indian cinema heritage foundation

Garm Coat (1955)

  • Release Date1955
  • GenreSocial
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time129 min
  • Length2048.25 meters
  • Number of Reels13
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingU
  • Censor Certificate NumberB-12190
  • Certificate Date09/02/1955

The fear of inescapable poverty and the deep psychological stress it imparts drives this realist melodrama. Girdharilal works as a clerk in the post office and lives with his wife and three children. Although his meagre salary leaves them with many wants, their house is filled with laughter and love. His caring wife Geeta wants him to buy a new coat for the coming winter. Although Girdharilal dismisses her request as excessive he is drawn to a new coat handing outside a tailor’s shop. Unable to drive the thought from his mind, he commits an accounting error that day by forgetting to take hundred rupees from a client. After some help from his work friends Sher Khan and Munnilal he is able to rectify his mistake and get the hundred rupees back. Relieved and elated in equal measure, he decides to buy the new coat after all. But as he reaches the shop he is horrified to discover that the hundred rupee note from his pocket has disappeared. The money counted for most of his salary and now his family must struggle to make ends meet. A crazed Girdhari almost commits suicide by jumping in front of a train but changes his mind at the last moment. The sight of a mother playing with her young child fills him with hope and he is determined to make things work. He takes a part time job as a tutor and gets by with a little help from his friends. But the stress of work and the deteriorating conditions of his family take a heavy toll on his mind. Unknown to him, Geeta is also driven to take on part time work to provide food for her children. In one instance a desperate Girdhari even attempts to cheat a client out of his money. He becomes irritable and given to fits of rage at home, while at work he goes through his days in a haze. The spectre of the warm coat hangs over him like a constant shadow. 
One day he discovers that the kitchen in his house is filled with food, despite their supposedly dire situation. He begins to suspect that Geeta may have resorted to become a sex worker. His paranoia makes him commit more grievous mistakes at work. One day he is confronted with all the blunders he had been making and he runs out of the office. Returning home he finds the door locked and his children playing outside. When asked his children refuse to tell him where their mother is. When Geeta returns he discovers she has money with her. In murderous rage he strangles her and leaves her for dead. Unable to bear the guilt he bids farewell to his children and heads, once again, to the railway tracks. But this time his friends Sher Khan and Munnilal save him. As all this is happening, Girdhari suddenly discovers the missing hundred rupees in another pocket of his coat. The cruel irony of the situation strikes and he confesses to the murder of his wife. But when they return to his home, he finds that Geeta has survived. Repentant of the dangerous state he had been driven to, Girdharilal dreams of a new beginning for his family.