Kismet (1943 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gyan Mukherjee
Produced by Bombay Talkies
Written by Gyan Mukherjee
Starring Ashok Kumar
Mumtaz Shanti
Shah Nawaz
Music by Anil Biswas
Kavi Pradeep (lyrics)
Cinematography R.D.Pareenja
Release dates
  • 1943 (1943)
Running time
143 min.
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget Rs 10 million.
Box office Rs 632 million

Kismet is a 1943 Indian film, written and directed by Gyan Mukherjee and produced by Bombay Talkies during the second world war period,[1] while it was in a succession battle between Devika Rani and Sashadhar Mukherjee after owner Himanshu Rai's death. The film is one of the biggest hits in the history of Hindi cinema. The movie was the first blockbuster movie of Indian cinema.[2]

The film came with some bold themes for the first time in Indian Cinema showing an anti-hero character and an unmarried girl getting pregnant.


Shekhar (Ashok Kumar) is a pickpocket and con man, who is released from jail after serving his third sentence. It is at once evident that he has no intention of mending his ways, as he relieves a pickpocket of his catch, which happens to be an old, priceless watch.

Shekhar goes to a fence (David), where he meets the original pickpocket, Banke (V.H. Desai). Impressed by Shekhar's prowess, Banke makes him a special offer: he is a small time thief currently working in the house of a very rich man, who has a considerable fortune stashed away in the safe at his house. Banke, who does not have the expertise to break the lock, asks Shekhar if he would be interested in helping him out. Uninterested in the plan, Shekhar leaves.

As he steps out of the fence's establishment, Shekhar bumps into the original owner of the watch (P.F. Pithawala), an old man desperate for money, who intended to sell the watch and raise the money to see a live performance by Rani (Mumtaz Shanti). Out of compassion Shekhar takes him to the theatre. There the old man points out a prosperous looking man called Indrajit (Mubarak). It turns out that Rani is the daughter of this old man, who was once a rich man and the owner of that theatre. Indrajit was once his employee.

Fortune (kismet) turned things around and today the old man is indebted to Indrajit, from whom he is on the run. The moment the show ends, he flees, but not before he's seen in the company of Shekhar by Rani, from whom he has fled in shame and remorse. Unknown to them, the tormentor Indrajit is himself a tormented man, after his elder son Madan ran away after a fight with his authoritarian father several years ago.

Due to a combination of circumstances, Shekhar ends up staying in Rani's house as a paying guest. There he discovers that she is struggling with a limp, that's affecting her ability to perform on stage. The limited means is a great problem for Rani, the sole bread earner in the house, having to support her younger sister Leela (Chandraprabha). To make things worse, she is constantly troubled by the ruthless Indrajit, who threatens to turn her out of the house if she cannot repay the next instalment of the money payable by her father.

Things take a turn for the worse when Rani discovers that Leela is pregnant out of wedlock with her lover Mohan (Kanu Roy), who happens to be the son of Indrajit. Shekhar, who is falling in love with Rani, decides to help her out. Desperate to raise funds for her cure, he takes up Banke's offer to break the vault of his employer, who is none other than Indrajit. The attempted robbery goes awry, but Shekhar escapes, dropping behind the chain he always wears. Indrajit immediately recognises that as that of his long lost son Madan.

Desperate to get back his son, Indrajit organises a live programme featuring Rani, knowing that his love for the young lady will impel Shekhar to come. Rani' father turns up at the theatre, as does Indrajit's entire family. As expected, Shekhar turns up at the theatre, where he is immediately recognised as Indrajit's long lost son Madan. Delighted to find his beloved son, Indrajit immediately turns a new leaf, cancelling his former boss' debts and asking him for the hand of both his daughters for his sons.


Kismet was severely criticised for glorifying crime and portraying a criminal in good light. Despite the criticism, the movie shattered all box office records, becoming the first Indian movie to gross 10 million (10 million) at the box office. It ran for 187 continuous weeks at Roxy Cinema in Calcutta, a record that stood for 32 years.

The song दूर हटो दुनियावालों, हिन्दुस्तान हमारा हैं (go away foreigners, India is ours), which slipped past the censors, was an immensely popular song in the mid 40s, coming as it did less than 6 months after Mahatma Gandhi called for the Quit India Movement. Although superficially addressed to the Germans and Japanese (with whom the British rulers were at war then), the patriotic overtones became at once evident to contemporary audiences. At screenings of Kismet, the reels would be rewound and the song played multiple times on public demand. The unprecedented popularity of the song forced the lyricist Kavi Pradeep to go underground to avoid being arrested by the British authorities for sedition.


Kismet was the first Hindi movie to have an anti-hero as its protagonist. It was also the first ever Hindi movie to use the theme of pregnancy out of wedlock, a recurring theme in Hindi movies all the way to the 1990s.

Kismet was also the first ever Indian movie to use the lost and found formula used in several Hindi movies in the 60s and 70s, notably Waqt (1965), Yaadon ki Baraat (1973) and Amar Akbar Anthony (1977).

The unprecedented success of Kismet established Ashok Kumar as the first ever superstar of Hindi cinema. He remained the most popular actor in Hindi cinema until the early 50s.

Kismet marks the on screen debut of famous 60s comedian Mehmood, who played the role of Madan in his childhood avtar.

The 1961 movie Boy Friend featuring Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra and Madhubala was a remake of Kismet.

In the 1968 movie Padosan, when asked to think of a romantic song, Bhola immediately remembers the door hato duniyawalo song.



The music of the film by Anil Biswas introduced 'full chorus' for the first time in Hindi cinema.[3] The film gave memorable hits like the patriotic, Door Hato O Duniyawalon Hindustan Hamara hay, the sad Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali and a soothing lullaby, Dheere Dheere Aa. The last was a duet between Amirbai Karnataki and Ashok Kumar, which added to the success of the film that is still known as one of his finest works.[4]

  1. Aaj Himalay Ki Choti Se – Door Hato Ai Duniya Walo, Singer: Ameerbai Karnataki, Khan Mastana
  2. Ab Tere Siwa Kaun Mera Krishan Kanhaiya, Singer: Ameerbai Karnataki
  3. Ai Duniya Bata – Ghar Ghar Me Diwali Hai, Singer: Ameerbai Karnataki
  4. Dhire Dhire Aa Re Badal, Mera Bulbul Sau Raha Hai, Singer: Ameerbai Karnataki
  5. Dhire Dhire Aa Re Badal, Mera Bulbul Sau Raha Hai, Singer: Ameerbai Karnataki, Ashok Kumar
  6. Ham Aisi Qisamat Ko, Ek Din Hansaaye, Singer: Ameerbai Karnataki, Arun Kumar
  7. Papihaa Re Mere Piyaa Se Kahiyo Jaay, Singer: Parul Ghosh
  8. Tere Dukh Ke Din Phirenge, Zindagi Ban Ke Jiye Jaa, Singer: Arun Kumar

Door hato O Duniya walon[edit]

In the patriotic song, Door hato O Duniya walon, Hindustan hamara hay ("Step away, People of the World, Hindustan is ours"), penned by Kavi Pradeep, a negative reference to Japan was used – Tum na kisike aage jhunkna, German ho ya Japani ("Don't you bow in front of anyone, be it the Germans or the Japanese") – which allowed it to get past the heavy British censorship of the time.[3][5] But the hidden meaning got through to the people and backed by Anil Biswas's uplifting score, the song became an instant hit amidst the atmosphere of rising nationalistic fervour.[6] The British authorities soon realised their mistake, and wanted to ban the film. An arrest warrant was issued for the film's lyricist Pradeep, who had to go underground to avoid arrest.[7]


The film went on to become a major success, at a theatre in Calcutta it ran for three years, and gave Indian cinema its first title of superstar, Ashok Kumar.[8] According to the numbers, it has been given the status of All-Time Blockbuster. In the decade of the 1940s, this movie made the most money. Its net gross came to Rs. 10 million in 1943, which in today's date is equivalent of Rs. 632 million. This record was beaten in 1949 by Barsaat.

Box office[edit]

Presenting some bold themes for the first time in Bollywood in the 40s – an anti-hero and a single pregnant girl, for instance – this movie ran for 3 years. One of the earliest superhits of Bollywood, this movie also introduced double-role acting for the first time through its first superstar, Ashok Kumar.[citation needed] Box Office India reported that the film collected a nett gross of 10 million (US$150,000) (which amounts to 654 million (US$9.8 million) if adjusted for inflation) and declared the film as an "All Time Blockbuster".[9]

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