The film is the story of the relationship that develops between the gang of neighbourhood goondas and the old woman. Unusual and moving story, played with a great deal of sensitivity by all the primary characters. The film is fun to watch for various reasons, not least the presence a cast that includes a youthful Vinod Khanna, a suitably loutish Shatrughan Sinha, Paintal and Asrani, also very young – and an almost unrecognizable Danny.
I’m not usually a Meena Kumari fan, but she’s fantastic in this unusual role as a widowed old woman. Brought from the village to the city by a couple claiming to be her long-lost nephew and his wife, Buaji (as they refer to her) soon finds that things are not all as they seem. Both husband and wife go out to work – and need someone to stay home and look after their young child.
And Buaji, unlike a hired maid, comes for free. Not the most subtle critique of modern urban life: young women want to compete with men, don’t want to stay home and look after the family, the young have no respect for elders, all relationships are measured in terms of profit and loss, etc etc.
But the story gets better from here on. Warned of the couple’s reality by a cynical old maid servant (played by Leela Mishra), Buaji deals matter-of-factly with another long-lost nephew who comes to meet her, ostensibly to rescue her. What will the salary be, she asks. In the meanwhile, in her walks around the neighbourhood with the little baby, she comes across a small boy begging for money for food, and a group of unemployed idle young men who hang out at the local tea shop and get into fights with a rival gang at the drop of a hat.