Sharafat (1970)


When a movie opens with yet another poor woman forced to give up her husband for the sake of his family’s honor and material wealth, leaving her and their baby nothing to fall back on but prostitution, I usually think: Oh No No No No.

But I love this film. It’s one I can watch over and over just for the beauty of Dharmendra alone. He is at his best around this time in my opinion, and it is one of his first films with a very young and pretty Hema Malini. But beyond that, it has a good, nicely-paced script (punctuated though it is with a completely superfluous and tiresome CSP) which culminates in a satisfyingly emotional way (in other words, I cried); although I must confess to some ambivalence about the overall message (more on that towards the end). Plus: absolutely lovely songs by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lots of dancing from Hema!

The story begins, as I said above, with a woman of insufficient means and no family connections being “persuaded” by a wealthy man into giving up her claim on his son. She and the son have been informally married, and have a baby daughter; but naturally this minor inconvenience is swept under the carpet and she eventually caves under pressure.


Twenty years later we meet Rajesh (Dharmendra), a young man whose parents have died leaving him in the care of Jagad Babu (Ashok Kumar). He is completing his Ph.D. under the proud eyes of Jagad and his daughter Rekha (Sonia Sahni)—who is in love with Rajesh (well, what sane woman wouldn’t be?). Rekha is also being wooed (albeit incompetently) by an engineer named Arun (Roopesh Kumar).


One quibble I have with this film is that the Arun-Rekha relationship wasn’t given enough development—they were quite cute together with Rekha’s sophistication contrasted to sweet Arun’s goofiness. If only they had been given the screen time wasted on the Comic Side Plot!

Jagad sends Rajesh off to finish his thesis at an unspecified hill station, where he follows the sound of someone singing one day and meets an unhappy, mysterious beauty. He tries to engage her in conversation, but she brushes him off.


He finishes his Ph.D. and is given a lectureship and made the guardian of a boys’ hostel at the university. Some of the boys are a bad lot, led into mischief by the nephew (Mohan Choti) of an influential man. Rajesh finds their beds empty one night at lights-out, and discovers that they are frequenting a local brothel where a dancer named Chandabai (Hema Malini) performs.


He’s momentarily startled to see the same mystery woman he had met while finishing his thesis.


Nice! She treats him with cool politeness and he asks her to refuse entry to his students. I love this scene because every condescending and judgmental thing Rajesh says is met with a shrewd response from Chanda—she’s not taking his attitude lying down (so to speak). For instance, her response to his statement above is: “As long as men like you keep coming here, you will find women like me.”

She surprises him by agreeing to bar the boys from her place on one condition: that he come there every day to give her the education he’s dispensing in his classroom. After he leaves, Kesaribai (the old woman who runs the kotha) questions Chanda about her request and it’s evident that he has hurt her feelings and made her angry.


They have each made judgments about the other, but in the intervening weeks they discover how wrong they were. Chanda is the first to be surprised by Rajesh’s real goodness—it’s not a facade. Her unsubtly seductive advances towards him are met with disapproval and rejected. Finally convinced that Rajesh means to actually try and teach her, Chanda shows him her true self—the unhappy girl he had met on the hillside, not the cynical tawaif. She is educated and longs to lead a respectable life.

As they edge closer to each other, Jagad Babu drops a bombshell on Rajesh (that the rest of us had seen coming a mile away): he wants Rajesh to marry Rekha.


Chanda meanwhile decides to give up dancing and tells Kesaribai to shut down the brothel. She also explains to Rajesh (via a flashback) how it came to pass that she has been dancing there.


Her mother had kept the promise she had given to Chanda’s grandfather, that she would not reveal Chanda’s father’s identity to her. But on her deathbed she had asked Kesaribai to take Chanda to her father. Kesaribai instead has forced Chanda into working at the brothel by dangling the hope of a reunion with her father in front of her, but continues to refuse to reveal his name. Chanda had been about to give up hope when Rajesh entered her life.


She shows Rajesh a ring that her mother had given her belonging to her father, and Rajesh recognizes Jagad Babu’s family insignia. Later, he describes her situation to Jagad Babu in an effort to gauge his reaction. Jagad initially tells Rajesh that the father should welcome her, but when Rajesh shows Jagad his own ring as a final test, Jagad realizes who she is and changes his tune.


Rajesh, disappointed in his mentor, is now on the horns of a dilemma. Jagad Babu has been nominated to run for upcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and a scandal will probably ruin his chances, but of course Chanda deserves to know who her father is. For the time being, Rajesh’s loyalties stay with Jagad and he keeps silent. To be fair, Jagad is visibly troubled as well. He visits the temple to find some solace, where Chanda has gone for the same reason.


We are treated to a beautiful bhajan: “Jeevandaata Jagat Pita Tum” (with a guest appearance by Indrani Mukherjee). When it ends, Jagad Babu strikes up a conversation with Chanda, not knowing that she is his daughter. They are interrupted by Rekha, who has come to the temple with Rajesh. Jagad teases his daughter about leaving Rajesh behind her in her rush.


Poor Chanda! And so much for solace. She flees past Rajesh who looks after her, worried.

Things are about to escalate! When Rajesh goes to see Chanda later, his badmash students see him going into the kotha and grab at an opportunity for revenge (they are angry about being refused entry to Chanda’s performances).


Inside, Chanda is dancing for customers again. Her heart broken and dreams dashed, she has decided to give way to fate.


And really, what can Rajesh do or say? He’s engaged to Rekha, and at this point has also promised Jagad Babu’s housekeeper (who brought him up) that he will never betray Jagad’s secret. Jagad himself—bent on a political career—has indicated that he wants nothing to do with Chanda.

Can anything about this mess possibly turn out right? Will Rajesh lose his job? Can he ever go against the man who has treated him as his own son? Does Chanda have any hope of a respectable life? You’ll have to watch Sharafat to find out. It’s highly entertaining, and though I was bothered by elements of the film (that dancing girls are immoral, and women should be pure as the driven snow) at least the message was there that men need to step up and take responsibility for their “immoral” actions as well. But the fact that I even say that irritates me too: should I applaud a film for stating something which should be obvious?

Oh Hindi cinema, how you confuse me sometimes. But, I just can’t help myself. I love the music in this, Dharmendra and Hema’s chemistry, and the romantic and emotional drama of the story. And as intrusive as the CSP is, at least eventually it includes the Goodness of Tun Tun (although the constant fat-ugly jokes at her expense also cause me moral confusion):



But then again, there’s this:


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27 Comments to “Sharafat (1970)”

  1. Dharmendra looks so fab in your first screen cap! *sigh*
    And Hema as well!
    I understand you getting confused over hindi movies’ morality. We all suffer at times (times and again, I would say!)
    I also love Tuntun, but hate the endless jokes on her plumpness!
    But if you want to see a woman with grit and lots of funny dialogues and all nice movie. then you have to watch the movie I saw today: CHITCHOR!!!!!
    It is simply lovely. I got such a warm, cosy feeling watching it!

    I hope this movie has a happy ending and no tawaif with heart of gold ending for Hema!
    have to look up for the songs in you tube!
    Thanks for the review!

  2. He’s just beautiful in this film. So is Hema. To die for beautiful, both of them.

    I’m glad you like Chitchor, I have it and have been wanting to get to it. :-)

  3. I will say Dharam-Hema make a handsome couple like no other. About the mixed messages in the movie – Sigh ! a

  4. Glad you liked this movie. I did too. Dharm has his own charm and acting style apart from awesome looks.

  5. Really good screencaps.

  6. One good thing about old movies was, however bad and insuffereably they were, their music was likely to be topnotch.

    Apparently, this movie has some decent storyline ( apart from the usual moralising). That should be good enough for one to watch this movie.

    And indeed Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music is superb.

    Incidentally, I am quite confused by some of the titles of 1960s and 70s. For instance, I keep confusing “Sharafat” with “shararat”. “Shararat” was a movie of the same era, but that had music by Ganesh, brother of Pyarelal.

    • This one is not insufferable by any means—my problems with it were very small, and I really loved it. The music is awesome.

      Shararat was also directed by Manmohan Desai; I don’t think it’s available on DVD anyway—I’ve been looking for it!

  7. Indeed… and then again there is Dharmendra!

  8. I haven’t seen Blackmail although i have heard/seen the songs.

  9. Chitchor is such a heart warming movie! But I’m afraid to recommend you movies. I’ve always failed! :-(
    I Know oyu don’t like Basu Chaterjee’s movies, because they are slow.
    but Chitchor isn’t slow like Rajnigandha. It also has very beautiful songs.
    And Dina Phatak and A. K. Hangal make lovely parents. Not at all patriarchal and nobody sacrifices. And everybody is real to life.
    Although I think that Jaya would have better suited for the lead role. Zarina does quite a good job of it.
    Enough now, otherwise you will end up not liking it.

  10. *It’s okay, my taste is often quite suspect :)*
    No, it isn’t!
    It is your taste and thank god you have a different taste, otherwise we would all nod and say waahh! waah!
    this way we can discuss more about our likes and dislikes and get a different view of things.
    I’ve profited a lot from your views on Manmohan Desai’s films! Thanks!

  11. oooooo Hema’s sarees – thanks for the screenshots – reminds me of mum’s sarees

  12. dont you think hema & dharmendra make an amazing couple?
    i remember watching sholay when i was about 4 & thinking the same.

    -if you haven’t watched sholay, it’s amazing, a fab storyling with classic songs! it also stars amitabh & jaya bachchan

  13. I didn’t think the eye candy offered up in Naya Zamana could get any better. But in the song “Mera Raasta Rok Rahe Hain” (4th screen cap) it almost does. They both looked so traffic stoppingly good in 1970. (I haven’t seen the movie yet but I won’t be confused at all when I do. I’m in it just for the beautiful scenery.)

  14. They are stunning. I am writing up Khel Khilari Ka from 1977 where she has a guest appearance and their chemistry positively sizzles in it too :) I have seen Sholay and love it.

    And Sharafat is one of my favorites too, despite my moral conscience!

  15. I am so glad you love this movie. I started reading your blog yesterday and have already read scores of posts. Have been continuously reading for 4 hours now! I fell in love with your blog over your love for Dharmendra. I’m 23 years old and none of my friends have ever been able to understand Dharmendra’s appeal for me. But I’ve loved him since I was a little girl. Love all his pre-80s movies and am glad to be able to say so finally! This along with Tum Haseen Main Jawan were the first movies Dharmendra and Hema acted in (or at least appeared in) together and I’m amazed at the chemistry they had so early on. And I really, really love the title track….:)

  16. Have been catching up with movies that I’d seen as a young boy and have (almost) no recollection of. After Shikar (1968) and Kab Kyon Aur Kahaan (1970), it was the turn of Sharafat (1970).

    Can’t agree more with what you say here, memsaab. I totally loved the movie – it is sweet and shows a mirror of, and to, Indian society. Dharmendra was just SO SO good in this – and not just his looks but also his acting. His chemistry with Hema was just brilliant here – I think this was the movie where their real-life romance really started.

    I also feel that the Rekha-Arun story could have been given more screen time. I’m quite fond of Sonia Sahni and the few scenes she had with the bumbling Roopesh Kumar were a lot of fun. The CSP was quite unnecessary – have seen this formula in SO many movies!

    It is a sweet movie – even I got a bit emotional towards the end. :-)

    Now about your comment “dancing girls are immoral”, that’s very deeply ingrained in Indian society. Not sure how it is now, but that was 1970. At that time, it was certainly so.

    This reminds me of an anecdote from my younger days. I must have been about 16 or 17 at that time. There was a cultural association in the small township where I lived. For Independence Day (15th Aug) they came up with a theme of a collage of Indian history. Right from the very early days (I remember there was a Shakuntala-Dushyant piece) through to Ashoka to Harishchandra to a lot more (I don’t remember now) to Mughal times to British times, it went all the way to Nehru’s speech of independence. It was done using Hindi film songs for each period of history and the performances were all by youngsters.

    For the Mughal period, I guess the idea was to show something Muslim-related. Those were not very sophisticated times anyway from a history research point of view, so they selected “jhanak jhanak tore baaje paayaliya” from Mere Huzoor. There was Emperor Akbar with his various ministers sitting and supposedly enjoying a dance to this song playing in the background.

    Anyway, the whole show became a huge hit. So much so that they were told to have an encore performance. (Ok, this was just my small township, so it’s not like it was a big theatre performance or anything of the sort).

    There was one condition – everything was OK but this particular Mughal period piece had to be changed. There were comments like “how can you have a kotha scene?” and “it doesn’t look good when young children do this sort of thing”. So everything else was kept the same, but for the encore performance, this Mughal period song was changed to “prem jogan ban ke” from Mughal-e-Azam.
    The setting was the same (Akbar and co), without a dancer, with this song playing in the background.

    I remember this for two reasons.

    Firstly of course, the fact that this particular part was changed because of the “dancing girl” angle to it (if it had been changed because it was not representative of the Mughal period – and I can go with that – that would have made sense). But it was clearly the “dancing girl” angle that people objected to.

    The second reason I remember this is that I was in both scenes. I was Tansen, so I was one of those sitting in Akbar’s darbar. We were supposed to lip-sync these songs, so, after listening to them a zillion times, we learnt them by heart. Even today I can sing both these songs in my dream. :-)
    Actually, that was the first time in my life I’d heard “prem jogan ban ke” – lovely, it is!

    Anyway, a long story just to illustrate the point about “dancing girls” and how they were viewed then. Lots and lots of movies have been made on them and their lives – Pakeezah being possibly one of the most famous. I think the early 70s especially had many of them – I remember Ek Nazar (Amitabh-Jaya) and some Mala Sinha movie too.

    All in all, I think Sharafat is a wonderful watch – it has many things going for it. I haven’t even mentioned the music – most of the songs were very popular at that time, I remember. Some are popular even to this day. All woman power – just Lata and Asha’s voices for every single song in the movie. :-)

  17. Memsaab – thanks for your review on this. Raja thanks for sharing your anecdote about your collage play. I can totally relate on that one. I watched it over the weekend – thanks to youtube and loved it.

    An important thing to notice is that the dialogues were written by Krishan Chander a genius. I noticed that Krishan chander has written for a very few movies. His other literary work is enormous though.

    I can watch the movie one more time just for the dialogues. Few that dialogues I totally loved are translated here

    Hema – seducing – “Please see!! something did sink in my eyes, please take it out”
    Dharmendra – neglecting – “There is nothing that sank in your eyes, however this move of your is definitely sank to a new level”

    Another one –
    Hema writing to Dharmendra – If my legs were cuffed, I could have still dragged around with you. But instead my legs are in vortex, so if you stay with me, you sure will drown with me.

    • Sadly the subtitles are almost NEVER up to par with the original dialogues. I am glad you pointed that out to me, I will see what I can find out about Krishan Chander, thank you!

  18. Hema, Hema, swoonworthy Hema…Dharam one lucky bloke. His value only skyrocketed with Hema pairing.

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