Kabuliwala (1961 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kabuliwala (1961)
Kabuliwala Poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Hemen Gupta
Produced by Bimal Roy
Leela Desai (assoc.)
Written by Vishram Bedekar
S. Khalil
Rabindranath Tagore (story)
Starring Balraj Sahni
Usha Kiran
Music by Salil Choudhury
Cinematography Kamal Bose
Edited by Madhu Prabhavalkar
Release dates
December 14, 1961
Running time
134 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi

Kabuliwala (Hindi: काबुलीवाला) is a 1961 Hindi film based on a story, Kabuliwala, by the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore. It was directed by Hemen Gupta, who had remained private secretary to Subhas Chandra Bose, and went on to direct many films including Taksaal (1956), also starring Balraj Sahni, and his tribute Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (1966).

The film starred Balraj Sahni, Usha Kiran, Sajjan, Sonu and Baby Farida.[1][2]


The most successful adaptation of a Tagore story outside Bengal was Hemen Gupta’s Kabuliwala, produced by Bimal Roy, starring the veteran actor Balraj Sahni. The simple story of Kabuliwala is about the affection between Abdur Rehman Khan, an Afghani immigrant dry-fruit-seller in Calcutta and Mini (Sonu), a girl who he imagines as his child-figure in memory of his daughter, Amina (Baby Farida), left behind in Kabul.

This story, unlike many other Tagore-inspired films that are more strongly rooted in context and period, offers a more classical perspective on humanism, identify and difference. Tagore’s Kabuliwala was published as a short story in Sadhana, a Bangla literary magazine he edited through the 1890s and the early decades of the twentieth century.

The story was translated from Bangla into English by the Irish woman Margaret Elizabeth Noble, more popularly known to the world as Sister Nivedita, and published in the Modern Review.[3]


Abdur Rehman Khan (Balraj Sahni), a middle-age dry fruit seller from Kabul (Afghanistan), comes to Calcutta to hawk his merchandise and befriends a small Bengali girl called Mini who reminds him of his own daughter Amina back in Afghanistan. He stays at a boarding house with his countrymen. Since he is short of money he sells his goods on credit to increase his business.

Later, when he goes to collect his money, one of his customers abuses him. In the fight that ensues, Rehman warns that he will not tolerate abuse and stabs the man when he does not stop. In court Rehman's lawyer tries to obfuscate the facts but, in his characteristic and simple fashion, Rehman states the truth in a matter-of-fact way. The judge, pleased with Rehman's honesty, gives him 10 years' rigorous imprisonment instead of the death sentence.

On the day of his release, he goes to meet Mini. She has grown up into a woman and is about to get married. When Mini does not recognize Rehman, he realises that his daughter must have forgotten him, too. Mini's father gives Rehman the money for traveling back to Afghanistan out of the wedding budget to which Mini agrees; she also sends a gift for Rehman's daughter. The film ends with Rehman traveling to his homeland.


Music – Salil Choudhury; Lyrics – Prem Dhawan, Gulzar


  1. ^ "Of Kabuliwala and Unconditional Love", by Dinesh Raheja, Rediff.com.
  2. ^ Kabuliwala New York Times.
  3. ^ "From Kolkata to Dublin via Kabul: Tagore’s Internationalism And Cinema". Silhouette Magazine & Learning and Creativity. 2014-05-25. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 

External links[edit]