Near India and Pakistan's border-town of Fatehpur, lives Ranjit Singh Choudhary who has been labeled as a rebel by his schoolmaster and his dad, Makhan's employer, Bade Thakur, as he could ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ranjit Singh Choudhary
SP Sultan Singh
Sumitra Sultan Singh
Havaldar Gopi Dada
Fatehpur's Thanedar
Bade Thakur
Bharat Kapoor ...
Thakur Shakti Singh
Rajan Haksar ...
Makhan Singh Choudhary
Mazhar Khan ...
Thakur Jaswant Singh
Sulochana Latkar ...
Mrs. Makhan Singh Choudhary
Ram Mohan ...


Near India and Pakistan's border-town of Fatehpur, lives Ranjit Singh Choudhary who has been labeled as a rebel by his schoolmaster and his dad, Makhan's employer, Bade Thakur, as he could not stand the injustice that was meted to farmers like his dad, and his ancestors who had become economic slaves to the upper-caste Thakurs, who loaned them some money, mortgaged their land, made them toil in the fields, took away their crops, molested their women, and when they passed away, forced their children to take on the debt. Ranjit decides to leave for good, but does return on the very day of his dad's passing. He is asked to assume the loan left unpaid by his dad, when he refuses to do so, he is treated as a bandit, leading him to confront the corrupt Police Force. When Bade Thakur's daughter, Sumitra, who was Ranjit's childhood sweetheart, marries DSP Sultan Singh, a buffalo is slaughtered and left to rot in the community well, poisoning the water, resulting in several deaths, including ... Written by rAjOo (

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28 June 1985 (India)  »

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The non-ending slavery of the lower caste peasant
16 May 2011 | by (India) – See all my reviews

Ghulami was the maiden venture of now well-known filmmaker, J.P. Dutta. It's a thought-provoking movie, baring the bitter truth of the slavery of the downtrodden Indian poor peasant to the heartless Indian caste system as well as poverty. The poor peasant (mainly belonging to a lower caste in the discriminatory caste system) takes birth in a loan which had been taken by his ancestors and dies in loan, leaving it for his next generation; his land and belongings are always under the threat of confiscation due to non-payment of the loan and worstly the honour of the ladies of his family is under constant threat from the lusty landlords, still enjoying the undesirable benefits of the feudalistic landownership system continuing for centuries in the rural India. On 15th August, 1947, our country got independence but the poor peasants are still accurst to bear the brunt of the slavery of the mighty.

Ghulami (1985) was the maiden directorial venture of J.P. Dutta whose story was written by his father, O.P. Dutta. He has presented the story of a well-educated and but full of self-respect peasant (Dharmendra) who unfortunately finds himself on the lower rung of the ladder of the social structure because of his birth. The daughter of the supercilious landlord, though, possesses a different nature and outlook and she (Smita Patil) is a close friend of him. The police of the village, as usual, is sold in the hands of the landlord (Om Shivpuri) and join hands with him and his arrogant and lustful sons (Bharat Kapoor and Mazhar Khan) to oppress and humiliate the already victimized by misusing the power of the uniform. A like-minded ex-serviceman (Mithun Chakraborty) join hands with him and a lower-caste kind-hearted Hawaldar (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) also comes to his side after losing his son in an confrontation with the upper caste and rich mighties who don't allow the lower caste grooms to ride a horse. The main protagonist has to become a bandit in the eyes of the law to save the land and the honour of the hundreds of peasants, leaving his pregnant wife (Reena Roy) behind. The husband of his friend (the landlord's daughter) is a senior police officer (Nasiruddin Shah) who also becomes his enemy on personal level after knowing about his friendship with his wife. The violence-ridden climax underscores this harsh reality only that the rebels die, the cruel and unjust system doesn't.

I am a Rajasthani, well-acquainted with the deserts there and therefore I acknowledge with high appreciation, the skill of J.P. Dutta in capturing the area in with finesse. The complete background and the milieu is highly realistic and impressive - the sand dunes, the Hawelis, the village lanes, the tattered houses of the poor and even the Police Chowki. The narrative is in complete synchronization with the milieu nowhere the movie renders an air of being an imaginary story. Almost everything looks real.

The narrative is spellbinding. Right from the very first frame to the very last frame, the movie is able to keep the viewer tied to his seat with his eyes glued to the screen. The screenplay swiftly moves from scene to scene and J.P. Dutta has demonstrated his better sense by keeping the movie completely free from meaningless comedy and unrealistic romance. The love-angles are touching, not titillating.

The music of Laxmikant Pyarelal the meaningful songs (only three) having been penned by Gulzar. The best one is definitely Jeehaal-e-Muskin Mukon Ba-Ranjish Bahaal-e-Hijra Bechaara Dil Hai (picturized on Mithun and his love-interest Anita Raj). Mere Pee Ko Pawan is an underrated excellent song. The third one is Pee Le Pee Le which is also good to listen and better to watch.

The impressive, meaningful and touching dialogues are another highlight of this movie. The production value is quite high and the cinematographer has marvelled in not only capturing the beauty of rural Rajasthan but also creating impact through the shadows in certain scenes.

J.P. Dutta possess the knack to extract the best from his caste. All the main characters - Dharmendra, Mithun Chakraborty, Nasiruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda etc. have delivered their best. Leading ladies- Smita Patil, Reena Roy and Anita Raj also have done pretty well in their low-profile roles in this male-dominated movies. Supporting caste (Sulochana, Om Shivpuri, Bharat Kapoor, Mazhar Khan, Raza Murad etc.) has also done justice to the respective roles assigned. Except the over-the-top Anjan Shrvastav (the accountant of the landlord), all look flesh and blood human-beings.

Ghulami is an outstanding movie which was a box-office hit also. To understand the caste-ridden class-conflicts and related dynamics in India, this movie can be used just like a textbook.

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