50 Films I Love: Asit Sen’s Khamoshi (1969)

Waheeda Rehman’s performance, Hemant Kumar’s music, Gulzar Saab’s lyrics and Kamal Bose’s exquisite cinematography make this film worth seeking out
50 Films I Love: Asit Sen’s Khamoshi (1969)

As part of 50 Films I Love, this week I'm going to tell you about a film called Khamoshi. This isn't Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Khamoshi: The Musical though I liked that too. This is a 1969 black-and-white film. For some of you, this might be a deal-breaker but give me a few minutes to convince you.

Khamoshi was directed by Asit Sen who had earlier made the film in Bengali as Deep Jwele Jaai. It was based on the short story Nurse Mitra by noted Bengali writer Ashutosh Mukherjee. Most of the film is based inside a hospital named the 'National Psycho Analytical Clinic'. Be warned that this mental health track is the least convincing part of the film. Even now, Hindi cinema is largely unable to portray the complexity of psychiatric problems so you can imagine how amateurish it was all those decades ago.

Of course the word 'pagal' is thrown around liberally, electric shocks are considered therapy and the entire film revolves around a newfangled treatment that the head of the institute is trying to develop – basically nurses become the romantic partners of male patients who have come here after being wounded in love. The charade of romance and warmth eventually helps them to recover.

I know – it's silly and illogical. And yet Waheeda Rehman's performance, Hemant Kumar's music, Gulzar Saab's lyrics and Kamal Bose's exquisite cinematography make this film worth seeking out. The entire film has a haunting, lingering melancholy. Look at this:

The story revolves around Nurse Radha's relationship with two of her patients, played by Dharmendra and Rajesh Khanna. Dharmendra, who is staggeringly handsome, is a guest appearance and we see him only fleetingly but his character's presence looms large. Rajesh Khanna delivers a charming performance as the second man who comes into Radha's life. But Khamoshi stands on the shoulders of Waheeda Rehman who is heart-breaking. She looks divine and her eyes plumb the depths of her fractured soul. They reveal the toll this unconventional treatment is taking on her.

Pay attention also to the layers in the lyrics. Listen carefully to: Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehakti khusbhoo, haath se chooke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do.

And of one my all-time favorite romantic lines – Mukhtasar si baat hai, tumse pyaar hai from Tum Pukar Lo.

There is magic here. You can find Khamoshi on YouTube.

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