Tansen is known to be the greatest classical vocalist ever to have existed in India, and was one of the nine jewels (Navaratnas) of Emperor Akbar’s court. Nobody could sing in the city unless he or she could sing better than Tansen. If this was not the case, he or she was executed. Baiju Bawra is the story of an unknown singer, Baiju, who is on a mission to defeat Tansen in a musical duel to avenge the death of his father.
When Baiju is still a child, Tansen's sentry tries to stop Baiju’s father from singing, and in the ensuing scuffle, his father dies. Before dying, he extracts a promise from his son to take revenge against Tansen. Baiju gets shelter from a village priest and while growing up, falls in love with Gauri, the daughter of a boatman. He continues his musical education on his own, but gets so enamoured by Gauri's love that he forgets the promise made to his father.
Later, a group of dacoits raid Baiju's village. With his song, Baiju persuades them against looting the village, but the female leader of the dacoits falls in love with him and asks him to follow them to their fort as a condition for their sparing the village. Baiju leaves with her, leaving the wailing Gauri behind. In the fort, the dacoit leader, who is actually a princess living in exile, tells Baiju how her father’s serfdom had been usurped and she was seeking revenge because the village too previously belonged to her father. The word “revenge” brings all of Baiju's memories back; he leaves the fort greatly agitated, and the princess does not try to stop him.
- Genre: Romantic
- Runtime: 165 Minutes
- Awards: Films directed by Vijay Bhatt, Filmfare Awards Best Actress Meena Kumari (1954)
The movie is based on the legend of Baiju Bawra from the days of Mughal Emperor Akbar in India. Baiju (Bhushan) is the son of a musician who also grows up to be a musician. He comes to believe that Tansen, the famed musician at the court of Akbar, is responsible for his father's death. The movie then follows Baiju's attempt to avenge his father's death by challenging Tansen to a musical duel. Even though there were many changes in the storyline from the original life of Baiju Bawra, the film was both a commercial and critical success and catapulted both its lead actors into stardom. Meena Kumari went on to win the first-ever Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1954, the first of four Best Actress trophies she won in her career. The film's music director, Naushad, also received the inaugural Filmfare Best Music Director Award for the song "Tu Ganga Ki Mauj"; this was Naushad's first and only Filmfare Award win.