildar Chalo" Mohammad Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar Kaif Bhopali Ghulam Mohammed
5 "Peeke Chale"[note 1] Lata Mangeshkar Majrooh Sultanpuri Ghulam Mohammed
6 "Yeh Kis Ki Aankhon Ka"[note 1] Mohammad Rafi Majrooh Sultanpuri Ghulam Mohammed
7 "Mausam Hai Aashiqana" Lata Mangeshkar Kamal Amrohi Ghulam Mohammed
8 "Thare Rahiyo" Lata Mangeshkar Majrooh Sultanpuri Ghulam Mohammed
9 "Mora Sajan" Vani Jairam Naushad Ali
10 "Bandhan Bandho"[note 1] Shobha Gurtu Ghulam Mohammed
11 "Ha Kar Tere Qadmon Se"[note 1] Mohammad Rafi, Shamshad Begum & Chorus Kaif Bhopali Ghulam Mohammed
12 "Kaun Gali" Parveen Sultana Naushad Ali
13 "Chalo Dildar Chalo"[note 1] Lata Mangeshkar Kaif Bhopali Ghulam Mohammed
14 "Tanhai Sunaya Karti Hai"[note 1] Lata Mangeshkar Kamal Amrohi Ghulam Mohammed
15 "Pyare Babul"[note 1] Lata Mangeshkar & Chorus Kaif Bhopali Ghulam Mohammed
16 "Leke Angrai"[note 1] Suman Kalyanpur Kaif Bhopali Ghulam Mohammed
17 "Aj Hum Apni Duaaon Ka Asar" Lata Mangeshkar Kaif Bhopali Ghulam Mohammed
18 "Kothe Se Bada"[note 1] Shamshad Begum Kaif Bhopali Ghulam Mohammed
19 "Title Music - Aalap" Lata Mangeshkar Naushad Ali
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Song not used in movie

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b M.A. Khan (28 March 2008). "Remembering Meena Kumari". Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Bose, Mihir (2006). Bollywood: a history. Tempus. p. 236. ISBN 0-7524-2835-7. 
  3. ^ Rajiv Vijayakar (9 March 2012). "Pakeezah one of a kind". Indian Express. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Mehta 2016.
  5. ^ admin 2011.
  6. ^ "Pakeezah - Love Theme) (Did You Know - 16)". A magnum opus & its unknown facts. (Movies To See Before You Die. 2017-01-14. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  7. ^ "Weekly Classics: Pakeezah". DAWN.COM. 2012-04-13. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  8. ^ Malcolm, Derek (1999-08-04). "Kamal Amrohi: Pakeezah". the Guardian. Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  9. ^ Awards IMDB.

External links[edit]