Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, India, 13 April 1962

The film opens at the ruins of an old haveli in Calcutta, where a group of labourers is busy pulling down what remains. When the workers break off for lunch, the overseer (Guru Dutt) wanders through the haveli. As he sits at a place there begins a flashback to the end of the 19th century.

The lower-class and educated Bhoothnath arrives in colonial Calcutta looking for work. He lives in the grand haveli of the Choudhurys, a family of zamindars with is Brother-in-Law. He works at the Mohini Sindoor factory run by Subinay Babu, a dedicated member of the Brahmo Samaj. Subinay Babu's daughter Jaba (Waheeda Rehman) is amused by Bhoothnath whom she considers an unsophisticated rustic. Bhoothnath becomes fascinated with the goings-on in the haveli and every night observes the decadent lifestyle of the Choudhury brothers.

One night the servant, Bansi, takes Bhoothnath to meet the younger zamindar's (Rehman) wife Chhoti Bahu (Meena Kumari) who implores him to bring her Mohini Sindoor believing it will keep her unfaithful husband home. Bhoothnath is struck by her beauty and sadness and inadvertently becomes Chhoti Bahu's secret confidante. A bomb explodes in the marketplace and Bhoothnath is injured in the ensuing crossfire between freedom fighters and British soldiers. Jaba looks after him.

Chhoti Bahu's repeated attempts to appease her husband fail until she becomes his drinking companion to keep him by her side. Jaba's marriage is finalized with Supavitra (a member of Bramho Samaj) but after her father's death she declined the marriage. Bhoothnath becomes a trainee architect and goes away to work on a training project. After his return he find the haveli in partial ruins. Chhoti Bahu is now a desperate alcoholic and her husband, paralyzed. Meanwhile he learns that he and Jaba were betrothed as children. One night Chhoti Bahu asks Bhoothnath to accompany her to a nearby shrine to pray for her ailing husband. Their conversation is heard by the elder zamindar, Majhle Babu, who suspects that Chhoti Bahu is having an affair with Bhootnath (though really it was not). He orders his henchmen to chase them. As Bhoothnath and Chhoti Bahu travel in the carriage, it is stopped by the henchmen. Bhoothnath is knocked unconscious and Chhoti Bahu is abducted. When he wakes up in hospital, Bhoothnath is told Chhoti Bahu has disappeared and the younger zamindar is dead. The flashback ends.

  • Genre: Action
  • Runtime: 155 Minutes
  • Director: Abrar Alvi
  • Awards: President's Silver Medal for Best Feature Film in Hindi, 1962: Indian submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Filmfare Award for Best Movie - Guru Dutt, Filmfare Award for Best Director - Abrar Alvi, Filmfare Award for Best Cinema

Story

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (Hindi: साहिब बीबी और ग़ुलाम; English: The Master, The Wife and the Slave) is a 1962 Indian Hindi film produced by Guru Dutt and directed by Abrar Alvi. It is based on a Bengali novel, Shaheb Bibi Golam by Bimal Mitra, and is a look into the tragic fall of the haveli-dom and feudalism in Bengal during the British Raj. The title of the movie and the story is a reference to the plot simultaneously exploring a platonic friendship between a beautiful, lonely wife (Bibi) of an aristocrat (Sahib) and a career-driven low-income part-time servant (Ghulam). The film's music is by Hemant Kumar and lyrics were by Shakeel Badayuni. The film is also noted for its brilliant cinematography by V. K. Murthy. The film stars Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari, Rehman, Waheeda Rehman and Nazir Hussain.

The film was a major critical and commercial success, with critics attributing it to Meena Kumari's performance as Chhoti Bahu, which is regarded as one of the best performances of Hindi cinema. It won four Filmfare Awards, including Best Movie award, was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 13th Berlin International Film Festival, and was chosen as India's official entry to the Oscars. However it was not accepted as a nominee. The academy wrote a letter to Guru Dutt saying a woman who drinks was not a permissible taboo in their culture. Indiatimes Movies ranks it amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.