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Namkeen, 1982 Hindi film, album cover.jpg
Directed byGulzar
Produced byJayant Malkan
Written byScreenplay and Dialogue: Gulzar
Based onAkal Basant
by Samaresh Basu
StarringSharmila Tagore
Shabana Azmi
Waheeda Rehman
Kiran Vairale
Sanjeev Kumar
Music byR. D. Burman
Lyrics: Gulzar
CinematographyM. Sampat
Edited byWaman B. Bhosle
Gurudutt Shirali
Release date
  • 2 April 1982 (1982-04-02)
Running time
112 min

Namkeen (Devanāgarī: नमकीन, English: Salty), is a 1982 Hindi film, directed by Gulzar, with Sharmila Tagore, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi and Waheeda Rehman as leads. It was yet another movie by Gulzar made on some very sensitive but untouched aspects of Indian society especially in rural areas. The story Akal Basant was by Samaresh Basu on whose story, Gulzar had previously made Kitaab (1977).[1][2]

The film won the National Film Awards in 1983 for Best Audiography for Essabhai M. Suratwala, while Samresh Basu won the Filmfare Award for Best Story. Waheeda Rehman and Kiran Vairale received Filmfare Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress, which they lost to Supriya Pathak in Bazaar.[3]


Three unmarried sisters live in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh with their old mother, Jugni (Waheeda Rehman), a former nautanki (folk theatre) dancer, who sells spices and takes in boarders to make a living. The three daughters are named like flavors in food. The 'salty' eldest daughter Nimki (Sharmila Tagore), is a reserved spinster, quietly but firmly holding the household together. The 'sweet' middle sister is Mitthu (Shabana Azmi) who cannot speak, but is revealed to be an intelligent and romantic girl. The 'tangy' youngest one is Chinki (Kiran Vairale), a bold and vibrant teenager, who turns out to be more perceptive than one would credit her to be. Their quiet little haven is occasionally threatened by the alcoholic father Kishanlal (Kishanlal), a sarangi player who was on the travelling troupe with Jugni, and keeps attempting to reclaim his daughters. She left him years ago to protect her daughters from the life of a nautanki dancer which she always struggled to escape.[4]

All four live in a very old house outside the village. Gerulal (Sanjeev Kumar) is a truck driver who joins this peculiar household for a brief time as a tenant. Initially stunned by their less than friendly ways and unsocial demeanor, he grows to respect the women as he watches the difficulties they struggle with every day. He finds that even among the crisis of money and facilities, all the sisters are capable of maintaining moral values and dignified behavior towards the outer world. He begins to like Nimki. But somehow Mitthu, whom he sympathizes and befriends, seems to have feelings for Gerulal. When Gerulal needs to move on from that region because of work, he proposes to Nimki. But she turns down his proposal citing the responsibility of her sisters and her mother, and asks him to marry Mithu instead - a request he cannot comply with.

Three years later, Gerulal is shocked to find Chinki performing at a village nautanki. From her he learns how drastically things changed after he left - Mitthu lost her mental balance and committed suicide, Jugni died of the shock and Chinki, with not much left to choose from, joined her father's troupe. Gerulal rushes back to Jugni's crumbling old house to find Nimki, alone and aged beyond her years, almost a reflection of her mother. This time, he takes her away with him.[5]


The main characters of the movie are Gerulal and Nimki. Gerulal was depicted as a thread who brought together all the sporadic pearls of that family. Nimki is a person who is always ready to sacrifice and she always puts her interests after her sisters and mother. This is why she refuses to marry Gerulal.



Originally Rekha was cast in the role of Nimki, which was later played by Sharmila Tagore.[6]


The film was released on Doordarshan, India's National TV network in 1982 as it did not find any distributors, as did another film of the decade Libaas (1988), which never had a commercial release.[6] Film's DVD version was released in 1998,[7] and had a different ending, with ending of the original cut, where Girulal comes back to find an almost empty home, edited out.[8]

Special Mention[edit]

Namkeen was featured in Avijit Ghosh's book, 40 Retakes: Bollywood Classics You May Have Missed


Studio album by
GenreFilm Soundtrack/Filmi
R. D. Burman chronology
Kachche Heere
Yeh To Kamaal Ho Gaya

The soundtrack was composed R. D. Burman and lyrics by Gulzar, and featured songs by playback singers Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle. Though "Raah Pe Rahte Hai", sung by Kishore Kumar got noticed, and stood out for its lyrics being based on the life for truck drivers, it was "Baankee Chalee Zhaankee Chalee" and "Phir Se Aaiyo Badaraa Bidesee", both sung by Asha Bhonsle that remained film's memorable songs.

  1. "Baankee Chalee Zhaankee Chalee" – Asha Bhonsle
  2. "Phir Se Aaiyo Badaraa Bidesee" – Asha Bhonsle [9]
  3. "Aisaa Lagaa Koee Suramaa Nazar Maa" – Alka Yagnik
  4. "Badee Der Se Meghaa" – Asha Bhonsle
  5. "Raah Pe Rahte Hai" – Kishore Kumar



  1. ^ Samaresh Basu on IMDb
  2. ^ Gulazar; Govind Nihalani; Saibal Chatterjee (2003). Encyclopaedia Of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 357. ISBN 978-81-7991-066-5.
  3. ^ "The Nominations - 1982". Filmfare Award website. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012.
  4. ^ Sloan, Jane (2007). Reel women: an international directory of contemporary feature films about women. Scarecrow Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-8108-5738-3.
  5. ^ Namkeen': The tears are salty merinews, 5 October 2008.
  6. ^ a b Namkeen : A film review
  7. ^ Namkeen Allmovie
  8. ^ Namkeen 1982
  9. ^ Phir Se Aaiyo Badaraa Bidesee on YouTube

External links[edit]