Khamoshi (1969): a review

Asit Sen has directed a very strong script into a very good film.

Kamal bose is the real hero of this film for his pathos filled camera work that lights up each and every frame with an uncanny appeal that forebodes what will happen at the end. And this is the real highlight of the entire film, the degradation of a soul into becoming more pathetic by each day. It is as if her persona is fading into the realm of unreality, day by day. The camera goes from being wide and accommodating to being low-angled and tight. The symbolism of the medical cross and also the cage-like door inside which the patients are imprisoned, makes for a completely different reading of the film; One which is about the methods of treatment of mentally ill patients.

The melodrama characteristic of the era feels like a necessity to capture the changing emotions in their true colours. And in this endeavour, the film was immensely helped by Waheeda Rehman playing the nurse Radha with a steady demeanor. The other star of the film, Rajesh Khanna, is surprisingly understated as well. His character is a side kick to Waheeda’s and the result is a devoid-of-petty-clichés superstar film. Dharmendra is another star of the film. This faceless lover was necessary to establish the meaningless of love in Radha’s life and thus her deterioration to become just another patient at the end. One other name that deserves a mention is Nazir Hussain’s. He plays the doctor and is Freud, more or less, talking about treating traumas without electric shocks and operations. His character gives the film another dimension.

No comment on Khamoshi could be complete without mentioning two names – Hemant Kumar and Gulzar. The haunt of a mental asylum was accentuated through Hemant’s music and Gulzar’s lyrics. The emptiness of the alleys and staircases is like a trap, a prison from where there seems to be no escape. Even the one song beneath the Howrah is a throwback to the evenings inside the hospital (I might be reading too much into this though!).

Khamoshi deserves repeat viewing just for the sake of the beautiful frames and their lighting.

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