When we hear about Parakh – 1960 film, the first thing that comes to our mind is the solo rain song of Lata Mangeshkar
– Oh Sajna Barkha Bahar. When I watched this movie most recently on you tube, I could find it as a satire way of describing democracy and ugly face of Indian politics in the period soon after Indian independence, and the most astonishing fact is – things have not changed too much even after 5 decades. We still live in the same era of Indian politics and selfish politicians who are so mean, and that’s why we are struggling in development even after 65 years of Indian independence.
What is this story about?
The movie describes the economic and social status of Indian society in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a system of landlords and poor people, caste indifferences and economically backward middle and lower class people. The story was written by great musician Salil Choudhury and dialogues wrote by famous lyricist Shailendra. The film which won multiple Filmfare awards was directed by Bimal Roy, the ace filmmaker of Bollywood’s golden era.
Story in a snapshot
Story revolves around an innocent and poor post master of a rural village who receives a mysterious cheque of 5 lakh rupees, sent by someone from another village for the development of the village and its people. The character of post master was played by the legendary Nazir Hussain, whose daughter is the beautiful Sadhana. Though he owes a lot of liabilities, he never thinks of his personal benefits and discusses with prominent people of the village to know how the money can be spent for the development of the village.
Later it is decided the money should be handed over the person whom the villagers found the best, and it can be done through a voting. The crooked candidates include Pandit Tarkalankarji – a village priest played by Kanhaiyalal, Village Doctor played by Rashid Khan, a rich money lender and landlord also. A school teacher played by lead hero, Basanta Choudhury is the fifth candidate. How the selfish candidates, except the school master try to influence people to get votes form the crux of the story.
The story is very much related to present scenario
In the movie, it’s cleverly shown how the crooked candidates try to influence people to get votes. Surprisingly it’s same method used by our politicians to get votes from citizens during elections. The methods through which candidates pretend to be good, and how they do good things during election campaigns to show themselves great have not changed too much over the decades. They also adopt several bad tricks to get ‘power of money’ in hand. In fact, the main aim of politicians to get a seat in election is to earn money rather than benefits to common man, though they are several exceptions I need to say. The same idea is indirectly shown in the movie as well.
In the movie, the candidates compete one another to show themselves to be great. Landlord writes off all the debts of farmers while money lender too wages off several payments. While the doctor treats patients free, the temple priest try to influence people through poojas and miracles. After all God and God men stand above all! Surprisingly it has not changed too much in present Indian society where people spend too much on poojas and of course for those who pretend to be saints though we pretend ourselves to be well-educated.
We always love satire take on Indian politics
All the events are shown in a humorous way. I think this trend began with early 1960s. But I felt the script to be dragging in the second half. Though the movie had a good plot, it was not nicely executed towards its climax. But overall there was a feel of a good movie which described a socially relevant subject. Most of the films are made on the social life that exists in that period, and only a few stands against all odds, and look fresh even after years. No doubt, ‘Parakh’ owns such a distinction, and can also be included in the list of movies ahead of its times.
India celebrates 70 years of independence tomorrow on August 15, and this movie is definitely an eye opener to all. I hope our politicians would love to watch this movie on the eve of Independence Day celebrations to know – THINGS HAVE NOT CHANGED TOO MUCH.