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1959 161’(147’) b&w Hindi d/p Bimal Roy pc Bimal Roy Prod. st Subodh Ghosh sc Nabendu Ghosh dial Paul Mahendra lyr Majrooh Sultanpuri c Kamal Bose m S.D. Burman lp Nutan, Sunil Dutt, Shashikala, Tarun Bose, Sulochana, Lalita Pawar

Roy’s classic reformist melodrama about a Harijan (Untouchable) girl whose kinfolk die in a plague epidemic and is raised by an upper- class and caste family. Upendranath Choudhury (Bose) and his wife Charu (Sulochana) have a daughter, Rama (Shashikala), and they adopt Sujata (Nutan), the Harijan orphan. Later, Sujata discovers the truth of her ancestry and must bear the demeaning treatment meted out by Charu and the family friend Giribala (Pawar), whose son Adhir (Dutt) is supposed to marry Rama but falls in love with Sujata. When Sujata donates blood to save Charu’s life, even Charu has to abandon her caste prejudice. Nutan gives one of her best performances, surpassed only by her solo tour de force in Roy’s Bandini (1963). Unfortunately, the weak Adhir has to bear the burden of being the only representative of the progressive forces ranged against oppressive tradition. Presumably for its humanist message, the film includes a rather arbitrarily inserted but elaborate stage performance of Tagore’s dance drama Chandalika. Several classic numbers include Asha Bhosle’s Kali ghata chhaye, composer S.D. Burman’s own Suno mere bandhu re and Talat Mahmood’s Jalte hain jiske liye.