Director: Ramesh Saigal; Writer: Dostoevsky, Mubarak, D.N. Madhok; Producer: Ramesh Saigal; Cinematographer: Krishan Saigal; Editor: S.R. Kabre; Cast: Raj Kapoor, Mala Sinha, Rehman, Leela Chitnis, Mubarak, Nana Palsikar, Jagdish Sethi, Kamal Kapoor, Mishra
Duration: 02:06:51; Aspect Ratio: 1.334:1; Hue: 214.552; Saturation: 0.000; Lightness: 0.282; Volume: 0.302; Cuts per Minute: 9.066
Summary: Dostoevsky’s story (Crime and Punishment) provides only the bare outlines of this emotional plea for social justice in ‘Nehruite’ India by an influential film-maker of the genre (cf. Railway Platform, 1955). Ramu (Kapoor) is a poor law student in love with the even poorer Sohni (Sinha). Sohni’s father (Palsikar) is an alcoholic tailor in debt to the villainous Harbanslal who demands to marry Sohni. Ramu must pay off the villain if he is to win Sohni. He is caught robbing the safe of a vicious old moneylender and kills the man in self-defence. When the wrong man is arrested for the crime, a police detective puts pressure on Ramu to confess and save the innocent man from the gallows. Ramu eventually confesses and makes a moving plea on behalf of the dispossessed’s right to defend themselves against the real villains in society. The film includes the poet Sahir Ludhianvi’s famous critique of Nehru’s non-aligned liberalism: Chin-o-Arab hamara, with an opening stanza declaring ‘China and Arabia are ours/India is ours/We have no roof over our heads/The whole world is ours’ (China and Arabia being references to Zhou En-Lai and Nasser). This song is picturised at night in Bombay’s easily recognisable square opposite the Victoria Terminus where even today, as Kapoor does in the film, one may sleep on the pavement without police interference. Other classic numbers include Aasman pe hai khuda aur zameen pe hum (‘The Lord is in the heavens and we on earth/And these days He doesn’t look our way very often’) sung by Kapoor to a cabaret dancer and intercut with the death of Sohni’s father. The best-known number is the title refrain heralding a new dawn, Woh subah kabhi to aayegi.