Dec 4, 2023
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Namkeen – Telefilm Doordarshan

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The 1982 Hindi-language social drama TelefilmNamkeen,” which translates to “Salty” in English, was helmed by director Gulzar and featured a stellar cast including Sanjeev Kumar, Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi, and Waheeda Rehman in prominent roles. Gulzar, known for his exploration of sensitive and uncharted facets of Indian society, particularly in rural settings, crafted yet another compelling narrative.

The Film was premiered on Doordarshan National and was considered as one of the best telefilm ever by Gulzar

Namkeen Film Story Plot

The storyline of “Namkeen” was inspired by Akal Basant, a tale penned by Samaresh Basu, the same author whose work had earlier served as the foundation for Gulzar’s 1977 film “Kitaab.”

The film garnered acclaim and recognition, earning the prestigious National Film Award in 1983 for Best Audiography, credited to Essabhai M. Suratwala. At the 30th Filmfare Awards, “Namkeen” secured accolades for Best Story and Best Art Direction. Additionally, the performances of Waheeda Rehman and Kiran Vairale received commendation, earning them Best Supporting Actress nominations at the esteemed awards ceremony.

In a secluded village in Himachal Pradesh, three unmarried sisters share their lives with their aging mother, Jugni (played by Waheeda Rehman). Jugni, a former folk theatre dancer (nautanki), sustains the family by selling spices and renting out rooms. Each daughter is named after a flavor, symbolizing their distinct personalities.

The eldest, Nimki (portrayed by Sharmila Tagore), embodies resilience, quietly upholding the household. Mitthu (Shabana Azmi), the middle sister, is the ‘sweet’ one—intelligent and romantic, yet voiceless. Chinki (Kiran Vairale), the youngest, adds a ‘tangy’ zest to the family dynamic, displaying boldness and perceptiveness.

Their tranquil haven faces occasional threats from their alcoholic father, Kishanlal (Ram Mohan), a sarangi player from a traveling troupe, persistently attempting to reclaim his daughters. Jugni, having struggled to break free from her past life as a nautanki dancer, would have left him long ago to shield her daughters from that fate.

The women reside in an ancient house on the outskirts of the village. Gerulal (Sanjeev Kumar), a truck driver, becomes a temporary tenant in this unique household. Initially taken aback by their unconventional lifestyle, he gradually develops profound respect for the sisters as they confront their challenges with unwavering determination. Despite financial hardships, the sisters uphold their moral values and dignified demeanor.

Gerulal finds himself drawn to Nimki, while Mitthu, whom he sympathizes with, harbors feelings for him. When Gerulal needs to move on due to work, he proposes to Nimki, but she declines, citing her responsibilities towards her sisters and mother. Instead, she suggests he marry Mitthu. Unable to comply, Gerulal departs.

Three years later, Gerulal discovers Chinki performing in a village nautanki. Learning of the drastic changes since his departure, he finds out that Mitthu has tragically lost her mental balance and passed away. Jugni, unable to bear the shock, has also succumbed. Chinki, with limited options, has joined her father’s troupe.

Returning to Jugni’s dilapidated home, Gerulal encounters Nimki, now aged and alone, resembling her mother. This time, he decides to take her away with him, bringing an end to the poignant tale of struggle, loss, and resilience in this unconventional household.


At the core of the movie are the main characters, Gerulal and Nimki. Gerulal is metaphorically portrayed as a thread, intricately weaving together the disparate pearls that make up the fabric of the family. Nimki emerges as a selfless individual, always poised to make sacrifices, consistently prioritizing the needs of her sisters and mother above her own.


The film features a talented ensemble cast:

  • Sanjeev Kumar portrays Gerulal
  • Sharmila Tagore brings Nimki to life
  • Shabana Azmi embodies the character of Mithu
  • Waheeda Rehman takes on the roles of Jyoti and Jugni
  • Kiran Vairale portrays Chinki
Directed by    Gulzar
Screenplay byGulzar
Based onAkal Basant by Samaresh Basu
Produced by   Jayant Malkan
StarringSanjeev Kumar, Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi, Waheeda Rehman, Kiran Vairale
Cinematography                       M. Sampat
Edited byWaman Bhosle, Gurudutt Shirali
Music byR. D. Burman
Release date2 April 1982
Running time112 min
Country          India


Originally, Rekha was slated for the role of Nimki, but the character was ultimately portrayed by Sharmila Tagore.

The soundtrack was composed by R. D. Burman and lyrics by Gulzar, and featured songs by playback singers Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle.

Song Singer

“Raah Pe Rehte Hai” Kishore Kumar
“Aanki Chali, Baanki Chali” Asha Bhosle
“Badi Der Se Megha Barsa” Asha Bhosle
“Phir Se Aaiyo Badra Bidesi” Asha Bhosle
“Aisa Laga Koi Surma” Alka Yagnik

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