Shehar Aur Sapna (1963)
Director: K.A. Abbas; Writer: K.A. Abbas; Cinematographer: Ramchandra; Editor: Mohan Rathod; Cast: Dilip Raj, Surekha Parkar, Nana Palsikar, Manmohan Krishna, David Abraham, Anwar Hussain (Actor), Rashid Khan, Asit Sen
Duration: 02:09:26; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 251.250; Saturation: 0.027; Lightness: 0.121; Volume: 0.101; Cuts per Minute: 8.151; Words per Minute: 5.949
Summary: Abbas’s romantic view of Bombay’s pavement- dwellers tells of a man (Roy) who arrives from a poor Punjabi village to find a job. Amazed at the city’s opulence he soon realises the main problem is to find shelter. He finally settles down with his wife (Surekha) in an unused water pipe where she gives birth to their child. The activities of slum landlords and thieves open the way for property developers and bulldozers and the pavement-dwellers again have to find shelter elsewhere, but this time they act together. For the next decade, this film’s sentimentalised way of showing urban class divisions became the standard, popular idiom for these motifs, extending into Abbas’s own documentaries (cf. Char Shaher Ek Kahani, 1968) and into e.g. Sukhdev’s influential ‘progressive’ featurettes (And Miles To Go ..., 1965).
The opening sequence of Shehar aur Sapna. An essay written and narrated by K.A. Abbas. He then hands over the narration and images to the mad poet, and we imagine the city again, before we are lead into the narrative from the point of view of the character.
Essay and Poem
Shehar aur Sapna begins with prose, an introduction to Bombay narrated by Abbas himself. He then hands over the narration and images to the mad poet, and we imagine the city again.
entering the city
in the city
Workers Leaving Factory
looking at a sleeping person
Jazzed up instrumental version of Cliff Richard's Young ones. Bhola and Radha on their "honeymoon", a boat ride off gateway of India.
Rationing of living space. Dream Sequence.
We had kept the climax of the bustee of hutments being demolished by the bulldozer of the proprietor (the Establishment) and after selecting a site of a real bustee we had additional huts of our own built which would be demolished by the bulldozer. We set about the task of filming the climax. On a cloudy day, we brought a bulldozer and it started to systematically demolish the huts. Everyone thought we were the police and the people of the bustee stood with sullen and angry looks muttering curses upon us. At least two of them challenged us to produce the authorisation but they were satisfied when the sequence in the film was explained to them. The sound of the bulldozer was also recorded simultaneously and when it trampled the bamboos of the huts the sound was eerily like the crushing of human bones. At last only Bhola's hut remained wherein Radha was delivering her firstborn.* The four self-appointed guardians of Bhola and Radha approached the bulldozer and stood in its path. "Get out of the way," said the bulldozer driver.
*It was a fore-warning of the Turkman Gate tragedy which would be enacted in 1976!
From I am not an Island.
The war has begun
The war has begun: The first cinematic representation of a bulldozer (and a WW II tank) demolishing the slum, while the deranged poet watches. Bulldozer number plate: BMC.
Bhola and Radha's home is being buried.
A thousand homes, a thousand doors, Where do we go from here?
HAPPY ENDING? This is not a city, it's a dream.