indian cinema heritage foundation

Roti (1942)

  • GenreSocial
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time128 min
  • Length4200.44 meters
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingU

The film is narrated by a sadistic and manipulative narrator named Jaggu who derives pleasure from mocking the poor for their state of starvation and destitution. One night he finds amidst the homeless a man who looks exactly like the lost son of a wealthy woman. The son, Laxmidas, has been missing for the last fifteen years. But despite that, the woman still holds out hope that he will return one day. Her business is co-owned by her partner Tarachand who has a young daughter called Darling. They want Darling to marry Laxmidas when he returns and thus join the two halves of the business. The homeless man is convinced by Jaggu to impersonate Laxmidas, in order to escape his state of poverty.

The old woman soon passes away. The imposter Laxmidas loses no time in removing Tarachand from his way by locking him in a vault. Darling and her Munimji suspect that Laxmidas is behind the murder, but have no way of proving this. Munimji asks her to have patience and wait for the right opportunity to exact revenge. Laxmidas continues in his ruthlessly capitalist ways. One day when he and Darling are travelling in an airplane to look at some mines, a tribal man called Balam who had never seen a plane before throws his spear at it. The plane crashes and Laxmidas and Darling are the only survivors. The tribal people give them shelter and nurse them back to health. Their community is an isolated one and they live according to their own customs. They divide the grain amidst themselves equally. They have no concept of shame or any desire for wealth. Balam is in love with a woman Kinari, but Darling also starts feeling attracted toward him. Laxmidas, on the other hand, cannot stand being there and tries to convince Balam to give him his bullocks to take them back to the city. While Balam has no desire for the gold offered to him, Kinari is attracted to its beauty. Sensing her weakness Laxmidas convinces her to give him the bullocks and another villager to escort them back home, promising to send the bullocks back.

Back in the city Laxmidas obviously betrays his promise and sells off the bullocks. A repentant Kinari and Balam then travel to the city to recover their bullocks. When they reach the city, they are immediately swindled by Jaggu of all their gold. Their request for the bullocks is also refused by Laxmidas. Darling convinces Balam to take the job of a labourer which will allow them to buy back their bullocks. But working as a labourer, Balam sees himself becoming a slave for money – the same state of being that he had once abhorred. Kinari also comes to despise the city, its pollution and exploitative people. Finally Darling, unable to tolerate Laxmidas’s brutal ways anymore, chooses to give them the money to buy back their bullocks. As punishment she is imprisoned by Laxmidas. But Darling is aware of Laxmidas’s plans to manipulate the grain market to reap huge profits, and she foils his plans by informing other speculators of his plan. The ruined Laxmidas absconds with his gold and Darling in a car. But they get lost in the desert, and suffering from thirst and starvation Darling perishes. They are discovered by Balam and Kinari who offer the starving and half-crazed Laxmidas water. But Laxmidas refuses their water and chooses to die of thirst instead.