Late sixties and seventies was a defining period of Indian cinema which cultivated many memorable movies. Indian cinema was moving from family dramas, social and moral tales towards stories of friendship and love. Aradhana was one such movie which changed the lives of many of those associated with it. (Image courtesy YouTube).
Released on 27th September 1969 it was a defining movie which gave birth to the first Indian Superstar- a phenomenon called Rajesh Khanna, he had been around for a couple of years before this (even had some hits ) but something in this tale caught the eyes of the audience and specially the fair sex . This was the start from where he gave 17 consecutive hits, a record which still stands to this day. This was the movie which resurrected the playback singing career of Kishore Kumar.
It is rumored that before doing the playback of Aradhana Kishore wanted to meet the hero and wanted to be convinced that his voice suited him. From here started an enduring musical partnership between the troika of Rajesh Khanna, Kishore and R.D. begun and were to give many more hit songs together in the future. Rajesh Khanna reached the stratosphere of stardom after this, never had such adulation seen before or since in this Industry. Girls used to literally line-up and mob him where ever he went, many married his photos, his car would be smeared with lipstick marks and he used to receive letters written in blood from his female fans. This movie broke many molds, live-in which is considered normal today was a taboo in those days and this movie explored the story of an unwed mother.
Aradhana’s story is about simple people in difficult circumstances. A story of a boy Arun (Rajesh Khanna) who is an Air Force Pilot meets girl Vandana (Sharmila Tagore-beautiful) after some romantic interludes, they fall in love and marry secretly but tragedy strikes when Arun dies in an air crash. Here Vandana realizes that she is pregnant but is not accepted by the boys parents and as a double whammy even her father expires from this shock, she is left supprort-less. She gives birth to a baby boy but due to her circumstances she is convinced by a Husband (Abhi Bahattacharya) of a childless wife to give up her boy in adoption to them, she agrees with a condition that she will be her sons nanny so that she can be with her son and no one will know she is his mother. It seems things are settling for Vandana for once in her life when, in comes the villain (Man Mohan) and tries to rape her but she is saved by her young son (Sooraj) who stabs the man to death, the mother that she is she takes the blame on herself and is sent to prison for twenty years. She takes a promise from her son’s foster father that he will put him in Air Force just like her husband. In the jail she completes her sentence and the Jailor (Madan Puri) takes a liking of her behavior takes her home as his own sister to take care of his daughter Renu (Farid Jalal) who introduces her to her paramour Sooraj, Vandana is taken aback as Sooraj is a complete likeness of her husband the only difference being the moustache and is an Air Force officer to boot.
As the story of Aradhana plays out Sooraj also like his father is injured in an air crash but survives, when Vandana goes to meet him in the hospital she bumps into Madan (Sujit Kumar) her husbands best friend who knew about them and is also senior commanding officer of Sooraj. Madan say he had a strong doubt about Soorajs antecedents which is now confirmed, but Vanadana asks him not to tell Sooraj as the story of his birth and her subsequent incarceration would be an embarrassment for her son. But as such things can never be hidden Sooraj realizes she is his nanny of yore and is also told that she is his mother and in the final scene where he is being conferred with a bravery award call her on the stage to receive it saying today her worship had paid off.
Aradhana – the movie was based on the English movie To Each his own(1946). Produced and directed by Shakti Samanta, the songs of this movie were its highlight. Specially ‘Mere sapnon ki rani’ which was one of a kind because on screen it was seen as the hero is singing and serenading the heroine in an open jeep running parallel alongside a toy train on the hillsides of Darjeeling and the heroine sitting at the train window reading a book keeps giving sideway glances to the hero, in reality this song was shot separately on the hero and heroine as Sharmila Tagore had date issues and then joined together to get that look. Roop tera Mastana was another fabulous song and was shot in one take and was very suggestive and sensuous for those times. Gun guna rahe hain bhaware was a catchy no. and then the Youthful Baagon mein bahar hai .The title song played in the background thru the movie.
Aradhana is a refreshing movie which set some trends and copycats subsequently in many Hindi movies and other regional cinema.
(RETRO GEM – ARADHANA – revisited by PAWAN GUPTA)