12 comments on “Devastating: Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962)

  1. “Devastating” seems to be the universal verdict on this one and Guru Dutt’s other classics – Kaagaz Ke Phool and Pyaasa – which arent a whole lot better! I have them all in my collection but so far I havent worked up the courage to watch.

  2. This is a great movie, although v.v. sad and bleak which isn’t my usual thing. And Meena in weepy avatar makes me break out in hives usually, but it was so good here.

    Pyaasa isn’t as as or “devastating” as this one and Kaagaz Ke Phool, I love that film and if you want to see more Waheeda she’s great in it!

  3. Bollyviewer, I thought some of your comment was phrased rather strangely… I wouldn’t say “which aren’t a whole lot better”; I’d say, “which are almost as good.” Well, I know Pyaasa is anyway.

    Memsaab, I already knew about your aversion to “weepy Meena,” so it’s good to see that you liked her in this.

    I’ve got to see Kaagaz Ke Phool sometime soon. There was a place called Raja Sweets in Jackson Heights that always had a copy of that in one of their $5 DVD bins, so I left it there a few times as I grabbed other films I wanted to see that I knew I might not find again. But the other night I walked past Raja Sweets and saw that their inventory was mostly cleared out and they were obviously closing down! Oh, well. I guess I’ll find it somewhere else…

  4. Richard, I was all of 10 when I watched Pyaasa and it left a very deep (and yes, a wrongly dark and dreary) impression on me. Suffice it to say that if I hadnt seen Mr. and Mrs. 55 as a teenager I would have lived my entire life without venturing near a Guru Dutt film! And since I still havent worked up the courage to face my childhood demons, his other movies are still “equally bad”. :-D I have taken the right step and bought them all – they just need to be watched!

  5. Bollyviewer, now I understand! I didn’t know anything about Hindi films when I was a child. The closest I came to watching an Indian movie when I was ten was probably when I saw clips of Ravi Shankar playing at a George Harrison concert. But I was about 10 years old when I first decided that I would be a writer. If only I did see Pyaasa back then, I might have been better prepared for the perils that lay ahead. :)

  6. Memsaab, I just found Kaagaz Ke Phool at another favorite Bollywood store, in another $5 bin. :) So, I should be watching this fairly soon…

  7. Great write up!
    Am still mustering up courage to write about it.
    Don’t know how to start. This movie has so many dimensions and each frame telling so many stories. The mind is boggled by the different impressions
    Have left behind the translation of ‘din control ke aaye’ form Mr. Sampath at my site.

  8. Pingback: Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962) « Harveypam's Blog

  9. Richard, I just left a comment onHarvey’s blog and found thiis link to yours. I’ve only seen the songs on YT. I too noticed the mujrah, the other dancers shrouded in dark. Frame by frame it was brilliant. I don’t think Minoo Mumtaz is attractive and so her casting here was just spot on–well working girls have hard lives and don’t have time to be pampered into beauty. And Meena’s acting is the finest I have seen in Bollyland (just the little I saw in the songs). I thiink this might be my favorite Indian movie (after I’ve seen it.)
    I read somewhere (maybe in Philips fillums) that her willingness to take up drink is an example of her affirming herself and putting up a fight. That’s an interesting interpretation.
    Poor Guru Dutt. To not take credit for a work of genius–he was already sinking then.

  10. Thank you for the link, Harvey (as well as, as I mentioned at your post, the nice words!)… Now my post on a movie that impressed me a lot is getting a new life even though I wrote it a year and a half ago. :)

    Sophy, good to hear you noticed this mujra too. I do think Minoo Mumtaz is attractive, but you are right that she is not the glamorous/”conventional” kind of beauty. (Someone at one of the YouTube postings of this song said she looked “adorable,” and I think that’s accurate.)

    You are right that this film shows Meena Kumari to be possibly the greatest actress in “Bollyland.”

    Regarding the comment you read that “her willingness to take up drink is an example of her affirming herself and putting up a fight,” I just looked over Philip’s review again and I didn’t see that there, and I’m not sure I would put it that way myself either. But maybe this is related to what I was pondering in my post, that when she makes these great sacrifices for her husband (and here I’ll quote myself :) ), she is actually engaged in a revolt against the oppressive condition to which most women in this Indian aristocracy are subject; that is, she will not willingly accept her husband’s nightly desertion of her… It’s a pretty bleak drama when a character resorts to self-destructive and seemingly unlimited subsurvience in order to rebel against an even greater kind of oppression (at least as she sees it), but Meena the Tragedy Queen plays this sad role very compellingly.

  11. Yes Richard, I really need to see this movie to see how this is spun. Is it a feminist story–someone drew parallels with Ray’s Charulata — about a bored aristocratic housewife. That was the time of the Brahmo samaj–these were the kinds of issues they discussed.
    Meena Kumari seems to have been an interesting person. Of all the actors in Bollywood, it’s she and Kishore Kumar I would have liked to meet. (And Dharmendra for completly different reasons.)

  12. Pingback: Thoughts on Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam « Harveypam's Blog

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