Monday, August 26, 2013

Bilhana's Love Story in Film



The Rafi song from Shabab (1954) [movie link], the initial line is from Zauq and rest of the lyrics are by Shakeel Badayuni.

Shabab (1954) was inspired by love story of 11th century Kashmiri poet Bilhana. The original story is available as: Bilhaniyam, play written by Narayana Shastri, then there is BilhaniyaKavya and the Bilhaniya-Charitra. And as Bilhaniyamu, a late-eighteenth-century Telugu reworking of a Sanskrit poem, deemed immoral in Victorian era. The episode is said to taken place in court of King Anhil Pattana of Gujarat, and may or may not have been biographical.

In the story, Bilhana is introduced as a blind man to a Princess he is supposed to teach. The princess is introduced to him as a leper. All this so that the handsome man does not seduce the Princess. But the ploy is exposed when Bilhana accidentally, in a moment of joy, describes in lucid details beauty of book. The veil of deception is lifted. The two naturally do end up falling in love. The King, of course, is not happy. So, 'Off with the head', he goes. While in prison, Bilhana composes 50 erotic verses that come to be known as Chaurapanchasika (the Fifty Stanzas of Chauras)[a vintage English edition]. There are multiple versions to the story. In the Southern version, the King is impressed by the verses, and the two get together. In the Kashmiri version, the poet awaits the judgement.

In the film version, to keep with the cinematic trends of the time, Bilhana meets a Devdas-ish end. And so does the heroine.

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Interestingly, there is South Indian film from 1948 called Bilhana inspired by the same story. 

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