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Upperstall Review

Synopsis


Gunga Jumna

 

Bhojpuri, Hindi, Drama, 1961, Color






The film is a story of two bothers on opposite sides of the law, Gunga (Dilip Kumar) and Jumna (Nasir Khan). Having been framed for a crime he did not commit by a zamindar (Anwar Hussain), Gunga becomes a criminal living in the mountains with his girlfriend, Dhanno (Vyjayantimala). Jamuna, educated on Gunga's money in the city, becomes an upright police officer. When years later Gunga is about to become a father, he decides to return to the village but has to face his brother who shoots him down in the name of duty. A pregnant Dhanno also dies in the gun battle...




Gunga Jumna is perhaps one of the most famous films of Dilip Kumar's career and one of the landmark films of Indian cinema. On the surface, the film is a dacoit drama taking off from Hollywood Gangster films like Manhattan Melodrama (1934), but yet its incerible impact pioneered a widely copied action formula of two brothers on opposite sides of the law, most notably seen later in Deewaar (1975).

The most significant departure from the Hollywood stories is that the two protagonists here are brothers rather than buddies like in Manhattan Melodrama or kids who have grown up in the same block like Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) and what's more real life brothers Dilip Kumar and Nasir Khan play the protagonists! And like most of the films of this type, the focus and sympathy is totally on the good man who is forced by circumstances to turn bad. But having taken up a life of crime, his redemption, in spite of all that he has gone through, comes only with his death.

Directed by New Theatres old-timer Nitin Bose (though supposedly ghost-directed by Dilip Kumar), Gunga Jumuna is a well-structured and briskly paced film and was notable of the use of Bhojpuri dialect, which helps make the film refreshingly real and unlike most Indian films, gives it a proper locale and geography. The performances by lead artistes Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala are faultless and full marks to the latter who in spite of her South Indian upbringing speaks the Bhojpuri dialect flawlessly. While Vyjayanthimala deservedly won the Filmfare Award that year for Best Actress, shockingly Dilip Kumar lost out to Raj Kapoor for the Best Actor award, which the latter won for his production, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960).

The lyrics of the film also make use of the Bhojpuri flavour and Naushad's earthy music naturally does its work to enhance the film without thrusting itself too obtrusively on the attention of the audience. Nain Lad Gayin re (sung by Mohammed Rafi), Do Hanson ka Joda and Dhoono Dhoondo re Saajna (both sung by Lata Mangeshkar) are particularly well tuned and were popular hits.

Gunga Jumuna reamins a timeclass class and was a major influence on later Indian cinema, especially as we mentioned above, Deewaar (1975).


Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan


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