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Directed by Vijaya Mehta
Produced by NFDC
Screenplay by B. K. Karanjia
Vijaya Mehta
Story by B. K. Karanjia
Starring Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Kirron_Kher
Music by Vanraj Bhatia
Edited by Renu Saluja
Release date
  • 20 May 1988 (1988-05-20) (India)
Running time
125 min.
Country India
Language Hindi

Pestonjee is a 1988 Hindi drama film directed by Vijaya Mehta, starring Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi, based on a story by film journalist B. K. Karanjia.

At the 35th National Film Awards, it won the award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.[1]


The film is an intimate look into the life and manners of the Parsi community especially those living in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1950s and 60s. Phirojshah (Naseeruddin Shah) and Pestonjee (Anupam Kher) are close friends. They like to do everything together (and even plan to get married on the same day), even though they are very different in temperament. Phirojshah (Phiroj) is quiet, thoughtful, and indecisive, while Pestonjee (Pesi) is an extrovert. Phiroj is unable to make up his mind about marrying a girl, Jeroo (Shabana Azmi), selected for him by a matchmaker. It is Pesi who ends up marrying her. Phiroj has fallen in love with her, but does not grudge Pesi his happiness. He decides not to marry, and moves to another city. They keep in touch by mail. Phiroj is delighted to hear that they are expecting a baby. He decides to travel to Bombay to visit them. During his visit, Phiroj learns that the married life of Pesi and Jeroo is not as he had imagined it. Jeroo has had a miscarriage. Phiroj is horrified to discover that Pesi has a mistress. He is saddened by how Jeroo has changed. She is no longer the pretty girl she was, but appears cantankerous and uncaring. Both she and Pesi are unhappy in their marriage. Phiroj resolves not to meet them, but mentally is unable to keep himself aloof. All three carry on with their unhappy lives until Pesi's sudden death. Finally, Phiroj discovers that he cannot help Jeroo. Soona, Pesi's mistress whom Phirojshah had thought of as a loose woman, turns out to be the one person capable of genuine love.



  • Direction—Vijaya Mehta
  • Screenplay—B. K. Karanjia and Vijaya Mehta
  • Music -- Vanraj Bhatia
  • Cinematography—Apurba Kishore Bir and Rajan Kothari
  • Editing -- Renu Saluja
  • Art Direction—Roshan Kalapesi


Critically, the film was generally well appreciated, both for its meticulous depiction of Parsi life and for the performances by all the lead actors. Scholars Gokulsing and Dissanayake write, "... there is certainly a strain of sentimentality in the film. But it is counterbalanced by the comic observations of the director and the humour generated by the dialogue as well as the acting."[2]

Academic and activist Ruth Vanita has a different take on the film. She sees it as an interesting attempt by a woman director to study the male psyche. She notes: "The film is about ways of seeing. Thus, though Feroze’s (played by Naseerudin Shah) is the central consciousness in the film, it is named for his dearest friend Pestonjee, known as Pesi (played by Anupam Kher). This titling after the one seen rather than the one seeing suggests how the imaginative life we live, which may be the life of another, can overshadow the life that is apparently our own." On Azmi's portrayal of Jeroo, she writes, "The portrait of Jeroo, as she develops from a naive, romantic but not very intelligent girl into a cantankerous, hysterical wife (and, later, widow) is a brilliant study of a woman destroyed by the compulsions of an unsuitable marriage. The way her gift for piano playing, and ultimately even her desire to play, are eroded by the stresses of domesticity and bondage to an uncaring husband, represents a drama enacted in the lives of many women." [3]



  1. ^ a b c "35th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Gokulsing and Dissanayake (2004). Indian popular cinema: a narrative of cultural change. Trentham Books. p. 161. ISBN 1858563291. 
  3. ^ Vanita, Ruth. "A Conservative Rebel" (PDF). Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "BFJA Awards (1989)". Retrieved 21 March 2013. 

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