indian cinema heritage foundation

Jailor (1938)

  • GenreSocial
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time150 min
  • Length4426 meters
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingU
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Jailor is the moral tale of a man’s descent into malice and his ultimate redemption. Kamal is unhappily married to Daleep, and is in love with another man, Dr Ramesh. One night when Daleep is ill, she is unable to bear the state of things anymore. She decides to elope with Dr Ramesh, breaking Daleep’s heart. Unable to come to terms with his hurt and anger, Daleep undergoes a transformation. From a kind-hearted person he becomes a sadist who enjoys mocking those in sorrow. Daleep works as a jailor and he starts taunting the prisoners who are on death row.

Kamal and Ramesh’s romance suffers a rude awakening when they face society’s judgment for their elopement. One night they are caught in a terrible fire, and both are rushed to the hospital with injuries. Kamal recovers but Ramesh loses his sight. When Daleep learns of their predicament he arrives to take Kamal back home. Ramesh is unable to bear the loss of his sight and leaves the hospital in a daze. Daleep takes a vulnerable Kamal back to his home and once there subjects her to terrible cruelty. He locks her in a room and refuses to let her meet her daughter, becoming a jailor in his home too. Despite the many pleadings of his servants he refuses to soften his attitude toward Kamal. His daughter falls critically ill and wishes to meet her mother. Daleep finally relents, but his mercy comes too late. Seeing no way out of her plight, Kamal has committed suicide. A traumatised Daleep returns to his daughter only to find that she has passed away too. The two deaths leave him a shell of a man.

Meanwhile, the blind Ramesh has joined a beggars’ community led by the despotic Choudhary. Choudhary is attracted to another blind beggar Chhaya but she does not reciprocate his feelings. Ramesh befriends Chhaya and the two gradually become close. An envious Choudhary lies to Chhaya’s parents that she is pregnant. Enraged at this indignity, Chhaya’s father strangles her to death one night. It is later revealed that he mistook his wife to be his daughter and killed her instead. He is arrested and taken to jail. Daleep learns of Chhaya’s predicament and her helpless state moves him. He takes Chhaya home with him, giving her shelter from the desperate circumstances of the streets. Chhaya is both delighted but also troubled by this sudden act of kindness. Her presence slowly brings about a change in Daleep’s desolate existence. He sponsors an operation that gives Chhaya her sight back. But even amidst all these luxuries Chhaya does not seem happy. She is worried about Ramesh and misses him. One day, upon being questioned by a concerned Daleep, she confesses her feelings for Ramesh. Daleep is heartbroken yet again, but now he is a changed man. He does not let his pain override his empathy and does everything he can to find Ramesh for Chhaya. When he does, he also pays for the operation to restore his sight. Throughout this time, his own health steadily deteriorates. Ramesh, who can see now, is shocked to discover that it is Daleep who is his benefactor. As Ramesh and Chhaya are united, Daleep passes away. He does not die with rancour, but knowing that he has redeemed himself of his past.

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