indian cinema heritage foundation

Kadambari (1944)

  • FormatColour
  • LanguageHindi
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Shooting LocationBombay Film Loboratories Ltd.

Kadambari presents one of the greatest novels of Sanskrit literature on the screen. It is Bana Bhatt's creation of beauty in prose, and depicts the story of the conflicts between love and Tapas, and though the characters are supernatural, they react to the same feelings and emotions as ordinary human beings. The dignity, sublimity and ecstasy of love, the beauty and grandeur of youth, self-restraint, and temptation, from the theme of this story.

Two ascetics, Kapinjal and Pundarik, out for penance, while discussing the meaning of "Tapa" lost a flower which Pundarik had in his hand. They go to 'Gandharva Nagari' to pick some flowers. Here Kadambari and her childhood friend Mahasweta are worshiping Kamdeo (Cupid), the presiding Deity of Gandharvas. They take a vow to remain virgins for life, but decide that between the two of them, whoever first touches a man, would marry him. They then proceed to put into practice their decision, and start playing (Ankh Michowli) hide and seek. Mahasweta blindfolded touches and catches hold of Pundarik, and Pundarik bewildered at her beauty and youth, falls in love with her at once and cast off her asceticism forthwith. Mahasweta opens her eyes, and falls in love with Pundarik.

Kadambari a witness to his episode, castes her eyes at the Moon, and is thrilled. She herself could not explain why !  Kapinjal gets angry with his friend Pundarik and rebukes him for yielding to temptation, and thereby losing all his years of Tapobal (Power of penance). Pundarik however replies, that what pleasure he had not derived in years of Penance, he got in a moment by drinking at the fountain of beauty of Mahasweta and Mahasweta retorts that Kapinjal does not know what love is. Kapinjal, however takes away Pundarik, and love-sick Pundarik gets worse when he reaches his place. Kapinjal decides to come back to Kadambari to ask her to send Mahasweta with him. Kadambari refuses to send Mahasweta, thereupon Kapinjal curses her to fall in love with an unknown person and suffer the pangs of love. Mahasweta offers to go with him and implores that he should take back the curse.

Kapinjal and Mahasweta reach Devalok, but by then Pundarik is no more. He is dead. Kapinjal makes Tap, and promises Mahasweta to bring back to life, her lover. But in the meantime an unknown person comes to take away the body of Pundarik. With his power of penance Kapinjal sees that the unknown person is moon, and curses him that he be born as a human being, and be caught in the pangs of love. The moon curses back, that Kapinjal also be born on earth, so that he may witness all the sweet agony of love.

While Kadambari is restless in Gandharva Nagari because of moonless nights, on Earth is born to Sukhnas prime minister of Tarapid, a son by the name of Vaishampayan. At the same time we see the King getting a son by name Chandrapid, and also a horse by name Indrayudh is born. The trio grow up and we now see them in the full bloom of youth. While all along Kadamari in Gandharva Nagari is lonely and depressed. She now decided to go to Devalok and meets Mahasweta. There she sees Mahasweta worshiping at the feet of a stone image of her lover Pundarik. She decides not to disturb her and goes away from her.

On the earth at this time, Chandrapid and Vaishampayan decide to go for hunt. Tarapid the king, gives three advices to the youngsters before leaving for the forest. One is that Chandrapid or Vaishampayan while hunting should ride the horse Indrayudh. Two that they should not separate from each other under any circumstances; and three that they should not fall in love with unknown girls.

The expected however happens, and we see Chandrapid and Vaishampayan, separated while hunting ! In his search for Vaishampayan, Chandrapaid meets Mahasweta and she narrates to him her tale of uncommon love. They both go to Gandharvalok, and there Kadambari is burning with Viraha Agni (Fire of Love), and when Mahasweta gives her consolation and narrates to her that she has a guest with her, Kadambari sees Chandrapid and instantaneously recognises that he is her dream man !

What happens to Vaishampayan? Did Chandrapid's search for his friend yield fruit? Who was Chandrapid, and how did Kadambari realise her brilliant dream of love?
These and many more concluding episodes, you witness on the screen.

(From the official press booklets)