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Sarfarosh (Poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Matthew Matthan
Screenplay byJohn Matthew Matthan
Hriday Lani
Pathik Vats
Story byJohn Matthew Matthan
Produced byJohn Matthew Matthan
StarringNaseeruddin Shah
Aamir Khan
Sonali Bendre
Mukesh Rishi
Shri Vallabh Vyas
Govind Namdeo
Pradeep Rawat
Narrated byNaseeruddin Shah
Sonali Bendre
CinematographyVikas Sivaraman
Edited byJethu Mundul
Music bySongs:
Background Score:
Sanjoy Chowdhury
Cinematt Pictures
Distributed byEros Entertainment
Release date
  • 30 April 1999 (1999-04-30)
Running time
163 minutes
Budget8 crore (equivalent to 29 crore or US$3.9 million in 2020)[1]
Box office33.46 crore (equivalent to 122 crore or US$16 million in 2020)[1]

Sarfarosh (transl. Fervour) is a 1999 Indian action drama film written, produced and directed by John Matthew Matthan and starring Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan, Sonali Bendre and Mukesh Rishi. John started working on Sarfarosh in 1992. Seven years were spent on the research, pre-production and production till it finally released in 1999. The film deals with an Indian police officer's quest to stop cross-border terrorism.[2]

The film was released just before the Kargil conflict when tensions between India and Pakistan were high. On release, the film was both, critically and commercially, successful. The movie received praise, for the cast performances, especially Khan, Shah and Rishi. Its technical aspects, music and story were also praised.[3][1] The film won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Film, and was screened at the International Film Festival of India.[4] The film was remade in Kannada as Sathyameva Jayathe with Devaraj and in Telugu as Astram (2006) with Vishnu Manchu and Anushka Shetty.


Arms trafficking is taking place in India. Bala Thakur, a gun handler, provides the arms to Veeran, a brigand. Veeran and his gang attack a wedding bus, gunning down every person in it. The government appoints a Special Action Team in Mumbai to trace the attack.

ACP Ajay Singh Rathore (Aamir Khan), a resident of Mumbai, attends a concert by famed ghazal singer, the elderly Gulfam Hassan (Naseeruddin Shah), a Muhajir. Gulfam is Indian by birth but had to move to Pakistan as a child during the partition; deeply scarred by the experience, he is happy that the government allows him to live in his palatial residence whenever he comes to India. Gulfam finds a huge fan in Ajay, who used to attend his programs as a child, and the two bond. Ajay also reunites with Seema (Sonali Bendre), whom he had a crush on when they were studying in Delhi. The duo falls in love.

Inspector Salim (Mukesh Rishi), a Muslim inspector, is taken off the team when notorious gangster Sultan (Pradeep Rawat) escapes his clutches. He is reprimanded for this failure and for causing the death of three officers in the attempt. Despite being an honest officer, Salim is rueful that he is given second class treatment because he is Muslim. He becomes more angry when Ajay, who is younger and inexperienced, is told to head the team. Ajay's past is revealed: his father was going to testify against a terrorist, and in an attempt to stop them, Ajay's elder brother was killed. His father was kidnapped, and by the time the terrorists spared him, the man had lost his voice. This motivated Ajay to join the police force.

Gulfam is revealed to be working for the Pakistani intelligence, which is attempting to indulge in a proxy war with India. Since Gulfam likes Ajay, he sees to it that nothing happens to him. Salim finds the location of Bala Thakur and Sultan and gives the information to Ajay, who makes convinces him to join the team again. An encounter with the criminals results in the death of Bala Thakur while Ajay is injured. Though Sultan escapes, the operation is a success as the team is able to intercept a consignment of lethal arms meant for terrorist Veeran. Sultan is assassinated on Gulfam's orders because of his failure.

Ajay has an epiphany which leads the team to Bahid in Rajasthan. There, Ajay meets Gulfam, who is temporarily staying in his ancestral manor. Gulfam attempts to derail the investigation, even ordering an assault on Ajay, are of no avail. The repeated failures displease the Pakistani Intelligence, which dispatch Major Aslam Baig to take care of the business.

The team prepares for a final assault on the gun-running operation and land at Gulfam's mansion. Ajay feels betrayed when he learns of Gulfam's betrayal, but is aware of the lack of evidence to indict him for his crimes. He tricks Gulfam into killing Baig and arrests him for it. Gulfam reveals that he did what he did because of how his experiences during the partition hurt him. Ajay makes him realise that his actions are not benefiting any people of any religion, and Gulfam, unable to stand the humiliation and guilt, commits suicide. His suicide is hushed up, and the team returns to Mumbai to much accolades for busting the terrorist racket. Salim is tipped on the whereabouts of Veeran, and Ajay embarks on another investigation with his team.


Critical reception[edit]

Upon theatrical release, Sarfarosh received critical acclaim from film critics. Naseeruddin Shah was especially praised for his role of a Muhajir.[5] The reviewer for Filmfare rated the film four stars out of five and wrote, "What makes this film so exceptional is its carefully thought out characterization and brilliant performances. Although this is his first film, director John Mathew Matthan draws perfectly crafted outputs from his entire cast. Aamir brings the role of A.C.P. Rathod to a never-before-seen dimension of reality." He further added, "Sarfarosh succeeds in connecting with the audiences, as it manages to transcend its medium and do a great deal more than just entertain."[6]

Suparn Verma of felt that the film "manages to marry serious cinema with the commercial variety" and wrote that the "script has this no-nonsense look to it, clearly and succinctly establishing the protagonist's past ..." In addition to commending the acting performances of Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan and Sonali Bendre, he lauded the departments of direction, music, choreography, and called the camerawork "good in parts but lack[ing] technical finesse".[7]


National Film Awards – 1999
Filmfare Awards


Studio album by
GenreFeature film soundtrack
ProducerJatin Lalit
Jatin Lalit chronology
Silsila Hai Pyar Ka

The film's music was composed by Jatin Lalit. Lyrics are penned by Israr Ansari, Nida Fazli, Sameer, and Indeevar.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Indeevar, Israr Ansari, Nida Fazli, Sameer; all music is composed by Jatin-Lalit.

1."Zindagi Maut Na Ban Jaye"Israr AnsariRoop Kumar Rathod, Sonu Nigam06:18
2."Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya Ghazal Remake"Nida FazliJagjit Singh Ghulam Ali05:02
3."Is Deewane Ladke Ko"SameerAlka Yagnik, Aamir Khan04:40
4."Yeh Jawani Hadh Kar De"SameerKavita Krishnamurthy04:44
5."Jo Haal Dil Ka"SameerKumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik05:26
6."Meri Raaton Ki Neendein Uda De"IndeevarAlka Yagnik04:37


  1. ^ a b c "Sarfarosh – Movie – Box Office India".
  2. ^ "Rediff On The NeT: Sarfarosh Roars Across America".
  3. ^ "Rediff On The NeT, Movies: A look at the year gone by".
  4. ^ "1990′s : Decade of change in Hindi Cinema (1999 Part I) » Box Office 18". 21 April 2014.
  5. ^ "The enemy within".
  6. ^ "Sarfarosh – A reason to live (FILMFARE ONLINE)". Filmfare. Archived from the original on 17 February 2001. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  7. ^ Verma, Suparn (30 April 1999). "The enemy within". Archived from the original on 5 March 2003. Retrieved 3 May 2017.

External links[edit]