A ‘serious’ review of Sangam (1964) in its Golden Jubilee Year

March 17, 2014

Raj Kapoor overturns Bollywood triangle to convey profound social messages

SangamReviewing a film is not a joke unless you are Madhu, Anu or Memsaab Greta. Then, why am I venturing into a field in which I have no expertise, and why Sangam?

Review of a Bollywood blockbuster like Sangam suffers from both the ends. At one end are the highbrow intellectuals, who have breakfast with Fellini, lunch with Kurosawa, dinner with Vittorio de Sica and tea, off and on, with Satyajit Ray. At best they would grudgingly acknowledge Bimal Roy and Do Bigha Zameen. They would trash Sangam as the usual worthless, escapist fare with songs and dances and a lot of melodrama. At the other end are the rest, people like you and me, who go to see what it offers, and come back ga-ga over its grand star cast, high drama, tense love triangle, wonderful foreign locales and great music. Both the set of reviewers miss some very profound social messages strewn in the film, which would be obvious if you watch it with a little more than casual interest.

What is my authority to write a ‘serious’ review? Long years ago I made a tryst with the songs and films of yore. At the stroke of the Holi hour, when the world goes out to throw coloured water at each other, I reflect on some serious issues. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when the soul of  a long-misunderstood Bollywood film stirs, and when we need to look at it in a different way and redeem it, if not wholly or in full measure, at least very substantially (with apologies to Nehru’s PA, MO Mathai, who wrote the stirring ‘A tryst with destiny’  for him, as claimed by him in his reminiscences. See Page 11 – Nehru had written ‘A ‘date’ with destiny’).

I have been writing serious articles on the previous Holis; but, surprisingly, the readers found them funny, some going to the extent of complimenting me on my sense of humour. If you are drenched from head to toe in colour, it is likely your vision would be coloured. Therefore, to remove any doubt, I am announcing up-front that this is a serious review.

The first obvious thing about Sangam is that it is a great love-triangle in the tradition of Andaaz (1949). (In fact Raj Kapoor wanted to offer Rajendra Kumar’s role to Dilip Kumar, but the latter thought better of it as he knew what Raj Kapoor would have done to his role.) Therefore, we may start with some introduction to the basics about triangles.

Triangles: Euclidean Geometry and Bollywood Geometry

We learnt in the school that you needed three sides to solve a triangle; with only two sides the triangle becomes indeterminate. Bollywood marks a major advance in the evolution of non-Euclidean geometry. In Bollywood geometry, three sides make a triangle unsustainable; so the whole objective of a film is to solve the triangle by dispensing with the superfluous side.

Bollywood triangles can be divided into two broad categories:

1. B-Type triangle: Two boys (B1, B2) and a girl (G1)

2. G-Type triangle: Two girls (G1, G2) and a boy (B1)

(For simplification, we may treat G-type as the mirror image of B-type, though there are nuanced differences on account of gender asymmetry. A detailed explanation is beyond the scope of this paper.)

Bollywood solves the triangle, i.e. dispenses with the superfluous B2 (or G2, as the case may be) so that B1-G1 live happily for ever, in one of the following three ways:

1. Elimination: Physical liquidation of B2 (or G2). This can happen in three ways:

Voluntary (Chaudahvi Ka Chand, 1960)
Involuntary (Andaaz, 1949)
Accidental (Sagar, 1985; Hariyali Aur Rasta, 1962)

2. Factorisation (or Voluntary withdrawal): B2 remains a factor, living with the sad memory of his love, which he has sacrificed for friendship. He acts as the Best Man in the end (Arzoo, 1965). In later refinements, he assumes the role of the elder brother (Anil Kapoor in Taal, Jackie Shroff in Rangeela), giving G1 away to B1 in a gesture reminiscent of ritualistic kanyadaan. In the mirror image G-type triangle, G2 makes a similar offering of G1 to B1 (Jawab, 1942; Dard, 1947; Anokhi Ada, 1948).

3. Quadrilateralisation (or Quad-isation in short): There is a fourth side in the movie. In the end the triangle is converted into a quadrilateral (B1-G1, B2-G2). There are two types of quad-isation:

Perfect Quad-isation (Naya Daur, 1957; Aah, 1953)
Imperfect Quad-isation (Anmol Ghadi, 1946; Deedar, 1951)

(The above classification would be self-evident to the readers familiar with these movies. Please see the notes at the end.)

Which type is Sangam triangle?

Now we can explore where does Sangam fit in the above triangle space. Here I make my most fundamental observation that Sangam does not belong to any standard type of triangle! Let me explain why. Rajendra Kumar loves Vyjayanthimala, she loves him. They are well brought up and have compatible family background and value systems. There is also Raj Kapoor, a waster and good-for-nothing fellow. He sings and dances, and is a great friend of Rajendra Kumar. He imposes himself upon Vyjayanthimala with bawdy songs like Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahi, who makes no bones that she resents his ways. Thus, it is important to note that here Rajendra Kumar is B1, and Raj Kapoor is the other guy B2. Yet, how is the triangle resolved? B2 gets G1 (!!!) and B1 meets a macabre end. How could a great director like Raj Kapoor make such a fundamental mathematical error? This leads us to the first profound social message of the film.

Social message 1: Importance of mathematics in school education

We have seen many countries including India, Pakistan and the US going through periods of agonising debate about the ideal school curriculum (higher education does not become a matter of such wide-spread public concern). The disaster in Sangam occurred due to a simple error in mathematical calculation. Vyjayanthimala has been thwarted repeatedly in her attempts to tell the state of her heart to Rajendra Kumar:  when she is on the point of telling him on the phone, her father potters down the staircase, forcing her to change the conversation; at the dancing party whenever she tries to have a word with him, she is pulled away by Raj Kapoor; when she goes for picnic at his invitation, she finds Raj Kapoor there who, mid-stream, pulls her away in his boat. Out of exasperation, she, with her saheli, goes up on the roof, with a love letter crumpled in her hand. She waits for Rajendra Kumar to pass by when she would throw the love letter to fall in his car. As it happens, the car whizzes past, the letter gets entangled in the branches of a tree, which the girls try to retrieve with a hook. Raj Kapoor, who was passing by on his cycle, just behind Rajendra Kumar’s car, sees the girls so fiddling and retrieves the letter.

If you have been taught school mathematics properly, you would know it is a simple question of height and distance – standing at a height of ‘h’, at what angle and velocity should you throw a projectile to hit an object moving at a constant speed of ‘u’ at a distance of ‘s’ from the base of the building? Raj Kapoor was a great visionary far ahead of his times. He uses the tragedy of Sangam to make a fundamental point that mathematics has to be given a key position in school curriculum.

Sangam_Vyjayanthimala's love letter in wrong hands_RK can't read Hindi

Disaster does not strike alone. Raj Kapoor opens the letter and exclaims Haaye, ye to Hindi mein hai, implying that had it been in English he would have had no difficulty in understanding it. This brings us to the second great social message of Raj Kapoor.

Social message 2: Three language formula; importance of mother tongue vis-a-vis English as the medium of school education

Visionary that Raj Kapoor was, he could foresee that language would become one of the most passionate and emotive issues in the country. You express your deepest emotions in your mother tongue. Therefore, Vyjayanthimala writes the love-letter in Hindi. Raj Kapoor’s mother tongue is also obviously Hindi. He could not read Hindi, which meant he could read some other language, most likely English.  Which means that he must have gone to one of the extremely snobbish ‘English medium’ schools, which forbade not only speaking Hindi on the campus, but also banished its teaching. Raj Kapoor’s family was nationalist to the core. How could any self-respecting free nation have such a slavish mentality to English, which was the language of the people who had colonised us? He uses his personal tragedy to convey a profound message that you may learn English, but never forsake your mother tongue.

Faced with the pain of not being able to read the letter in his mother tongue, Raj Kapoor rushes to his buddy Rajendra Kumar to read it out for him. It is a love letter, signed off as ‘Yours forever Radha’. But Vyjayanthimala forgot to put the name in the salutation, ‘Dearest…(who?) ’. This is the start of the disaster. Now we come to the third great social message of Sangam.

Social message 3: Quality of school-teaching; grading of teachers based on students’ performance; writing letters carefully

The first thing we learn in school when we are able to compose a paragraph is to write a letter. Any average teacher would tell you that a letter has three parts – salutation to the addressee, content and signing off with ‘Yours faithfully’ or ‘Yours sincerely’. How could Vyjayanthimala forget the very first part of letter writing? Was it the fault of her teacher? In our time, there was no concept of a teacher being graded based on her students’ performance. Raj Kapoor was ahead of his times by several decades. Across countries, econometricians are now being called upon to design grading methods for school teachers.

What if the teacher was not at fault, but Vyjayantimala was casual in her writing? This has a profound message for today’s young generation, which has forgotten ‘writing’. What if your sms ‘had gr8 fun with U last night’ is clicked by mistake to the other guy? For heaven’s sake, watch the tragedy of Sangam, and start writing proper language.

Now, come to the punishment for this mistake. Should a girl be forced to wed a guy, whom she considers boorish, just because she forgot to write ‘Dearest so and so’ in her letter? By this exaggeration Raj Kapoor is trying to give another profound message, which is described next.

Social message 4: Importance of life-skills education

The three protagonists always spend their time together. While Raj Kapoor forces himself irritatingly, ‘Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahi’ or ‘O Mehbooba….. Sab dekhte rah jayenge le jayenge ek din‘, Rajendra Kumar, the real lover, keeps quiet. Even in the party scene, while Raj Kapoor brashly declares ‘Har dil jo pyar karega wo gana gayega’, Rajendra Kumar comes in meekly with ‘Apni apni sabne kah di, hum phir bhi chup chaap rahey’. Why don’t you speak up you dumbo! (Sorry for my outburst. The readers may please treat my unparliamentary remarks as expunged from the records. Now we can understand, our MPs may at times be working under extreme provocation, such as having watched a Rajendra Kumar movie before coming to the Parliament.)

Sangam_Nahi nahi kabhi nahi_Har dil jo pyar karega wo gana gayega

Now we realise, merely earning a degree is not enough. Life skills education, which encompasses building self-confidence, communication skills and handling relationships, is equally important. Raj Kapoor highlighted through the clumsy Rajendra Kumar the importance of life-skills education, which would gain recognition several decades later.

Vyjayanthimala does go to great lengths (and also great heights – on the roof) to clarify matters. She makes a last ditch effort when she goes to the Air Force Station to tell Raj Kapoor the truth (who has, in the meanwhile,  joined the Air Force to prove himself worthy of her hand). By then he is inside his fighter aircraft. Vyjayanthimala’s screams obviously get drowned in the roar of the engine, all the while Raj Kapoor misreading her protestations as her profession of love. The scene may look absurd – a lady going to the Air Force tarmac in the midst of a war to tell the fighter pilot, who has scrambled for a sortie to bomb the enemy,  that she does not love him! But Raj Kapoor’s intent is to convey some very profound social messages.

Social message 5: Importance of basic science education

Vyjayanthimala must have been either extremely dumb or very poorly taught not to realise that human voice can’t pierce the roar of a jet engine. Even otherwise, once the aircraft door is closed it becomes sound-proof for a person shouting from outside. Thus, not only mathematics, but basic science also needs to be an integral part of the school curriculum.

Social message 6: SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for a defence establishment

Even in peace time the Air Force tarmac has to be out of bounds for civilians. Rajendra Kumar and Vyjyanthimala just saunter down the tarmac – in war time – as if going on a picnic, which must have caused some distraction to Raj Kapoor in his mission. By this absurd scene Raj Kapoor emphasises the need for strict adherence to the SOP by defence establishments. We have seen in this film that he was ahead of his times by a few decades. Was this a foreboding of the large number of accidents of MIG-21 airfcraft which bedevils our Air Force? And the path breaking film Rang De Basanti?

Now, the most troubling question. Being deprived of his girl was tragic enough, why should Rajendra Kumar shoot himself in the end? (I hope I am not spoiling anything, as I presume everyone has seen Sangam.) He had done nothing to be ashamed of (unlike Rahman in Chaudahvi Ka Chand). As for Vyjayanthimala, remember he said Radha Ganga jaisi pavitra hai (actually he said pavittar in his Punjabi accent, but we can let that pass). This brings us to the last great message of Sangam.

Social message 7: Gun control, licensing and regulation

Raj Kapoor is livid with anger when he accidentally finds a love letter, ‘Ye mera prem patra padhkar ki tum naraz na hona’, in the jewellery box of Vyjayanthimala. A volcano seethes inside him, and he would not get peace until he had pumped all the bullets in his pistol in the chest of the rascal who wrote the letter. (How could he now read the letter in Hindi? His Air Force stint had taught him some smattering of Hindi, where his buddy was a sort of poet, who used to sing the heart-rending ‘Dost dost na raha pyar pyar na raha’, as he was betrayed by his best friend to whom he had entrusted his girlfriend for safekeeping.) A frightened Vyjayanthimala stealthily takes away the pistol to Rajendra Kumar and narrates to him the madness of Raj Kapoor. Raj Kapoor comes by looking for her. He gets the shock of his life when Rajendra Kumar reveals his love for her, and that he is the culprit Raj Kapoor is looking for. The two friends then play ‘passing the parcel’ (not with the gun, but the girl) – I give her to you, no I give her to you etc. Vyjayanthimala butts in with her protest, Main ek aurat hun (in case we forgot), which does not seem to have much impact on the men. Then she tries, Main is maang ke sindoor (or, galey ke mangalsutra) ka kya karun? Raj Kapoor then proceeds towards the door, in a gesture of walking away from the triangle, when a loud report is heard and Rajendra Kumar is seen crumpled on the floor, soaked in blood.

Sanagm_Ise tu le ja tu le ja_Main is maang ke sindoor ka kya karun

The fact that we have an Arms Act means that, unlike America, we do not regard owning a gun a fundamental right. The District Magistrate seeks a report from the police about the antecedents of an applicant and his need, i.e. whether he faced any threat. What threat did Raj Kapoor face? None. Then, did the authorities verify if he was of a stable temperament? Further, the Act enjoins upon the licensee to keep the gun safely. Raj Kapoor’s pistol lands in the hands of Rajendra Kumar through Vyajyanthimala in the manner of a toy – there can’t be a greater negligence and a more serious breach of law, which led to the tragedy. By this tragedy Raj Kapoor is highlighting the need for a more effective system of licensing and gun control. This message is all the more important for the US, which is torn by passionate debate about an individual’s right to own a gun versus the society’s need to contain the menace of manic shootings. Sangam should be made compulsory viewing for the US Congressmen.

I wish the readers Happy Holi with some serious reading.  Smile



1. My purpose of giving the above outline is to underscore the need for a paradigm shift for analysing Bollywood triangles. I believe, ‘A Mathematical Theory of Bollywood Triangles’ is a virgin area, which calls for collaborative research between mathematicians and film experts.  If my ‘serious’ review triggers this paradigm shift, I would consider it my ‘Tryst with Destiny’.  Readers may have realized this is also the 50th year of Nehru’s passing away.

2. Perceptive readers may have already seen its immense possibilities. Just to give a glimpse, a comparative study of ‘Anmol Ghadi’ and ‘Andaaz’ can be seen as Mehboob Khan moving from G-type triangle, solved by ‘imperfect quad-isation’, to  B-type triangle, solved by ‘involuntary elimination’. In between, you have his B-type triangle, ‘Anokhi Ada’, solved by ‘voluntary withdrawal’.

3. The terms ‘perfect’/’imperfect’ (quadi-sation) do not imply a value judgment about the quality of a movie. It is simply a technical description of the ending – whether B1-G1 and B2-G2 unite in the end or not.

4. My thoughts on Bollywood triangle have evolved from a very tiny nucleus when I had a discussion about this movie at Samir’s site more than two years ago, where he had described ‘Sangam’ as an equilateral triangle, and I explained why it should be treated as an isosceles triangle. For those who were lucky to have schooling in Hindi medium, the terms are more evocative – Sangam is a समद्विबाहु त्रिभुज rather than a समबाहु त्रिभुज. I should think Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and Oriya medium schools would also be using the same terms. And this brings us to Sangam’s central message of the importance of the mother tongue as the medium of instruction.

5. I mentioned that I have resorted to some simplification, and there are nuanced differences between B-type and G-type triangles because of gender asymmetry. For example, in G1 G2 B1 situation, when the girls are tossing the boy to each other (‘Ise tu le ja, nahi ise tu le ja’), what can he say equivalent to “Main is galey ke magalsutra/ Maang ke sindoor ka kya karun?”

6. Anu has posted some interesting trivia about Raj Kapoor and ‘Sangam’ here.

7. I should apologise to the readers who resent the end of a film being disclosed. My own preference is the opposite – that a film be discussed in its entirety.

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dustedoff March 17, 2014 at 9:50 am

AK, your schooling also obviously was lacking. Didn’t any of your teachers ever tell you not to tell lies? That jhooth kabhi mat bolo was drilled into our heads till it was coming out of our ears. Here, you begin your post by writing “Therefore, to remove any doubt, I am announcing up-front that this is a serious review. – and then you go ahead and write a post which makes me laugh so much (and while eating breakfast, mind you!) that I’ve played Holi with my keyboard – it’s now splattered with food.

Hilarious. Just the perfect thing for Holi. 😀

2 AK March 17, 2014 at 10:48 am

Not again, after my up-front announcement. When would the readers start taking me seriously?

3 Ashok M Vaishnav March 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

RK, the greatest showman, could get away with lots of slick tricks / turns and tours 50 years ago, and AK successfully emulates 50 years down the memory line a colorful Holi !!!
When one takes tongue from the cheek, one still does a fair light at the end of RK’s breezy tunnel.
Every 3 or 4 years, I keep re-visiting RK films (upto Mera Naam Joker), and do find them watchable – everytime, provided you have the mindset ready to “see” a Hindi Film as a Hindi Film, no more , no less …..

4 mumbaikar8 March 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Why the review has to be as longggggggggggggg as the movie itself.
The time it took me to read your review I would have finished watching a perfect B type triangle movie Aap Ke Deewane.

5 Anu Warrier March 17, 2014 at 5:56 pm

🙂 By the time you said this review was going to ‘serious’, I knew it was not. 🙂 Thanks for my first laugh of the morning.

But, I take serious exception to this:
but the latter thought better of it as he knew what Raj Kapoor would have done to his role.
That is extremely unfair to a director who, unlike Dev, had no use for self-aggrandisation. His script was king and he never deviated from it. So if Dilip Kumar got the script of Sangam in his hands, that is exactly what would have played out on screen. Who, looking at his films could say that one character got the short shrift at the expense of another? Small or big, RK’s characters (including the peripheral ones) were supremely well-etched.

To quote Harvey, Ye nainsaafi hain, milord! 🙁

6 AK March 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I am also a great fan of RK’s films up to Mera Naam Joker. But only the first two parts of Joker.

You didn’t notice it was a ‘serious’ review! 🙂

Objection overruled! Did you mean it ‘seriously’? Who controlled the script – Raj Kapoor or Dilip Kumar? At least that is the reason I have read for the latter’s reluctance. I think you also mentioned it on your blog.

7 Arunkumar Deshmukh March 17, 2014 at 7:45 pm

AK ji,
Thanks for a real entertaining ‘review’ of SANGAM.
Your logic and conclusions were quite hilarious seriously and I enjoyed them thoroughly on this HOLI day.
Where had you hidden this aspect of your ability,so far ?

8 AK March 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Thanks a lot. I am happy you enjoyed it. On the previous couple of Holis, too, I wrote some ‘serious’ articles. Temperamentally, I have a ‘serious’ side.

9 Subodh Agrawal March 17, 2014 at 9:23 pm

I am glad AK, that you have finally discovered your serious side and written an article that is not only logically cogent, but also morally persuasive and spiritually uplifting.

As a former student of physics and mathematics I found the discussion on the resolution of triangles particularly riveting. There are many interesting insights in your analysis and they spurred some thoughts of my own on this theme.

First, we Indians tend to be arrogant about our ancient learning and refuse to believe that other civilizations could also come up with original ideas. We can’t come out of the belief that a triangle is an inherently unstable configuration and needs to be ‘resolved’. The commonest resolution, as you have very ably described, is by elimination of one side. The title of the film ‘Sangam’ becomes very significant in this context. The original Sangam is supposed to be a confluence of three rivers – but one of them perforce had to go underground.

Contrast this with the discovery made in erstwhile land of Gaul, now known as France, that a triangle can indeed be a stable structure. France, as you would know, is the home of the great mathematician Prof Nicolas Bourbaki (some evil spirits allege that he was not a person but a committee). Any regular watcher of French movies or reader of French literature would tell you how the mathematics of stable triangles has been translated to the sociological field in the form of ‘menage a trois’. It is high time Indian film makers got off their high horse and made some films inspired by French classics. A very tentative beginning was, in fact, made by Yash Chopra in ‘Daag’. It is not very explicitly stated but it seems at the end that Rajesh Khanna lives happily ever after with both Sharmila and Rakhee. Let’s hope Bollywood will continue its forward march into bolder themes and beat French cinema at its own game.

10 Canasya March 17, 2014 at 10:41 pm

AKji, this ‘Holi’ just became special, thanks to your piece worthy of the ‘Annals of Improbable Research’


I can scarcely hold the pen that you, Madhuji, and Anuji so effortlessly wield. Still, I feel encouraged in writing this because in matters mathematical (my apologies to Subodh Agrawalji and Gaddeswarupji) my lack of verbal skills may be less of a handicap.

It appears to me that there is a relationship between the number of dimensions (D) and the maximum number of sides (S) required for a stable structural configuration in those dimensions: D = S – 1. A tetrahedron (with four sides) makes a stable configuration in a three dimensional world, a triangle is stable in two dimensions, and it takes two to tango in a single dimension. Your hypotheses would imply that you consider Bollywood depicting a linear (single dimensional) world– a conclusion that a number of other scholars have also arrived at but through a much more tortuous and, I may add, much less rigorous route. By way of vindication of my equation I cite Anuji’s comment above about Devanand who, by the end of his career, had succeeded in erecting a world of zero dimensions in which a stable configuration could involve no more than a single entity! QED

My head spins when I think of the Pandavas living with Draupadi — six sides (menage a six!) that required a five dimensional world for stability! No wonder they had to visit the heavens and the netherlands (Swarg lok and Patal lok) so often just to keep things balanced.

Happy Holi to SoY family.

11 ksbhatia March 18, 2014 at 12:25 am

Happy Holi to SoY family and specially to AK ‘ji for bringing out this holi article . Yes i am also a great fan of RK movies but only upto black and white era . The story and themes of Awara ,Boot polish and Shree420 were told in a very simple way conveying the messages to the masses very clearly . The songs supplemented the storyline in a very entertaining way . Alas this should have happen in coloured movies too . The b&w era was more colourful than the present days movies . As a funny part to variety of love triangles there could be themes based on equilateral , issoslice , acute angle or obtuse angle triangles . Or if some villain is involved he could make it as quadriangle like Mere Mehboob .

12 Anu Warrier March 18, 2014 at 7:08 am

@ AK, yes, of course, the objection was made seriously. 🙂 Not ‘seriously’, as in your lovely article. 🙂

Yes, that was the reason that Dilip Kumar gave, of course. But for a man who insisted on ghost directing more than half his films, he hasn’t a leg to stand on. I wasn’t objecting to the fact that that was the ostensible reason. I was objecting to the implication that RK would, in fact, have done so. This is a man to whom the film was king. Which is why, unlike Dilip Kumar, when RK acted for another director, no one complained of his ‘interference’. He had the clout, surely, to insist on his own way in other productions? If you notice, the characters he plays are not the ‘heroic’ ones, or the ‘sympathetic’ ones. Even in Sangam, who walked away with the sympathy in the end? Rajendra Kumar. And Vyjayanthimala. Surely, if “the script was in his hand” as you say, he could have made his character sympathetic? Similarly, in Aah, you want to get up from your chair and slug him one. I have never seen an RK movie where he grandstanded at the expense of either his costars or his story.

You have every right to overrule my objection, though. 🙂 This may just be one of those things on which we have to agree to disagree.

13 AK March 18, 2014 at 9:21 am

Subodh, Canasya
I should compliment you that you are probably the only readers who appreciated the serious import of my article, and have expanded the scope of discussion to greater heights. Other readers still insist that it is a humorous piece, in spite of my up-front declaration that it is otherwise. Thanks a lot for bringing into discussion new horizons of mathematics. We now just need Gaddeswarupji to join the party.

You raise an interesting question why our films should strive for a solution by getting rid of a side of a triangle, when we have a tradition of up to ménage-à-six. Therefore, if we have to break new grounds in cinema, we don’t have to take inspiration from the French, but we can go back to our own traditions. Coming to modern times, I remember Balwant Gargi’s Sanjha Chulha, telecast on Doordarshan long ago, was a very sensitive ménage-à-trois.

Subodh, your linkage of Sangam with Allahabad’s Sangam, and disappearance of the third river with elimination of the third side from a Bollywood triangle was very neat. That brings me to Allahabad’s another important connection: Nehru. Isn’t it surprising that he is figuring again and again in this discussion? To take it further, Raj Kapoor’s early films were said to be inspired by Nehruvian socialism. The major mistake film scholars have made is not to realize that Sangam was his greatest message film. It is ironical that the film had to wait for 50 years for its redemption on SoY, which is also the 50th death anniversary of the great visionary Nehru.

Canasya, your mention of D=S-1, and extending it to Dev Anand’s zero dimension is very interesting. The question is should an artiste continue to hang around when he has been reduced to zero dimension. This question also arises for singers and composers, and even star sportsmen – overstaying their welcome.

Subodh, you mentioned Nicolas Bourbaki. Not being a professional mathematician myself, I would not like to go any further. But the name that came to my mind was Godel. Aren’t our films the biggest proof that some axioms are impossible to prove?

14 AK March 18, 2014 at 9:26 am

KS Bhatia,
Thanks for your appreciation. You too stop at Awara, Boot Polish and Shree 420 as his message films. After reading this review, don’t you agree that Sangam is his greatest social-message film?

15 AK March 18, 2014 at 9:42 am

The issue is not ‘heroic’ or ‘sympathetic’ in the sense of removing negative shades in the character, but greater screen space which allows scope for displaying one’s acting talents. Accepting everything you say about Raj Kapoor’s generous and self-effacing (!) nature, when facing a rival like Dilip Kumar, it is natural that jealousy and one-upmanship would come in. So why can’t we accept the simple narrative that that was a natural reason for Dilip Kumar’s reluctance?

On a personal note, I never knew you were such a great bhakt of Raj Kapoor. I remembered, or was it Madhu who said that she disliked Raj Kapoor?

16 Ramachandran March 18, 2014 at 10:29 am

It is not O M Mathai;it is M O Mathai.He has not claimed he wrote the speech-he just said he requested Nehru to change the word “date” to ‘Tryst” or ‘rendezvous’.In the book he has also mentioned that the original written by Nehru with ‘date’ has been handed over to Nehru Museum.

17 RSBAAB (Ravi) March 18, 2014 at 11:21 am

Lovely article that left me giggling for more than half an hour. Perhaps with a dose of bhang, I would have been giggling for hours. You really made Holi a real joy for a lot of us. When everyone else is writing serious reviews, it is enjoyable to see a really ‘serious’ serious review.

18 AK March 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for correcting the name of Mathai. As far his ‘claim’, it is an obvious and deliberate exaggeration which, I am sure, everyone has understood in the context of the whole piece.

19 AK March 18, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. I am happy you enjoyed it. Even ‘serious’ review can lead to some serious discussion, as is coming out from the comments.

20 gaddeswarup March 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

One bit reminded me of a story Amiya Mukherjee (from ISI, Kolkata. Retired but still goes there, I think) told me. He once wanted to hear the sounds of the forest in the night and travelled with his wife to the middle of a forest. Around midnight, his wife got very scared and they had to leave and go to a village in the forest. There was Ramleela performance going on the village which they attended. It seems Rama, Ravana, Seeta characters were all drunk and both Rama and Ravana were at the ‘pass the girl’ stage with Rama saying ‘She stayed with you for so many years and so you should keep her’ and Ravana protesting “She is your wife, so you should take her back’. Amiya used to recite the conversations in Hindi, apparently much more funny to those who knew Hindi and I do not remember Seeta’s reaction.
I have not seen the movie. I grew up on Barsaat songs and when I moved to Bombay in 1964, I used to hear ‘bol radha bol’ all the time on the streets and did not like it and never saw the movie. May be after this review, I will see it.

21 AK March 18, 2014 at 8:10 pm

That is an interesting anecdote. I believe one of the many versions of Ramayana prevalent in the world has a similar story.

An interesting anecdote about Ramleela I heard from a friend long ago took place in a small UP town, when lights suddenly went off. People were waiting for the electrician to fix the problem. Soon the lights came and the audience saw Hanumanji getting down the pole – that was the local electrician playing the part of Hanuman.

22 ksbhatia March 19, 2014 at 12:26 am

AK ‘ji , I think BOOT POLISH scored all other movies as RK ‘s best in conveying the social message to the masses . Even the lyrics of most of the songs were strongly worded supporting the narration . SANGAM was made by the rich and for the rich . As such the message , whatever there was ,for the rich only . For the masses it was an entertaining movie with some beautiful music ,beautiful cinematography and beautiful locations .

23 gaddeswarup March 19, 2014 at 5:59 am

Some foreign magazines were ecstatic about ‘Boot Plosh’. Some of the links have disappeared but some excerpts are in my blog http://gaddeswarup.blogspot.com.au/2008/03/raj-kapoors-boot-polish.html
I think Richard Singer wrote about the social messages in Shree 420. I think many films of Raj Kapoor, Shantaram, Mehboob khan and others before and for a few years after independence had such themes. Some like Neecha Nagar were not successful and slowly they moved to more entertainment mode but some tried to combine both. Later I think that there were some new wave movies starring people like Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Naserruddin and others. But I did not really see many of these movies, only read about them.

24 AK March 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

KS Bhatia, Gaddeswarupji
Interesting that both of you mention Boot Polish so profusely. Gaddeswarupji, I liked the links you have given on your blog on this movie. Thanks a lot.

25 ksbhatia March 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Gaddeswarupji , Some time in the past I read some where that Boot polish had some shades of old Itallian [ ?] classic movie BICYCLE THIEF . Is it correct?

26 SSW March 19, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Lovely review AK, I have not seen Sangam so your article will be my goto(Dijkstra would approve) from now on. As my better half (not of a triangle) may have mentioned I am the snob who sees those “menage a trois ” films. I have to disagree with Subodh that the French triangle is stable since Bourbaki published no books on geometry and only one on topology. After years of watching French sangams I feel they always descend into a Menagerie a trois and what can one do with a menagerie. Even Ramu had to die in Haathi mere Saathi so RK could be united with TS. And our films are never Godelian (god forbid he was Austrian part of the german volk, they don’t have triangles, they only march in fours and in squares, even their beer mugs are dying to be cuboid) , they are always complete, any incomplete answers are a figment of your imagination, not the maker’s.

27 N Venkataraman March 19, 2014 at 10:21 pm

After all humour is a serious business. Wit is married to intelligence, whereas fun flirts with amusement. No sensible person will disagree. People with a serious demeanor can be witty. I do believe that temperamentally, you have a serious side. I can understand your anguish over people finding your ‘serious ‘posts funny. First of all accept my sympathies. Then on a serious note, accept my sincere admiration on presenting this ‘serious’ review on a film with profound social messages. I thoroughly enjoyed the post and there was not a single dull moment. Your post presented moments of delight, even in the midst of despondency and mourning. And I am serious.

Belonging to a group mostly involved with business and finance, we are more into elementary arithmetic and financial jugglery, which is far away from geometry. We are concerned with lines of different kind, a healthy bottom line and equally healthy top line with a slim middle, the trimmer the better. Yes we too are concerned with relative position of figures! In trying to ‘seriously’ match the Bollywood triangles with geometrical triangles, I may commit some fundamental mistakes and in the process may sound ‘funny’. Nevertheless let me put forward my contention.

Let me start with acute triangle, where all the angles are less than right angle. Devdas (G type- G1 G2 B1) is atypical example of this type where all the three side are at ‘wrong’ angles with each other. There is an ‘acute’ problem. So when B1 is dispensed, there is no relationship/romance left. Without the base the other two legs of the triangle collapses.

Even though equilateral triangle too is an acute triangle, there is an equal relationship in terms of line and angle between the sides. The triangular relationship survives, as in the case of Daag ((G type- G1 G2 B1), although it is implicit.

The right triangle is the one where B1 and G1 or vice versa are at right angle and B2 or G2 is dispensed with, as per the situation. President or Didi (G type, G1 G2 B1) or Baharein phir bhi aayengi

In my humble opinion Sangam (B type B1 B2 G1) is an obtuse triangle. Here B1 is at obtuse angle to G1, which is more than right angle. More than right too is not ideal and hence B1 becomes the sacrificial lamp in this relationship. Thus the relationship between B2 and G1 survives in spite of being acute at this stage.

An Isosceles triangle can be Obtuse or Acute or Right. So To be more precise we can conclude that Sangam is an isosceles obtuse triangle, where one of the two equal sides is dispensed with.

I seek the opinion of the experts to confirm my contention.

28 SSW March 19, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Mr. Venkatraman… your words above that I shall copy here
“We are concerned with lines of different kind, a healthy bottom line and equally healthy top line with a slim middle, the trimmer the better. Yes we too are concerned with relative position”
remind me of Marilyn Monroe. And I am sure that even Subodh will agree that 37-23-37 is better theorem than the 30-60-90 variety.:-)

29 gaddeswarup March 20, 2014 at 10:14 am

ksbhatia ji,
The first review I quoted in my blog disagrees but I too heard many times that ‘Boot Polish’ was inspired by ‘Shoeshine’. I have not seen the later movie.

30 AK March 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

KS Bhatia, Gaddeswarupji,
I have seen The Bicycle Thief. I don’t think Boot Polish draws anything from this movie. One film often referred having this inspiration is Do Bigha Zameen. It does have some elements similar to De Sica’s. I have not seen Shoeshine either, but one can see the identical titles may be leading to the above inference. Gaddeswarupji, it was delightful to read in the review linked by you that the reviewer found RK’s film much better.

31 AK March 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

Now the discussion is getting really serious worthy of Sangam. I love your connections, ‘marching in fours and squares’ and ‘cuboids’. But my impression is that while some squares such as Tiananmen are square, most are not. This calls for a rethink by the city planners, architects, and public officials in-charge of naming the public quadrangles.

But I should not digress. I am happy that my review is your goto to Sangam. Dijkstra or Bourbaki or Godel, they dealt with some aspect of human knowledge. Sangam gives a holistic theory of human organization. Without repeating what I have said, let me put Raj Kapoor’s grand vision in perspective:

Economy: One major plank of Amartya Sen’s economic philosophy is the state investment in human capital, viz. school education. Raj Kapoor emphasises school education, its quality and content some years before Sen wrote his famous papers.

National pride: Love for one’s own language, and not to have a slavish mentality to a foreign language is one of the foundations of nation pride.

Personality Development of the Youth: Raj Kapoor knew decades ahead that India would be at the cusp of demographic dividend in 2010s. Therefore, he emphasised life-skills education to harness its potential, when the term was not known.

Internal security: Gun control, licensing, regulation.

External security: SOP for Defence establishments.

Foreign Affairs: A friendly message to the USA, the most powerful country in the world, about their most contentious issue.

Sangam is quite clearly the first complete treatise for statecraft after Kautilya’s Arthshastra. I am aware you are a very serious person. You must have avoided seeing the movie under the mistaken notion that it was a Bollywood formula film. You are not at fault, this notion has persisted for 50 years. Awara, Boot Polish, Shree 420, Jaagte Raho, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai. Where is Sangam, my dear scholars – the greatest film not only in Hindi or India, but the entire world, with the most profound vision for human society?

32 AK March 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I am thankful for your appreciation and extension of the theory of triangles.

As you would have seen from my response to SSW, RK was building up a grand vision of political economy in Sangam, so you may not find much microeconomics there. But I agree with you, we need a bit of Jagdish Bhagawti, too, with Sen. We need a healthy top line and a healthy bottom line, separated by a narrow middle line, for improving the quality of life. I am surprised how a serious person like SSW could go off on a tangent on an innocuous statement.

“Isosceles ‘obtuse’ triangle”: Good one. But don’t you agree that obtuseness of one of the angles is the main cause for complication in the Bollywood triangles? Some of the solutions of triangles are so odd that you can’t help cursing the obtuseness of the director.

33 gaddeswarup March 21, 2014 at 10:28 am

AK Ji, I find that part of the review of ‘Boot Polish’ very touching and inspiring:
“From her scrawny, seven-year-old frame, Actress Naaz somehow sums up the whole history of her sex, chattering happily as she works with her brother, huddling against him for warmth, patting his arm in a crisis and reassuring him, “I’ll manage it somehow.” ”
That sort of attitude from women saw many families like mine through.

34 gaddeswarup March 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

AK Ji,
Your meditations are leading me to different kind of meditations of my own. Some years ago, I read Pankaj Mishra’s review of ‘The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri, part of which stayed with me ever since.

“This is the melancholy awareness that suffuses Lahiri’s catalogs of desirable things and people. And so while such obvious underdogs as Nazneen and Chanu arouse pity and indignation, an overprivileged immigrant like Ni-khil leaves one with more disturbing feelings: an intimation, such as the one his father once had, of “all that was irrational, all that was inevitable about the world”; a suspicion that “all men are mild lunatics engaged in pursuits that seem to them very important while an absurdly logical force keeps them at their futile jobs.”

It is as if we have been given a glimpse not so much of an unjust social or political setup as of what Nabokov, writing about “The Overcoat,” called “flaws in the texture of life itself.”

I think that may explain the difference between men and women and how women gave us some staying power. But the differences may be decreasing to some extent.

35 aparna March 21, 2014 at 2:57 pm

AKji, doesn’t Vyjayathimala’s character kick one side the triangle (acute, isoceles, obtuse, equilateral, what not ……:-D) herself much before the climax? Don’t you think she does it with the song “budda mil gaya”??? Pity that you missed this angle, it is a clear message to “bharathiya nari”. Devotion, my dear ladies, devotion to your “pati devobhava” (lol, is this phrase in existence?)!

36 AK March 21, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I did miss this profound social message. Trust a Bhratiya Naari to discover that! God bless you. I am going to show this to my wife. 🙂

But wasn’t this common to all the movies of the time?

Thanks a lot for restoring our faith in our culture.

37 aparna March 21, 2014 at 4:22 pm

AKji, dont tell me that you are also a victim of the “menace of trios” 😀

Agree with you, it is common in all movies of the time. I mean you didn’t have to wait till the climax, you should have expected her to say “yeh sindhoor ka main …” in the climax, it was 100% assured. This continues until “hum dil de chuke sanam”…. not sure of movies which came later. But as Gaddeswarupji says, times are changing.

Your serious review made me laugh. People around were amused see a serious person like me laughing 🙂 Now, you tell me – who is more serious, your review or the readers of your review?

38 AK March 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm

As Raj Kapoor has overturned the triangle, it is likely some readers might overturn this review, too. Difficult for me to say who is serious and who is not. Wasn’t it Raj Kapoor who said in one of his movies that he looked at the world in sheershasan as most of the things were upside down?

39 ksbhatia March 21, 2014 at 11:50 pm

AK ‘ji , I think the comments are changing from being witty to serious . Its taking shape of the like of “Dil ek mandir ” where one vanishes as tangent to the story involving motion in a circle and still attracted to dil at the centre . Its a fun when triangular stories give way to stories in circular form . AK’ji I like your reference to “Sheershasan ” — that reminds me of the beautiful scene of Raj and Nargis in Shree420 .

40 AK March 22, 2014 at 9:07 am

KS Bhatia,
Someone has said humour is a serious business.

Yes, I was referring to the Shree 420 scene.

41 Samir March 22, 2014 at 9:38 am

I am glad one small attempt on my site at associating geometry with Bollywood songs, inspired you to these heights. Reading your elaborate comment made it clear that you were destined for greater things, and you have lived up to that promise. My attempt should be considered as an introductory level school course, while yours is most
certainly advanced post-graduate.

This piece has generated ample and varied reader comments, each one contributing more to solve the puzzle that is Bollywood Mathematics. They were a pleasure to read, and I learnt a lot from them 🙂

While I had restricted my endeavor to geometry for the sake of educating Clint Eastwood, you have analyzed several other with great detail; loved the recommendation for US Congressmen in particular. Judging by the way security is handled in defence establishments, a winning strategy for India’s enemies is try and create love triangles in wartime. Perhaps Indian defence personnel policy should include clarification & registration of any triangular or higher attachments.

In conclusion, I hope you follow this with a definitive treatise on “Bollywood Mathematics & Logic” 🙂

42 AK March 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

This piece owes its existence to the fertile ground you provided. Without that, the idea might not have occurred to me.

“Definitive treatise on ‘Bollywood Mathematics and Logic’ “: It does need to be written. But you would have noticed from my Endnote 1 that it ought to be done by people who are professional mathematicians and film-experts as a collaborative research. I am neither; therefore, I am content to write something which can be posed as a research proposal to the international funding agencies. Among SoY followers there are genuine mathematicians and film experts; we also have a human computer called Arunkumar Deshmukhji, who can provide all the data from his hard disk which sits in his mind.

Having said that, I remember you had given me some award for Bollywood Mathematics. May I immodestly ask for an upgrade, something like a Padma Shree awardee getting Padma Bhushan?

43 SSW March 22, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Dear AK….

Sundry things like earning a living distracted me so I did not see your response till this weekend. I need to do my taxes this weekend so as Wodehouse was wont to say “the blood sucking leaches of the IRS” will leave me something to live on so obviously I found time to read your learned response to my drivel.

Does Sangam have any messages on taxes? It must have, it seemed to be a very taxing film to watch and write about. Now onto the social messages.

1) Who is this Amartya when the real senses are Sushmita, Suchitra, Moon yet yanother moon, Rima, Raima etc.

2) I heard the national pride was confined to a small portion of the Gir forest.

3) Personality development of youth and Sangam. I thought the older RK was in his dotage like Newton unlike Leibniz’s d-ism or should that be d(e)-ism(was god a mathematician). See I have slipped in mathematics of a derivative kind always assuming that Sangam was a continuous film in its own domain.

4) Internal security, RK handled that with cryptography. If you were to write a letter in English in Hindi then you flummox three bounded sets of people. People who can read English but do not know Hindi, people who can read Hindi but do not know English, and people who cannot read. (I could add people who can read English but do not know English and people who can read Hindi but do not know it either but these permutations and combinations take us into combinatorial mathematics and perhaps we should let sleeping dogs lie).

5) External security alas our defence establishment it seems has learnt nothing from Sangam. A few years ago our Migs were playing at wanting to be submarines , now our submaries are wanting to play at being submarines too, only permanently.

6) As for foreign affairs and gun control , in the US there is much discussion on whether the second amendment was actually written to pencil in certain sartorial recommendations such as the right to bare arms, or even animal protection , you know the right to arm bears.

So I must leave now because as the learned man said, there are only two things certain in life, death and taxes.

44 AK March 23, 2014 at 9:47 am

I thought you were a Thinker (Rodin’s came to mind), and had left ‘sundry things like earning a living’ to your ‘better half’. Which often puzzled me how a half could be better, it had to be exactly equal to the other half; otherwise, it would be something else, such as my ‘better two-third or three-fourth etc.’.

You have added new dimensions to the social messages. The national pride at Gir is a good one. Let me complete the story. Sometime back there was a big debate that Gir was too small for the growing pride, and that a part of it should be shared with Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat fought tooth and nail not to part with even a fraction of its pride, and the Hon’ble Supreme Court had to intervene in the matter. Now Gujarat has a New Roaring Lion (NRL), who is raring to be the pride of the whole nation in a couple of months. If you have been following the Indian news, his main obstacle comes from his once mentor, The Great Old Lion (GOL), who is not willing to accept that he is a spent force. The GOL often goes into a sulk with his wounded pride, and misses no opportunity to prop his new protégé from Madhya Pradesh as a rival to the NRL. Recently, the GOL caused a big turmoil by insisting that he be allowed to change his habitat, i.e. his seat, from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh.

It is surprising how things get connected with each other. Amartya Sen declared in a TV interview here that he does not want the NRL to be the pride of the nation. Some people questioned the locus standi of the Immortal French River, who lives mostly in the US and UK, to talk about Indian pride. But some others argued that being an Indian Jewel, who has got a Virtue Award too, he is well qualified to talk on things other than economics. But I agree with you that the Sen tributaries you have mentioned are much more desirable.

Dotage or not, RK was indeed rotund in Sangam, which is not a very good message for youth development, but has a message for the external security. How could the Air Force take him as a fighter pilot? The plane would have crashed under his weight before the enemy bombed.

45 SSW March 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Ah, AK I think when my better three quarters tells me to.
There is much Sens in your missive and austensibly therefore there must be some sensing ability.That should be enough punning for now. I do like your mention of the immortal Parisian river along the banks of which lovers and economists dreamed.
On a derivative note since we must not forget our mathematics, Sangam was the first RK film chronologically where the music left me completely cold.
I don’t know which tune was recycled,” Oh Mehbooba” and ” Yeh mera prem patra” borrow from each other in phrasings . I like the use of the chorus in the interludes of O Mehbooba, bits of the electric keyboard solo, not so much the strings.
Ye mera prem patra, has a lovely instrumental prelude and Rafi starts beautifully but once the metronomic rhythm comes in, it becomes pedestrian. Again the orchestral interludes are quite nice. Maybe the sight of the other RK in it (I watched the songs on Chaya geet) put me off it completely.
Dost dost na raha is a nursery rhyme. The other Shivranjani based “O mere sanam ” is much better and my favourite song in the film.
I don’t think any other song in the film is worth talking about even the odd Ich Liebe Dich (nice simple guitar interlude).

On the other hand to remain with all things Sangam this song from the 1954 film of the same name is really nice.
A fado type tinge, jews harp at the begining …It is attributed to Talat and Geeta Dutt but there is another male voice that sounds suspiciously like Rafi.

46 A V Sinha March 25, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Great piece of writing. No, I am not among those who find such articles funny. These are simply hilarious. It is the genius of Bollywood (RK included) to dish out every now and then imaginative and innovative solutions to a triangle, leaving Eucledian principles to pale into insignificance.
I would consider Sangam a right angled triangle, Rajendra Kumar, the nonchalant and upright, representing the perpendicular side, V-mala the hypoteneus, leaning heavily on Rajendra Kumar, slipping and eventually falling into the arms of RK (when Rajendra Kumar collapsed, literally and figuratively), who himself was the base, originating from where Rajendra Kumar rose. Compliments, belated, though.

47 Samir March 26, 2014 at 8:42 am

The Motion Picture Association of America is going to present you with a “Lifetime Achievement Award in Foreign Films”. This was accidentally leaked by the NSA from their cell-phone surveillance of the MPAA board of directors 🙂

48 AK March 26, 2014 at 8:49 am

A V Sinha,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. It is interesting that you, too, mention right angle triangle, though Mr Venkataraman’s right angle was different. Just shows Sangam would remain a great challenge to mathematicians and film experts.

49 AK March 26, 2014 at 9:50 am

I would have coveted an award from a पारखी like you. The MPPA board of directors are not known to have great insight into cinema, much less foreign films.

50 arvind March 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm

#46 n 48
outcome was only natural as it was very smooth between rajendra kumar n v-mala bringinging rk n v-mala closer(acute).

51 Samir March 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Noting your being under-whelmed by the latest award, may I suggest emulating Marlon Brando, and refusing it outright. Also, just as he sent
Sacheen Littlefeather (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacheen_Littlefeather ) to refuse the award, and to protest the treatment of Native Americans (Red Indians to be politically incorrect); perhaps we can try and send the sole survior of Sangam’s triangle (Vyjayanthimala) to refuse the award at the Oscar ceremony. Hopefully she will also protest the step-motherly treatment of the Hindi Film Industry by the Oscars and Hollywood in general 🙂
My personal award is as always — “The most brilliant comment on my blog”.

52 AK March 27, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Thanks a lot, Samir. I appreciate that.

53 Abhijit March 28, 2014 at 1:58 pm


The real driving force behind the success of Sangam was it’s music, apart from foreign locations,Radhu Karmakar’s excellent camera work, ,vyayjayanthimala’s ravishing look & above all aggressive marketing of the movie. Otherwise,with all apologies to all RK fans,it is a trash movie. Worn out subject,uninspiring screenplay,pretty ordinary dialogues,bad performances except for V-Mala are the real highlights of that film .
Coming back to music,in spite of being a chart buster of that age, songs are pretty ordinary too. If compared with other big musicals of that era e.g. Mere Mehboob(1963 release),Kashmir Ki Kali,Woh Kaun Thi?.Kohra,Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon.,my opinion is, Sangam would be ranked much lower so far quality is concerned.

Opinion of AKji & other respected bloggers regarding the musical qualities of Sangam would remain as great asset to all of us.


54 AK March 29, 2014 at 8:45 am

Just looking at 1964, as far as music is concerned, Sangam would not come to my mind – forget what I have said in my ‘serious’ review. The notable films, according to me, are:
1. Woh Kaun Thi, Dosti, Kashmir Ki Kali
2. Aap Ki Parchhaiyan, Jahan Ara, Chitralekha, Kohra, Shagun, Main Suhagan Hun

The last one is by a surprise Lachhiram, a forgotten composer.

55 Abhijit March 31, 2014 at 12:41 pm


Thanks for your opinion. Somehow I missed out Dosti, Jahan Ara & Chitralekha from my list of ’64. All are brilliant piece of work. I have included Mere Mehboob, as music of the film got real popularity in ’64 in spite of it being a ’63 release.To me best of the lot will always remain Woh Kaun Thi?. Thanks again for reminding us of Lachchiram. I hope that one day we would be able to know a bit more about Vinod ,creator of the cult song ” Lare Lappa”.


56 AK March 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm

You would be happy to see that my new post today is on Lachhiram.

It seems you have not seen my earlier post on Vinod in the series on ‘Forgotten Composers’. You can see its link on the right side of the blog.

57 Abhijit April 1, 2014 at 1:32 pm


Within 10 minutes of completing my last post, I found the link related to Vinod. I have already gone through your contentions regarding Lachchiram also. Thanks for it.

Your mentioning of Aap Ki Parchaiyan actually opened some closed chambers of my memory box. I remembered immediately that it is a Dharmendra film with music by Madan Mohan. Songs were eluding me. Suddenly it came to my mind that the tune,I hum of & on is actually a Aap Ki Parchaiyan number ‘Agar mujhse mohabbat hai’ by Lataji.Now I can remember two more Rafi numbers are there too,’Yehi hai tamanna’ & ‘ Tere chehere’

Please continue doing the job of giving our old memories back.


58 AK April 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.
If we take a total view of 1964, Madan Mohan becomes the most important composer of the year.

59 Salim April 9, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I am sure ‘Bhang’ gave you a helping hand in churning out this article. Thank you for the hilarious lessons and Q.E.D. This triangle really drives one up the wall – but for the songs and the divinely beautiful – radiant I should say – Vyjayanthimala. Also the ‘Chemistry’ between Raj and her is such that one has to rub one’s eyes and wonder “She is in love with Rajendra Kumar ??!?!?”. If it wasn’t for the dialogue, one would not have guessed it! I could only feel it fleetingly during the song ‘Yeh mera prem patra’ (or was it the song weaving the magic ?!).

60 AK April 9, 2014 at 6:17 pm

After Physics and Mathematics, Chemistry completes the basic sciences. But did you see the Raj Kapoor-Vyjayanthimala chemistry before the marriage too? If you did, it must be some toxic reaction.

61 Abhijit May 26, 2014 at 1:46 pm

AKji, post#55 &n my reply at #56,

I request you to write something about 2 other forgotten music directors.
Dattaram & N.Dutta. So far I know that both were having identical name. Although N.Dutta provided good no. of hit songs( Dhool Ka Phool, Mr. X), I believe that N.Dutta was more talented (Parvarish,Qaidi no.999 ). Dattaram was SJ’s assistant. N.Dutta was probably assistant of SD.
Only this much of information I have about them. I leave it upon yourself & other respected contributors for further elaboration.



62 AK May 28, 2014 at 12:10 am

Both Dattaram and N Datta are hugely talented composers. Both grew out of the shadows of their illustrious mentors; I believe N Datta was able to carve out a more distinct style from SD Burman than Dattaram from SJ. I have made a note of the two.

63 Abhijit May 28, 2014 at 1:38 pm


I agree with you. Dattaram could never get totally out of SJ shadows. Aansoo Bhari from Parvarish is burning example. Still, if given choice I would prefer to listen to a Dattaram number instead of N.Dutta one. (Sadhana songs included ). Actually what I feel that N.Duuta compoisitions sometimes sounds very flat like Ravi compositions.

whatever it is, both are forgotten & not much information is available about them.There should be attempts to chronicle their achievements from our side. They have also played some role in the growth of Indian film music. Maybe small but they played definitely.

Thanks & regards,


64 Manav August 22, 2014 at 10:05 am

I’m assuming Raj Kapoor was generally unable to read Hindi. Many Punjabis from before partition were unable to do so, despite the three-language formula. He’d probably have studied Urdu and Farsi in Peshawar at the time. 🙂

65 Vijay Govindraj August 23, 2014 at 11:40 am

The real message of the movie comes in its last five minutes in Raj Kapoor’s dialogue – that by taking seven rounds together a union is not achieved, nor is it achieved by a physical relationship. The real union is when soul meets soul and the two become one. This just happens and is not by human design as Vyjantimala just mentions before this dialogue.

RK was truly ahead of his times. Perhaps he wanted to show the shallowness and lifelessness in many Indian marriages that are held together only for the sake of preserving a facade before society. It requires real courage to go out and marry one whom you love. And it requires even more courage to break a lifeless Indian marriage to seek your true love. When both don’t happen the outcome is a compromise where a wife (or husband) carries on the duties of a marriage but without any spark of love. In this case the B1 or B2 who does get the G1 turns out to be a loser, as what happens in the movie.

66 Shalan Lal February 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Dear AK
Your review of Sangam may start the reviews of the old and new films to flourish the satirical, sarcastic, absurdity and taking the Mickey out “look out” of the films and film industry. Mostly Indian filmgoers were and are escapists and they wanted to be entertained and according to many their intellectual age was between ten or fifteen. The films like Pyasa did not make much at the box office but later on and to date it is a landmark and an iconic film neither any Continental nor English or Hollywood or Japanese avant-garde vanguards created to date anything like Pyasa.
In the past Baburao Patel wrote some satirical reviews of the Indian films, e.g. “Jab Pyar Kisise Hotta Hai”. In his reviews of it he went on making fun of the phrase “this “Hotta Hai” business and took the full Monty Mkiey out of the film. But that did not stop the filmgoers seeing the film. It was successful with all the songs and dances and colourful scenes. But then again Bab as he was known y his readers was a master of parody and all other tools of comedy. But often his reviews smelt with his bias for those who succumbed to his undo pressures on the producers, actors, etc. But still many of his reviews showed how to write a review as he took notice of all the departments of the making of the films not just song and danec and the gold dusted stars .
I enjoyed Mr Venkatraman’s furthering of your geometrical brouhaha and hullabaloo.
“But seriously folks……” was a stock phrase of Groucho Marx of Marx Brothers who was never serious in his life unto his death. He was the top witty man who could flatten a perpendicular person in banter, mockery and knock about charade.
One thing is felt that the music of the film was spared by AK in his knock about of RK’s other talents like the film started a craze that the Indian “Fillimwallahs” in search of locations outside India. Later producers sought locations like Paris, Holland, Scotland etc.
In Scotland now there is a separate department within Tourist Ministry dedicated to the Indian “Filmwallahas” in search of locations.
With reference to the character of RK being unable to read Hindi there was a time in India the Missionary schools and colleges forbade talking and reading in “Deshi” languages. The famous poet the Nightingale of India, Sarojini Chattopadhyay-Naidu and her brothers and sisters were forbidden to talk or read Bengali in her childhood by her father. When Tagore died she was the Chief Guest to make the funeral speech. She told the audience that she did not and could read Bengali and hence did not know much of the literature of Tagore. But the Bengalis wanted her as she was internationally famous Bengali and a superb orator in English. Tagore also became famous through his work. When her first book of poems Golden-threshold was published she was hardly 18 years old and that was published before the Gitanjali was published and many English poets and literary persons in England recommended her book for the Nobel Prize. But Tagore was selected though his own translation was in faulty English. There are two points raised by the present time critiques. One is that it drew attention to India’s lofty Spiritualism to the universal readers so the winning Noble is right action. Second point was and is still rose by some biographers of Tagore. Britain then had the Imperial weight on many International organisations like the Nobel Prize Institute which then was in its sixth year and grew out of the redeeming of Nobel’s making money out of explosions, and Bengal was ungovernable. Lord Curzon was making decision to move the capital city from Calcutta to New Delhi. The Nobel Prize was to calm down the situation in Bengal. One can see through the present history of the awarding of the Nobel Prizes as they are too often the Prizes for the political reasons than the literary values. However Tagore was the right person to win the Nobel Prize. In fact HE RAISED THE NOBEL PRIZE TO THE HIGHEST APEX. But Sarojini’s poetry is of rich literary values though it does not contain Tagore style spiritualism and perhaps she was the first woman writer writing like male poets on the universal subjects and refused to be labelled as Indian Poet but just as a poet and was a very good contestant for the Nobel Prize.
RK’s character’s inability to read in Hindi could be read as RK’s a jibe at the provincial demand of that time that the provinces wanted to be organised in the states according to their native languages.
Shalan Lal

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