The Mirzas are a Muslim family living in a large ancestral house and running a shoe manufacturing business in the city of Agra in the United Provinces of northern India (now the state of Uttar Pradesh). The story begins in the immediate aftermath of India's independence and the partition of India in 1947. The family is headed by two brothers; Salim (Balraj Sahni), who heads the family business, and his elder brother Halim, who is mainly engaged in politics and is a major leader in the provincial branch of the All India Muslim League, which led the demand for the creation of a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. Salim has two sons, the elder Baqar, who helps him in the business, and Sikander (Farooq Shaikh), who is a young student. Halim's son Kazim is engaged to Salim's daughter, Amina. Although he had publicly promised to stay in India for the sake of its Muslims, Halim later decides to quietly emigrate to Pakistan with his wife and son, believing that there was no future for Muslims in India. Salim resists the notion of moving, believing that peace and harmony would return soon, besides which, he has to care for their ageing mother, who refuses to leave the house of her forefathers. This puts Kazim and Amina's marriage plans on hold, although Kazim promises to return soon to marry her. Halim's stealthy migration affects Salim's standing in the community. In the aftermath of partition, the sudden migration of many Muslims from Agra left banks and other lenders deeply reluctant to lend money to Muslim businessmen like Salim Mirza, who had previously been held in high esteem, over fears that they would leave the country without repaying the loan. Unable to raise capital to finance production, Salim Mirza's business suffers. Salim Mirza's brother-in-law, formerly a League supporter, now joins the ruling Indian National Congress in an attempt to get ahead in independent India while his son Shamshad unsuccessfully woos Amina, who is still devoted to Kazim and hopeful of his return.
Halim's migration to Pakistan makes the family home an "evacuee property" as the house is in Halim's name and Halim did not transfer it to Salim Mirza. The Indian government mandates the take over of the house, forcing Salim Mirza's family to move out of their ancestral home, which is very hard on Mirza's aged mother. Salim's wife blames him for not raising this issue with his brother Halim before he left for Pakistan. Mirza resists his wife's hints that they also move to Pakistan and his elder son's calls for modernizing the family business. Mirza finds it difficult to rent a house, facing discrimination owing to his religion and fears that a Muslim family would skip out on rent if they decided to leave for Pakistan. He finally succeeds in finding a smaller house to rent, but his business is failing and despite his son's exhorting, refuses to change with the times, believing that Allah would protect them. Salim Mirza's passiveness and disconnection from the outside world leaves his wife and son frustrated. The Mirza family house is bought by a close business associate, Ajmani, (A.K. Hangal) who respects Mirza and tries to help him. Despite growing troubles, the family is briefly buoyed by Sikander's graduation from college.
Amina and her family have almost given up on her marrying Kazim after Halim breaks his promise to return soon from Pakistan. Kazim returns on his own, and reveals that his father had become opposed to his marrying Amina, preferring that he marry the daughter of a Pakistani politician. Having received a scholarship from the Government of Pakistan to study in Canada, Kazim desires to marry Amina before he leaves, but before the marriage can take place, he is arrested by police and repatriated to Pakistan for traveling without a passport and not registering at the police station, as is required of all citizens of Pakistan. Amina is heart-broken, and finally accepts Shamshad's courtship. Sikander undergoes a long string of unsuccessful job interviews, where the interviewers repeatedly suggest that he would have better luck in Pakistan. Sikander and his group of friends become disillusioned and start an agitation against unemployment and discrimination, but Salim prohibits Sikander from taking part. Despite his political connections, Salim Mirza's brother-in-law ends up in debt over shady business practices and decides to flee to Pakistan. Amina again faces the prospect of losing her lover, but Shamshad promises to return and not leave her like Kazim. Salim Mirza's reluctance to modernize and cultivate ties with the newly formed shoemakers union results in his business not receiving patronage and consequently failing. Disillusioned, his son Baqar decides to migrate to Pakistan with his son and wife. Salim's aged mother suffers a stroke, and through his friend, Salim is able to bring his mother to her beloved house for a final visit, where she dies. While Salim is traveling in a horse-drawn carriage, the carriage driver, a Muslim, gets into an accident and a squabble with other locals. The situation deteriorates into a riot, and Salim is hit by a stone and suffers injuries. With his business and elder son gone, Salim begins to work as a humble shoemaker to make a living. Shamshad's mother returns from Pakistan for a visit, leading Amina and her mother to think that Shamshad would also come soon and their marriage would take place. However, Shamshad's mother merely takes advantage of Salim Mirza's connections to release some of her husband's money, and reveals that Shamshad's marriage has been arranged with the daughter of a well-connected Pakistani family. Shattered with this second betrayal, Amina commits suicide, which devastates the whole family.
Amidst these problems, Salim Mirza is investigated by the police on charges of espionage over his sending plans of their former property to his brother in Karachi, Pakistan. Although acquitted by the court, Mirza is shunned in public and faces a humiliating whisper campaign. Mirza's long aversion to leaving India finally breaks down and he decides in anger to leave for Pakistan. Sikander opposes the idea, arguing that they should not run away from India, but fight against the odds for the betterment of the whole nation, but Salim decides to leave anyway. However, as the family is travelling towards the railway station, they encounter a large crowd of protestors marching against unemployment and discrimination, which Sikander had planned to join. Sikander's friends call out to him, and Salim encourages him to join the protestors. Instructing the carriage driver to take his wife back to their house, and the film ends as Salim Mirza himself joins the protest, ending his isolation from the new reality.
- Genre: Action
- Runtime: 146 Minutes
- Awards: 1974: Indian submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 1974: Cannes Film Festival: Golden Palm - Nominated for "In Competition" section, 1974: Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration
Garm Hava (Hindi: गर्म हवा; translation: Hot Winds or Scorching Winds) is a 1973 Hindi-Urdu drama film directed by M. S. Sathyu, with Balraj Sahni as the lead. It was written by Kaifi Azmi and Shama Zaidi, based on an unpublished short story by noted Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai. The film score was given by noted classical musician Ustad Bahadur Khan, with lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, it also featured a qawwali composed and performed by Aziz Ahmed Khan Warsi and his Warsi Brothers troupe.
Set in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the film deals with the plight of a North Indian Muslim businessman and his family, in the period post partition of India in 1947. In the grim months, after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, film's protagonist and patriarch of the family Salim Mirza, deals with the dilemma of whether to move to Pakistan as many of his relatives or stay back. The film details the slow disintegration of his family, and is one of the most poignant films made on India's partition. It remains one of the few serious films dealing with the post-Partition plight of Muslims in India.
It is often credited with pioneering a new wave of Art cinema movement in Hindi Cinema, and alongside a film from another debutant film director, Shyam Benegal, Ankur (1973), are considered landmarks of Hindi Parallel Cinema which had already started flourishing in other Indian languages like Kannada and Malayalam. The movie also launched the career of actor, Farooq Shaikh, and also marked the end of Balraj Sahni's film career, who died before its release. It was India's official entry to the Academy Award's Best Foreign Film category, nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, won a National Film Award and three Filmfare Awards. In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.