Kabuliwala (1961)




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Bemen Gupta is the second Indian director to bring Rabindranath Tagore's tale about a man and his struggles in a foreign land, to the silver screen. The stranger is from Afghanistan, and when he sets out for India to make enough money to save his farm, he is heartbroken at leaving his little daughter behind. Once in India, the people in the neighborhood where he settles nickname him the "Kabuliwala" -- the "wala" or vendor from Kabul (Afghanistan's capital). He finds an emotional stand-in for his daughter in the daughter of a famous poet, and while constantly remembering his own offspring, he showers attention on the "adopted" little girl. Then one day a corrupt landlord drives him to commit murder -- and his future with his own daughter and the surrogate daughter suddenly takes a downward turn as he goes off to prison for ten years. Not maudlin or mawkish, this drama by Gupta occasionally still strays toward that emotional end of the spectrum. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi


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