1953. India. Prakash Arora. 149 min.
Saturday, January 7, 2012, 6:45 p.m.
Theater 3 (The Celeste Bartos Theater), mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building
1953. India. Directed by Prakash Arora. “Boot Polish is one of the great tearjerkers. Kapoor squeezes every drop out of every scene—and then a few more for good measure” (Elliott Stein). Although credited to Arora, most sources insist Kapoor largely directed the film himself, and it clearly bears his authorial stamp. Often compared to Vittorio De Sica’s Shoeshine (for obvious reasons), the film also offers some interesting parallels to Slumdog Millionaire, which takes place on the very same mean streets. Orphaned brother and sister Bhola (Ratan Kumar) and Belu (seven-year-old Baby Naaz) are forced by their horrid aunt to beg on the streets, until a kindly smuggler (David) and a young shoeshine boy encourage them to join the boot-polish trade. But their new life is interrupted by the monsoons, which tear the two siblings apart: Belu is sold off to a middle-class couple and begins a new life, while Bhola is forced back into a life of begging until his inevitable reunion with Belu. Boot Polish is writer K. A. Abbas’s most explicit articulation of the beliefs underlying Nehru’s campaign for social reforms, especially the contention that the poor must be helped to find work in order to further their self-respect. In Hindi; English subtitles. 149 min.