Ruskin Bond’s Written Junoon Is A Masterpiece By Assorted Experts!

A K RaoStarred Page By A K Rao, 14th Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>History

The Screen play of the movie ‘Junoon’ is based on Ruskin Bond's heart rendering novel 'A flight of Pigeons' is efficiently translated by Shyam Benegal himself without altering much to maintain the originality of the work! This movie is the masterpiece by various geniuses from their respective fields who were gathered together with the efforts of Shashi Kapoor the producer of this movie to make a history!

'Junoon' Is a Madness!

This movie ‘Junoon’ was received with a warm welcome by the audience from almost all parts of the World when released thus making this movie a great successful one commercially for its great artistic values which is a rare phenomenon to be seen in the Hindi Film Industry!

Junoon a Hindi movie released in 1978 in Eastman Color is an overwhelmingly powerful, love story set against a crucial period backdrop which undoubtedly added another feather in the Cap of the great director Shyam Benegal on its release then!

This movie was adjudged and Conferred with Film Fare Award in the year 1980 as the Best Film of the Year!

Very Aptly Chosen Title.

The Movie based on Ruskin Bond's Novel 'A flight of Pigeons' was named as 'Junoon' an Arabic or Urdu word refers as 'Obsession' or 'Madness'.

This title appropriately fits the movie to depict the obsession of a Pathan's love for an English dame which forms the main theme of the movie.

The obsession of insane fanatic Mughals to overpower the British of that time and the obsession of an adoring wife to get back her husband from the obsessive love of a British girl in the movie can also be correlated with the title.

The author who named the movie as 'Junoon' leaves it for the audience to interpret the obsession shown by various characters in the movie in their own way.

Interesting Story Line.

This film is about the obsession of a brave, self respected, strongly built young Pathan Javed for a charming, graceful and exceptionally beautiful looking British girl Ruth Labadoor!

This story was shown to have occurred in 1857 when the Indians initiated their first fight of freedom and Mangal Pandey the freedom fighter gets executed! The apocryphal tales of this martyr spreads the whole country leading to a mutiny. Every young citizen is burning in the fire of anguish for the brave martyr. During this time one Sunday at the Church the English are attacked by furious mob of Mughals where they ruthlessly slaughter the inmates. The priest is cut down into two! Mughals never wanted to spare any British!

This massacre is led by an insane fanatic and a hardcore Mughal Sarfaraz Khan! In the massacre while Mr.Labadoor get killed himself, the family members comprising the fair sex from three different generations Ruth, her mother Mariam and her ailing grand mother get desperate shelter at an old Indian acquaintance Lala Ramjimal's place to hide.

Javed Khan a strongly built, brave and dynamic young man who actively co operates his brother in Law Sarfaraz Khan his mission of destroying the British discovers the hidden family of Labadoors at Lala Ramjimal's place.

In normal course he would have or rather should have killed all the three women at the first site he spots them. But at the very first site Ruth throbs his heart and he instantly falls in love with her and instead of killing them he gets all the three ladies to his place to give them a shelter! He yearns for the love of the young, charming and beautiful British girl Ruth. But then Ruth instead of accepting the love she feels afraid of him and hates him!

While the beauty, charm and the charisma of the young Ruth makes Javed mad in the love, her stubborn attitude of denial hurts his pride, and now he is more determined and decides to leave no stone unturned to get her as his second wife. If wanted he can force Ruth to marry him but the nobility, pride, principles and generosity of a Pathan prevents him to do so.

He approaches Ruth's mother Mariam to ask for her daughter's hand for him, for which he gets the response in negative! Firdaus wife of Javed Khan dislikes her husband's attitude and she tries to convince him to forget about the girl. But then Javed Khan is obsessed with the Ruth's love. His repeated subjugated requests to the Mariam for Ruth's hand are testimony to the strength of his desire for Ruth. In the event of requesting he forgets that he is a brave Pathan and only a true lover is seen in him.

But the constant denial from both the mother and daughter makes his life very torturous and unbearable for him. But then as a true Pathan he is determined and tries to convince Mariam to marry her daughter with him.

With the constant requests and the manly and noble behavior of Javed Ruth starts liking Javed though initially she had some frustrating night mares about him! Very soon her liking converts into the love, but then she never discloses this plutonic love to any one!

Frustrated, irritated and loving mother of Ruth, Mariam instead of yielding to the pleas by Javed tells Javed that she is ready to marry her daughter to him if Mughals can reestablish themselves at the capital of the Country Delhi! Now Javed is happy that he has got some hope to get Ruth and then along with Sarfaraz Khan he joins the battle against the British. While the native people are fighting against British for the Motherland, Javed is in it just for his lady love Ruth!

Could the Mughuls establish their power at the capital Delhi? What happens to Javed?

Could he make a come back from the battle or perish in the battle?

Could the love birds unite at the end? The answers to these entire questions form the interesting story line of the movie!

Strong Star Cast with Superb Performance.

The lead role of Javed Khan was played by Shashi Kapoor in the movie. He simply excels in the role! He plays two different roles in the Character one as a devoted, dynamic, well built, brave and courageous Pathan and the second is as an obsessed lover of his lady love Ruth. While with his physical actions and dialogues he convinces the audience that he is undoubtedly a brave Pathan, he fantastically emote the feelings of love and obsession for the English girl Ruth. It won't be an exaggeration if I say that his vibes of obsession some times are felt by the audience to make them spell bound! Shashi Kapoor ventured to play this lead role in his own production very successfully and convincingly.

Shabana Azmi as a desperate, possessive and loving wife of Javed, as usually excels in her role of Firdaus. This trained actress who is well known for her natural acting, expressions and dialogue delivery plays her role without any flaw! She has been shown every time under stress and tension for her husband and his desire/obsession for Ruth. Her repeated opposition and frustration has been portrayed very efficiently in the movie!

The role of Sarfaraaz Khan was very impressively played by Naseeruddin Shah, an actor with inborn talents! His determination and desire of getting rid of English from the mother land forms his obsession and he magnificently enacts his role as a hard core, fanatic Mughal Pathan! He impresses the audience with his strong dialogues in stern voice and makes the audience glued to their seats in astonishment with his acting! Though he had a limited role to play he simply is superb in the role and his performance has got his name nominated for Film Fare Award in the year 1980 as the best Supporting Actor!

Kulbhushan Kharbanda more or less a freshly trained artist from Pune Film Institute then played the role of Lala Ramjimal who saves the Labadoor family from the massacre. His role was a complex one, where in he had to portray the emotions of humanity while saving and sheltering the Labadoor family at the same time he had to portray the greedy aspect of a typical businessman in him who in fact is keen in the recovery of the money lend to the Labadoor family. He very successfully justifies his complex role.

Jennifer Kendal, wife of Shashi Kapoor in real life had a big role to play in this movie as Mariam. She had to play a role of Caring mother to her daughter Ruth, a role of caring daughter to her ailing mother and most importantly she had to play a protective, bold and self respected lady with full of pride to save the family respect. She acts like a lioness when it comes to saving her daughter from Javed Khan. Her strong but tactful denial to the pleas of Javed every time he approaches her for the hand of his daughter Ruth seems very natural in the movie. Her excellent acting in this movie gained her a nomination for best supporting actress in Film Fare Awards for the year 1980.

Nafisa Ali who was the Miss India for the year 1976 and First runner up in the Miss International 1977 looks very beautiful, charming and innocent in the role of Ruth. She was very nice in her debutant role of innocent Ruth. She has been portrayed as a timid, nervous and confused teenager who gets panicky merely by the name of Javed Khan in the first half of the movie. Then these emotions have been replaced in the second half, with love, passion and admiration towards the character who she hated initially. The role was no doubt a difficult one to play for the debutant, but Nafisa proved her mettle by en living the role to make it a memorable one for ever! She undoubted mesmerizes the audience with her beauty and brain in the movie with her fabulous acting!

Sushma Seth had a little role to play as Javed Khan's Maternal Aunt. She as a veteran actress played out the role fantastically with an ease to make her presence a prominent one with a small role to play!

Similarly Tom Alter also had a small role to play as Mr. Labadoor and as usually he enacted the role absolutely without any flaws to find out with his typical but attractive acting of English man living in India!

Superb Screenplay and Strong Dialogues.

It is really very difficult job to convert a novel into a screen play without distorting the contents. Shyam Benegal not only succeeded to convert Ruskin Bond's novel 'a flight of Pigeons' into Hindi 'Junoon' but he encouraged and managed to get best out of Late

Pandit Satyadev Dubey, a Padma Vibhushan recipient, in the form of dialogue writing! The screen play and dialogues in Hindi are simply great in literary terms. The dialogues of this movie are thought provoking and well composed by the experienced Hindi dialogue writer!

His work has been duly recognized to confer him with the Film Fare Award for Best Dialogues in 1980.

Director Shyam Benegal Needs No Introduction.

Shyam Benegal the renowned director of Hindi movies is specially known for his par excellence in art movies! He once again proved in this movie that within a limited budget, without grand elaborative sets or back drops a master piece can be created by handling the directional aspect of the movie in an efficient way! He not only taken care of the direction by simply sitting on the chair behind the camera but he has taken care of each and every aspect of the movie like a responsible Captain of a sailing Ship.

His direction speaks out for itself in every where in the movie, may it be the acting of the stars, cinematography, music or dialogue delivery. The director deserves salutations for keeping the audience glued to their seats right from the start to finish by maintaining the tempo and the mood of the movie throughout!

For this fantastic achievement Shyam Benegal was conferred with the Film Fare Award as the Best Director in the year 1980!

Capturing Cinematography.

Though the story of the movie belongs to the era of rich Mughuls and extravagant British, we hardly find any big expensive sets or locations in the movie. Simple but heart touching artistically picturesque scenes captured by the Cinematographer Govind Nihlani keeps one mesmerized throughout the movie! One forgets for a while in which era he/she is living!

While the close up shots depicting the expressions and moods of the characters are highlights of the photography, the long shots are no way less in any manner. The over all visual experience is fabulous feast for the eyes and deserves a special mention here!

The exceptional skills exhibited by the genius Cinematographer in this movie was greatly appreciated and was also duly recognized by conferring truly deserving two awards at National level to this great 'Lens Man'!

Efficient Editing.

I would be doing injustice to my review and to the editor of the movie Bhanudas Divekar as well, if I don't appreciate the efforts and the skills exhibited in editing the movie.

Junoon which is a period film takes one on a smooth voyage to the era of Mughuls! The continuity of the story, smooth mingling of the scenes makes the movie visually a great experience for the audience. The tough job of editing the classic movie without distorting the contents was cleverly and clearly achieved by this editor.

For this great achievement he was duly recognized and conferred with Film Fare Award for the Best Editor in 1980!

Melodious Music.

Music for period films requires some special skills. One has to do lot of research about the type of music existed at that era. The instruments existed then and the form of music existed then forms a major part of this research before the actual music be composed for the movie.

Shyam Benegal he entrusted this responsibility to Vanraj Bhatia, (recipient of Padmashri Award 2012), to shoulder! As a seasoned music director who has got lot of experience of working with famous directors Sayeed Akhtar Mirza and Vijay Singh, besides working with Shyam Benegal, he very efficiently justified his skill in this movie! His back ground music stands perfect match to the scenes to enhance the impact of the scenes depicted in the movie!

He accomplished a commendable job by composing music to the lyrics of the famous historical lyric writers (Shayars) like Jigar Moradabadi, Amir Khusroo and Sant Kabir who are the mile stones of India Literature!

This daring feat was very successfully attempted and executed by this music director for this movie to get his name itched in the Indian Film Music!
'Junoon' has four sound tracks sung by various artists. The songs are:

1. Khusro Rain Piya Ki Jaag Pee Ke Sang - Sung by Jamil Ahmad
2. Ishq Ne Todi Sar Pe Quayamat - Sung by Mohammad Rafi
3. Phir Aaaye Kaari Ghata Matwali Sawan ki - Sung by Asha Bhosle and
Varsha Bhosle
4. Come live with me and be my love - sung by Jennefer Kendel

The sound tracks are recorded very carefully to make them acoustically very pleasant ones. Since the former two songs are based on Indian classical music they couldn't gain the popularity amongst the masses. But they are perfectly fit into the appropriate slot in the movie to make the songs purposeful and meaningful!

The song 'Phir aayee kaari ghata?' is a popular one and remains a favorite amongst the music buffs of Indian Film Music!

The Sound Recorder Hitendra Ghosh received two Awards for his extra ordinary job!

He was awarded a national Film Award for Best Audiography in the year 1979 and he bagged Film Fare Award for Best sound Recording in the Year 1980

Recognitions And Awards.

I. This film was screened as the Inaugural film at the 7th International Film Festival, New Delhi in 1979.

II. Junoon was the Official Indian Entry at XIth International Film Festival Moscow.

III.This movie was featured at;

a. The Montreal World Film Festival in 1979
b. The Cairo International Film Festival 1979
c. The Sydney Film Festival 1980
d. The Melbourne International Film Festival 1980.

The movie won the following three National Film Awards in 1979.
1. Best Feature Film in Hindi.
2. Best Cinematography - Govind Nihlani.
3. Best Audiography - Hitendra Ghosh.
This movie was crowned with Six Film Fare Awards in 1980. From the eight nominations the movie could make a sweep of six Awards in the following categories.
1. Best Film - Shashi Kapoor
2. Best Director - Shyam Benegal
3. Best Dialogues - Pandit Satyadev Dubey
4. Best Editing - Bhanudas Divekar
5. Best Cinematography - Govind Nihlani
6. Best Sound Recording - Hitendra Ghosh


In my opinion the movie Junoon (recipient of 6 Film Fare Awards out of 8 nominated and recipient of 3 National Awards) is an exceptionally well made period movie with full of emotions, acting skills and practically every thing what a classical movie should have in it! This movie runs for 144 minutes on simple mono track with rich video and audio quality. I definitely rate this movie with five stars!

PS: The pictures used in the article are taken from Google search. My sincere Thanks to them.

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Awards, Bhanudas Divekar, Cairo International Film Festival, Film Fare Awards, History, Hitendra Ghosh, Jennefer Kendal, Junoon 1978, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Masterpiece, Melborne World Film Festival, Miss India, Montreal World Film Festival, Music, Nafisa Ali, Naseeruddin Shah, Padma Vibhshan, Padmashree, Recognition, Ruskin Bond, Satyadev Dubey, Screen Play, Shabana Azmi, Shashi Kapoor, Shayam Benegal, Six Film Fare Awrads, Sushma Seth, Sydney Film Festival, Three National Araeds, Tom Alter, Translated Novel, Vanraj Bhatia

Meet the author

author avatar A K Rao
I am an Equnie Vet by profession specialised in Thoroughbreds!

Writing is my passion. Have been a free Lance Journalist and Cartoonist in late80's and early 90's in Local and National News Papers of India.
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author avatar A K Rao
14th Aug 2012 (#)

Thanks Dear Steve for the quick approval! Your opinion about this article would be highly appreciated!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
14th Aug 2012 (#)

I love these reviews you are doing A K and very well deserved star....

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author avatar A K Rao
15th Aug 2012 (#)

Thanks a lot dear cnwriter for your lovely comment! I am flattered!

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author avatar M G Singh
15th Aug 2012 (#)

Ruskin Bond is one my favorite writers. Excellent review

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author avatar A K Rao
16th Aug 2012 (#)

Nice to know that and thanks for commenting dear Madan!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
15th Aug 2012 (#)

Great review, Rao, touching on every detail - siva

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author avatar A K Rao
17th Aug 2012 (#)

Thanks a lot dear Siva Sir for reading and reading an encouraging comment! Thanks !

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author avatar yugasini
17th Aug 2012 (#)

hi A K Rao,
wow your blogs are masterpieces, i does not expected this much talent from you keep it up.

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author avatar A K Rao
17th Aug 2012 (#)

That is really so nice of you to think so! Believe me you made my day! Thanks!

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author avatar stevetheblogger
17th Aug 2012 (#)

AK Stunning review really enjoyed the read.
Best Wishes

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author avatar A K Rao
17th Aug 2012 (#)

Thanks a lot dear Steve! I am flattered! Have a nice time!

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author avatar Ptrikha
24th Sep 2012 (#)

I saw this movie a long time back. It was well made, and truly captured the time of 1857 revolt.

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