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How Asit Sen transformed his realistic drama Deep Jweley Jai (1959) into the romantic tragedy Khamoshi (1969)

The Bengali original delivered a compact storyline with extraordinary performances, while the Hindi version, released 10 years later on 25 April, catered more to the melancholia of romanticism, with a towering performance by Waheeda Rehman.

Roushni Sarkar

Filmmaker Asit Sen made Deep Jweley Jai in 1959 while Khamoshi, the Hindi remake of the film, was released 10 years later. There is a difference of connotation in the two titles. In the first, the sacrifice of a nurse is glorified. In the second, the unspoken feelings of unrequited love are emphasized. The subtle changes in the characters of the nurse Radha, portrayed, respectively, by Suchitra Sen and Waheeda Rehman in the Bengali and Hindi versions, define the shift in the connotation.

While Deep Jweley Jai has always been praised for Sen’s outstanding performance, in which she made a huge shift from her glamorous avatar of the most popular heroine of Bengali cinema, Khamoshi brought acclaim for Rajesh Khanna. However, in this writer's opinion, Khamoshi was actually driven by Waheeda Rehman’s deeply engaging performance. Khanna’s act heightened the film's emotional quotient with his rather theatrical portrayal.

The Bengali film seems more realistic in comparison to Khamoshi. Nurse Radha is quite strict in her demeanour while dealing with the patients of the psychiatric hospital she works in. The patients are less infused with dialogues meant for entertaining the audience. The doctor in charge in Deep Jweley Jai was played by the great actor Pahari Sanyal. His impeccable accent and detached countenance made him suitable for the character who is more involved in exploring the methods of therapy and not so concerned about the mental health of the nurses working with him.

In both films, Radha successfully helps a patient of acute mania recover by almost turning herself into an avatar of the ideal woman of his imagination. While explaining the method of treatment to one of the nurses, the doctor draws reference from Freudian theory about how a man looks for his mother in his beloved. The idea is that the nurse has to pretend to be the woman who is a combination of his mother and beloved, so that the patient can get out of the trauma caused by rejection by the woman he was obsessed with.

However, Radha cannot entirely pretend. In the process of play-acting, she falls in love with Debasish in the Bengali version and Dev in the Hindi film, enacted by Dharmendra.

But she has to maintain that she has only successfully conducted a therapy. As soon as Debasish / Dev recovers, his marriage with the woman he was initially rejected by gets fixed. Radha is placed in the glorified position of a life-saver, but in reality she has given her heart away.

When another patient with a similar psychological problem arrives in the hospital, Radha is summoned again to treat him with her exceptional empathy. But Radha knows she simply fell in love the previous time and does not have place for someone else in her heart.

In Deep Jweley Jai, Radha confesses at the very beginning that she cannot act but is shown to be capable of hiding her emotions well. In Khamoshi, she keeps it all in her heart, with her emotions on the verge of spilling over at any moment. That she is deeply in love is written all over her face. In dealing with other patients, she is much more relaxed.

Suchitra Sen's Radha seems to be a sorted character until she starts treating Tapas (Basant Choudhari), the new patient with the same psychological problem as Debasish. Waheeda Rehman's Radha, on the other hand, is much more romantic in her musings and when she stars treating Arun (Khanna), she appears to be giving in, to lose herself in the process for a second time.

In the Bengali version, the culmination of Radha’s journey might come as a shock, as if she did not see herself heading towards such a fate. In Khamoshi, the audience can foresee the danger that Radha is headed for.

As Tapas begins to forgive Sulekha and starts imagining a new future with Radha, Sen portrays herself to be conscious of Tapas’s intention. She tries to make Tapas aware with her body language, without speaking it out, that she cannot really get involved in a romantic union with him. On the other hand, Waheeda's avatar is so lost in love for Dev that she cannot differentiate between the embrace of Arun and that of Dev. Hence, the audience can anticipate that she is losing clarity of thought.

Both films show how women are made to sacrifice in the name of deifying them. In Deep Jweley Jai, Choudhari’s portrayal is not as loud as Khanna's. He also plays a mostly passive part in the tragic transformation of Radha. Hence, the film hardly loses focus from Sen’s journey.

In the Hindi version, the director alleviated the characterization of the leading man (Khanna) given the demands of Hindi cinema, and one cannot really ignore his fate. Unlike in Deep Jweley Jai, Arun (Khanna) declares that he will wait, for ever if necessary, for Radha to get better. Tapas never makes an appearance after he learns that Radha only pretended to be his beloved, having promised not to disturb her if she admits the truth. Here Tapas seems to have more clarity of thought.

However, Arun’s promise to wait for Radha forever causes confusion, whether he has been pushed into a new chapter of obsession, involving the nurse, after getting over his breakup with Sulekha. In Khamoshi, Radha’s silence and inability to process her emotions, perhaps, drives Arun to his fate a second time. Therefore, tragedy befalls both Arun and Radha.

'Woh Shaam Kuchh Ajeeb Thi', one of the most memorable songs of both Hemant Kumar and Kishore Kumar's careers, plays a significant role in marking this shift from the Bengali original.

The dialogues of the films are almost the same, except for the places in which the director made significant shifts with definite objectives. The 'Tum Pukar Lo' song sequence, composed and rendered by music director Hemant Kumar, is prolonged and creates a beautiful mood of Radha realizing Dev’s love for his beloved in silence, without making him aware of the expectations with which she had come to meet him. It creates the moment for her departure from Dev’s life. In 'Ei Raat Tomar Amar', composed and sung by the same Hemant Kumar, Sen looks devastated, staring in shock at Debasish, who has his back to her, as she discovers the truth.

'Emon Bondhu Aar Ke Aache' is an apt song for the drunkard patient, played by Anil Chatterjee in Deep Jweley Jai. The song clearly expresses Chatterjee’s state of mind, as he considers himself to be intoxicated but cannot stop worrying about his family, thinking that they might be spending their days in hunger.

Along with strong performances by Suchitra Sen, Pahari Sanyal and Basant Choudhari, Deep Jweley Jai is also memorable for Tulsi Chakraborty’s impeccable expressions. The Bengali film is far more focused in terms of delivering a compact storyline with extraordinary performances, while the Hindi version caters more to the melancholia of romanticism, with a towering performance by Waheeda Rehman.