Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Bimal Roy- Part 3- Bandini (the final chapter)

To begin with I would like to say a big Thank You to you my dear readers for the positive feedback to my previous post.
So without wasting any more time I will continue the Bandini story. Continuing from where I left off in my last post I will now move on to one of the most talked about sequences – the murder sequence. It has drama, excellent acting (Nutan) ,wonderful photography (Kamal Bose). Bimal Roy built up the scene gradually without resorting to any melodrama.

Soon after Kalyani (Nutan) takes up the job of a maid servant at a nursing home, she is taken to her living quarters.

As she is being led to her room by a nurse, you see that some welding work is being carried on in the neighbourhood; it is clearly visible from the window of Kalyani’s  room. You can see the sparks of the welding and hear the accompanying banging sound, there is no other background music. As the events unfold you see how Kalyani is more or less propelled into committing murder. There this patient (Sadhana Khote) whom no maid servant can handle.The nursing home’s doctor assign’s Kalyani to this ill-tempered patient. Kalyani bears her tantrums with a smile.
One day, however, her friend informs her that her father is in the city- he came looking for her- and is now on his death bed in a hospital.

She rushes to the hospital only to see that her father has passed away.

Kalyani does not break down; she looks at her father’s motionless body in complete silence. In this frame of mind she returns to the nursing home. As I saw the film again I noticed there was no background music, there was complete silence, the silence is only broken by the ill-tempered patient yelling, “Kalyani, Kalyani”.When Nutan goes to the patient’s room, the lady lashes out at her and asks her to bring 2 cups of tea as her husband will be visiting her.

When Kalyani  returns with the tea, she is stunned to see that the husband is none other than Bikaash (Ashok Kumar).

 She is shocked and the woman meanwhile accuses her of eavesdropping, pushes her out of the room and kicks the tea tray.

It is at the this stage that you hear background music, the music is  low key and the camera moves to Kalyani’s face, who you can see is deeply disturbed.

She is shown going back to her room almost in a stupor watching almost blankly the welding going on next door, the only sound is the jarring banging sound accompanying the welding.

 Once again the patient yells for her tea, Bimal Roy now shows Nutan in a silhouette against the backdrop of the welding, there is darkness interrupted by sudden bursts of light as a result of the welding.

Nutan turns, a determined look on her face,

 silently moves to the stove.

You then see her silently moving with a cup of tea in her hand.

She moves  towards the store room cupboard which has the bottle of poison.

there is a close up of the cup in her hand and the cup dissolves into the bottle of poison.Through this the director indicates that she has added poison to the tea without actually showing it.

 Nutan then silently  moves on. Then there is complete silence, a curtain flying in the patient’s room, a maid enters her room and the silence is broken by the maid’s scream indicating she has seen a dead body

and then you see a shocked Nutan, her expression clearly indicating that it is only now that she realizes the enormity of what she has done. Throughout there is no melodrama, you do not see a dead body and what appealed to me the most was the near absence of  background music. In tense scenes sometimes loud background music can be quite distracting, it often spoils the overall  impact of the scene. Nutan’s performance was superb but it was Bimal Roy’s vision that helped her perform so well. Emotions  are intangible and Bimal Roy has successfully translated the myriad emotions that Kalyani goes through in this sequence. Take a look at it and experience it yourself (see the clip below).

The next scene is the last scene, I love it for the way the urgency has been conveyed with a steamer ready to sail, the planks being moved and Kalyani rushing to board the steamer, I will not go into the details somebody has uploaded it on You Tube and  you can take a look here (it starts at approximately 3.40)

Initially Bimal Roy had thought of adding another flashback, that was to be the jailer's (my father) story. He would tell how he started his ashram for destitute women.Bimal Roy, however, dropped the idea as there were already two flashbacks and he did not want to unnecessary increase the film's length.

Sadhana Khote who played Ashok Kumar's wife, had a voice that was a little similar to Meena Kumari’s voice. After Meena Kumari passed away I remember reading that she dubbed some portions of Meena Kumari’s films, I do not know whether it was a single film or more than one film.

Another bit of trivia, the photograph above is of 'Ashok Kumar House', now it has another name. He owned the entire building and lived here briefly in a penthouse. This is located in South Bombay or Mumbai in an area popularly known as Kalaghoda. It is called Kalaghoda because there was a black statue of King Edward VII astride a horse. The statue was removed in the early sixties as were all British era statues, however the area still goes by the name of Kalaghoda. Thanks to Pacifist’s post Singing Business on Harveypam’s Blog I came across this song aaj ki taaza khabar from Son of India where the statue features quite prominently along with little Sajid Khan (see below)

Close to 'Ashok Kumar House' is the Watson Hotel,( now known as Esplanade mansion)
Watson Hotel
The parking lot at the left is the original site of the Kalaghoda statue

 It was here that the Lumiere brothers showed Indians six short films, thus exposing Indians to motion pictures for the first time.

I will continue my posts on Bimal Roy after a short break for I will be away for a few days.


  1. Oh, good! When I read this yesterday, the comments box had disappeared! I love the screenshots you have posted, Shilpi. The angles and lighting are amazing. Thanks also for all the trivia associated with this film. It's been a wonderful series on Bandini and Bimal Roy. Thank you.

    1. So happy to see you enjoyed it but I am not done with Bimal Roy, I have some more in mind let's see how it goes, I cannot neglect my food blog either, let me see how I manage these two.

  2. Lovely description, Shilpi!
    Simply great!
    So this is how the kalaghoda name came about!
    Although I have passed so often the Esplanade Mansion, I didn't know that this was the famous Watson Hotel.
    this make sme watch Bandini once again!

  3. Yes thanks to you and Pacifist I was able to add that screen shot, the moment I saw Pacifist's post on your blog I knew I had to include it in my post.

  4. Wow spellbound !!!!!.Shilpi as in your past 2 post this too was g8, reading no should say seeing. My god ! i could go and see the movie again in a theatre with reniewd vigour beacuse of your descriptionwhich normally we would have missed . Am njyoing keep posting.

  5. Really liked what I read, Shilpi. Thank you for drawing our attention to the minimal use of music in Bandini by Bimal Roy. I also like the face of Nutan with sparks from the welding falshing behind. Very effective.

    And the trivia is fantastic. To see (and know) where the first motion picture enthusiasm developed :-)
    Would you be knowing what they have done with the statues that were removed?

    1. Yes pacifist they the statutes are all kept at the Jijamata Udyaan formerly known as V

    2. Sorry pacifist that comment got published before I could complete it (it is my laptop playing mischief) so as I was saying they are kept at the Jijamata Udyaan formerly known as Victoria Gardens, this is in Byculla and that is where the zoo is.

    3. Thank you Shilpi.

  6. It's been a long time since I watched Bandini, but your description of the murder scene really brought it alive for me once again. It's so subtle, so different from the usual high-histrionics and high-melodrama murders, with loads of blood and gore and thundering music, that has mostly been seen in Hindi cinema. Bimal Roy was truly a master.

    And thank you for that tidbit about Kala Ghoda, Shilpi! I only know of it because of the Arts and Literary Festival, but now thanks to you I know the origin!

    1. I am so happy with the response from everybody,it would be nice to see you review Bandini, love to read your point of view.

  7. WOW, I will now have to re-watch Bandini with a new vision. I too loved the way the director indicated that Kalyani added poison to the tea without actually showing it. Very interesting shot. Thanks for the tidbit on Kalaghoda.

    Who is the actress calling out to Kalyani when she is rushing to board the steamer?

    1. Very happy to see you liked it. That actress is Chandrima Bhaduri, Reeta Bhadhuri's mother.

  8. great read,interesting trivia,lovely language and above all first hand experience of being from a film family makes ur blog a treat for me.

  9. makes an interesting reading:
    His daughter Rinku talks about him. Were oyu friend swiht her?

    1. Harvey thanks for the link. Rinkidi(that's how I address her, di is short for didi)and I are not exactly freiends considering she is several years older to me, there is a whole generation separating us but yes when we do happen to bump into each other there is a warm friendliness, in fact now that you mention it I am reminded of something. When I return to Bombay and back to blogging I think I will put it down in my next post.