indian cinema heritage foundation

Jawab (1942)

  • Release Date1942
  • GenreSocial
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageHindi
  • Run Time157 min

A man...a brain shock...and love...This unusual combination came into the life of Manoj Kumar, the heir to a rich estate, somewhere in Bengal. 

Into his life came two girls, one by accident, another by arrangement — Meena and Reba. Meena was the grand-daughter of the station master of a wayside station and Reba was the daughter of a Rai Bahadur, a retired Govt Officer, of Allahabad.

Meena lived unknown and unnoticed. Reba was the flower of her society.

The accident happened like this. Manoj's mother sent Manoj to Allahabad to Rai Bahadur, an old friend of the family. Manoj's mother was trying to serve two purposes, firstly to get Manoj's brain treated by a brain specialist, who had just arrived from England and secondly, to get Manoj and Reba more together, because Reba was the chosen bride for Manoj, according to a promise made by his father on his death-bed.

As fate would have it, Manoj got left behind at a wayside station and it was Meena who had to look after this half-wit for the time being.

The woman in Meena got a chance and she nursed this grown-up baby with peculiar whims and habits. Manoj got a taste of care and affection which he never received anywhere before and subconsciously he fell in love with Meena. And, Meena? — She tried her best not to fall in love with this man — who was just a passing guest. But cupid's arrow had already hit the mark, and the separation, when Manoj went to Allahabad, was painful to Meena.

At Allahabad, the Rai Bahadur was awaiting Manoj's arrival. Manoj arrived at last and the Rai Bahadur and Reba tried to make him comfortable. But Manoj missed something. Manoj belonged to the village. This scion of a conservative family could not feel comfortable with ultra-modern ways and habits, particularly of Reba. Reba thought that a man is not superior to a woman and they should have equal rights and status in life. There was resentment and a plain speaker like Manoj came into conflict with his would-be bride. 

Reba, the much-admired girl, got the rudest shock when Manoj denounced her ways. This was the first time in her life when Rebadid not met flattery and receive blind praise from a man. She met somebody who was blind to a woman's glamour and charm. 

Reba statted thinking deep. She tried to hate him but failed. She met her equal and the more she argued against him, the more she felt drawn towards him. She had met a man, a man she could live for.

Manoj could not get over the impression he received during those few wonderful days with Meena. He was pining, always trying to get away to that forlorn wayside station where he faintly remembered to have met somebody. He told Reba about it and compared her inefficiency with Meena's efficiency. Reba had to listen about the other woman, and gradually a natural hatred grew in her mind against that unknown and unseen enemy. Instead of Manoj's brain getting a soothing treatment at Allahabad, it pined more and ultimately it was decided to take a house in Bankipore, a few miles off the holy spot where Manoj wanted to be. 

Manoj's mother made this wise choice and asked the Rai Bahadur and Reba to be their guests. Soon the group gathered at Bankipore and waited for Manoj's cure. Every-body longed for the day when Manoj and Reba would be happily united in wedlock.

Manoj was happy again, he used to meet Meena, go out for rambles, hear her songs.

But, that was not enough. The specialist had said that a sudden shock to the brain was required once more, either to send Manoj stark mad or to cure him completely. Fate provided that in the shape of a nasty quarrel between Reba and Manoj. Reba wanted to see the much-talked-of Meena. Manoj arranged the meeting. Reba and Meena met in the presence of Manoj—the man whom both the girls loved. Reba behaved badly with Meena and this made Manoj lose his temper so much that he fainted. An insult to the woman he adored and loved, was too much of a shock he could bear. Manoj became seriously ill. But good came out of this evil. Manoj got cured. His recovery was hailed with delight by all, but the three most concerned, Manoj, Meena, and Reba.

Manoj thought: it was his duty to marry Reba and love her. Meena thought: though she loved Manoj she should stay out and not stand against the long-desired union of Manoj and Reba. Reba knows, Manoj loved Meena though he was going to marry her.   

And, this apparently insoluble tangle went on to...  What? Tragedy? No, to the happiness of all the three concerned. How? You see the grand climax in JAWAB.

(Adapted from the original story Sesh Uttar in Bengali by Sasadhar Datta)

[From the official press booklet]