34 comments on “In Search of Uday Shankar’s Kalpana (1948)

  1. A print of Kalpana is there with the West Bengal Film Archive. And they screen that frim time to time, mostly at Nandan, the West Bengal Film Centre. However, I always missed any such show, and I am yet to watch this extravaganza too.

  2. I have seen this film possibly in 1953. Its a classic on Indian Dance and with Uday Shanker his wife Amala Shanker was the leading female character in this film not Padmini.
    For the last 25 years I have been trying to get tape or cd of this film in various cities that I happened to visit viz, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad but could not succeed. If West Bengal Film Archives has it, it should come out with its prints on cds and make it commercially available as such classic may never be made in another 100 years for Uday Shanker’s are not born again n again. I request that whosoever happens to see my comment and is in a position to move West Bengal Govt, should definitely try to get this suggestion through.

  3. Hi, there. Thank you for this interesting information on Uday Shankar’s Kalpana. It’s great that you saw this.

    I know that Padmini was not the lead in this movie, but my point was that it was the first movie in which she appeared. Many sources acknowledge this; the problem is that many get the date wrong. Because I am a big Padmini fan, I did a lot of Internet searching, and I was finally able to conclude that the correct original release date for Kalpana was 1948.

    It is annoying that many sources say that Padmini made her debut in Kalpana in 1950, because I know that there were quite a few films she was in before 1950; I’ve seen some clips from 1949 and have seen many listed on different sites.

    From the research I did, I have found that the first film in which Padmini was the leading female was Manamagal, released in 1951. I posted a clip from that movie, but it was taken down.

    I have also posted a clip from a movie made one year earlier, in which all three of the Travancore sisters appeared. Padmini’s role in that is probably similar to the one she played in Kalpana – just one number, not the leading role. But it is significant if you are a big enough Padmini fan…

    I am sure you understand – you have searched from town to town because you are a fan of Uday Shankar and his film. I think that’s admirable. It would be great if it were made available on DVD, especially internationally, with English subtitles. :)

  4. Dear Friends

    I indeed have copy of the film in VHS. So far my knowledge goes there are several prints of this available in India and elsewhere.


  5. While searching for the film Kalpana, I came across your site. I saw the film in Kodaikanal way back in 1978. The film so impresed me that the scenes still haunt me with a sense of nostalgia. Uday Shankar and Amala Shankar made a great pair. Uday flows from one dance form to the other so naturally. The film included some great dancing traditons.

    We saw the film from a loan from the Film Institue in Pune

    I too am in search of a CD or DVD of this black and white milestone of Indian Cenema.

  6. Robert and Biren, I envy you both for having had the chance to see this film. :)

    By the way, Robert, you have introduced me to an interesting Web site. Apparently, you are dedicated to some important environmental causes. Keep up the good work!

  7. Hey Biren,
    I have read your comment, i would be lucky if you would see this comment and respond back….
    Is there a way i can contact you, via mail, call….
    i am study dance, and have been working closely with this one, i would really like to interact with you regarding the copy of VHS you have, i am really looking to watch the movie and there is a team of artists who are also willing to watch.
    It will be very very helpful, pleaase let me know!

  8. Dear Friends,

    Reading the comments here , I realize how lucky we have been , seeing the film KALPANA time and again, through our formative years and also later.

    I am surprised to find one of our videos on youtube! I have been a student , and then a teacher and a senior member of the Uday Shankar India Culture Centre for many years now. This dance is named “Snanam”, and is re-created/re-choreographed by Smt AMala SHankar, Date Yday Shankar’s wife and our beloved and esteemed teacher.

    I am overjoyed to see this interest in KALPANA, a movie of great importance, not only for people interested in Uday Shankar’s form of dance, but also as one of the most important documentation of a form of dance which made Indian dance and Shri Uday Shankar well known all over the world from the late 1930s till the 60s.

    Uday Shankar India Culture Centre is still a Dance Institution in Kolkata, with Smt Amala Shankar at its helm, and there is a UDAY SHANKAR DANCE FESTIVAL every year in Kolkata starting from the 7th/8th December which , among many other performances and activities, also makes it a point to have the screening of KALPANA.

    There is a huge community of dancers/ ex-students who still remain attached to the institution, and to Smt Amala Shankar.

    KALPANA Is not available on DVD or CD. Its sad that one can buy all the latest trash hindi movies at any shop, but is unable to see this wonderful film in any form.

  9. The group dance photograph of Kalpana (1948), has my mother (Yogam) , 2nd person from left. she is no more. i would be happy if someone can organise or let me know where i can get a copy of this movie.

  10. Urmimala, thank you for your good words about this post. It is nice that I am continuing to see such enthusiastic responses to this post fourteen months after I wrote it. Although, this has little to do with me and much to do with the genius of Uday Shankar. I would love to be able to go to that dance festivval one day!

    And it is sad that Kalpana (1948) is not available anywhere. I live in the U.S., so I can’t say that you can buy all that latest trash movies at any shop, but since I live in Jackson Heights, I am near a bunch of stores where you can buy latest trash Hindi movies as well as older ones, and it is sad that Kalpana is nowhere to be found.

    Venkat Iyer, very interesting to see that your mother was in this film and is in this photo! Sorry to hear that she is no more. We’d all love to know where we could get a copy of this movie :) , but I can see how it has special significance for you.

  11. I have seen Kalpana in the 1980s while being a member of a Film Club where we saw all kinds of International and Indian classics. Uday Shankar was mesmerizing in his dances, simply amazing ! The music of Kalpana was also rather noteworthy for TimirBaran and his Orchestra. TimirBaran was one of the oldest disciples of Baba Alauddin Khan who was the guru of the great Sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar and greatest Sarod Player Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Since then I am searching for either a print of the movie or a clip on Youtube without success.

  12. Hi,
    Nice Article, thanks.
    I was also searching Uday Shankar’s whereabouts in youtube.
    A short video has been uploaded by Sobers Chatterjee, an Indian Classical and Flamenco-Jazz musician (a student of Pt Jayanta Bose).
    Sobers is quite frequent in Kolkata, next time when I meet him I will ask if he knows about Kalpana.

  13. Anirban, you are welcome, and thank you for letting me know about that YouTube clip with a rare glimpse of Uday Shankar dancing back in 1932! That is great… I have “favorited” it, and I’m going to put it up on this blog soon.

  14. Respected Richard, I too am interested in collecting the old classics. I really appreciate your effort in tracking them. Were you able to get a copy of “KALPANA”? Was Mr Biren able to atleast, digitise his VHS of KALPANA? Your response is highly appreciated.

  15. Hi,
    I want to buy old movies from 1930 to 1970….
    Can you tell me from where I can buy these movies

  16. Udaya Shankar’s Kalpana was played in Kanoor once in early 1980’s .One of my friends hadd seen that.She had shared me s sceen in which Lalitha and Padmini are been introduced in the movie.
    Both of them are been introduced by the lady who acted in PU.Chinnapaa’s Sudarshanam…Padmini wearing a Pattupavada…

  17. Richard,

    I can’t help you with a VHS/VCD/DVD copy of this film, but tell you that a good quality print certainly exists. I have seen the film in late 1990s on Franco-German channel ARTE (http://www.arte.tv) – in very good quality. It was an evening programme dedicated to Indian Dance. It featured among others the famous, recently deceased, Pina Bausch (http://www.pina-bausch.de/pina_bausch/index.php) interacting with Indian artists.

    — Sreenivas

  18. Sreenivas, thanks for that info. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, there is no mention of Kalpana at that channel’s site. But, then, it was more than ten years since you saw it there…

    By the way, I also found a 1997 article written by someone named Joan Erdman, who said that she’d just “recently” seen this film in Madras. So, maybe it was more available at that time.

    And I just saw another site with a URL that includes the phrase “desifun,” which claimed to have the film for free viewing. But when you go to the site, it says something like “Sorry, this film is no longer here.” “Fun,” indeed – as in a trick being played on us.

    Scorsese is supposedly still trying to get the film out. Unfortunately, I read something posted on the Mumbai Mirror site that said there were “copyright issues” yet to be resolved… (Just another reason to hate copyrights as we know them, especially when applied to films. Whenever the new version comes out, let it be known now that I expect to put scenes on YouTube! :) )

  19. This is the first time I’m reading this blog, hence my comment comes this late – I watched this film in April 2011 at NFAI, Pune. It was part of a dance festival organised by Hrishikesh Dance Academy here. The print was as good as you can expect a 1948 film to be, and the experience was mind-boggling.

    While one could see how a film dealing with such abstract content would not have worked for the ’40s movie audience, it gives the present generation a rare peek into a very interesting year in Indian history. The film seems to be set in the brief period of time between the day India became independent, and the assassination of Gandhi – for he is referred with due reverence and as a living legend. Just one of the many little things that makes the film important to watch.

  20. Welcome to my blog, Deepti! And thanks for the comments on your viewing of Kaplana – now I want to see it even more.

    Regarding the interesting historical moment… That reminds me of a few similar in-between moments in the 1947 Tamil film Nam Iravu, which is obviously a celebration of upcoming Indian independence that was filmed before Partition. There’s more discussion about that in a post that I did and, especially, the following comments, in July 2010 .

    The period around Independence/Partition is actually my favorite period for Indian cinema. If asked to name my favorite five-year period for Indian movies, I’d say 1945 to 1950. Mainly, it’s because of the music, which I think was the best during that stretch (with quite an interesting transition in the middle), but I would say there were more than a few good qualities in Indian films in those days. And I would bet there were also a few more of those interesting historical moments to be found. In fact, now that you mentioned it, maybe I’ll keep more of an “eye out” for those. :)

  21. I came across this blog just recently. I have seen the clips of this film Kalpana, at Nehru Centre in UK a few years ago. Infact Smt Amla Shankar was visiting then and she gave a few dance demonstrations from the film and gave a talk on her exoerience while working in the film with Uday Shankar. It was completely out of this world. I was lucky to spend some time with her while she was in London. The film speaks volumes about the dance and music, which still haunt me with a sense of nostalgia.

  22. Hi Biren, I read your comment which says you have a VHS copy of this masterpiece. Please let me know if I can get the same from you . I really need this copy. Thanks.

  23. Richard,
    Recently I read Mohan Khokar’s book “His Dance, His Life A portrait of Uday Shankar”. The book says that the film opened simultaneously in five theaters in Bombay and seventeen others in the country. When it reek Ed an award in Brussels in 1949, copies were acquired by thirty two countries for their archives. So, I think that it should be possible to find a good copy somewhere.
    On the other hand, from the article “honoring Uday Shankar” by F. Hall the film is interesting but disappointing except for two dances.

  24. Pingback: Uday Shankar’s Kalpana at Cannes Classics – the road to restoration « F.i.g.h.t C.l.u.b

  25. http://pad.ma/CFN/player ..go to this link in the video sreen , righthand screen down corner there is a setting button..looks like a gear ..click on it…click on download. nd there u have the torrent file to download the movie :)

  26. Richard,

    As signaled by Adrijaa, Kalpana with English subtitles can be now seen on indiancine.ma. Uday Shankar is credited as the director, producer, writer and dance compositor. Padmini is not mentioned in the credits. However, there seems to be a “Padnini” in the supporting cast. Maybe it’s her…

    Kalpana was released in five Bombay theaters on February 13th 1948. Apparently it was not successful at the box-office despite very good reviews. Uday started shooting Kalpana as early as the first quarter of 1945.

    I was looking at Aurat (1940) tonight and to my great surprise, if I’m not mistaken, Uday Shankar and Amala are dancing in it (just after the Holi dance, 43mn from the film start). So Kalpana is not Uday Shankar’s only movie.

  27. Hi, Mel. I am pretty sure I mentioned that Pad.ma link to Kalpana in a conversation with you a little while back. (It was probably during our extended conversation about Cuckoo – or one of those conversations… I could look it up to see exactly where, but maybe some other time. :) ) The link was first mentioned to me by Cassidy aka Minai, who made some annotations there, too. I think I’ve also mentioned the more recent posting on YouTube:


    This post that we are commenting under is almost seven years old. It’s nice to see that you are looking around on this blog so much that you are discovering such old entries. :) On the other hand, a post from 2008 doesn’t necessarily convey all my current knowledge, and I can reach a point where I don’t always feel like returning to the same old post. Scroll up, and you will see that my last comment on this post is almost four years old. :)

    Regarding Padmini, oh, she is definitely in the film. She appears with Lalitha. If you are a little familiar with the sight of the younger-looking Padmini, it’s not hard to recognize her. :)

    Regarding the 1940 Aurat, I didn’t know that. I’ve seen copies of the Shemaroo Vintage issue of it, with English subtitles and everything, in the New York Public Library. I’ve had other priorities on my list, but maybe I’ll get it soon and take a look.

  28. The NFAI has a restored copy, Richard. And it really is as good as the copy restored by the Bologna archives and the Scorsese foundation ( they did a 2k restoration in 2012), suprisingly enough. There is also a copy of the Mohan Khokar book at the archives.

  29. Now that Martin Scorsese has this classic restored, we just hope to find it on youtube soon..waiting for that day

  30. Sreekanth, thank you for commenting here. It is almost ten years since I wrote this post and the 1948 Kalpana has appeared on YouTube in its entirety and in sections and also disappeared. In the thread of comments above, people have posted links to the film in one form or another, on one site or another, but I don’t think anyone has found a copy of the Scorsese-restored version. But it’s been quite a while since I looked for this. If you find the Scorsese-restored version, or any version that looks very good (whether or not you know if it’s Scorsese), please come back here and let us know! And I will do another concerted search one of these days…

  31. Dear Pritha,

    Sorry I took so long to get to this comment…

    I had seen a version of this film at this site before, but it was almost difficult to look at and it lacked subtitles.

    I’ve just looked at this version for a few minutes and it is very good and it has subtitles.

    Yes, this looks like the genuine restored version! :)

    Many thanks!

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