Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam: A timeless Classic

When it comes to old Hindi movies, Guru Dutt’s films are an absolute treat to watch. Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam is one such masterpiece that this genius director-actor- producer has made.  The movie released in 1962 gathering commercial success and earning critical acclaim. Of course the film’s credits list Abrar Alvi as the director but Guru Dutt’s feel and style is so much evident in the flick that many people still didn’t believe that it wasn’t directed by Guru Dutt.  The movie won several Filmfare awards apart from being sent to the Oscars as an official entry from India in that year.

The leading roles in the film are played by the talented trio of Meena Kumari, Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman.

Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam’s story is set in the Bengali zamindari household and explores the
relationship between an aristocrat essayed by Rehman, his lonely wife played by beautiful Meena Kumari and a low class but educated servant portrayed by Guru Dutt. When the film opens, we see a melancholic Bhootnath (Guru Dutt) wandering through the ruins of family, reflecting on the past. Through this flashback technique, the entire story unfolds. The opening sets the tone for the entire movie.

Though the movie boasts of power packed performances by the entire star cast, it is Meena
Kumari who as Chhoti Bahu steals the show. Her brilliant portrayal of a neglected wife yearning for her husband’s affection has immortalized the character of Chhoti Bahu. Her expressions as a devoted wife who could do everything, even sacrifice her basic values just to gain her husband’s love capture the heart of audiences. She becomes a fervent alcoholic in order to please her husband is referred to as Chhote Sarkar in the film. Her emotional outburst when she is compared to her husband’s brothers’ wives is simply enchanting. Meena Kumari’s excellent dialogue delivery makes the character of Chhoti Bahu unforgettable. This Chhoti Bahu finds a friend in Bhootnath who soon become her close confidante. Bhootnath is asked by her to bring the Mohini sindoor believing that it will keep her husband home.  Bhootnath is struck by her mistress’s beauty and is enamored by her. The scene where Meena Kumari dresses for her husband is completely mesmerizing and one cannot look without amazement at her beauty.

The movie also has the subplot of love story between Jaba (Waheeda Rehman) and Bhootnath. Waheeda played the character of Jaba quite marvellously and she looks natural. She is in love with Guru Dutt but is arrogant when he comes near her.  However, in the later part of the story, her portrayal  of a suffering loving woman is impressive too.

Apart from good story and cinematography, the movie is also remembered for its songs.  Penned by Shakeel Badayuni and sung by legendary Geeta Dutt and melodious Asha Bhonsle , the songs encompasses the time framework .  Who can forget the enchanting “Piya aiso jiya mein” or the seductive “Na Jaion Saiyan” or even Bhanwda Bada Naadan.  “Sakiyaan aaj mujhe neend nahi aayegi” is another breathtaking song. All the songs in the film are linked to the story and aren’t unnecessarily added.

The style, narration and cinematography of the movie are amazing. The sublime music, subtle background score and rich dialogues make this movie a timeless classic. A must

Shruti Roy