Two major figures from the Bengali IPTA, actor-director Sombhu Mitra and composer Salil Choudhury, collaborated with Raj Kapoor on this expressionist effort that became successful only after a 115’ version of the film received the main prize at the Karlovy Vary festival in 1957. Kapoor plays a ‘thirsty peasant’ wandering through Calcutta looking for a drink of water. He breaks into an apartment block but is discovered and has to dodge the residents, an ingenious narrative device to move the hero from one flat and one milieu to another, allowing for a comic yet critical survey of middle-class Bengali life. The film ends with the hero’s searing denunciation of a class that places no value on honesty and a fantasy sequence in which Nargis finally offers him water to the tune of a song heralding the dawn, Jago ujiyara chhaye. The British critic Geoff Brown noted: ‘Kapoor’s character is cut from Chaplin’s cloth. He starts out sharing food with a dog, squatting on the pavement, and spends most of the film acting in pantomime, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in a drum, shinnying down a drainpipe, periodically pursued by a lively crowd of residents wielding anything from sticks to stringless tennis racquets. The result is one of Kapoor’s most diverting films.’
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