Amrapali (1966)

 

 

 

Director:     .

Starring:    Vyjayanthimala (Amrapali), Sunil Dutt (Magadh Samrat Ajaatha Shatru), Prem Nath (Senpati Veer of Magadh), Bipin Gupta (Vaishali's Samrat), Gajanan Jagirdar (Kulpati Mahanam), Zul Vellani, K.N. Singh (Badbadhra Singh), Randhir, Keshav Rana (Vayshali Soldier), Madhavi (Raj Nartaki), Bela Bose, Susheela, Mridula Rani (Raj Mata, Ahjaaz Shatru's Mother), Ruby Mayer (Vaishali's Empress), Panchotta.

Ajatasatru (c. 492 BC c. 460 BC), founder of the first Magadhan empire, fights for the beautiful Amrapali, royal courtesan of the republic of Vaishali

 

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

"India. 2,500ears ago, Lord Buddha had incarnated on this land to spread the message of peace.  In those days Ahjaaz Shatru ruled Magadh on the banks of the Ganges.  In the north of the Ganges, was another state Vaishali.  It had democratic rule."

The ruler of Magadh shouts out what is this Vaishali?  It's a very small state with a handful of an army.  An advisor, named Veer, says Your Majesty shouldn't underestimate Vaishali. The Magadh army has fought two battles in the past six years and the army has to have time to rebuild itself.  His Majesty says they have fought and won over Kusambi and Prasanjeet.  And now Vaishali must be attacked immediately. 

The Emperor's mother has heard all the shouting from her son and comes in to check on him.  Mother too does not want to go to war again.  The Emperor says he believes mother is concerned about the sons and mothers of Vaishali because she herself is from Vaishali.  Mother answers that the Emperor's own father attacked Vaishali twice and twice was defeated.  She explains that it is impossible to defeat Vaishali because the people there do not fight to maintain a king's rule.  This just makes the Emperor even madder than before.  He reminds his mother  that that it has been foretold that he will reign over the entire world. 

Drums are beaten to attract residents of Vaishali to tell them that the King of Magadh has attacked Vaishali.  Almost immediately everyone is in an uproar over the attack. 

A pretty young woman, named Amrapali, comes over to an older man named Gurudev and hands over to him Arya Som's clothes and weapons.  He tells her to prepare for the farewell of the soldiers. 

The Emperor gives the order for his large army to move forward. 

Amrapali prays that the Vaishali army will be victorious.  The son of Gurudev hears her prayers and comments that the Vaishali army will indeed be victorious.  He asks her to pray for "this artist". Amrapali answers that now the young man is not an artist but comes in the form of Lord Shiva.  [Shiva is the patron god of yoga and the arts but also is known as "the Destroyer" or "the Transformer".]  Amrapali asks the artist to bring her Ahjaaz Shatru's head. 

Ahjaaz Shatru gives his army the order to attack.  This is followed by the attack on the Vaishali army.  The Emperor is in the thick of the fight and he is hit by a Vaishali arrow.  The Emperor's advisor puts the Emperor on the back of his horse and rides away.  He is immediately pursued by a group of Vaishali warriors, who soon corner the Emperor and his advisor.  The two men jump from the horse and start to fight off the Vaishali warriors.  The two men kill all their opponents. 

The Emperor tells his advisor to go back to the battlefield, but don't let anyone know that the Emperor has been wounded.  Veer leaves.  Now the Emperor puts on the clothing of a Vaishali warrior. 

The Emperor makes his way to a nearby village and lands up at the home of Amrapali.  He tells Amrapali that Vaishali has been victorious.  She rejoices at the news.  A little later she notices that the soldier has been wounded.  She will take care of him.

Veer with some soldiers returns to where he left the Emperor.  All he finds is the Emperor's clothes.  He tells Ranbir that he thinks that the Emperor has probably gone to Vaishali.  They must inform Balbhadrasen immediately. 

Amrapali successfully removes the head of the broken-off arrow from the Emperor's body.  The Emperor now tells her to cauterize his wound.  He says she can call him just "Soldier".  He then asks Amrapali her name and she tells him.  She says he is very brave and the Emperor says she is very beautiful.  Amrapali now cauterizes the stranger's wound.

The next morning when the Emperor awakens, he still thinks of himself as an Emperor, and not a mere soldier.  Did he forget he was in enemy territory?  He starts barking orders at the "attendants", so, to teach him a little lesson, Amrapali squirts some milk onto his face while she is milking a cow.  This enrages the Emperor.  He sits up and grabs his sword saying he will give her a death sentence for that rude behavior.  Amrapali just laughs at him and asks does he think he is some kind of big king?  She adds that the son of ordinary people is trying to be the boss.  The Emperor calms down and asks Amrapali to please excuse him.

The victorious Vaishali warriors return to the village and receive a hero's welcome.  The Emperor gets out of bed and with his sword walks in the parade of soldiers. 

Balbhadrasen notices the Emperor and he tells  a few of his men to take care of him or else they will be punished.  A group of soldiers grab him and take him to  Balbhadrasen.  In private,  Balbhadrasen reveals himself to the Emperor.  Now the Emperor can relax.  He tells  Balbhadrasen at the public meeting today to tell everyone that now Vaishali does not need such a huge army.  He says Balbhadrasen shall use wine, women and song to dull the senses of the fighters and then Magadh will attack. 

The celebration and dancing starts.  The Emperor is shocked to see a statue of him as the tyrant.  The dancers throw swords at the statue and then Amrapali sets it afire.  The statue is in flames very quickly and the large statue falls down.  The Emperor saves Amrapali from the flames and then he asks her what reward she will give him?   She says she didn't think she would see him again until the next battle. 

The artist walks over to see Amrapali.  She gives him a hearty welcome and asks how did he fare in battle?  He says he couldn't bring her Ahjaaz Shatru's head.  The Emperor walks away from the couple.   

The drummer beats the drums to tell the people that the head of state will address them tonight.  Moreover, the new royal courtesan of Vaishali will be chosen.  The leader of the state is none other than  Balbhadrasen, who is known as Mr.  Chandrasena.  His message to his people is in an almost pacifist vein. 

Women start dancing to very fast music.  Amrapali speaks up and says the music is too fast. A musician tells the leader that the person who spoke up and said the music is too fast, must come forward and prove that the music is too fast.  Amrapali comes forward.  She and a rival dance to the fast music.  Amrapali wears out her rival, who leaves the floor. 

Balbhadrasen asks the young lady who is her guru?  Kulpati Mahanaam. And now  Balbhadrasen declares Amrapali to be the Royal Courtesan for the next three years. The Emperor was in the audience but now he leaves.  Amrapali looks for him in the audience but can't find him.  Amrapali is paraded through the streets of the town on a fancy platform carried on the shoulders of brawny men.  The Emperor slips her a red flower. 

The Emperor's mother is beside herself worrying about her son.  Veer tells her that as long as  Balbhadrasen is the leader in Vaishali, no harm can come to the Emperor.  Mother is not soothed by this thought.  She wants to know why doesn't her son return to his rightful place?  Not even Veer knows the answer to that.  He conjectures that perhaps after that big defeat he is trying to find out what qualities do the Vaishali people have that makes them victorious in battle.  She hopes that this will make her son a better, more pious man.  She adds:  "Someone should show him the light of love."

Friend Malu asks Amrapali why does she favor that one red flower so much, when the people showered her with all kinds of beautiful flowers?  Amrapali just says that her life resides in that one flower.  Malu warns her that she doesn't think this man will show up, but Amrapali is sure he will. 

Balbhadrasen tells the Emperor that the Vaishali victory was greatly due to their use of the cannon in the battle.   There is a secret place in the palace of the State Head where new weapons are produced. 

Tonight Amrapali dances for the State Head.  She searches the crowd for the Emperor but doesn't see him.  The Emperor tries to get into see the dance, but a guard refuses to let him enter.  So the Emperor fights off four guards in all and enters to see the show.  But just at the entrance he is stopped again.  The music and dancing stops.  Amrapali goes to greet the Emperor.  She praises him to  Balbhadrasen, who tells the brave soldier to come over and sit beside him.  Now  Amrapali really starts dancing fast. 

Later Amrapali scolds the Emperor for fighting with so many of the guards all at once. She can't be mad at him for long and asks him to please tell her his real name.  He asks, what's in a name?  She tells him he resides in her heart. He smiles, but then leaves.

 Balbhadrasen grabs the Emperor and warns him that hanging around Amrapali is making people suspicious of him and they may figure out the Emperor's real identity.  The Emperor says how are they to find out who he is, when he himself does not know who he is? 

The Emperor comes to visit with  Balbhadrasen, who puts a beard on the Emperor and says the soldier looks just like the Emperor.  He says he wants the soldier to pretend he is a captive at the Vaishali school of war.  Wouldn't that really drive Magadh crazy? 

Balbhadrasen wants the Emperor to go incognito.  This means he is not only not to see  Balbhadrasen, but also not to see Amrapali.  The Emperor agrees to the arrangement.

The disappearance of the Emperor upsets Amrapali and she sings a song about this.  She has a hard time sleeping at night. 

Som, the artist, comes to visit Amrapali.  With him he brings a statue of Amrapali that he personally sculpted.  She is shocked, but pleased. But now she asks Som to make her a statue of her soldier.  This idea stuns Som and he leaves. 

Som goes to see the Emperor about making him immortal by sculpting a statue of him.  But then Som says that Amrapali will be the medium of the Emperor's immortality.  Som insists:  "There will be no other medium of your immortality except Amrapali."  The Emperor tells Som to leave.  Som goes.

And then in comes Amrapali.  She says so this is you palace abode?  The Emperor warns her that she is playing with fire.  She replies that if she was afraid of fire, she would never have come in the first place to see him.  The two kiss (the kiss not shown).

The couple wake up in a boat containing a bed.  Amrapali sings another song.  This one is about her day and night restlessness.  What is this ailment? 

The Emperor's mother is not well and she wishes she could see her son at least once more. 

Som is having a hard time with his statue of the Emperor.  He keeps forgetting the features of his face. 

Veer comes to the Emperor to say that the people of Magadh are now very aware that the Emperor is not in the country.    How long will it be before the citizens of Vaishali know this also?  And this will put the Emperor's life in danger.  It is also said that an important man has been seduced by Amrapali and no longer listens to his advisors.  In short, Veer is saying that the Emperor is not even performing his regular duties for Magadh.  The Emperor says he will find ways to accomplish these duties.  Veer brings up the subject of the woman again and says this path could lead Magadh to ruin. 

Now the Emperor says that this very night he will tell Amrapali his true identity.  Som has been listening in on the conversation and is benumbed at the news that Soldiers is actually the Emperor of Magadh. 

The Emperor leaves his adviser.  Veer turns to his aide and says they will finish this Amrapali soon. 

The adviser takes a knife and sneaks up to the open window of the room where Amrapali is staying.   Balbhadrasen sees the aide, Sunder, and tells him that the Royal mother has expired. 

When Amrapal is alone in the room, the assassin sneaks through the window, but has to retreat when he sees someone else coming into the room.   A servant tells Amrapali that she has a guest.

She goes down and sees Som with a statue covered over with a cloth.  Amrapali removes the covering and sees a statue of Soldier as the Emperor of Magadh.  She is stunned.  Som now tells her that Soldier is the Emperor.  He then leaves.

The Emperor now comes in, but Amrapali won't speak to him.  So he starts talking to her statue instead of Amrapali.  All of a sudden, Amrapali pulls his sword from its sheath.  He turns to look at her and then he sees his statue as the Emperor of Magadh.  Now he is stunned, but he tells her she won't attack him because:  "You love me."  So Amrapali attacks the statue of the Emperor knocking off the top part of the statue (chest and head).  She runs from the room. 

Amrapali dances again for the Head of State.  She is a little unnerved when she sees the Emperor of Magadh in the audience. When she finishes she runs out of the hall and into the forest.  The Emperor follows her.  He tells her that she will become the Queen of Magadh.  She tells him to go away.  He says he will force her to sit on the throne, but she still says no.  So now the Emperor screams:  "My fire of anger will reduce your Vaishali to ashes forever."  She slaps him 8 or 10 times across the face and cries.  She lays down on the ground.  The Emperor goes to the ground, but then suddenly collapses.  Someone picks him up and takes him away.  That someone turns out to be Veer. 

The Emperor awakens in a chariot being taken back to Magadh.  The Emperor is mad at Veer, but the advisor tells him that the Royal Mother has died.

Amrapali prays that she be turned into dust. 

The Emperor is back in Magadh.  Veer talks about going to war, perhaps as a way for the Emperor to forget Amrapali.  The Emperor just says today he is not an emperor, but a human being and a lover.

Amrapali tells Malu that she can no longer stay here:  "I will die."  She wants to go somewhere where she won't remember anyone. 

Veer comes to see Amrapali.  He says he has come to beg for His Majesty's happiness.  "Today he seems as if he is dead."

Amrapali says she doesn't want to be a traitor to her state.  She tells Veer that she hates the Emperor.  Veer tries to reason with her, but she tells him to go away.

Veer now decides that the only solution is to kidnap Amrapali.  As Veer leaves, a veteran of the battle who lost his arm and who limps now with a bad leg, has some of his fellow soldiers follow Veer. 

Amrapali has to face the court with  Balbhadrasen officiating at the ceremony.   She wants to resign as the Royal Courtesan.  The people reject her resignation.  She pleads with them.  They demand to know why?  A man standing with Amrapali  serves as her inquisitor.  He says that everyone knows that her lover is that brave Soldier.  She denies she wants to leave her position to marry the brave Soldier.  So the questioner now asks where is Soldier?  She says he's gone away.

The man claps his hand and out comes Veer, tied up like a captive.  Has Amrapali ever seen this man before?  Amrapali says yes.  The interrogator says this man is the army commander of Magadh.  An uproar begins in the court at the shocking news.  The questioner says the one that Amrapali is in love with is the Emperor of Magadh.  Amrapali agrees.  The inquisitor says Amrapali is not a patriot, but a traitor.  He goes on to say that she was leaving tonight for Magadh and her lover.  People are now all screaming at her.

The sentence imposed on Veer is to have his head chopped off.  The sentence is carried out and now Amrapali is thrown into prison. 

The Emperor learns now that Veer had his head cut off and that Amrapali has been thrown in prison.  She is to be executed on the full moon night. 

The Emperor goes to the attack.  This attack catches Vaishali napping and lots of people are killed. 

The Emperor takes Amrapali from the prison.  She has a nightmare and keeps saying that she is not a traitor.  The Emperor awakens her and says that now she is the Queen of Magadh.  And he destroyed Vaishali which had condemned her to death.  Amrapali can't believe it.  She walks outside and sees a countless number of the dead.  Even her female friends are dead. 

The Emperor says their love has triumphed.  Amrapali doesn't see it that way.  She says all this death because of her?  "This is selfishness.  Blind desire of victory which made you do all this."  The Emperor denies the charges.  He says he fought to win his beloved.  She is a bit of an idealist and says he should have just held her memory in his heart after her execution.  That's not enough for the Emperor.  He says they can be together forever now.  She says no.  She feels too guilty for the death of her people and her state.  He says she views him with disgust now.  She says no, but she still wants to go somewhere far away. 

She follows after the Buddhist monks to attend an outdoor religious ceremony.  The Emperor comes up behind Amrapali, who is knelling in prayer, and snaps his sword in two pieces.  He asks the Lord to forgive him.  This surprises Amrapali. 

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  It's a good film, but I am a bit irked at it.  Amrapali was a beautiful woman and a good one too.  But, frankly, she was way too patriotic for her little state.  And it's in the name of patriotism that her actions wound up leading to the destruction of the state that she said she loved so much.  It's a sin against the higher moral principles to be so blinded by one's patriotism/nationalism.  When she found out her love was the Emperor of a rival state, she couldn't think straight because she was blinded by her patriotism.  All she could see was an enemy in the person she said she loved.  She never gave him a chance even to explain why he did the things he did or what he was offering her.  After all, she could have helped her beloved state by starting better relations between the two states.  All she could think about was that people would call her a traitor if she married the Emperor of the other state.  But rather than do something constructive and good, she ends up being condemned to death by her own people for being a traitor.  And her people were too patriotic themselves to give the accused a chance to defend herself in open debate.  So Amrapali and Vaishali condemned themselves to ruin. 

Sure, the Emperor was no angel.  But he was becoming softened by his love for Amrapali.  He didn't tell her his true identity because he was afraid of losing her.  He waited too long  And how could he have known that Amrapali was blind, deaf and dumb because of her patriotism?  She certainly cherished her love of Vaishali more than her love for the person she said she loved.  In the USA at least a wife or a husband cannot be forced to testify against their loved ones.  Some bonds are more important to protect than values such as a xenophobic patriotism. 

In the end the Emperor will have to walk away from such a woman.  Frankly, she is not good enough for him.  I wouldn't want to be married to a woman who would value her country more than me.  She's one of these moralistic freaks who go around preaching terrible life lessons filled with false religion, racism and  blind patriotism.  No, I didn't like Amrapali the character. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

 


Historical Background:

 

The true story of Amrapali is different from the one in the movie.  The real story is much nicer to Amrapali than the 1966 movie of that name. 

From Wikipdia:

Stories of Ambapali's beauty traveled to the ears of Bimbisara, king of the hostile neighboring kingdom of Magadha.  Bimbisara (544491 BC), was the founder of the first Magadhan empire.  He attacked her state of  Vaishali, and took refuge in Ambapali's house. Before long, Ambapali and Bimbisara fell in love. When she learned his true identity, Ambapali asked Bimbisara to leave and cease his war. Bimbisara, smitten with love, he did as she asked.  Later, Amrapali bore Bimbisara a son named Vimala Kondanna.

Ajatashatru, Bimbisara's son by Queen Chelna or Queen Kosala Devi, later invaded Vaishali due a dispute with his brothers. He was so moved by Amrbpali's beauty that when Ambapali was imprisoned, he burned the whole of Vaishali. Almost everyone died in the massacre, except his beloved Ambapali, but when she saw the condition of her motherland, she renounced her love to him.

Still later, Ambapali became an arahant (a person in Buddhism who is a spiritual practitioner who has reached a certain high stage of enlightenment).  Buddha stayed at her mango grove.

 

 

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