Certain movies never make it to the super-hit status but certainly to must watch list; ‘Chitralekha’ (1964) is one of them. It is a classic example of soulful cinema. It is based on a Hindi novel by the same name, written by the great author Shree Bhagwati Charan Verma. The lead actors are late Meena Kumari as Chitralekha, Pradeep Kumar as ‘Samant Beejgupta’ and Ashok Kumar as head priest Kumargiri, known as ‘Swamiji’. Mahmood also plays an important role as ‘Brahmachari Shewtank’. The story is set in the ancient Mauryan period when Emperor Chandragupta Maurya ruled the nation.
This story is about the clash of opinions and ideologies of a hermit and a harlot; ‘yog’ and ‘bhog’, the two schools of salvation. While the former takes the path of salvation through celibacy and meditation to reach God, the latter believes enjoying every pleasure to be the right way.
The story is as follows:
Chitralekha is a high profile court dancer, who comes to the city of
with the troupe she heads. She wins a royal dance competition and hence meets Beejgupta and eventually falls for him. Beejgupta too, starts feeling an uncanny attraction towards her and starts visiting her daily. Incidentally, Beejgupta is engaged to Yashodhara, the beautiful and religious daughter of a prominent courtier of the emperor. Slowly, the friendship between the dancer and Beejgupta takes the form of a deep platonic love. Meanwhile, worried about his daughter’s future, Yashodhara’s father requests the head priest, Swamiji to show Beejgupta the right and pious path of marriage and family. Swamiji visits the place of Chitralekha and gives her a hard hitting lecture on morals and ‘karma’ on which she too retaliates and justifies herself, something quite unimaginable for the swami. Later, lives take curious turns; Chitralekha starts deviating towards religion and decides to take ‘sanyas’ while Swamiji gets enamored with her. I will not disclose the climax here as it will spoil all the fun. The story is beautifully woven with interesting dialogues. Patliputra
This movie is a far cry from all those frivolous and cheap Hindi flicks that are usually released these days. A complete family movie and very beautifully directed, Chitralekha makes us ponder about life, love, duties and spirituality. Lyrics are written by the great poet, Sahir Ludhiyanvi and music is by Roshan. I loved two songs in particular, ‘sansaar se bhaage firte ho’ in which Chitralekha justifies her point of view and ‘mann re tu kahe na dheer dhare’ that consoles the heart stung by separation.
This movie is definitely a must watch!