indian cinema heritage foundation

Leela (1947)

  • GenreDrama
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Gauge35 mm

Naresh, scion of a rich family, is a great scholar. He has founded the "Vidya Mandir" where Mahabharata is being brought out in different languages with the help of several scholars he has engaged.

Mrs. Lal, a rich and fashionable lady, runs an art institution "Kala Bhavan" and rears a pet daughter, Indira, whom she preserves for Naresh, who thinks of nothing else but his work. Mrs. Lal stages "Shakuntala" in aid of Naresh's institute and gets him to help her. Leela, a young impetuous, stage-struck girl is one of the students of "Kala Bhavan" who gets no role in the play. To the embarrassment of Naresh she bursts into his office and begs for his help. On his refusal, she breaks down and leaves with tears in her eyes. Her sad look haunts him and drives him to "Kala Bhavan" where very cleverly he manipulates to get her into the play.

The dress rehearsal is a great success, and Leela makes a great impression on Naresh. In his voluble appreciation he blurts out how Leela had cornered him. This unguarded confession to Mrs. Lal and Indira, who were already sore at her success, costs Leela her role in the play and her place in the hostel. She is turned out.

This embitters Leela towards Naresh. When she leaves the hostel, with no place to go to, Naresh sends his friend Sastri to help her. Sastriji, a kind-hearted bachelor pundit, feels sad and brings Leela to the "Vidya Mandir" where he lands her in more trouble.

Naresh becomes helpless but ultimately gets her secretly taken on the stage by giving financial help to Madan Babu the theatre manager.

The show is a big success and the manager in his enthusiasm reveals how Naresh had helped her in  Scales fall from Leela's eyes and when she goes to Naresh to beg for forgiveness, the inevitable happens-the dry and sedate scholar falls for the stage-struck girl and they promise to marry.

Naresh goes to his village home for the "Kartiki Purnima" celebrations and reveals his infatuation for Leela to his mother. The mother had different ideas; she wants Indira to be his wife. Matters are further complicated by the sudden appearance of Leela whom the mother receives without warmth.

But Naresh whisks her around and at the lake, in the moonlight, they forget everything in the yearning of the two souls. They promise to meet at this place every year at this time.

On their return home the idyll breaks and Leela learns that her marriage with Naresh will bring endless troubles for him. For his sake, she disappears.

But how they meet again and for all time forms the suspenseful episode of the story.

(From the official press booklets)