Shehar Aur Sapna
(1963)

(Released: )
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Abbass romantic view of Bombays pavement-dwellers tells of a man (Roy) who arrives from a poor Punjabi village to find a job. Amazed at the citys opulence he soon realises the main problem is to find shelter. He finally settles down with his wife (Surekha) in an unused water pipe where she gives birth to their child. The activities of slum landlords and thieves open the way for property developers and bulldozers and the pavement-dwellers again have to find shelter elsewhere, but this time they act together. For the next decade, this films sentimentalised way of showing urban class division became the standard, popular idiom for these motifs, extending into Abbas own documentaries (of Char Shaher Ek Kahani, 1968) and into, e.g., Sukhdev influential progressive featurettes (And Miles To Go..., 1965). *.* To Bombay, the city of contrasts; comes Bhola a young man from a small town. Friendless, lost in the vast metropolis, Bhola is befriended by a group of footpath-wellers including Uncle Johnny, a kind-hearted old Goanese musician, Anwar Miyan, an old actor of the stage who now works as an extra in films, Diwana, a "poet of footpath" who has written a novel, and Pandoo Pehelwan, a wrestler, who helps him to get work in a mill. But he receives a different treatment form Jagga, a gangster who lives by extorting money from the poor folk who sleep on the foot-path. . When the rains come at night Bhola takes refuge in a bif drain-pipe which is "inhabited" by Radha - a girl form a village - who distrusts all men. . Bhola and Radhas friendship develops into tender love, but when one day Bhola proposes marriage Radha refuses because, she says, "I am no longer innocent - I am like those flowers trampled into mud." . For a few moments Bhola is dumb-founded by her confession till a new concept of love based on understanding and forgiveness is revelaed to him by a song of the mad poet Diwana, and he runs to save her from suicide. . They are married but they cannot find a place to stay. They are obliged to live in the drain pipe - an idea which is irksome to Bhola who wants to keep his wife in a real home. . When Bhola finds a purse and goes to return it to the rich man who lives alone in a huge mansion of 22 rooms, he has a "dream" or a vision of hundreds of footpath-dwellers comfortable sleeping in the hall of the mansion. . So they go to a squatters colony where Bholas three old fiends - Anwar Miyan, Uncle Johnny and Pandoo Pehelwan - have jointly built a hut which they call "Paradise". The three old men are chronic woman haters but, when they learn that Radha is going to be a mother, they welcome her. . All seems well till one day the evil Jagga comes on the scene to shatter the peaceful and happy atmosphere. . Next morning, as Radha is obout to deliver the baby the squatters colony is being demolished, for the owner of the land wants to put up luxurious fleats there. At the last moment Radhas baby is born alive and their hut is saved from the bull-dozer-at least for a few days. But where do they go from here?

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