indian cinema heritage foundation

Bahen (1941)

  • Release Date1941
  • GenreSocial
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi

A single incident often changes the course of many lives and leaves an impression which is never removed. In Amar’s case, the great earthquake that killed his entire family with one small exception, left such an effect that he was never the same as other men. His entire life was devoted to the baby sister whom he saved from the debris of his shattered home. 
Casting one last look at the bodies of his dead parents and relatives, he passes out into the world with little Bina in his arms. His way is not smooth and very soon he finds himself in jail as the result of a squabble with a railway servant who has ill-treated the baby. His anxiety for Bina’s welfare makes a regular nuisance in the jail.
At last he is free and taking Bina on his shoulders her sets out once more to make a living. It is not difficult for him to get a job but even when he is hammering red-hot steel into shape, his thoughts are always with Bina. 
The baby becomes a child. Champa, the daughter of his co-worker and neighbor helps in taking care of her. She and Amar are attracted to each other. But though his longing for her is fierce, his fear that she will come between himself and Bina is fiercer still and he leaves the place at dead of night. 
He starts life in yet another place only to find the temptations of love much stronger and much nearer in the person of Aruna, his beautiful employer. But again the old fear that it is wrong on his part to take any interest in any other person as it will create a barrier between himself and Bina holds him back and once again he sacrifices all the luxuries that are at his command and goes out into the world. 
The child has now become a beautiful young woman. Rajendra, the handsome young son of Amar’s new employer, an ardent investigator into the problems of the life of the poor, begins to take a deep interest in her. The interest becomes so great that Amar considers it too much and cleverly gives Rajendra the idea that he has left the place. 
Bina, however, is moping and Amar is advised that marriage is the only cure for her troubles. He does not understand the problem very well and in his simplicity suggests his neighbor Moti, a thief by profession, that he should marry her. 
Though shocked at first, Moti reconciles himself to the proposal but when he goes to steal something which will pay the expenses of the marriage, he blunders into Rajendra’s house and is able to strike a bargain which will bring him the money he wants while avoiding the troubles of married life. 
Rajendra once more gets in touch with the brother and sister and Amar at last reconciles himself to the idea of Bina’s marriage to the former. He permits the marriage but when Bina goes out of his home to live her new and glorious life, he feels that life has ended for him and that nothing more is left but work, unending work. Bina’s marriage does not end the troubles of the parties, least of all those of Kusum, sister of Moti who would have sacrificed everything for Amar and of the latter himself who gets peace of mind only when he holds in his arms a replica of the little Bina whom he picked up among the ruins of his original home. 

[from the official press booklet]