Boot Polish

Screening on Film
Directed by Prakash Arora.
With Baby Naaz, Rattan Kumar, David Abraham.
India, 1954, 35mm, black & white, 149 min.
Hindi with English subtitles.

Working with K.A. Abbas on the screenplay for Awaara may have strengthened Kapoor’s interest in social melodrama, because his subsequent project was this neo-realist-influenced film. The plot concerns two Mumbai orphans, sent to beg on the streets by their cruel aunt, who seek to better themselves by shining shoes. The debt to de Sica, one of Kapoor’s favorite filmmakers, is obvious; like de Sica, Kapoor here mixes a concern for the poor with a great deal of sentiment. Kapoor produced Boot Polish; his assistant Prakash Arora gets screen credit as director, but the film is now widely assumed to be largely Kapoor’s work.

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