Pakeezah is considered as a masterpiece in Indian Cinema. Directed by Kamal Amrohi, this was Meena Kumari's last movie. She was also called as the 'tragedy queen' of Indian Movies.
This movie took close to 14 years to complete since the director and lead actor went through divorce during the movie, which ultimately affect the making. However, when Nargis and Sunil Dutt convinced both; Kamal and Meena, to keep their personal problem aside and complete the movie, they agreed and it reached theaters.
Initially, the film flopped in theaters. When Meena Kumari died after three weeks of the release, movie saw house packed audience and then became a great hit. Over the period of time, this movie joined others into the 'masterpiece of Indian Cinema' category for its sheer way of story telling.
With so many facts and reviews, I decided to watch this masterpiece and peep into the Muslim culture shown in this movie. Firstly, I will appreciate the new members who joined the team after the death of the original team. Not for once you will feel that behind scene team has gone through a change. The continuity is maintained till the end, and this is what we call professionalism. Hats off to them.
Secondly, I would appreciate professionalism of all the people in front of camera, special mention to Meena Kumari who finished the film despite her ill health. There are only few moments when you come across such professional people who take their work seriously and finish the task.
The story depicts the life of a tawaif. As I understood, the movie showed that it's impossible for our society to accept and respect them. We look at them like a third status and never allow them to be the member of the mainstream society. The writer, Kamal, has depicted this in a very perfect way, keeping in mind the essence of Indian audience.
Story beings with a dancer Nargis (Meena Kumari) who fell in love with a reputed Muslim man, Shahabuddin (Ashok Kumar). He promises Nargis that he will marry her and will pull her out of the filthy world. However, his family didn't respect the idea of him getting married to a tawaif, and Nargis leaves his world, heartbroken.
Nargis gives birth to a girl and dies during childbirth. She wrote a letter to Shahabuddin, which was never posted. Nargis's sister, who is a tawaif herself, comes to know about the child and takes her. Here, Shahabuddin is looking for Nargis in corner of India. Years later, her gets a letter from Nargis which has a mention of their girl child and the address where she was. After going there he comes to know that Nargis is already dead and the girl is with Nargis's sister, who is named as Sahibjaan (Meena Kumari).
When approached, Nargis's sister refuses him to take her girl and leaves the city at night. Shahibjaan, along with her aunt, reaches a new city. There she joins Gauhar Jaan (Nadira) and presents her dance to her clients. Meanwhile, while she was traveling to this new city, Salim (Raaj Kumar) leaves her a note praising her beauty, and Sahibjaan falls for those words.
While with Gauhar Jaan, she comes across a rich man who falls for her beauty. However, Sahibjaan has dedicated her heart to Salim without even meeting him. Fate brings them together, but Sahibjaan decided not to reveal her true identity to Salim.
Salim brings her home thinking that she lost her memory and remembers nothing. Salim happens to be the nephew of Shahabuddin. When Salim faces oppose from the family, he decides to leave family and marry Sahibjaan. His decision is unchanged even when Shahibjaan reveals her true identity.
While they are at mosque getting married, Sahibjaan feels that her bad name will affect their future and because of her past they won't have a good life. She runs away from there. Later, Salim decides to get married and calls Sahibjaan to dance on her wedding. It's the climax where Shahabuddin comes to know that Sahibjaan is his daughter and Salim marries Sahibjaan.
There are moments where you can easily make out that Meena Kumari has grown old or looking weak. The music is ageless and is still heard by many people; both young and old. I would like to congratulate the entire team; old and new and others who were associated with this movie. The movie might have taken a long time to complete, but none of the artists or technicians have done half-hearted job. They have finished the movie with the same dedication and enthusiasm, and it can be clearly seen in their performance. If you're a fan of Urdu or Meena Kumari, don't miss out this movie. It's actually classic.