Massey Sahib

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Massey Sahib
Directed by Pradip Krishen
Produced by NFDC
Written by Pradip Krishen
Based on Mister Johnson
by Joyce Cary
Starring Raghubir Yadav
Barry John
Arundhati Roy
Virendra Saxena
Music by Vanraj Bhatia
Cinematography R. K. Bose
Release date
Running time
124 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi

Massey Sahib is a 1985 Hindi drama film directed by Pradip Krishen, starring Raghubir Yadav in the title role. It was Krishen's first film, and was an adaptation from Joyce Cary's 1939 novel Mister Johnson. It won Yadav two international acting awards.[1] The film also stars Arundhati Roy, who was yet to write her first novel and win the Man Booker Prize, along with Barry John and Virendra Saxena.


The film is set in 1929, in a small town in Central India. Francis Massey (Raghubir Yadav) is a clerk in the District Collector's office in the colonial administration of British India. He aspires to be like the colonial rulers, and thinks of himself as different from his Indian compatriots. In his wish to help the rulers – in particular, his immediate superior, District Collector Charles Adam (Barry John) – he adopts methods that are irregular. Adam's dream project of building a road through the forest is stuck for lack of funds. Massey manages to get it completed using a mixture of manipulation, persuasion and threats. To his surprise, he is accused of corruption by the very boss whom he had meant to help, and who had condoned his earlier transgressions. His wife too is forcefully taken back by her family. He turns for help to his friend Banaji to get his wife back. Banaji refuses to help him. In an act of frustrated rage, Massey kills Banaji. He is arrested for murder, and Adam advises him to plead guilty to accidental manslaughter. However, Massey refuses, secure in the belief that his Adam Sahib will help him out, leading to the tragic denouement.




The film was shot on location in and around Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh. In an interview, Raghubir Yadav said that he was very nervous about facing the camera for the first time, but was reassured by Barry John, with whom had worked on the stage. He added, "Till we reached Pachmarhi for the shoot, I was not clear how I would play this complex character. One week before the shooting I saw an old man on the road in an outfit similar to what Massey was expected to wear. He seemed to belong to that era. I followed his mannerisms."[2]


  • Silver Peacock for Best Actor – Raghubir Yadav, International Film Festival of India, 1987
  • Indian Directors' Association Award for Best Director, 1987
  • FIPRESCI Critic's Prize for Best Actor – Raghubir Yadav, Venice Film Festival, 1986


  1. ^ "Ciemas of India, Videos, Festival Participation & Awards, ...". Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "My first break – Raghuvir Yadav". The Hindu. 16 October 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 

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