Director: Mehboob; Writer: R.S. Choudhury, Wajahat Mirza; Cinematographer: Faredoon Irani; Cast: Chandramohan, Sheikh Mukhtar, Sitara Devi, Akhtari Faizabadi, Ashraf Khan, Kayamali, Jamshedji, Mirza, Wasker, Choubeji, Nawab, Agha
Duration: 02:12:36; Aspect Ratio: 1.302:1; Lightness: 0.415; Volume: 0.267; Cuts per Minute: 5.942; Words per Minute: 66.338
Summary: Mehboob’s classic, didactic film counterposing capitalism and primitive tribal communism. The film’s crooked commentator (A. Khan) persuades the starving hero (Chandramohan), to impersonate Seth Laxmidas, the long-lost heir of a rich family. In the process, the hero reveals himself as a ruthless entrepreneur and acquires the Laxmidas business empire. He and his girlfriend Darling (Faizabadi, a legendary ghazal singer) happen to crash their private plane and wind up in a tribal, sexually liberated community which ignores notions of private property and believes in the basic goodness of all humankind. The tribals Balam (Mukhtar) and Kinari (Sitara Devi) look after the injured capitalist and help him get back to the city by lending him a pair of buffaloes, Changu and Mangu, who are friends rather than beasts of burden. When the animals are not returned, the tribals go to the city to retrieve them. They are astounded by the way capitalism functions; they have no concept of money and get arrested for eating food they cannot pay for. Their gradual descent into bonded labour is intercut with the machinations of Laxmidas, who has his future father-in-law murdered. Eventually, with the help of Darling (who falls in love with Balam), the tribal couple manages to leave, even as Laxmidas, facing disaster, escapes from his outraged shareholders in a car full of gold bricks. He encounters the tribals again in the desert where his car has broken down. In an echo of Stroheim’s Greed (1925), he refuses their offer of water, preferring to die of thirst. The film’s dominant character is the fat, cynical commentator (echoing a Brechtian device) who manipulates the story, laughs every time disaster strikes and ridicules compassion (Garibon ki daya karke bada ahsaan karte ho) in a kind of prose chant. Begum Akhtar aka Akhtari Faizabadi gives a fine performance as Darling, the woman who accepts her role as a sex object and the property of the capitalist while hating him inwardly for the murder of her father.