3 July 2009 | Peter_Young
Humanity, real love and the cruel society
Phool Aur Patthar is an extraordinary film mainly due to its striking, realistic message. It has bits of everything, and it shows many human values anyone of us may have. It also has a fine portrayal of society. The society is presented in both bright and dark sides in this film, though not in a way that can be called positive. A commonly hated and infamous thief, Shaka, who comes to rob a well-known family, finds himself saving the life of a young ill and dying widow, Shanti, who was left to die by her in-laws during an epidemic. She has been long maltreated by her in-laws, and when they come back home, they discover to their surprise a healthy Shanti. Her brother in-law tries to rape her, and that's how Shaka takes her to his home. There the real story of coping begins for them. Shanti, an extremely religious woman, tries to help Shaka to make amends. The entire street is gossiping about the two and about Shanti in particular for entering the house of an infamous criminal.
This is a touching story. The main hero has become a thief and a criminal not because he wanted to, but because he was forced by circumstances. The film shows humanity in so many instances and in an amazingly delicate way. It shows how cruel people can be. Shanti's own family leaves her to die while a criminal is the one who actually saves her life. After a few months of living together, Shaka understands he cannot live without her. Shanti's modesty, honesty and intelligence all make Shaka understand that he has found the first true love of his life. Even his pickpocket friend, Kalicharam is charmed by her attitude. I still remember the scene when he first meets her and asks her what he can do for her, and she answers, "nothing, brother". He breaks into a big laugh as he never heard anyone speaking so fondly to him. I was deeply moved by this scene.
The performances are wonderful and every actor contributes to the film in his own way. Dharmendra, in one of his finest performances, is restrained and serious. No songs are pictured on him, and it contributes to the intransigent and tough features of his character. Meena Kumari is wonderful as Shanti. There is no doubt she is one of Hindi cinema's greatest actresses. She is graceful and dignified, and though she cannot be called beautiful (that was the time when she began gradually losing her good looks), she is presented as the epitome of goodness and Indian feminine simplicity, which is aided by her natural acting and excellent line delivery. Shashikala, as Shaka's lover, is extremely beautiful and vibrant. She is the complete opposite of Meena Kumari in this film: westernised, bubbly, at times unkind and always attractive. While the entire film shows her as a woman who is just sexually attracted to Shaka, we later find out that she really loves him. Ram Mohan as Kalicharan is hilarious with his comic sense. Lalita Pawar is great as Shanti's evil mother in-law.
The film has many dramatic, romantic and comic sequences, all of which are very memorable and moving. The music, composed by Ravi, is just out of this world, and Asha Bhosle sings exceptionally every song. Her rendition of "Sheeshe Se Pee", which is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, is outstanding. Other songs such as "Sunle Pukar" and "Zindagi Se Pyar" are also brilliantly performed by this phenomenal singer. The film's title represents both Dharmendra's and Meena Kumari's characters very well. Her Shanti is Phool (flower) and his Shaka is Patthar (stone). How can a flower and a stone live together? You will have to see the film to understand it. A classic 60s picture.