Boot Polish shines

After watching disasters like ‘Dil Bole Hadippa,’ and ‘What’s your Rashee?’ I couldn’t help but open a CD pack which I had bought a year ago and stacked away in a corner.

To my surprise, the 1954 made black and white, “Boot Polish” was able to do what none of the recent releases could. It made me laugh, cry and hope with the characters. If a movie can carry you along and make you feel with the characters, I consider it good entertainment.

It’s a story of street kids Bhola (Ratan Kumar) and Belu (Baby Naaz) who beg at a railway station in Mumbai. They later turn to earning money by polishing shoes. But when no one wants to shine their shoes during the rains, hunger beckons them again. A police raid separates the siblings. Life changes when one of the kids is adopted by a couple.

The story may sound gloomy, but the little joys of life are well depicted in the film. The kids save up money from their cruel aunt so that they can buy a brush and polish. When another boot black tries to steal their money from their hiding and escapes, you expect dismay once again. But the younger Belu has already hidden away the money. No, hiding away from the begging earning which they have to give to their aunt isn’t enough. So fool a friendly bootlegger John Chacha (David) for the remaining money. John doesn’t mind, for it is he who inspires them to take up a respectful life.

The excitement that one has when you take up a new job is also very real. The brush and the polish are given a respectable place at the altar at John Chacha’s shack. The kids dream of the many things that they will do when they earn from polishing shoes. Isn’t it the same feeling that we all had while joining our first job?

With their first earnings, the each wants to buy a dress for another. The same love is seen in times of hunger when there is just one piece of bread.

The heartless Kamala chachi (Chand Burque) who makes them beg and beats them throughout the film is also not painted entirely black. At the beginning when the children are left at her doorstep she recalls how their parents are thrown her out of their house when her husband died. Being a sex worker, she couldn’t afford to feed and bring up the kids with her earning. So, they had to earn their own food by begging. This is definitely cruel, but poverty isn’t kind.

Fate changes the course of their lives. A police raid at the railway station separates the kids. While Belu is adopted by a rich couple, Bhola reaches an orphanage. Bhola escapes from the orphanage and the kids pine for each other. They are reunited by chance to live with their new parents.

The music by Shankar Jaikishan has given us songs like “Nanhe munhe bachche teri mutti mein kya hai,” which are sung even now. Produced by Raj Kapoor, directed by Prakash Arora and written by Bhanu Pratap, I consider it one of the best films I have seen.

The film won the Best Film award at the 1954 Fimfare awards. The director Prakash Arora was nominated for the Golden Palm award and Baby Naaz won a special mention for a child actor at the 1955 Cannes Film festival.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by luv guru on October 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Thank God.after a long time there’s someone who feels that cinema today is nothing but junk.i get shivers whenever i hear any number from the movie”what’s ur rasheee’.how could ashutosh gowarikar think of making such a movie.a movie full of loopholes which are as big as the depleted ozone layer.not even God could fill it.


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