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aka Traveller 1957 151’ b&w Hindi d/s/co-sc Hrishikesh Mukherjee pc Film Group co-sc Ritwik Ghatak dial Rajinder Singh Bedi lyr Shailendra c Kamal Bose m Salil Choudhury lp Suchitra Sen, Shekhar, Bipin Gupta, Durga Khote, Kishore Kumar, Nirupa Roy, Nasir Hussain, Keshto Mukherjee, Hira Sawant, Daisy Irani, Dilip Kumar, Usha Kiron, Paul Mahendra, Mohan Choti, David, Rajlakshmi, Baby Naaz, Rashid Khan

The experienced editor Mukherjee’s directorial debut constituted an important attempt to carve out a viable independent production sector in the Hindi cinema at the time. The film was made by a loose collective of mainly Bengali film people, including Ghatak and composer Choudhury who shared a background in radical theatre and were in Bombay mainly through Bimal Roy’s patronage. Many of them worked together again on Madhumati (1958). Set in an old suburban house, presumably in Calcutta, the film narrates three tenuously related Chekhovian stories about three sets of the house’s occupants. The first has the Bengali star S. Sen as an orphaned young woman, Shakuntala, who desperately wants her husband Ajay (Shekhar) to make up with his estranged parents so that she may belong to a family once more. The second story has a wayward young man, Bhanu (K. Kumar), desperate to find a job to support his aged father (Hussain) and his widowed sister-in-law (N. Roy). The third and longest story focuses on the shadowy figure of a neighbourhood ‘madman’ (D. Kumar) who crops up in the previous stories as well. He was in love with Uma (Kiron) who lived in the house but disappeared just before their wedding day. In the end, the madman’s death and the miraculous recovery of Uma’s paralysed son coincide. The stories invoke a cyclical sequence of marriage, birth, death and rebirth, enhanced by Choudhury’s score and some remarkable camerawork.