There was a Rajesh Khanna starrer by the name of “Dushman,” directed by Dulal Guha in the early 1970s. It also had Meena Kumari, Mumtaz, Bindu, Johnny Walker, Rehman and Asit Sen in the cast. The movie was a box office hit thanks to the offbeat story line, excellent music and great performance by the actors. The movie was based on a story written by one Virendra Sharma. The story briefly reads something like this.
The hero (Rajesh Khanna) is a happy-go-lucky truck driver. He is accustomed to boozing a lot and driving his truck recklessly. One day, while on a long trip to transport some goods to another town, he breaks the journey at a village on the way as it becomes dark. He spends the night at the house of a prostitute (Bindu) and gets delayed in the morning. He resumes his journey, and to make up for the lost time, drives too fast. Unfortunately, he continues to drink and loses control of the truck. He makes an accident and a poor farmer passing by is run over and killed. The truck driver is truly remorseful and does not run away. He gets arrested by the police and is produced in the court.
Now the filmy judge (Rehman) does not want to go through the usual motions of sending the errant truck driver to jail for a few years as it would help neither the victim’s family, which is suffering on account of the death of the sole breadwinner, nor in the reformation of the culprit. He therefore, sentences the culprit to live with the victim’s family for two years and look after them as the deceased would have, had he not died.
Nobody is happy with the unique verdict – neither the old parents of the deceased, nor the widow (Meena Kumari), who passionately hates the driver; nor the driver himself. However, the driver bravely stays on in the village in repentance of his wanton act of killing, cultivates the piece of land belonging to the family and helps out every single family member and wins their affection. In the process, he successfully fights and beats the evil landlord of the village who covets everybody’s land and harasses the hapless womenfolk. He ends up as a true hero of the whole village, including the affected family. He manages even to romance a village belle (Mumtaz) in true Hindi film style.
In the meanwhile, the period of two years of sentence is over. The driver is free to go away but he does not want to. He wants to spend the rest of his life with the family as one of them. He begs the judge to extend his sentence to life term to be spent in the service of the family affected by his carelessness and wreckless ways of life. The culprit is now a truly reformed person and a people’s hero!
Now if this story of the errant truck driver reminds you, dear reader, of some celebrity who has been hitting media headlines for all the wrong reasons throughout his life in the public glare, well, the similarity ends there. No filmy hero is going to read this post, have a change of heart, throw away his hardly earned filthy riches and become a true people’s hero by leading a life of atonement in the service of the people. There are miles to go, crashes of all sorts to make, wild oats to sow, few million bucks to spend to buy name and fame in quantities obscenely disproportionate to the fabulous sums lavished by the adulating crowds…. If a few lives get snuffed out in the bargain, and one chooses to read the legend on your body hugging T shirt as “Be Inhuman,” that is sheer tough luck. There is no business like show business. Hundreds of crores of rupees are riding on your shoulders. You have to deliver as you are part of the film fraternity which is incestuously closely knitted and thick as thieves. In short, the show must go on, give or take a life. Period.
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