Director: M.S. Sathyu; Writer: Kaifi Azmi, Shama Zaidi, Ismat Chughtai; Producer: Ishan Arya, Prema Kannan, Madhav, J.K. Mathur, M.S. Sathyu, Abu Siwani, Hari Verma; Cinematographer: Ishan Arya; Editor: S. Chakravarty; Cast: Balraj Sahni, Dinanath Zutshi, Badar Begum, Geeta Siddharth, Shaukat Kaifi, Abu Siwani, Farooq Shaikh, Jamal Hashmi, Yunus Pervez, Jalal Agha, Kalpana Sahni, Shanta Agarwal, A.K. Hangal
Duration: 02:09:27; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 134.824; Saturation: 0.105; Lightness: 0.040; Volume: 0.233; Cuts per Minute: 9.872
Summary: The FFC-sponsored film debut of the IPTA stage director Sathyu is one of the last titles by the generation of 50s Marxist cultural activists (Sahni, Azmi and Chughtai) and chronicles the plight of the minority Muslims in North India. Set in Agra after the first major Partition exodus, the film tells of an elderly Muslim shoe manufacturer, Salim Mirza (Sahni) and his family who must decide whether to continue the ancestral business or to migrate to the newly formed state of Pakistan. Salim’s brother Halim (Zutshi) migrates but Halim’s son Kazim (Hashmi) returns illegally across a sealed border to marry Salim Mirza’s daughter, Amina (Siddharth). He is arrested and sent back. The family loses its ancestral property which under new laws is allocated to a Sindhi businessman; refugees from Pakistan start competing with Salim’s business while moneylenders refuse to invest in someone who might emigrate; Amina commits suicide after yet another lover leaves her to go to Pakistan. These adversities persuade the old patriarch to leave as well, leading to a poignant scene where his ancient mother (Badar Begum) hides herself to try to stay in her ‘home’. On the way to the station, the family comes across a communist rally proclaiming the unity of all the dispossessed, regardless of religion or caste. Salim’s son Sikandar (Shaikh) abandons his emigration plan and joins the rally, determined to stay in India. The film, with its lovingly re-created portrait of Agra’s Muslim milieu, is dominated by Sahni’s remarkable performance in his last major role.
Intro Balraj Sahni/ Salim Mirza who is evidently bidding someone farewell at the train station. Central dilemma of the protagonist introduced via conversation with tongawala: as Muslim businessman in post-Partition India, should he stay or leave?