Eid-ul-Fitr has been celebrated in a big way in many of our films. The films below are the ones where Eid serves as a pivotal plot point.
1. Chaudvin Ka Chand (1960): Guru Dutt’s first and only ‘Muslim Social’ a genre of cinema that celebrated the obsolete if not altogether non-existent Nawabi culture, was made to counter the losses he suffered with the autobiographical Kagaz Ke Phool. While that film was all about life Chaudhvin Ka Chand had nothing to do with real life. Two Muslim best friends Aslam and Nawab (played by Guru Dutt and his real-life buddy Rehman) both love the same beauty Jameela (Waheeda Rehman). The title song written by Shakel Badayuni as the ultimate ode to love and beauty captured the actress in all her resplendent beauty in colour while the rest of the film is in black and white. The film is set in the city of nawabs Lucknow and captures the ethos of luxuriant romance rather flamboyantly. This is Guru Dutt’s least subtle work.
2. Mere Mehboob (1963): This Muslim Social blockbuster featured Rajendra Kumar and Sadhana, two non-Muslim actors, who fall in love on a train and have to go through various storms in ornate teacups before the ultimate nikaah. The film was remarkable in capturing the colours music and festive mood of a decadent nawabi culture. The songs composed by Naushad are especially delightful in their dulcet delicacy. My favourite being Sadhana and Nimmi dancing around water fountains and under sparkling chandeliers singing ‘Mere Mehboob Mein Kya Nahin’ not knowing that the ‘Mehboob’ they are both crooning about is the same person. After the release of this film Sadhana was often mistaken for a Muslim, and she loved it. Rahul Rawail’s father H S Rawail directed this all-time hit.
3. Pakeezah (1972): Meena Kumari lived the part of the tawaif Sahib Jaan and the credit for her heart-melting performance must got to a large extent to the music by Ghulam Mohammed. As sung by Lata Mangeshkar, the Mujras, the life and breath of every tawaif’s tale, are among the finest heard in Indian cinema: Chalte chalte yuhi koi mil gaya ttha, Teer-e-nazar dekhenge, Thare rahiyo ho banke yaar re, Inhi logon ne le lee na dupatta mera… which one do we choose? All or none? I could watch Pakeezah a million times for the songs. Meena Kumari’s performance was dependent entirely on the music. During a large part of the film’s shooting Meena Kumari couldn’t even move because of ill health let alone dance. The Mujra ‘Chalte Chalte’was shot with chorus dancers and Teer-e-nazar was performed by a duplicate dancer, Padma Khanna.
4. Nikaah (1982): The film that dared to challenge the Sharia laws of India. Salma Agha, freshly imported from Pakistan, played wife to Deepak Parasher who divorces her by saying Talaq thrice. Boldly the film questions the male spouse’s right to discard his marital duties on a whim. Salma Agha not only played the lead but also sang Ravi’s chartbusting compositions which went a long way in making this film a superhit during the year of Amitabh Bachchan’s Nalam Halaal, Khuddar, Satte Pe Sattaand Desh Premee. Again the music of Ravi went a long way in accentuating the film’s love triangle where Haider (Raj Babbar) loves Nilofer (Salma Agha) who ends up marrying Wasim (Deepak Parasher) who divorces her after saying ‘Talaq’ thrice. While Ms Agha was a Muslim the two heroes were Hindus. Raj Babbar once told me he had to brush up his Urdu to understand some of the songs and dialogues before vocalizing them. B R Chopra who directed
5. Silvat (2018): Playing a Muslim darzi in Tanuja Chandra 40-minute film situated in the crowded gully of what looks like Mumbai’s Haji Ali locality, Kartik is every bit Anwar, the shy sensitive tailor who develops a secret passion for his favourite client: a lonely abandoned wife Noor (Meher Mistry) whose husband has migrated to Riyadh for a job with nary a glance back for the woman he has left behind. The focus of the passionate plot, pulsating with unspoken ardour, is Noor. But it’s Kartik’s Anwar who silently steals the show. There is no exhibition of outward passion here. And yet so much is said through Anwar’s eyes. Every stolen glance is laden with longing. The film is shot on location in a Muslim locality with street side vendors frying parathas and malpuas, hawkers selling bangles. The bustle of the street is weighed against those heavy loaded silences between Noor and Anwar. .This is 1997. And riots don’t happen only on the streets. Sometimes they also occur in a woman’s lonely heart.