Directed by Bimal Roy, Bandini is the story of Kalyani (Nutan) imprisoned in a prison and the story thereof. Being a movie of the Black and White era, I shall not attempt a review as that requires some amount of knowledge in that field. I’ll merely state my opinions about the movie.
Bandini.. as the title for this film is very apt. The protagonist is a prisoner of destiny, a prisoner of the soceity and her own choices. The scenes are mostly of a pre-independence jail, a small village, and a few frames around the river. The movie is backed by very good cinematography, and many scenes are so masterfully done.. bringing out irony or sincerety so subtly.
The songs are outstanding (S D Burman classics). Every one of them, except the freedom fighter one, which has some charm of its own. The youthful ‘Mora gora ang le lei’ is perhaps the most famous. There’s a song ‘Ab ke baras, bhej bhaiya ko babul…’ that another prisoner sings while toiling on the chakki and eyeing the world outside. Simply touching. The most wistful of em al is ‘O re majhi’ that tunes throughout the movie and forms the backdrop in the climax.
One scene that struck out, not because it was exceptional but because it was out of thread, was when some ‘inquilabi aatankvadis’ were served the death sentence in the same prison where Kalyani is imprisoned. Inquilabi aatankvadis :). The cry Vande Mataram is not far behind.. and does strike a chord as the fighters walk to the gallows. I feel the song that followed was not called for, and the scene would have had more of an impact using understatement.
Most striking of all is the ‘Sab theek hai!’ that the watchman shouts across the movie, as Kalyani is imprisoned, as she refuses parole, as she has to leave jail finally and as she’s faced with a choice. Irony packed in a punch. Sab theek hai.
Do watch it. Not when you have friends over and want to watch a good movie. Watch it some sunday afternoon, when you’re not harried and can appreciate a story written in another time.