Foot Path by MC
First came the song ‘Sham-e-gham ki qasam’, sung by Talat Mehmood, written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and composed by Khayyam from the 1953 film ‘Foot Path’. The whim to watch the film, written and directed by Zia Sarhady, at 6 in the morning followed immediately after that. I write this post while watching it 60 years after it was made.
By a strange coincidence, the film is about Noshu Sharma (the great Dilip Kumar), a journalist battling his life’s chronic impoverishment. It is a state of affairs I am intimately familiar with. He works for a newspaper called ‘Dharti’ (Earth) whose editor Ghoshbabu seems like an old fashioned journalist. Let me just say it is not the kind of newspaper that Jeff Bezos would invest $250 million in.
The film’s early parts, which I have seen so far, have thick clouds of melancholia that rain defeatism on its characters despite Dilip Kumar’s sanguine optimism.
Penury haunts the opening scenes. For instances, there is a conversation about it between Dilip Kumar and the editor where the editor complains about not having money. To which Noshu says: “Gabhrane ki baat nahi hai, Ghoshbabu. Paisa jab nahi aata to nahi aata magar jab aane lagta to aane hi lagta hai,” (Do not despair Mr. Ghosh. When money eludes it really eludes. But when it starts flowing, it does not stop). So far for me, the “Money eludes” part has been prophetic.
In another scene Meena Kumari, playing Mala, also down and out on her luck, tells her son at dusk “Raat bahut lambi malum hoti hai. Jitni sotey main kat jaye utna hi achhchha hoga. (It seems like a long night. Whatever we can pass sleeping off would be better).”
And finally in a scene soon after that, Noshu’s elder brother tells a neighbor, “Din raat akhbar ke liye mehnat karta hai magar char char mahiney damdi us ke haath nahi aati. (He works day and night for his newspaper but does not get paid a farthing for four months at a time).”
In short, so far into the movie, life sucks. I am not risking any gratuitous spoilers here in a 60-year-old film by revealing that Noshu does take to the life of crime. Perhaps there are some pointers for career options for me and others of my ilk here.
The song that triggered this post is also melancholic where Noshu wallows in his loneliness on a sorrowful evening.