Garm Hava

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Garm Hava
Garm Hava.jpg
Directed by M. S. Sathyu
Produced by Ishan Arya
Written by Kaifi Azmi / Shama Zaidi
Story by Ismet Chugtai
Starring Balraj Sahni
Farooq Shaikh
Dinanath Zutshi
Badar Begum
Geeta Siddharth
Shaukat Kaifi
A. K. Hangal
Music by Aziz Ahmed
Bahadur Khan
Khan Warsi
Cinematography Ishan Arya
Edited by S. Chakravarty
Release dates
  • 1973 (1973)
Running time 146 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi/Urdu

Garm Hava (Hindi: गर्म हवा; translation: Hot Winds or Scorching Winds)[1] is a 1973 Hindi-Urdu film directed by M. S. Sathyu.

The film deals with the plight of a North Indian Muslim family, in the years post partition of India in 1947, as the film's protagonist, deals with the dilemma of whether to move to Pakistan or stay back. The film details the slow disintegration of his family, and is one of the most poignant films ever made on India's partition.[2][3] It remains one of the few serious films dealing with the post-Partition plight of Muslims in India,[4][5] with Shyam Benegal's Mammo (1994) being the only other one that comes to mind.[6]

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 Kananda and Malayalam. The movie also launched the career of actor, Farooq Shaikh. 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.[2]


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.


The film was shot in location in the city of Agra, with scenes of Fatehpur Sikri as well. Due to repeated local protests owing to its controversial theme, a fake second unit with unloaded cameras were sent to various locations to divert attention from film's actual locations. As the film's commercial producers had early on backed out fearing public and governmental backlash, and ‘Film Finance Corporation’ (FFC), now National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), stepped in later, the film was made on a shoe-string budget of eight lakhs.[7]

Most actors in the film, barring a few new ones like Farooq Shaikh (who was making his film debut), were stage actors from Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), to which film’s lead, Balraj Sahni, had long been associated, and for whom this was his last important film role, and according to many his finest performance.[8] The role of Balraj Sahni’s mother was offered to noted singer Begum Akhtar which she refused,[9] later Badar Begum, who played this role, was in fact discovered in the locality where the film shot, in an old haveli of Mr. R S Lal Mathur in Peepal Mandi who helped the whole unit throughout the shooting.


Prior to its release the film was held by Central Board of India, for eight months, fearing communal unrest, but film’s director persisted and showed it to government officials, leaders and journalists. Finally the film was released to both critical and commercial success.[10]

Today it is noted for its sensitive handling of the controversial issue, dealt with in only a few Indian films,[1] like Kartar Singh (1959) (Pakistani film),[11] Manmohan Desai's Chhalia (1960), Yash Chopra's Dharmputra (1961), Govind Nihalani's Tamas (1986), Pamela Rooks' Train to Pakistan (1998), Manoj Punj's Shaheed-e-Mohabbat Boota Singh (1999) and Chandra Prakash Dwivedi's Pinjar (2003).

Ironically, in the subsequent National Film Awards, it was awarded the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration.


  • Balraj Sahni - Salim Mirza
  • Geeta Siddharth - Amina Mirza
  • Farooq Shaikh - Sikander Mirza
  • Dinanath Zutshi - Halim
  • Badar Begum - Salim's mother
  • Shaukat Azmi (Kaifi)
  • A. K. Hangal - Ajmani Sahab
  • Abu Siwani - Baqar Mirza
  • Jalal Agha - Shamshad
  • Jamal Hashmi - Kazim
  • Rajendra Raghuvanshi - As Salim Mirza's Driver


Academy Awards[edit]

Cannes Film Festival[edit]

National Film Awards[edit]

Filmfare Awards[edit]

See also[edit]


In 2009, a privately funded restoration work of the film started at Cameo Studios in Pune.[15]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Review Garm Hava
  2. ^ a b 25 Must See Bollywood Movies Indiatimes, October 3, 2005.
  3. ^ SAI Film Series - 2007 Southern Asia Institute, Columbia University.
  4. ^ Secularism and Popular Cinema:Shyam Benegal The Crisis of Secularism in India: Gandhi, Ambedkar, and the ethics of communal representation, by Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan. Duke University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-8223-3846-7. page 234-235.
  5. ^ Our Films, Their Films, by Satyajit Ray, Orient Longman, 2005. ISBN 81-250-1565-5.Page 100-102.
  6. ^ Garm Hava NYU, Abu Dhabi.
  7. ^ Garm Hava Review
  8. ^ Balraj Sahni - Profile
  9. ^ "What a life: Begum Akhtar’s reality was much wilder than fiction". Mint (newspaper). Nov 7, 2008. 
  10. ^ Review Garm Hava, 1973
  11. ^ Kartar Singh - Review
  12. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  13. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Garam Hawa". Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  14. ^ "Best Screenplay Award". Filmfare Award Official Listings, Indiatimes. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Play it again". Indian Express. Jun 30, 2009. 

External links[edit]