ACHUT KANYA / THE UNTOUCHABLE GIRL


Hindi/1936/B&W/142 min
Production Co: Bombay Talkies
Production : Himansu Rai
Direction : Franz Osten
Story: Niranjan Pal

Dialogues, Lyrics: J.S.Casshyap
Music: Saraswati Devi
Cinematography: Josef Wirsching
Sound: Savak Vacha
Cast: Ashok Kumar, Devika Rani, Anwar, P.F.Pithawala, Pramila, Kusum Kumari
Achut Kanya was one of the most respected socials to come from Bombay Talkies. It reflected the most representative features of the Indian social film of the first decade of sound. The stories of this and subsequent films made an all-out attempt, attacking the canons of Hindu society. This was a time when law and precedent obstructed the inter-caste marriage and firmly supported the ostracism of the untouchable. To be sure, Gandhi, Nehru and other leaders of the Indian National Congress called for an end to this and repeated, week after week, that independence in itself would not be enough, that Hindu society must also reform itself from within. They ceaselessly hammered at issues of caste, untouchability, widow remarriage. On the level of popular fable the social films did likewise.

Even today this film is surprisingly honest, evocative and sensitive. Pictures more than words are used to suggest a mood, describe a feeling or indicate a crucial point in the narrative. An element of understatement is evident throughout the film.

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