Book Review: Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam: Screenplay, Essays and Interviews by Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari

Title: Sahib, Bibi, aur Ghulam: The Original Screenplay: Compilation, Translation,Essays and Interviews
Authors: Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari
Publisher: Om Books
ISBN: 978-93-80069-86-9
Genre: Film
Pages: 202
Source: Author
Rating: 3.5/5

It is not easy to take a classic film and write about it. It is also not easy to comment on it besides working on the script and also on the translation. But that is what Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari have managed to do brilliantly of the movie, “Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam”. Published by Om Books, the book is a compilation of the original screenplay, translation, essays, and interviews.

Directed by Abrar Alvi (yes I was surprised as well, I thought that it was directed by Guru Dutt all along), the film in brief is about a woman named Chhoti Bahu (portrayed breathtakingly by Meena Kumari), who is defiantly struggling against a life of material privilege (by marrying into money) but personal. Her solitude is minimized by Bhootnath (Guru Dutt as the subtle servant and one of his best performances), her male confidante, with whom she shares all her joys and sorrows, hopes and aspirations and how she feels and waits for her husband’s (Rahman’s) love, to the point of becoming his drinking companion. I found this very striking for a film which released in 1962. The fact that a woman could be shown drinking on screen, in that aspect the movie was way ahead of its time. Amidst all this is Jaba (Waheeda Rehman in a graceful role) waiting for Bhootnath’s love. The film is set in 19th century feudal Calcutta and based on the novel, “Shaheb Bibi Golam” by Bimal Mitra.

Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari try and bring out the finer elements of the film through the essays, which define Guru Dutt’s (as a producer and director) pre-occupation with the themes of longing, unrequited love, the bygone era and the subtle emotions in relationships that need not be named all the time.

What I liked about the book was Waheeda Rehman’s interview, which delves into Guru Dutt’s personality and what it was like working for and with him.

What I did not like was the fact that there could have been more essays. I would have liked to know more about the movie, almost every nuance, as this is for sure one of my most favourite Guru Dutt film.

Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam is a classic and being directed in Black and White does not give it that tag. It is more than that. The way emotions are brought to screen and made alive by actors is all what the movie is about. Truly a classic that can be watched again and again. The book is made available with a DVD of the movie. Do watch it if you haven’t already.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam: Screenplay, Essays and Interviews by Dinesh Raheja and Jitendra Kothari

  1. Guro Khalid Khan

    Top of the line film in International cinema, Saheb Bibi aur Ghulam should be shown to film students everywhere. Amazing Black & White compositions, with play between shadow and light. Could have been favorite of American film pioneer Josef von Sternberg who was master at black & white. I not only watch this film, I also listen carefully to its sounds. Guro Khalid Khan.


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