Surjit Singh (Rajesh Khanna) earns a living driving a truck. He is a rash driver and more than usually also driving while drunk. One night he stops at the prostitute Chamelibai's (Bindu), spends the night with her, and gets up late the next morning. He rushes out and drives at breakneck speed in thick fog to make up for lost time while again drinking. He inevitably ends up running over and killing a farmer named Ram Din. But despite the opportunity to hit and run, he decides to stay and face the consequences. He is arrested by the police, charged, and brought before the courts.
Surjit acknowledges his guilt to the Judge (Rehman) who in-turn knows that he should send Surjit to prison for two years. But moved by the plight of Ram Din's family (which include his widow Malti (Meena Kumari); his sister Kamla (Kumari Naaz); two young sons; a crippled father Ganga Din (Nana Palsikar), and his blind mother (Leela Mishra)), and his inherent belief that imprisonment does not serve the good of the victim or the perpetrator, the Judge resolves to try a novel experiment of forcing Surjit to live with Ram Din's family and looking after their financial needs. A horrified Surjit attempts in vain to convince the Judge to change his ruling. He is transported to his new "prison" under police protection, where he is met by hostile villagers. Ram Din's family detest his presence, and call him "Dushman" (The enemy). Surjit attempts to escape on the first night, but is apprehended and brought back to serve his time.
He gradually comes to terms with the twist of fate that has forced him to become a subsistence farmer and live under the ever unforgiving eyes of Ram Din's family. Over time he starts sincerely working for the family and its interests. He meets Phoolmati Mumtaz, a happy-go-lucky girl who operates a small bi-scope machine to entertain the village kids. They take an instant liking to each other, which blossoms into love. He also finds friends amongst the previously hostile villagers. He works hard on the family plot while also protecting it from the clutches of a local landlord who has ill intentioned designs on the land and also on Kamla.
Surmounting many obstacles, Surjit is able to arrange the marriage of Kamla with her childhood sweetheart. With the help of a benevolent police force and the Judge, he is also able to thwart the many attempts of the landlord to seize the family's land, and that of other villagers who have mortgaged their land with the same landlord. Malti however, is unable to forgive Surjit for having killed her husband.
Things take a dramatic turn for the worse when Surjit is framed and arrested for the accidental death of Phoolmati's drunk grandfather. At the same time, the landlord has the lush harvest produced by Surjit and other villagers covertly set ablaze, and has Phoolmati kidnapped, primarily to punish Surjit. Malti, who has been working in one of the landlord's saw mills thinking he is an honourable man, witnesses his misdeeds, and finally realises her mistake. She is able to rescue Phoolmati but gets trapped by the landlord instead, who attempts to rape her. Meanwhile Surjit stages an escape from his holding cell and with the help of Phoolmati, is able to come to Malti's rescue in the nick of time. He confronts the landlord and violently assaults him as payback. The police show up and arrest the landlord for his role in defrauding the villagers and destroying their harvest.
Ram Din's family finally accept Surjit as one of their own, and arrange his marriage to Phoolmati. In a final twist though, his two years' imprisonment is complete, and the Police arrive to escort him back to town. He pleads with the Judge to let him serve a life sentence, and the Judge smiles, vindicated that his experiment has been successful.
- Genre: Thriller
- Runtime: 177 Minutes
Dushman is a 1972 Hindi film produced by Premji and directed by Dulal Guha. It is based on a novel by Veerendra Sharma. The film stars Rajesh Khanna in the title role and for which he received a Filmfare nomination as Best Actor, the only nomination for the film. Meena Kumari, Mumtaz, Bindu, Rehman, Asit Sen and Johnny Walker are part of the cast.
The film became a "super-hit" at the box office.
This film was remade in Tamil as Needhi in the same year (1972) starring Sivaji Ganesan and Jayalalithaa. The film was later remade into the Telugu film Khaidii Babay (1974) starring Shobhan Babu in the title role, and Vanisri as his love interest. It was also remade in Kannada as Hosa Theerpu (1983) with Ambareesh.