indian cinema heritage foundation

Dahej (1950)

  • LanguageHindi
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Frailty they name is woman - said Shakespeare.  But woman is not merely frail; she is submissive and strong, humble and hardboiled, patient and powerful, frail and fighting at one and the same time. If she can sacrifice everything for love and duty, she can also be hard like a stone to fight for her rights. And in the different vicissitudes of her life as a daughter, maiden, bride, daughter-in-law and wife, she reveals the different facets of her greatness. This is the Woman and "DAHEJ" is her story.

Chanda was a charming, loveable and eligible daughter of Thakur Saheb, a retired pensioner who brought her up like a flower. When this flower blossomed into youth, the father realized that he had to find a husband for her and suffer humiliation.

When Chanda became bride, her father-in-law refused to accept the small dowry and threatened to go without the bride, all the pride Thakur Saheb was gone. Fortunately, Suraj, the bridegroom saved the situation.

As a daughter-in-law Chanda went to her new abode with hope and dreams. But the mother-in-law who was disappointed in getting a small dowry had nothing but contempt for her poor daughter-in-law. She made Chanda's life miserable with the help of her neighbour who wanted her daughter to marry Suraj.

The death of her father-in-law who commanded his son Suraj to obey his mother only worsened the situation.

Chanda's father was shocked to hear about her suffering and he could not restrain himself from going to her and threatening her mother-in-law. The threats proved futile as she would have been only too glad to get rid of Chanda. But thanks to the absence of Suraj, Chanda herself refused to go with her father with the result one day she was bodily thrown out of the house.

In her father's house, she lived listlessly and the attempt of her husband to fetch her back was thwarted by her father. Encouraged by her friend she wrote her husband a letter but instead of a reply she received an invitation of his second 'Mangni'. Apparently Suraj was forced to obey the wishes of his mother. Chanda's sorrow knew no bounds.

Meanwhile on the day of 'Mangni' Suraj who had no heart in it had an unfortunate accident. When Chanda heard the news she made up her mind to go to her husband's house, which was now really her own. The call of duty and the determination to fight for her rights were so strong that even her father could not stop her and in fact carried her himself in a 'Doli'.

Back to her real home, she suffered all humiliation and hardships for love and duty without yielding an inch in asserting her rights. She revealed how a woman could be soft and strong at the same time.

Her father, moved by her plight, sold everything to collect the sum of dowry so that her mother-in-law would be appeased and his daughter would be happy again.

But, mother-in-law was in no mood to wait. Blinded by lust and avarice, she ordered the servants to throw out Chanda forcibly if necessary. Poor Chanda, how could she fight alone? After all she too was human and had no strength left to suffer any more. To protect herself she sought refuge in the place of worship. She closed the door... and what happened then?

(From the official press booklet)