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When Madhuri, Rekha, Hema performed a tawaif

Meena Kumari’s Pakeezah and Rekha’s Umrao Jaan epitomise the cinematic tawaif, a mix of poetess and seductress, steeped within the tragic metaphor of the candle that burns itself out whereas giving mild to a thankless world.

The best movies on the kotha tradition are those with the most effective poetry and music.

Subhash Ok Jha lists his favourites.


Pakeezah, 1972

Meena Kumari lived the a part of the tawaif Sahib Jaan and the credit score for her heart-melting efficiency should acquired to a big extent to Ghulam Mohammed’s music.

As sung by Lata Mangeshkar, the mujras — the life and breath of each tawaif story — are among the many most interesting heard in Indian cinema: Chalte Chalte, Teer-E-Nazar Dekhenge, Thare Rahiyo Ho Banke Yaar Re, Inhi Logon Ne, which one can we select?

I may watch Pakeezah one million occasions only for the songs.

Throughout a big a part of the movie’s taking pictures, Meena Kumari could not even transfer due to in poor health well being, not to mention dance.

Chalte Chalte was shot with refrain dancers and Teer-E-Nazar was carried out by a replica dancer, Padma Khanna.


Umrao Jaan, 1981

Once more, a tawaif‘s story elevated by Khayyam’s music and Shahrayar’s poetry.

And sung exquisitely by Asha Bhosle.

I requested Director Muzzafar Ali why he selected Asha, not Lata, and he advised me it was Khayyam’s resolution. If Lata had sung for Umrao, it will have been a Pakeezah Half 2.

Asha Bhosle did full justice to the melodious mujras: Dil Cheez, Inn Ankhon Ke Masti, Yeh Kya Jegah Hai Doston, and my favorite Justuju Jiski Thi.


Sadhana, 1958

Vyjayanthimala’s tawaif act in B R Chopra’s reformist drama is healthier than Meena Kumari in Pakeezah or Rekha in Umrao Jaan.

Actresses seldom get roles just like the one in Sadhana, and Vyjayanthimala is rightly pleased with the movie.

It supplied her with a platform to showcase the shades of her versatile character.

She had already performed a tawaif named Chandramukhi, in Bimal Roy’s Devdas, three years earlier than Sadhana.

Devdas was a comparatively simpler position to play; she performed the courtesan with a coronary heart of gold.

In Sadhana, Vyjayanthimala is initially portrayed as a gold-digging schemer, who takes benefit of a dying lady’s final want to see her bahu.

From the sensuous dances to the need to be part of mainstream society, Vyjayanthimala takes her character by means of the extensive arc with a confidence that sublimates Champabai’s journey right into a metaphor on societal prejudice and its subjugation by components which have the center to say no to biases.

Years after Sadhana, L V Prasad produced Khilona the place a tawaif Mumtaz is introduced house to a well-to-do household to play a psychologically traumatised man Sanjeev Kumar’s spouse.

After he’s cured, she is pushed out, till the person protests on behalf of the prostitute.


Sharafat, 1970

Originally of her profession, Hema Malini performed a fallen lady rescued by an idealistic school professor Dharmendra and rehabilitated till she returns to her outdated life, satisfied she would by no means get societal sanction.

The climactic mujra Sharafat Chhod Di Maine epitomises the disillusionment of a girl, who craves to go away behind her lifetime of disrepute if solely samaj would let her.


Devdas, 2002

Madhuri Dixit’s tawaif with the center of gold act was embroidered with beautiful dances choreographed by Kathak legend Pandit Birju Maharaj and, after all, Bollywood’s most reputed choreographer, Saroj Khan.

In what’s presumably the most effective written and choreographed courtesan’s position since Meena Kumari’s in Pakeezah, Madhuri gleams with a swish aura.

Her current try and do the tawaif act in Karan Johar’s Kalank fell flat on its face.

Bhansali had deliberate one other tawaif‘s story, Heera Mandi with a gallery of attractive actresses from Rekha, Tabu, Kareena Kapoor to Alia Bhatt inhabiting the kotha.

One wonders if such an epic is feasible any extra.

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