indian cinema heritage foundation

Hero No.1 (1939)

  • GenreStunt
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
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This is a strange world, wherein every fish wants to become a shark; every bird aspires to be a lark; every man struggles to become rich. Men act and re-act against one another and make this happy world full of misery, murder and greed; and true happiness disappears in the background.

Mahendra was a by nature such a seeker of truth; but irresistible as the temptations of the world are, he could not face them. Some unknown inkling for variety in a life forced him to frequent the world of murder, crime and punishment. His favourite companions Chanda, Jack and Bhupal helped him in his secret ventures of arson, looting and murder. But actually, in society he was known as a man of sober character; and no body knew of his secret life, not even his friend Ramesh who was an employee of the Criminal Investigation Department.

Mahendra came in contact with Maya, the only daughter of Sir Jagat Narayan. He fondled her so much that in truth, he loaded her with ornaments and jewels to a ludicrous extent. Mahendra liked her company; but she felt quite at sea with him because of his strange and aggressive views on crime, punishment and violence. Atul, an artist of fame and rank had already carved out a niche in Maya's heart. She liked his philosophy of life and often gave harangues on non-violence and truth to her fresh acquaintance, Mahendra.

As the days passed, Mahendra's evil genius became rampant and a great wave of terror spread through the whole city because of murder, looting and burning. His eyes also sought a ring which Maya had bought at a very high price. He made a cat's paw of Mohan, a young stripling of twelve, and got the ring stolen through him. But Chanda, his party maiden, wanted also to have the jewellery box which Maya had then purchased. Mohan, the fresh recruit to the clan, was on the point of stealing it, when he was caught red-handed by Maya. She, however, allowed to go, preaching the gospel of non-violence of which Mahatma Gandhi is the apostle. When Chanda, came to know of it, she became angry with Mohan and insisted that Mahendra must bring the case as she liked it very much. So Mahendra phoned the following message to Sir Jagat Narayan :- "Be ready with the Jewels at midnight, after a fortnight."

The fated night drew near and the police became exasperated. The head of the police-force sought the help of Ramesh and he became ready to help Sir Jagat Narayan. So Ramesh, Mahendra and Atul all went to Jagat Narayan to protect the case; but it was stolen despite their sharp vigilance. When the case came into the hand of Chanda, she found it, to her great surprise, full of stones. She doubted Mahendra for this strange turn of events, but little did she know that it was according to the secret device of Mohan that the Jewels were stolen. This small boy nourished in his mind the advice of Maya about Truth and non-violence, and this foiled Chanda in her new venture.

This was a strange shock for Chanda. She once more girdled up her lions to punish Maya, as her ideas worked havoc in the unity of her clan, and decided to spirit her away from a gorgeous function of Music, Drama and dancing that was to take place. Accordingly, Maya was spirited away by Chanda's men and was kept secretly in an unknown place. She was on the point of killing her, as Maya refused to sign a document that would bring her a fluke. Just then, Mohan sprang in the middle and saved the innocent girl from death. Meanwhile, Mahendra, who was also invited at the function, came after Chanda. The split was complete; Mahendra and Mohan were gradually inclining towards the blessed ideas of Love and non-violence, but Chanda hated these new ideas.

They quarrelled amongst themselves. When outcame Ramesh with his comically resourceful friends Bamboo and Manhar and police-escorts bade them submit there and then, Mahendra decided to submit and expiate for his sins, asking for the highest possible punishment. The whole town hailed Ramesh as "HERO No. 1" of the City. But who was the real hero? Ramesh, the detective? Mahendra, the repentant? or that Apostle of Non-violence and Truth whose preachings made the saint of a sinner and freed the whole town from the scare of Violence?
 

(From the official press booklet)

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