forgotten films

The Gulzar film you must see if you haven’t

Namkeen was based on a short story, Akal Basanta, by the Bengali writer Samaresh Basu.

Of Gulzar’s filmography, Parichay (1972), Aandhi (1975), and perhaps Koshish (1972) get top of the mind recall, but only a true Gulzar fan would remember Namkeen (1982).

The film was based on a short story, Akal Basanta, by the Bengali writer Samaresh Basu, whose novels have been chosen by several respected filmmakers to adapt for the big screen.

The film is set in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh, where a truck driver Gerulal (Sanjeev Kumar) is looking for a temporary abode till his work at a construction site is completed. The local dhaba owner Dhaniram (TP Jain) drags him to a derelict house, where four women are struggling to survive in a largely hostile male environment, helped along by the kindness of a few.

The old matriarch (Waheeda Rehman) makes dung cakes to earn some money, which she sells to Dhaniram. Her daughters Nimki (Sharmila Tagore), Mitthu (Shabana Azmi) and Chinki (Kiran Vairale) pound masalas for the dhaba.

The mother, dressed in black rags and peering through foggy round glasses, is both sharp-tongued and forgetful. She lives with a strange fear, that makes her flinch whenever she sees Gerulal and ask him who he is, and what he is doing in her house. He has to remind her each time that he is the tenant who lives in the room upstairs.

In spite of their grinding poverty, the daughters dress in colourful ghaghras and there is much laughter and music in the house. But before Gerulal warms up to them, they start off on the wrong foot.


The room is a dump. There is a lizard malevolently perched on the rafter that annoys the man. When Gerulal tries to fix the non-functional bulb, Mitthu and Chinki fetch him whatever he asks for, and then inform him with a straight face that the bulb won’t work, because there is no electricity. He is taunted by their irrepressible giggles. He is willing to forgo the advance, rather that stay in that house. “I can’t get along with women,” he complains to Dhaniram. “I get scared.”

Over the next few months, he willingly becomes the man of the house, the male support they never had and their cherished confidant. He learns of the mother’s past as a nautanki dancer, the reason for Mitthu’s muteness, the fear that the daughters will be taken away by Amma’s old lover Kishenlal (Ram Mohan) and the girl’s father, to be shoved into the disgraceful life she left behind. Whenever the travelling dance company comes to the village, Amma becomes hysterical.

Gerulal is attracted to the gentle Nimki, but she cannot make a life with him, leaving behind her old mother and sisters. Still, all of them see Gerulal as a saviour who will protect them and keep out the evil that lurks at the door of a household of women.

One day it’s time for Gerulal to move on, and suddenly the link of dependence they had forged with him snaps. He never looks back, carrying on with his itinerant life, but the women’s lives fall apart.

Some years later, he chances upon Chinki dancing at the nautanki. The sprightly girl has become an embittered young woman, who broke her mother’s heart by leaving with her father, because she could not bear the thought of the loneliness and sacrifice that lay ahead of her. From her he learns of Mitthu’s descent into madness and eventual death. Nimki has been left alone to fend for herself, greying prematurely and grieving silently for her wasted life.

Excerpted with permission from Take-2: 50 Films That Deserve A New Audience, Deepa Gahlot, Hay House.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.


2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

The article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Locks and not by the Scroll editorial team.