Most of the hit movies of sixties and seventies also had the best of music in them and were also recognized for that by the audience. India is a country of folklore and folk dance and music, songs was the way the news and messages were conveyed in olden times. Songs contained the philosophy, contemporary messaging and the ethos of the population. Purab aur Paschim was also such a film with one of the best songs and music which also told the story of the film. It juxtaposed the Indian culture Vis the Western sensibilities. It was the time when Young India was trying make a mark for itself in the world as also a sense of nationality and pride within its people. Released in 1970. Manoj Kumar reprised his role of Bharat a metaphor for our country and its people and for patriotism. Major part of the movie was shot in London when the hippie culture was in full swing.
Bharat (Manoj Kumar) is the son of a freedom-fighter who was betrayed by his own Harnam (Pran) to be killed by the British. As Bharat has patriotic aspirations and is a proud Indian and wants to be a part of building a New India seeking knowledge for the same he comes to London for higher studies. In London he stays with his father’s friend Sharma (Madan Puri) with Indian ethos but living in London for money’s sake and his westernized family consisting of his wife Rita (Shammi) and hippie son Shankar (Rajendra Nath- subdued) and daughter Preeti (Saira Banu). Grown up on western ideals and far from Indian culture.
Preeti though pretty smokes, drinks and wears minis which is a cultural shock for our hero who also views other Indians living abroad who are either ashamed of their Indian values or are stuck here due to economic reasons. He also has a run in with Harnam and his son OP (Prem Chopra) there. As Preeti and Bharat are drawn towards each other which upsets OP who tries to take advantage of Preeti in the club but is saved by Bharat and is not only grateful but also falls for him head over heels but is not ready to marry and settle in India. Bharat insists that she visit India once and see the country for herself and if she still does not change her decision then he agrees to settle with her in London. Thus taking a big risk for himself and his dreams but he is confident. So it is mission India then, but not before our hero also puts the ideals of some pseudo Indians living abroad in perspective , which he does so by singing one of the most patriotic songs of all times ‘Hai preet jahan ki reet sada’. With the full family in tow Sharma comes to India even Harnam and OP come to India after them as OP is still lusting for Preeti. As one event leads to another and the magic of India prevails and Preeti agrees to marry and stay back.
Purab Aur Paschim is very sensitively shot and picturized, without disturbing the sensibilities and putting his point across Manoj Kumar has done a tremendous job with it. The above mentioned song does bring out the pride and patriotism in you whenever it is played. Apart from this all the other super songs are also picturized beautifully and perfectly. The opening song ‘Dulhan Chali, Behen Bhali’ celebrates more than twenty years of India Independence. Patriotism and national pride is visible in every frame. The aarti song ‘Om Jai Jagdish’ is a closing hymn sung in all religious functions but this film gave it the melody and the rhythm in which it is still sung to the day.
As Manoj Kumar has cleverly woven the tale starting from British India to the current one and has also shown England in current times and the cultural chasm. Purab Aur Paschim is a must see for all patriotic and nationalistic Indians.
Purab Aur Paschim – Manoj Kumar, Saira Banu, Pran, Madan Puri
- Revisited by PAWAN GUPTA