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This stylish and atmospheric ghost love story was an enormous box-office hit that sparked a whole genre of romantic reincarnation tales.
A stylish, atmospheric black-and-white ghost love story that clearly reflects the influence of German Expressionism, Mahal was shot by German cinematographer Josef Wirsching, who had earlier shot Light of Asia and a number of other films for Himansu Rai's studio Bombay Talkies. Hari Shankar (Ashok Kumar) comes to live in an old mansion, where he is astonished to discover that he resembles the portrait of the house's late previous owner. The gardener tells of how the former owner and his lover Kamini died tragically, with the owner promising her he will be reborn to reunite with her some day. Soon after, a beautiful woman (Madhubala) appears, and Hari falls in love with her — but some melodramatic twists later, it becomes clear that at least one of the lovers hails from the spirit world. Madhubala is gorgeous as the stately phantom, and her song "Aayega aayega aayega aanewala" (The One Who Is To Return, Will Return) remains popular in India even today. An enormous box-office hit, Mahal inspired many more ghost/reincarnation love stories, including Madhumati, Karz and Om Shanti Om.