Parineeta is a 1969 Bollywood romantic drama film directed by Ajoy Kar and based on the 1914 Bengali novel of the same name by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. The movie stars Samit Bhanja, Bijon Bhattacharya, and Khagesh Chakravarti in prominent roles. Set in Calcutta in the early 20th century, the story revolves around Shekhar (played by Samit Bhanja), a wealthy young man who has grown up with his close friend Lalita, also known as Parineeta (played by Arati Bhattacharya), daughter of his father's clerk. As they grow up, Shekhar realizes his love for Lalita, but his family is against their union due to Lalita's lower status. Meanwhile, Girin (played by Bijon Bhattacharya), a businessman, proposes to Lalita, but she refuses due to her love for Shekhar.
Amidst all this, Shekhar's father (played by Dilip Roy) faces financial difficulties, and Shekhar agrees to sell his ancestral house to settle the debts. Despite Lalita's protests, Shekhar decides to marry his childhood friend, Kokila (played by Padma Khanna), a higher social status woman who can help salvage his family's fortunes. Lalita is heartbroken but maintains her dignity, and Shekhar becomes consumed by guilt.
The movie takes a dramatic turn as Lalita is diagnosed with tuberculosis, and Shekhar, in a fit of desperation, decides to marry her to make amends for his past mistakes. However, Lalita refuses, not wanting to be the source of his guilt. Shekhar is torn between his duties towards his family and his love for Lalita.
The film portrays the struggles of the times and social hierarchies in Calcutta, with strong themes of love, sacrifice, and societal norms. The story echoes the timeless narrative of star-crossed lovers held back by class structures that prevent their union. The film's sets and costumes capture the essence of Kolkata in the early 1900s, with its beautiful old mansions, horse-drawn carriages, and the hustle-bustle of the city.
Samit Bhanja delivers a convincing performance as Shekhar, portraying the internal conflict he feels between his love for Lalita and his sense of duty towards his family. Bijon Bhattacharya's portrayal of Girin is also noteworthy, with his acting adding a shade of grey to the film's narrative.
Arati Bhattacharya is excellent as Lalita, playing the roles of a humble clerk's daughter, a strong independent woman, and a heartbroken lover with ease. Her acting is one of the movie's biggest strengths, and she carries the story forward impressively.
The music of the movie including songs like "Kalankini Radha" and "Gori Tere Naina" is also noteworthy, with Hemanta Mukherjee and Manna Dey producing soulful renditions that capture the essence of the era.
Overall, Parineeta is a masterpiece in Indian cinema, delivering a poignant and emotional saga while setting the bar for socially relevant storytelling. The film resonates even today and is a must-watch for lovers of classic cinema.