Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)

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Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam is a romantic and somewhat nostalgic tale of a bygone era. The film is a magnificent and sombre work with heightened atmosphere, rich dialogues, haunting cinematography, extraordinary song picturizations and brilliant performances.

Cast: Meena Kumari, Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Rehman, Sapru, Minoo Mumtaz

The decadent lifestyle of the zamindars at the end of 19th century Bengal is shown through the two Choudhury brothers who seldom work but spend most of their time in pigeon racing or in the company of dancer-prostitutes while their wives are left to distract themselves by having jewellery made and remade! While the servant Bansi, acts as chronicler of the Choudhury’s history, Bhoothnath is a witness to the ravages of time and change in the haveli.

The film was a modest commercial success dividing audiences. The more traditional just couldn’t accept a pious Hindu wife taking to drink or the friendship (even though totally platonic) between Bhoothnath and Chhoti Bahu. The film was however a huge critical success. To quote the review featured in the Times of India dated June 24, 1962…

The well-knit screenplay, achieving an effective balance between the various characters and emotional phases, provides a neat dramatic pattern. It appears to be a specially successful job considering the verbosity and digressiveness of the novel of Mr. Bimal Mitra who, though often brilliant, writes in a highly disorderly way.

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