In his directorial debut film, Muzaffar Ali brought the authentic flavor of his rustic native Kotwara in Uttar Pradesh. One may clearly feel the unadorned cultural aspects in all its vibrant tones- real locales documented rather than filmed, life like characters and dialogues purely dipped in colloquial northern Hindi.
Gaman means either departure or migration and it begins in a small town of
Uttar Pradesh where good for nothing bidi
smoking Ghulam Hassan (played by Farooque Shaikh) surviving on idle existence
with his aged mother and wife (Smita Patil) and bunch of bhaiya friends. The
region is dominated by Thakur (read landlord) where minorities and downtrodden
field laborers being exploited and survived on pittance ‘ek chauthai hissa’
(1/4 part of their crop) thrown to them. Being a victim of Thakur, Ghulam
leaves the homeland and migrate to the city of Mumbai on insistence of his friend Lalulal
(Jalal Agha) who helps him find a job of taxi cleaner. Soon he starts driving
taxi but unable to save enough to visit his home. Meanwhile his friend’s love
affair with a poor Marathi girl drawn towards tragedy.
The film focuses on everyday existential struggle of all those migratory and marginalized people of Mumbai adjusting their life affairs in daily humdrum of city’s paradoxical indifferent side of glamour and shanty ghettoes. Though there’s more sensitivity of contrast in approach rather than satire. The film becomes quite stretching towards the end with slow with Ghulam’s procrastination to go back his hometown. But what is the major letdown for me is finding one of my most favorite Indian actress in a role sidelined to margin.
The major plus point of the film is Jaidev’s semi classical driven music score of the film which not only till day remain timeless for purist music connoisseurs but also won him National Award for Best Music. If Suresh Wadekar’s ‘Seene mein Jalan’ sums up the pathos of city’s dark side so poetically, Chhaya Ganguli’s ‘Aap ki yaad aati rahin’ and Talat Aziz’s ‘Ajeeb saneha mujhpar guzar gaya’ are surely remain some of the tranquilizing rendition to ears. The lyrics were penned by Shahryar; the man who brought revival and grace of Urdu lyrics in his later collaboration and what is known as masterpiece of Khayyam-Asha Bhosle-Shahryar combo ‘Umrao Jaan’.