(Last Updated on : 14/04/2014)
The cult film that ensured lasting reputation of Kamal Amrohi was the 1971 box office success. The film had been launched in 1958 but the film came to an abrupt halt when Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi divorced. Later the actress returned to the project and the film was finally completed. this great love story is, first and foremost, a homage to the poetic tradition of Indo-Muslim India, as is expressed in music and dance, in particular, amongst the princely classes of northern India, and amongst the tawaifs of Lucknow and Hyderabad. These two were important cultural centers during the 18th and 19th centuries, with a reputation for Urdu shairi, music and dance that combined the elements of both the Hindu and Muslim traditions.
The theme of the tawaif with a golden heart is omnipresent in Hindi cinema, commercial or otherwise, for it enables the portrayal of all facets of femininity. The great actresses have played this role. Apart from Meena Kumari herself there was Nargis, Vyjayantimala, Suchitra Sen, Rekha, Sharmila Tagore and several others. Kamal Amrohi assembled the best talents for this romance with a large canvas, a nostalgic celebration of the grace of a bygone era.
The film got support from each of its departments: music directors Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad; lyricist Majrooh Sultanpur and Kaifi Azmi; the incomparable singers, Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi and some of the outstanding actors of the era-Ashok Kumar, Raj Kumar and Meena Kumari, of course.
Pakeezah was one of the most successful attempts in Hindustani cinema to bring together the most appreciated performing arts of that period. Kamal Amrohi returned to the Delhi sultanate period for his last film, Razia Sultan (1983), the story of a Muslim princess who came to grief because of her love for a Hindu commoner.