Bawra is a 1952 Hindi film directed by Vijay Bhatt. Produced by Prakash
Pictures, with story by Ramchandra Thakur and dialogues by Zia Sarhadi, Baiju
Bawra was a musical "megahit" which had a mighty run of 100 weeks
in the theatres. Bhatt's decision to make a film based on classical music was
met with scepticism by the Indian film industry due to its "lack of mass
appeal", but the film and music turned out be an "overwhelming
success". The film's music director was Naushad, who had become popular
giving folk-based music in films like Rattan, Anmol Ghadi, Shahjehan (1946)
and Deedar (1951). With Bhatt's Baiju Bawra, Naushad introduced classical
component in Hindi film songs. The soundtrack based on light classical ragas,
made use of folk, thumri or dadra, with a stronger raga used in the last
contest song between Tansen and Baiju. The lyricist was Shakeel Badayuni, a
Naushad discovery. For Baiju Bawra, he had to forgo Urdu, and write lyrics in
pure Hindi, with songs like the bhajan, "Man Tadpat Hari Darshan Ko
Aaj", becoming popular.
film starred Bharat Bhushan as Baiju, with Meena Kumari playing his love
interest Gauri. Meena made her acting debut in Bhatt's Leatherface (1939) as
a seven-year-old. Surendra portrayed Tansen, one of the Navratans (music) in
Akbar's court. Kuldip Kaur played the role of the dacoit queen Roopmati. The
rest of the cast included Bipin Gupta, Manmohan Krishna, B. V. Vyas and Baby
film merges the legend of Baiju Bawra with the historic setting of Mughal
Emperor Akbar's court in India. Baiju (Bhushan) is the son of a musician who
also grows up to be a musician. He comes to believe that Tansen, the famed
musician at the court of Akbar, is responsible for his father's death. The
movie then follows Baiju's attempt to avenge his father's death by challenging
Tansen to a musical duel.
though there were many changes in the storyline from the original life of
Baiju Bawra, the film was both a commercial and critical success and
catapulted both its lead actors into stardom. Meena Kumari became the first-ever
Filmfare Best Actress Award winner in 1954, the first of four Best Actress
trophies she won in her career. The film's music director, Naushad, also
received the inaugural Filmfare Best Music Director Award for the song
"Tu Ganga Ki Mauj"; this was Naushad's first and only Filmfare
is known to be the greatest classical vocalist ever to have existed in India,
and was one of the nine jewels (Navaratnas) of Emperor Akbar's court. Nobody
could sing in the city unless he or she could sing better than Tansen. If
this was not the case, he or she was executed. Baiju Bawra is the story of an
unknown singer, Baiju, who is on a mission to defeat Tansen in a musical duel
to avenge the death of his father.
Baiju is still a child, Tansen's sentry tries to stop Baiju's father from
singing, and in the ensuing scuffle, his father dies. Before dying, he
extracts a promise from his son to take revenge against Tansen. Baiju gets
shelter from a village priest and while growing up, falls in love with Gauri,
the daughter of a boatman. He continues his musical education on his own, but
gets so enamoured by Gauri's love that he forgets the promise made to his
a group of dacoits raid Baiju's village. With his song, Baiju persuades them
against looting the village, but the female leader of the dacoits falls in
love with him and asks him to follow them to their fort as a condition for
their sparing the village. Baiju leaves with her, leaving the wailing Gauri
behind. In the fort, the dacoit leader, who is actually a princess living in
exile, tells Baiju how her father's serfdom had been usurped and she was
seeking revenge because the village too previously belonged to her father.
The word "revenge" brings all of Baiju's memories back; he leaves
the fort greatly agitated, and the princess does not try to stop him.
sneaks into the Mughal palace, where Tansen is singing. He is dumbstruck by
the way Tansen sings, and the sword that was supposed to cut the maestro's
throat fell on the tanpura, saddening Tansen. He said he could only be killed
by music, and the pain that accompanies it. "Dip your notes in
melancholy and I'll die on my own," he said. Baiju accordingly leaves
the palace to learn "real" music.
remembers that when his father was killed, he was taking Baiju to Swami Haridas.
He goes to see the Swami himself and asks for his guidance, informing him of
his plan to take revenge against Tansen. Haridas tells Baiju that one must be
in love to be a true musician, and thus Baiju must rid himself of all the
hatred in his heart, but still gives him a vina and accepts him as his
disciple. Baiju again starts his musical training, spending all his time in a
Shiva temple, but his vengeful feelings never leave him. Nonetheless, he
still reveres his guru, Haridas. After learning that his teacher had fallen
seriously ill and was unable to walk, Baiju sings a song that so thrills
Haridas that the master gets out of his bed and starts to walk.
meanwhile, is so distraught over Baiju's departure that she is about to
swallow poison. At that point, the princess who had taken Baiju from the
village comes to her and tells her that she knows of Baiju's whereabouts.
Gauri meets Baiju and tries to convince him to return to the village so they
can be married; Baiju, however, refuses, as he feels he must take revenge
against Tansen. At this point, Haridas arrives, and Baiju goes to receive
him, once again leaving a crying Gauri behind. Haridas tells Baiju that to be
a true singer, he has to feel real pain. Hearing this, Gauri decides to make
a venomous snake bite her, thinking that her death would bring enough grief
to Baiju that he would defeat Tansen. Baiju sees Gauri's lifeless body and
goes mad, with the princess' attempts to get through to him being futile.
Baiju instead goes to the Shiva temple and sings a heart-wrenching song
condemning the God who had consigned him to his fate; even the idol of Lord
Shiva sheds tears at Baiju's grief.
his delirious state, Baiju reaches Tansen's city, singing the whole way. The
residents fear for his life and call him bawra (insane), hence the title of
the movie. Baiju is caught and imprisoned, but the princess frees him.
However, both of them are caught by Mughal soldiers when escaping, leaving a
musical duel with Tansen as the only way to save his life.
Akbar himself witnesses the competition. For a long time, both the singers
prove to be equally good. Then Akbar suggests that whoever could melt a
marble slab with his singing would win the duel. Baiju manages to do so and
wins the competition, saving his own life and finally avenging his father's
death. Tansen accepts his defeat graciously, and is in fact happy that there
is someone better than him. Baiju persuades Akbar to spare Tansen's life, to
return the princess' land to her, and to allow music in the streets.
winning the musical duel, Baiju departs from the court. Emperor Akbar is
unhappy to see him go and asks Tansen to sing to produce a storm and floods
to make him stay. Tansen sings raga Megh and the river Yamuna floods. (This
scene was cut from the final film.)
Gauri is alive but her father is deeply upset. The entire village makes fun
of Gauri's and Baiju's love affair. Her father warns her that either Baiju be
found, or Gauri should marry a village moneylender and in case she refuses,
he would commit suicide. Gauri, unwilling to divulge Baiju's whereabouts,
agrees to marry the money-lender.
that she is still alive, Baiju goes to meet Gauri. On the other side of a
swollen Yamuna River, Baiju is stuck. The boatmen refuse to take him to the
other side. Despite not knowing how to swim, Baiju pushes the boat into the
raging waters and starts rowing it. He starts singing and Gauri hears it. She
starts running towards the bank. When she sees Baiju struggling with the boat,
she jumps into the water to rescue Baiju. The boat topples over and after a
lot of struggle Gauri manages to reach him. He urges her to go back and leave
him but Gauri replies that they had promised to be together in life and in
death, and she would be content in dying with him. They both drown.