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Kabuliwala (1961)

A poor Afghani leaves his family behind to earn a living as a dried fruit vendor in India. Profoundly homesick, he befriends a young girl who reminds him of his own daughter. Meanwhile, the locals are distrustful of all foreigners.


Hemen Gupta


Vishram Bedekar (screenplay), S. Khalil (additional dialogue) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Balraj Sahni ... Abdul Rehman Khan
Baby Sonu Baby Sonu ... Mini
Usha Kiran Usha Kiran ... Rama, Mini's mother
Padma Padma
Laxmi Laxmi ... (as Lakshmi)
Sarita Devi Sarita Devi
Anwari Anwari ... (as Anwari Bai)
Leela Agha Leela Agha
Baby Farida Baby Farida ... Amina A. Khan
Nilambai Nilambai ... (as Neelam Bai)
Lata Sinha Lata Sinha
Manju Manju
Sajjan Sajjan ... Mini's father
Asit Kumar Sen Asit Kumar Sen ... Bhola (as Asit Sen)
Paul Mahendra Paul Mahendra


Widowed Abdul Rehman Khan is an Afghani Pathan who lives a simple and poor lifestyle with his widowed mom, and daughter, Amina, in Kabul. He owes money to a money-lender that he had borrowed for Amina's medical treatment, and is unable to re-pay it. He decides to secretly re-locate to Hindustan, without the knowledge of Amina, and he does so in the dark of the night. Upon arrival in Hindustan, he finds that the locals actually fear him and his kind, and blame them for kidnapping young children. A depressed Abdul is unable to get Amina out of his mind, and spends a week without doing any business. After that he sets out to sell dry fruits on the streets. It is here that he meets a young girl, Mini, who lives with her mom, Rama, and her dad, a Writer. Rama is overly cautious and will not permit Mini to see Abdul, while her dad permits her to do so. Abdul sees Amina in Mini and visits her everyday, pampering her with dry fruits. On her birthday Mini misses him and goes to look for him ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

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Release Date:

14 December 1961 (India) See more »

Also Known As:

A kabuli ember See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Bimal Roy Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film is based in novel written by ravindranath Tagore. See more »

Crazy Credits

"Our homage to Gurudev Tagore Centenary Year 1961" See more »


Version of Kabuliwala (2006) See more »


ganga aaya kahaan se
Sung by Hemanta Mukherjee
See more »

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User Reviews

that tugs at audience's hearts proving the eternal worth of the visionary's literature.
30 January 2012 | by davehiren77See all my reviews

Unfortunately or fortunately I haven't read neither the original/translated timeless classic of Gurudev Rabindranth Tagore, nor seen the early Bengali version of the film prior to watching this Bimal Roy production inspired by tremendous success of Tapan Sinha's Bengali film by the same name, starring Bengali cinema's thespian like Chhabi Biswas . The Bengali film managed to grab National Best Film Award four years prior this one. I spark of though clicks in mind to read the story prior to watch the film but than I decided not to ruin the benefit of poor reader and decided to read it once I finish the film.

The result was a film that was as commercially and critically acclaimed. I leave further analysis, comments comparisons between the films to few Bengali cinephile buddies. But for me director Hemen Gupta and Mr. Balraj Sahni as Kabuliwala (in one of the most moving performance of his career) successfully brought the essence and soulful emotions of Tagore's timeless tale on screen with few changes in original story and adding one or two interpolations to highlight the key relationship. Both of them deserve applause and award. The first person narrative by Mini's father in the story is replaced here with linear and straight narration showing us the homeland and Pathan's tender relationship with his daughter Amina to cater then audience. But what is praiseworthy thing about direction and acting from almost all cast is that it never for single scene becomes unnatural or over sentimental melodrama. Thanks to doyen like Mr. Sahni and that sweet girl who played Mini. The film evokes and makes us felt even smaller details of the story on screen in so moving way.

I said it many times and would love to repeat once again without an iota of change that if I have to chose a single genuine Hindi film actor devoid of any theatricality or camera consciousness, seems so natural and realistic in his act on screen, it's Mr. Balraj Sahni. Though he didn't get more versatile roles, whatever he has done in 'Do Bigha Zameen', 'Garm Hawa' and 'Anuradha' is something unparalleled to Indian cinema Though a few glitches like his messy Pathan make up, stretching two songs towards the climax including Mini's dream sequence and that added unwanted scene of Pathan's saving the girl; the film is deeply moving experience that tugs at audience's hearts making us felt the eternal worth of the visionary's literature.

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