Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)

The full moon, which is visible on the fourteenth or fifteenth of lunar calendar months which begin with the new moon, has a special standing in Urdu poetry. It is used most often to imply beauty, and often in the context of appreciation of a divine force behind that beauty. Chaudhvin Ka Chand (The Moon of the Fourteenth, or The Full Moon), produced by Guru Dutt and directed by Mohammed Sadiq, lives and breathes this reference, and earns a fitting adjective for itself: beautiful. It's beautiful in its symbolism, appearance, packaging, entertainment, and perhaps most importantly, in its eloquence.

Aslam (Guru Dutt), Pyare Nawab (Rehman), and Mirza Shaiza (Johnny Walker), are best friends in Lucknow. Nawab suggests Aslam marry a religious scholar's daughter Jameela (Waheeda Rehman), not knowing she's the same woman he's bowled over by and wants to marry (faulty intelligence is prevalent at federal levels in the twenty-first century, this misunderstanding hardly compares :P). Aslam and Jameela marry, and life is about to go on happily, except that Aslam soon discovers of Pyare's love for the woman. Aslam is an orphan, and given he is indebted to Pyare for having ensured his well-being since his parents' death in his early youth, he is caught between love for his wife and love for his most loyal friend. Several other plot lines are delightfully integrated therein, but this central question remains unanswered until the very end: How will the Aslam-Jameela-Pyare love triangle end?

The weaknesses in the script are quite glaring. There are inconsistencies in character tendencies. Best friends don't communicate as clearly and as often as 'best friends' do, by definition. Sensible characters demonstrate an unwillingness to learn from precedence (mistakes are repeated). They also believe in love at first sight (for the record, I stopped believing in fourth grade). Apparently, there is one (and only one) person in all of Lucknow who can be sent as a proxy to perform the Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage)! The list goes on.

Yet, I absolutely love this film! I've often said I'm the ideal audience for filmmakers, and this only confirms it. Sure, suspension of disbelief is required, but the film makes a very strong case for its audience to want to play along. The biggest reason for this is fine performances by the four leads, who are absolutely fantastic. Character sketches generally enhance the scope of their acts -- there isn't a main character who isn't likable to the audience, which is testament to the portrayal of each in a film driven by misunderstanding and envy. They really make up for a lot with the execution in nearly all respects.

Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman are splendid together.

There's always room to include commentary on social issues of relevance.

There are scenes at masala film's favorite destination.

The first frame in this post hopefully says all that needs to be said of what I think of Waheeda-ji. What's not to like about her? She's got the brains and knows what to say and when to say it.

And she's just gorgeous, commanding respect throughout.

Nawab means what he says and says what he means. That Johnny Walker outfit would have looked interesting in color.

Johnny has a significant role throughout. As always, he is delightful and provides ample and effective comic relief. I've said this before, I'm convinced he's the best comedian of all time.

This dialogue among three good friends reminds of a scene in Dil Chahta Hai (2001 -- Akash to Sameer: "Mard ban, be a man!")

Had the masses in this part of the world seen the film beforehand, this shoe-throwing incident might not have (initially) been a mystery.

Among the elements that stand out is the exquisite dialogue (Saghir Usmani and Tabish Sultanpuri). Much of it is in authentic Urdu, which works beautifully given the characters, theme, and setting. Allusions to specific events from Islamic history are infrequent but significant. The Eros Entertainment DVD contains decent subtitles, and the strength of the narrative, universality of dialogue, and body language are more than good enough in conveying an understanding of the circumstances in the film, prior knowledge of history notwithstanding.

The art direction is brilliant (Lucknow looks and feels like it -- the wardrobe is indicative of the demographic, for example), and shines through in the two songs shot in color. Which brings us to the music (Ravi) and accompanying lyrics (Shakeel Badayuni). No introduction needed to the immaculate title song by Mohammad Rafi. I think it's the best love song of all time, and no translation can do it justice.

There are several other fantastic songs, most very well integrated and used to enhance the plot. Here's a sampling:

  1. Sharma Ke Yun Parda Nashin by Shamshad Begum, Asha Bhosle
  2. Mera Yaar Bana Hai Dulha by Mohammad Rafi
  3. Yeh Duniya Gol Hai by Mohammad Rafi
  4. Mili Khaak Mein Mohabbat by Mohammad Rafi
  5. Badle Badle Mere by Lata Mangeshkar
  6. Dil Ki Kahaani Rang Laayi by Asha Bhosle

While the title song (here's a little, cool instrumental tribute) is primarily a ghazal (you might recall mention of this style of poetry in the discussion of music to Delhi-6), #s 4 and 5 seem strongly rooted in the marsiya form of Urdu poetry (interestingly, its Wikipedia entry notes a relationship to the city of Lucknow). They're both exceptionally well-written, and it helps to have two of the best ever singers providing the vocals. #3 is delightful -- its beginning is perfect, and especially hilarious is a little confrontation about 2:43 into the video.

Chaudhvin Ka Chand is a treat all around. Four stars and then some for a beautifully executed film. It has its issues, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and nothing short of quality entertainment once the viewer appreciates and accepts the melodrama for what it is. If you have seen other works by Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman, you know how good they can be. If you have yet to see them, what are you waiting for?

Movie rating: 4.25/5 (Excellent!)

My Classification: PG

Music rating: 4.75/5
It's in the lyrics. Beautiful!

Also see: Songs with the moon, the eternal performer


pitu said...

Haaye Allah! Wah Wah! I saw The Waheeda's photos first and then read the text :-D I like this movie too although if Waheeda was mine, no way would I ever sacrifice her for anything, best friend gaya tel lene ;-D

Bhargav Saikia said...

Well said about the title song! It can't get more romantic than Chaudhvin Ka Chand :)

I haven't seen the film. Not too sure if I can get its DVD in the UK (maybe Lovefilm?).

theBollywoodFan said...

Absolutely, Pitu! I really liked Waheeda in this, a lot more than in C.I.D., and think it had to do with more than a more positive character here. The film really worked rather well for me, the acting and especially the language was something else. So much to consume, I'm sure I'll see it again soon!

theBollywoodFan said...

Bhargav: Amazon in the UK has it. So does LoveFilm. Of course, you could add it to your list for the next trip to Southall! ;) I think you'll like Chaudhvin Ka Chand. Have you seen any other films by Guru Dutt? Pyaasa (1957) is one I'd definitely recommend, very very highly.

Nicki said...

Oh gosh, thanks for the beautiful screencaps of Waheeda.

Isn't it funny despite the weak points of the movie that you notice, you still love the film?

I want you to do a list of moon songs. I am still very infatuated by it. I tried to learn about the signifance of the moons at one time.

theBollywoodFan said...

It's definitely interesting, with the plot and all, and it's a good example of dialogue, its near perfect delivery by the entire cast, and fantastic music, making up for it. Then again, isn't it only fair, given the genre, to not let plot holes ruin the potential to be entertained? Playing along was well worth it for me. :)

I had to keep myself in check with the screencaps, they're really just as good from start to finish!

This post has some songs with reference to the moon. Songs mentioned by commenters are quite fabulous as well. Also, please feel free to share any insights from your study of the significance of the moon.

bollyviewer said...

I looooooove the songs from this movie especially Chaudhvin ka chaand - Rafi is divine and the picturisation is perfect. For some reason, every time this played on TV I only managed to catch the ending and a few parts here and there. So, I know the story and most of the problems with the script that you mentioned! I do intend to watch the whole movie sometime soon, and hopefully watching it in its entirety, the plot-holes wont bother me so much. Or maybe just watching Waheeda+Guru Dutt+Rehman+Johnny Walker will distract me from them! ;-)

Anonymous said...

You go from liking that Baba Seghal song in 13-B in your last post to these songs. Admirable.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Delhi-6?

theBollywoodFan said...

Bollyviewer: I'd love to know what you think of it after you watch it in its entirety. I'm quite confident the four outstanding acting talents will distract you from the plot holes! I really enjoyed the screen time Johnny Walker got. Of the movies I've seen him in, it's probably the most I've seen him get. And he truly makes it tick. And the songs, oh, yes, they're brilliant!

Anonymous [1]: I'll take that as a compliment! I do have this tendency to try to appreciate music for what it's aimed at (time and place). That Baba Seghal song is effective where it's supposed to be. And so is each and every song in Chaudhvin Ka Chand, except that these songs are way, way, waaaay more special, of course! It is my belief that a good dance track is much more of a commodity than a well written track. But, of course, I am not free of bias.

Anonymous [2]: I have yet to see Delhi-6. Had it planned for this past weekend, but life got in the way. This coming weekend has to be it! Have you seen it? Did you like/dislike it?

theBollywoodFan said...

Not related to Chaudhvin Ka Chand, but it was a sad, sad, day for every true cricket fan today. Gaddafi Stadium is beautiful, and so is Lahore. A salute to the cops who lost their lives while ensuring the safety of the Sri Lankan cricketers. Long live cricket. Peace.

Anonymous said...

I love this film, and I loved Mere Mehboob which I just saw---for some reason I just adore these old Muslim socials.

And Johnny Walker is my favorite comedian. I laugh just looking at him. What a rubber face he had!

theBollywoodFan said...

Agreed on Johnny Walker, he does just look funny! Awesome, for lack of a better word. Mere Mehboob (heading over to your review soon) I'm definitely looking forward to seeing soon! Thank you!

Muslim-themed movies (naturally) end being a rather personal experience for me because I belong to the minority group. The portrayal of the community in Indian film has shifted dramatically over the decades (for the worse, of course, which is not at all surprising -- in my view, it's more of a human problem than an Indian film problem).

There's a film festival ongoing in Abu Dhabi, titled Muslim Cultures of Bombay Cinema, which addresses the theme. They're screening Chaudhvin Ka Chand and Mere Mehboob! Good reading material available at this Khaleek Times link and this Gulf News link.

I haven't seen them all yet, but I thought you might find the list interesting; maybe you could share more recommendations from this list (source: Gulf News link above)? Those marked with an asterisk I have either seen or am going to see soon. I do wish they'd included Aamir (2008) as well.

Historical Films

*Jodha Akbar (2008); Ashutosh Gowariker
Pukar (1939); Sohrab Modi
*Mirza Ghalib (1954); Sohrab Modi
*Chaudhvin ka Chand (1960); M Sadiq
*Mughal-e-Azam (1960); K Asif

Social Films

Najma ( 1943); Mehboob Khan
*Mere Mehboob (1963); H.S. Rawail

New Wave Films

*Garm Hawa (1973); M.S. Sathyu
Mammo (1994); Shyam Benegal
Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (1989); Saeed Mirza

Courtesan Films

Fiza (2000); Khalid Mohammed
Sardari Begum (1996); Shyam Benegal
Pakeezah (1971); Kamal Amrohi
*Umrao Jaan (2006); J. P. Dutta

theBollywoodFan said...

All: Please feel free to offer suggestions on the film recommendation request in the previous comment. :)

Anonymous said...

I would add Dharmputra (1961) to the list---Shashi's debut as a grownup, and a wonderful film. Also Gazal (Sunil Dutt and Meena Kumari, 1964)...

I have a couple from the late 40s that I haven't watched yet--Shair, Zeenat--which look interesting too.

Richard S. said...

Very nice writeup (as you often do), but I was disappointed that you didn't talk about the marvelous mujras by Minoo Mumtaz. You did mention one song that she was in, "Dil Ki Kahaani Rang Laayi." And there's one that I like even more, "Berdadi Mera Saiyan." I also appreciated the exchanges between Minoo Mumtaz and Johnny Walker. They were both very good in this film.

By the way, I saw this film at Tommydan1's site. You need to download the Veoh viewer, but once you do, you can watch this online for free (in very good quality) here:

You don't have to download the viewer to watch clips from it, including the color version of "Dil Ki Kahaani...":

If I were to add all my favorite "Muslim themed" movies to that list...well, that would take too long. :)

Among Muslim socials, though... I'm surprised no one mentioned Barsaat Ki Raat!

In response to Memsaab's comment, I hope that you watch Zeenat soon and write it up for us. I'd very much like to see that one myself. (I think I have just fallen in love with Noor Jehan from the '40s and '50s (at least)...what a beautiful voice she had!)

I think Khandan (1942) is considered the first Bollywood Muslim social.

ajnabi said...

Oh, my goodness, this movie *does* look lovely! I think Waheeda has to be one of the most beautiful women ever.

theBollywoodFan said...

Memsaab: Thank you. The mere titles to Ghazal and Shair sound so poetic, the films must be great!

Richard: Thank you for your visit and comment, and I do apologize for not having discussed Minoo Mumtaz, who was, as you say, quite magnificent here as well. (I couldn't find the video to the other song online.)

I particularly liked the scene in which Johnny asks Minoo how much Aslam spent; that moment was well executed!
*End spoiler*

I haven't done much research on Noor Jehan's works. I am told I attended one of her concerts in Karachi when I was a baby :) Thanks for the tips on Khandan and Barsaat Ki Raat! I'll try to find these (and Zeenat), they don't seem to be available readily.

Ajnabi: It's quite beautifully directed, the artwork is magnificent, and it's a visual treat no matter how one looks at it. Ditto to Waheeda!

Nicki said...

Thanks for the link! I will look at the moon songs. :)

Bhargav Saikia said...

Hey, thanks for those links :)

Anonymous said...

Nikaah - produced by BR Chopra with famous songs and starring Salma Agha, Raj Babbar and the other guy i think called Deepak. This is a muslim (social theme) movie and quite famous. It was shot in my beautiful city of Hyderabad coz the story is set in Hyderabad.

Of course the most famous muslim social movie et and shot in Hyd is "Bazaar" that has some really lovely songs and good acting by Naseeridun Shah and Smita Patil not to mention Farouk Sheikh and Supriya Pathak. Stand out performance was by Shaukat Azmi!

theBollywoodFan said...

Nicki and Bhargav: Sure, any time :)

Anonymous: Thank you so much! I'll definitely check out Nikaah and Bazaar -- Hyderabad has such aura, it's ultra-cool. And any movie with Naseeruddin Shah, an Azmi, and Smita Patil must be well, well worth looking forward to! Cheers.

Darshit said...

Since long time I got this dvd [to be specific, after reading ur Pyaasa review]. But Still I haven't seen this. I had seen Kaagaz ke Phool, but I just can't put the reviews of classics in words. Like you do. Such great movie. Guru dutt / Waheeda Rahman are absolutely God sent pairing. Love all screencaps.

theBollywoodFan said...

I'm confident you'll enjoy this, Darshit. There's too much in it for fans of music, song and acting to not appreciate. Kaagaz Ke Phool is next on my list, can't wait! As for the reviews, it's really the screencaps doing most of the talking, we can only try. Just go for whichever movie you like, without any inhibitions. I'm sure the result will be great as it always is!

Anonymous said...

"Mamoo" is another excellent muslim social movie. Farida Jalal was brilliant and the story is really touching - a thing most people from the subcontinent can easily identify with ie the human emotions

theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you, Anonymous! I'll definitely look forward to checking it out. Besides, I have a lot of catching up to do with Farida Jalal's body of work.

pitu said...

'Bazaar' is awesome. I can vouch for it. Farooque Shaikh is delicious as always! *sigh* :D

theBollywoodFan said...

Most definitely, Pitu. I've got so many more in my to-buy list, can't wait! Thanks!

Hashmat said...

thanks for posting info on the legendary movie.

My Uncle, Saghir Usmani, wrote the story and the dialogues for the movie. he is not with us anymore but his nostalgic memory will always remain with us.

thank u once again

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Hashmat, and thank *you* so much for your visit and comment! It's such an honor. Saghir sir's work was brilliant, and you're absolutely right about his work living on too. The dialogue in Chaudhvin Ka Chaand was sheer genius!

yves said...

I'll definitely be back here, a lover of Waheeda Rehman...! Well! Have you seen my pet one with her: Teesri Kasam ( - I'm pretty sure you'd love it, and not just because she's RAVISHING! The film's a jewel. I've also seen her in Pyaasa, and Shib bibi aur ghulam, but I think teesri kasam is where she shines most.
OK, I'm going to bed now!

maxqnz said...

I stu,bled across your blog through Twitter. I like this review a lot. Chaudhvin ka Chand is not a filmi masterpiece like Pyaasa or Kaagaz ke Phool but it is a wondrous feast for Waheeda-worshippers and also one of Johnny Walker's most meaningful roles. I was delighted to read your assessment of his merits - any Johnny Walker fan is OK with me.

theBollywoodFan said...

Welcome to the blog, Maxqnz (and Arsenal fan! I guess you and a Blues fan would have something in common -- it has to do with United :P), and thank you for your comments!

I'm really looking forward to seeing Kaagaz Ke Phool, and agree Pyaasa is fantastic. And yes, Johnny Walker is a class act indeed! Cheers.

yves said...

Hello BWfan,
Nice, indeed very nice review (and caps) of this movie which I am wondering whether I should or not review... and for the same reasons you give as far as its weaknesses are concerned, the script especially. But also because, unlike you, I didn't really think a great deal of the acting, or perhaps the script being so stretched made me want to take back my suspension of disbelief, and not even grant it to the actors!
I'll see what I do. But you know, even that title song-scene I found contrived. When I compare with films of the same period, I find that so many were better inspired! In fact, I wonder whether Guru Dutt didn't have an influence on this film out of his infatuation for Waheeda (he was the film producer), and we know what often happens to that kind of "inspiration": the obsession with the person makes you forget about the story, because the aim is to glorify the person's beauty.
what do you think?

batulie said...

ahahaha this is awesome!!!! i love google!!! tht it led me to to

theBollywoodFan said...

Yves: Thank you for your visit and comment. Guru Dutt might well have a Waheeda-inspired influence on this, completely could've been the case. I guess from my standpoint, the music and dialogue, plus Waheeda (inherently, that's likely why I liked it?!) made it work magic for me. :) Apologies for such a late reply.

Anonymous said...

Hi There love your review, and i think Waheedaji is the best thing abt this movie although i do love Guru Dutt, Rehman and Johnny Walkers performance.Infact Waheedaji has looked the most beautiful in this movie.