I can’t believe that 25 years have passed since Premnath sahab passed away into eternity. How time has marched on… I was a college girl at that time, excited about discovering so many new things, esp about books and authors. When the news flashed on Novemeber 3rd 1992 that Premnath was dead, it didn’t make much of an impression. I only knew him as Raj Kapoor’s brother-in-law. But then remembering an interview of his, telecast sometime back, in the afternoon slot of DD Metro (???), I decided to watch BARSAAT….
And nothing was ever the same. I, literally, went crazy. I don’t know how many times I watched BARSAAT. And then the search began for his other movies. At that time, there was no You Tube and video cassette renting shops (remember them?) hardly stocked B&W movies, so getting hold of any of his movies was a Himalayan task. I don’t know whether the cable TV revolution had started or not but I anyway we did not have a cable connection. But (perhaps a little later) my Jhaiji’s home in Delhi did have one and ZEE TV at that time would telecast B&W movies at 2:30 in the night. So everyday, I’d set the alarm, wake up at 2:30 and check whether it was a Premnath movie. My cousin was also given the task of waking me up, in case, I slept through the ringing of the alarm. Poor fellow! We still chortle over it at times. Anyway, the one time they did show a Premnth movie: APNA GHAR, I woke up only at 4 O’C, early morning and so could watch only the movie’s later part.
Well, time passes and things change….
But anyway, remebering him 25 years on, here are 11 of my favourite movies of his, in chronological order:
1.AAG (1948): Premnath made his debut in AJIT which released in 1948 but the in same year, he appeared in his brother-in-law’s first home-production as the good-samaritan Rajan who helps the hero. Unfortunately, they both are in love with the same girl…
2. BARSAAT (1949): If I ever make a list of my favourite Hindi movies, this would be somewhere at the top. Premanth as the flirtatious Gopal steals the show and his chemistry with both Raj and Nargis is crackling (no, I’ll not talk about Nimmi). It makes me wonder why, except for a pathetic DHARAM-KARAM, are there no movies of his with Raj Kapoor (and no, the silhouette appearance in AWARA doesn’t count). I don’t know how many buckets of tears I cried at the movie’s end. But, on a happier note, here’s his famous dance. It is said that Shammi Kapoor learnt dance from him.
Actor Om Prakash recounted that once while travelling for a shoot with Premnath, their car stopped at a red-light. Pointing to a woman begging, Premnath asked Om Prakash, “Do you know who she is?” Before the latter could reply, he himself supplied the answer: “She is Cuckoo.” And burst into tears. After composing himself, he beckoned Cuckoo and asked her what he could do to help her. She asked him for a taxi which would bring in some regular income. Premnath promised her, he ‘d get her one and delivered on his promise.
But whatever curves life threw at both of them, later on, here are they: Young, Care-free, Good-Looking, Having the time of their lives:
3. AARAM (1951) Oh, the joy when I got the cassette of this movie! My Jhaiji, who watched it with me wasn’t at all impressed by the mime-act of Premnath and Manmohan Krishan pumping air in a deflated bicycle but I couldn’t care less. My heart was with the poor little rich boy who would never get the woman of his dreams.
When Madhubala died, he not only cried inconsolably but also wrote a poem in her honour:
Laid to rest my love,
My would-have-been wife,
I saw you to the end of your grave
And bore the assaults of
Grave diggers filling you up with dust….
4. CHANGEZ KHAN (1957): The problem with many movies that Premnath starred in as a young man was that they were swashbucklers which I don’t particularly enjoy but this with wife Bina Rai was saved by a good Rafi number : Mohabbat Zinda Rehti Hai….
5. BAHARON KE SAPNE (1967): In this movie which depicts the conflict between, management and labour, Premnath plays Mr. Kapoor, the manager of a factory. Though the script favours the labourers, the manager too is shown as a man committed to his job.
6. JOHNY MERA NAAM (1970): When Vijay Anand had approached Premnath for TEESRI MANZIL (1966), Premnath was simply sitting at home. In his own words,”I didn’t know what should be the remuneration for an out-of-work actor, so I simply asked for Rs. 35,000/-“. The film became a hit and then later Anand offered him the role of the lecherous Bhupinder Singh in JOHNY MERA NAAM. Villainy in Hindi movies was never the same again.
7. SHOR (1972): Diametrically opposite to Bhupinder Singh was the large-hearted Pathan, Khan Badshah, who philosophies “Jeevan Chalne ka Naam”.
8. BOBBY (1973): Who can ever forget Jack Braganza???
9. RAJA KAKA (1974): This had a nice story about the love-hate relationship between a man and a child whom he had kidnapped as part of his revenge but later cared after.
10. KALICHARAN (1976): As IG P.N. Khanna, Premnath played the role of a policeman who knows he has taken a risk which might very well destroy his career, to perfection.
11. KARZ (1980): Premnath is suitably menacing as the silent Sir Judah.
* And I leave with Gurbani sung by Premnath himself in the movie GIANIJI/ SAT SRI AKAL (1977):
“Ram Gayo Ravan Gayo, Jako Bhau Parvar
Kahu Nanak Thir Kachu Nahi, Supan Jiyu Sansar…”
No, he doesn’t look anything like this in GIANIJI but hey I couldn’t leave you with that horror from KARZ. His voice is the kind that I love and I wish he had sung more…
Hope you are at peace wherever you are.