indian cinema heritage foundation

Shart (1954)

  • LanguageHindi

In a city a Psychopath Killer is at large. On full moon nights he strangles women who are mainly prostitutes by profession or immoral in character. After every killing he leaves a particular clue (a cut out of a photograph) behind. When special officer ArjunDutt is summoned and put on the case he discovers that these clues are specifically meant for him. The story goes into a flash-back where it is revealed that Arjun and Vikram were best of friends in college. Vikram a brilliant student used to lure Arjun into playing a one-upmanship game with him. Much to the amusement of other fellow students these two were always at each other, sometimes one winning sometimes the other. Both however, were inseparable friends. Vikram however had a problematic background which he told no one about. His mother lived in a chawl which was a "redlight" area, prostitutes roamed freely. Vikram hated this atmosphere and wanted his ailing mother to move out of this area, he particularly resented the fact that Laxmi the madam of the house had a strange hold on his mother. The mother however was determined to spend her last few days in the same house. 

During this period into the lives of Arjun and Vikram comes Kiran, whom they meet at a college function. Both are enamoured by her. She also takes to both of them. The three become good friends. However hearts flutter and both boys find themselves falling in love Kiran. Vikram in particular is smitten by her and is getting a serious about his feelings towards her. However she is leaning more towards Arjun, but Vikram is not aware of this. At this time complications develope for Vikrama at home. His mother is ill and on her death bed. It is here that she reveals her long held secret to Vikram, that all along she had only adopted him and was not his real mother, his real mother is none other than Laxmi the prostitute! Just then Laxmi enters and lashes out at (Jankibai) the mother claiming that she snatched the child away from her and forced her into a life of prostitution, and that she was the real madam of the business. Vikram is stunned. When he turns to ask the mother what the truth is he finds she is dead. Confused hurt and angry, he goes to seek Kiran to confide in her and also express his lover for her.

When he reaches her house he finds her in the arms of Arjun who is proposing marriage, he overhears Kiran accept the proposal. Shattered and disillusioned he returns to his college room and has a breakdown which results in his trying to commit suicide. He is not successful. However it is from here that the turning point occurs in his life, no more a normal sane person he becomes a women hater. He particularly turns his crazy hatred towards immoral women or whom he thinks are immoral. 

The story shifts back to the present where Arjun realizes that it is Vikram who has gone crazy, is the killer, and is playing a one-upmanship game of life and death with him. He sets out to catch him. However, Vikram in his craziness is also clever and eludes him till the last when Arjun realizes his last victim is none other than Kiran. In a touch and go climax he finally manages to reach home and kill Vikram before he can do any more harm. Although the story tries to reveal the background of a psychopath killer (a reality in today's world) it does no at any point try to glorify his image nor sympathise with him. A killer is a killer and has to be dealt with. The theme song of the film brings out the philosophy of the theme in haunting notes (Zindagihaizindagi) 

                                                                                               "Life is life - do not play with life 

                                                                                                Man is Divine - do not play with him, 

                                                                                                Just let it be" do not play with life".

                                                                                                 (From the official press booklet)