The National Film Archive of India has found a reel of a banned 1957 Kishore Kumar starrer Begunah, more than 60 years after the Mumbai High Court ordered all prints of the film to be destroyed. The rare clip, found in 2020, showed music composer Jaikishen (of Shankar-Jaikishen fame) on the piano, actor Shakila dancing and Mukesh as the playback crooning the song Ae Pyaase Dil Bezubaan.
“Several people have been searching for the reel for many years. Since we didn`t have it, we too started looking for it actively. It is a miracle of a discovery,” NFAI Director Prakash Magdum told PTI. The film, which released in 1957, got mired in controversy with Paramount Pictures America alleging it was a copy of their 1954 movie Knock on Wood. It won the rights and the Mumbai High Court ordered all the prints of the film to be destroyed.
All the prints were thought to have been destroyed after the court order but Magdum believes a few travelled elsewhere and survived. “We obtained the reels from cinema lovers within India,” he added. He said fans of music composer duo Shankar-Jaikishan had been looking for the footage for a long time as it is the only film to feature Jaikishan in a major appearance. “We have two 16 mm reels of Kishore Kumar`s film Begunah in two phases consisting of around 60 to 70 minutes.
One reel came two months back and another came last week. The second one has the song Ae Pyase Dil Bezubaan. It features Jaikishan on the piano and actor Shakila dancing. The song is sung by Mukesh,” Magdum said. The condition of the reel was not in good condition but the song was runnable.
“The entire footage is of 60 to 70 minutes, the primary inspection says it is not in a very good condition but this particular song is there. But it is runnable, I could see it. The film starts abruptly but it does have a proper ending. There are no credits,” he said.
NFAI was trying to get a copy of the judgement from the court but it was difficult. “They said until we share the details like the date of judgement and the court in which the case was there, it will be difficult for them to search. We tried to check the database of various judgements through our lawyer friends but they couldn`t trace this particular judgement. There are few news items in magazines about it,” he said.