Tagore’s story (pub. 1918) of the Pathan tribesman Rehman (Sahni) who journeys from Kabul to Calcutta seemed tailor-made for a naturalist acting challenge. It tells the tale of a seller of spices called Kabuliwala (the man from Kabul) in Calcutta who befriends a little girl because she reminds him of his own daughter. After years in jail for murder, Rehman finds the girl has grown up and realises that his own daughter may have forgotten him as well. Gupta’s film, like Tapan Sinha’s Bengali version (1956), depends mainly on star performances. Here, Sahni’s colourful mannerisms contrast with the static camera, tableau-like shots and extensive dissolves intended to evoke geographic expanse and memory time. The music by Salil Choudhury includes numbers like Hemanta Mukherjee’s Ganga aaye kahan se and one of Manna Dey’s best-known songs Ai mere pyare watan. The fake Persian music with its copious mandolin effects is rather intrusive.
Did you know?
The film is based on the short story Kabuliwala written by Rabindranath Tagore. Read More