30 December 1998 | lance-20
A sumptuous example of Indian film-making at its best!
Perhaps the most polished and accomplished of all Indian films - Pakeezah does not fall into any of the traps commonly associated with Bollywood film (ie tackiness, farce, wholesale and unsuccessful imitation of western film themes/genres). Pakeezah is indigenous to the Sub-Continent and authentic, almost Madam Butterfly-like in plot. Characters are well-developed, direction, although sometimes unrefined by today's standards, perceptive and convincing. The Urdu-speaking milieux at the time of Pakeezah were masters of understatement and how the dialogue conveys the subtleties of the age! The acting (particularly the 'looks' and the dynamic between characters) are a delight to behold although the nuances may be lost on contemporary viewers or those not acquainted with the mores and customs of Muslim India.
Coupled, with a captivating screenplay is a beautiful musical score, enhanced by the protagonist displaying eminent command of classical Indian dance (kathak). As is the case with most romantic tragedies, the heroine must die, but she does not take her leave of the audience without the viewer feeling he/she has been party to a truly memorable cinema experience. Pakeezah is surely the pinnacle of what Indian cinema has produced and is unlikely to be paralleled.