indian cinema heritage foundation

Kanhaiyaa (1981)

  • LanguageHindi

Kanhaiyaa lived with his young, widowed mother, Sharda, in the small village of Khedgaon. It was his ninth birthday and life all around him was a soft bed of roses as his mother laboured to fulfill his every whim and fancy, no matter what the cost. But alas, one day Sharda died of a fatal illness and the villagers decided to send Kanhaiyaa to a nearby orphanage.

At the orphanage, Kanhaiyaa soon became a constant victim of the wrath of the greedy Manager, Makhanlal and his wife, Radha. They inflicted misery after misery on the poor and flogged him mercilessly when he dared to demand better treatment for himself and his fellow orphans. Finally unable to bear such a life of humiliation and longer, Kanhaiyaa escaped one night and arrived to meet his destiny in the concrete jungle of Bombay.

Alone, penniless, hungry, Kanhaiyaa was soon befriended by the members of a gang of thieves, led by the crafty old Rahim Chacha and a ruthless criminal, Madhav Singh. But just as even the darkest cloud has a silver lining, so even now, from all the gloom and evil surrounding Kanhaiyaa, there emerged Sona. Sona was Madhav Singh's mistress, a woman pining for love and respect whose affections were spurned by the very man she so dearly loved. Gradually Sona and Kanhaiyaa were drawn towards each other and Sona soon came to realise that Kanhaiyaa did not really belong to this world of crime and evil.

Kanhaiyaa was different from all the other children in the gang and Sona prayed hard that fate might deliver him from the certain doom that awaited him at the hand of Rahim Chacha and Madhav Singh.

What follows is the story of how fate chose to answer Sona's prayer, how an innocent and helpless child survived the cunning treachery of Rahim Chacha and the terrifying brutality of Madhav Singh, all leading to the stunning climax of this classic story that has remained all time screen favourite for generations now!

(From the official press booklet)