Of some two score movies that Sohrab Modi produced, directed and acted in, barely
half a dozen are historical - and yet, paradoxically, his reputation as a filmmaker
rests solely on these. Focusing on the personality of Jehangir, whose great sense
of justice it sought to celebrate, 'Pukar' was Modi's first, and highly ambitious,
Legend has it that Jehangir, renowned for his speedy dispensation of justice, had bells installed in the royal palace, which an appellant, whatever his rank, could toll to seek redress. Fittingly, the film opens on the tolling of bells, which form a kind of leit motif for the film. The story itself concerns a Rajput youth, Mangal Singh, and his beloved, Kanwar, whose love is thwarted by their feuding families.
In a duel forced on him, Mangal Singh kills his sweetheart's father and brother, and absconds. Sangram Singh, the absconder's father who is also a trusted general of Jehangir, eschews his personal feelings and arrests his son, and brings him trial before the king. Jehangir, whose unserving doctrine is 'a life for a life', sentences him to death.
Events take a dramatic turn when the queen accidentally kills a washerman and the latter's aggrieved wife demands justice from the Emperor. It is here that the film begins to gather momentum as we come closer to its dramatic core and see Jehangir caught in an inexorable predicament. The queen, having caused the death of a poor washerman, is no less guilty of murder that Mangal Singh whom he had sentenced to death on charges of murder.
Torn between his sense of justice and his love for Noorjehan, which he had commemorated by a special issue of gold 'mohurs', the royal visage begins to show the strain. The rest of the film deals with how Jehangir tackles the situation in order to uphold his prestige as well as prove his loyalty to love.
'Pukar' is a standing example to prove that Modi's genius shone brightest in the making of historicals. Please contact Prakash Reddy, HFC, at 373-0265 for further details.
Direction: Sohrab Modi
Screenplay: Kamal Amrohi
Cast: Chandramohan, Naseem, Sorab Modi, Sheela, Sadiq Ali, Sardar Akhtar