The musical hit marked yet another collaboration between SU Sunny and Dilip Kumar and remains etched in memory for its hit songs by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohd Rafi.
65 years of Uran Khatola: Fantastical romance remembered for its timeless melodies
New Delhi - 13 May 2020 18:33 IST
A story of unfulfilled love, the fantasy drama Uran Khatola (1955) was adapted from Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon (1937). Kashi / Pardesi (Dilip Kumar) finds himself stranded on an island when his plane crashes and he is rescued by Soni (Nimmi), daughter of a minister in the queendom. Soni falls in love with the man from foreign lands, but the decision of whether to let him stay on depends on the island's ruler, Raj Rani (Surya Kumari).
Though not inclined to let the stranger stay, Raj Rani allows him to do so as she, too, is attracted to him. There are several twists and turns and misunderstandings where Soni and the Pardesi try to hide their love from the queen, but the truth is ultimately revealed and the queen is livid. However, undeterred in her pursuit of love, she conspires with Shangu (Jeevan), who is in love with Soni, to break up the lovers.
The women take centrestage in this film as they vie for the affection of the handsome Pardesi, who woos them with his effortless charm. The rules of the island offer equal rights to women. They have the right to choose their partner, who, once chosen, cannot be denied to them. In fact, most of the action transpires between the women as they are willing to go to any lengths to possess the man they love.
Surya Kumari plays the vamp who is not afraid of showing her desire for the foreigner who comes into her land. Dilip Kumar plays the suave, sophisticated Pardesi with such grace that it’s easy to imagine women fighting over him!
The fantastical island with tribal roots and traditional beliefs is suspicious of modernity, symbolized in the figure of the Pardesi. Yet, he also has a magnetic charm that is desirable though it ultimately leads to a path of ruin and exacts a terrible toll. The film is also a comment on the nature of true love that is transcendental, as the story is told in flashback by an aged Pardesi, who waits to be reunited with his love.
Directed by SU Sunny, the film marked yet another collaboration between Dilip Kumar and the director who had earlier worked together on the hits Mela (1948) and Babul (1950). In addition to being the music composer, Naushad was a partner in Sunny Art Productions and was the producer of this film. Uran Khatola was also dubbed in Tamil as Vanaratham (1956).
Uran Khatola was a musical hit with songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi and lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni. The number, “O Door Ke Musafir”, is counted amongst Naushad's finest compositions.
The same year, 1955, saw Dilip Kumar appear in a film that would raise him to the heights of stardom, Bimal Roy’s Devdas. It is believed that after this film, the thespian was so affected by performing tragic roles one after another that a psychiatrist suggested he try some comedy for a change. And so, the next film with Sunny was the light-hearted Kohinoor (1960), alongside Meena Kumari.
Click here to watch Uran Khatola.