Dipen Guhawrote on Jul 16 2009 1:04AM
Salim Mirza (superbly played by Balraj Sahni) is a shoe manufacturer whose family has lived in Agra for generations. With partition in 1947, Mirza, like thousands of other Muslims, was faced with the unpalatablechoice of leaving India for the newly created state of Pakistan or stay and incurring the collective hostilities of the Hindu majority in India. His elder brother Halim a shrewd politician, resolves to leave India, but Mirza will not. In his bones,he feels that India is his country and he wants to remain behind and continue with the family business. As Salim Mirza's daughter Amina is engaged to Halim's son Kazim, the situation becomes more complicated. The border between India and Pakistan is closed off, and Kazim is prohibited from coming back to meet his bride. He succeeds after much effort in crossing the border illegally and preparations are hastily made for the wedding, but the police show up and Kazim is apprehended.
The agonies and hardships resulting from the partitioning begin to affect Mirza's life. He loses his business, and his daughter commits suicide. The film conveys Mirza's miseries honestly and movingly,. At last after much agonising, he decides to accept the inevitable and leave India with his son. As they make their way to the railway station for their departure, they find themselves among a procession of protesters of diverse social, political, religious, ethnic affiliations. All of them belong to marginalised and disenfranchises groups. Mirza abandons his plans to leave the country and joins the protesters in the hope that their clamour will awaken the people to the mindless violence around them and make public opinion more enlightened.