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Kamal Amrohi

Quite rightly selected by former Guardian film critic, Derek Malcolm, as one of the 100 finest films of the 20th Century, Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah is a stone-cold classic and arguably the perfect introduction to the unique world of Bollywood.

"The perfect introduction to the unique world of Bollywood."

An unapologetically melodramatic story of a beautiful tawaif – a highly-trained courtesan and dancer - who longs for love and acceptance, but find only tragedy, Pakeezah is equally famous in India for the dramas that went on behind the camera.

Writer-director Amrohi took 14 years to finish the film, which he started shooting in black and white, but entirely reshot in luminous Technicolor and Cinemascope, and his marriage to the film’s brilliant but tragic star, Meena Kumari, who essentially drank herself to death just after the film’s completion, collapsed more than once during filming. But somehow, it all works brilliantly, and the influence of the film’s style on modern Hindi cinema is insurmountable.


 Screening as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and ICO.