indian cinema heritage foundation

Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959)

  • Release Date1959
  • GenreDrama, Musical, Romance
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time168 min
  • Length4572.00 metres
  • Number of Reels16
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingU
  • Censor Certificate Number90159
  • Certificate Date24/05/1979
  • Shooting LocationPrakash Studios

RADHAPUR is a village very near Lucknow. Raghunath Ji was a renowned musician at Radhapur. Ramkali was his only daughter. Gopi, the playmate of Ramkali, was the daughter of Jamuna, widowed sister of Gangaram, and was very much loved by Gangaram. Kishan was an orphan and had recently come to Radhapur from Sajanpur. But for the Shehnai instrument left to him by his dying father and the hereditary instinct for music, he possessed nothing.

Gopi was enchanted by the melody of Shehnai and the young boy and used to rush to him wherever he was. Kishan practiced with his Shehnai the music of Raghunathji, without the knowledge of the master, and one day he was caught in this. The master, Raghunathji, realizing the craving for music in the boy took him home. Kishan, in the company of Ramkali and the guidance of the master assisted by his inborn talents, matured in playing classical Shehnai as well as in age.

Now Kishan felt the outskirts more convenient to practice his Shehnai than the home, for here he could meet Gopi - his inspiration.

Kanhaiya, the village postman, haunted by the youth of Gopi, was ardently desiring her. Kishan was his obstacle and he started spying on the movements of Gopi and Kishan. One day he found out from the tattooists that Gopi and Kishan’s name tattooed in her arm. Making use of this knowledge he poisoned the minds of Jamuna and Raghunathji. Ramkali who was nourishing a soft corner in her heart for Kishan, to her utter disappointment, got convinced of the deep attachment between Kishan and Gopi.

Jamuna brought restraint on Gopi’s movements. She requested Gangaram to write to Jugal Kishore to send his son Shekhar who was working as a music producer at the Lucknow radio station to see and approve Gopi. Gopi was practically imprisoned at home. Inspite of the Shehnai call she could not move out. She was helpless. Kishan was daily waiting for her at the usual love spot – disappointed and restless.

One day suddenly Shekhar dropped in at Radhapur to see Gopi. The voice of Shehnai suddenly dragged him to the spot. He was indeed very happy to have spotted the future maestro of shehnai. Inspite of his efforts he was not able to induce Kishan to fame and fortune as Kishan refused to follow him to Lucknow.

Shekhar left Radhapur informing Jamuna of his approval of Gopi. ‘Love is Unselfish’ and this proved true in the case of Ramkali. Having been disappointed, she diverted her attention to the care and service of Kishan. Days passed on and Kishan had not met Gopi and his hopes began to dwindle away. On entering the house one day, he overheard Raghunathji suggesting to Ramkali her marriage with Kishan and was stunned.

He was now in a dilemma, love dragging him away to Gopi and duty to obey Guruji. Running away to the temple for solace, he played Shehnai at his best, throwing away all the ardent tunes in his possession of love and pain, the imprisoned Gopi could resist this no longer, and escaping through the window she dragged herself to the Shehnai. The lovers met and ere they could speak, they heard the loud beatings of the drum by Kanhaiya, the villain, who had spied on them, and the whole village assembled and the lovers were caught red-handed. Raghunathji was furious and disowned Kishan inspite of Ramkali pacifying him. Gopi was dragged away by Jamuna and refused the request of Ramkali to marry them both for she thought Kishan, a beggar with no means of support.

These words of Jamuna haunted Kishan and he went to Lucknow in search of Shekhar, with a vow never to return to Radhapur but with fame and fortune. On reaching Lucknow he was surprised by Ramkali, who has failed to persuade his return stayed to serve and look after him. Shekhar was pleased and Kishan was fixed as a radio artiste. Ramkali’s letters to her father and those of Kishan to Gopi were all stolen by Kanhaiya, the postman. This set a scandal that Ramkali had run away with Kishan.

Kishan’s fame was on the increase and was spreading to all parts. His photos were appearing in all papers, but no letters from Gopi and he was restless. Kanhaiya showed a photo of Kishan with Ramkali to Gopi and tried to induce her to marry him and forget Kishan. Gopi frustrated, rushed to the river, and tried to commit suicide. The tattooists saved her. Gangaram convinced her that suicide was a sin.

With all her respects and love for Gangaram, she informed him that her heart had gone away with Kishan and now her body could be married to anyone Gangaram wished. To avoid loose talks, Jamuna took Gopi away from Radhapur and arranged her marriage with Shekhar at Ramgarh. Kishan, now with fame and fortune decided to go back to Radhapur and win Gopi.

Now came a message from Shekhar that Kishan must attend his wedding and play Shehnai. Willingly he accepted. Arriving in time for the Bhanwar, he stayed out and played Shehnai. The same song and tune, played by the same hands and resounded from the Shehnai, shocked Gopi, she trembled and fell unconscious. Kishan rushed in and was shocked to notice Gopi lying in the laps of her mother in her bridal dress. He saw his beloved married, all his hopes frustrated, and threw away his Shehnai never to play it again.

He could neither now stay at Ramgadh nor go to Radhapur or Lucknow and was a wanderer. The pangs of love, the pain of defeat, the frustration, all these took him to drink.

Since then Gopi was not herself. She never spoke a word, she moved like a statue as if she was not in this world. Kishan wandered aimlessly with a lost soul. Ramkali and Shekhar were worried. Shekhar informed the sad incident to Ramkali he could not figure out the reason, but Ramkali fathomed the secret. She wrote to Gangaram as to why Gopi was married to Shekhar. She also wrote that if ever Kishan came to Radhapur, he must be sent back to her – Kishan’s loving and affectionate sister. The letter duly reached Gangaram as Kanhaiya, the postman was sick and cleared all misunderstanding. Gangaram recovered all other letters from Kanhaiya after good thrashing, and all misunderstanding was cleared.

Gopi’s condition deteriorated. All the remedies failed. Kishan’s Shehnai was the only remedy to bring her back to normal life. But Kishan was not found.

[From the official press booklet]