Saturday, July 15, 2017


A few minutes ago, I saw on FB the iconic scene from the Hindi movie, ‘Deewar’, often referred as ‘the boot polish scene’… or, ‘Main-pheke-hue-paise-nahin-uthata’ scene… For those who are clueless about it, here is the narration…

Vijay (Master Alankar playing child Amitabh) is a boot-polish boy. The harsh circumstances have filled him with not only anger but also a great amount of self-belief and pride… Though we know it is of misplaced kind, we empathize with this kid… After all, Life and God had not been fair to him, right? So, he is angry, he is a rebel and wants to recover his lost dignity… his mother’s particularly… In the process, he has refused to go to school or temple… He thinks he is the master of his fate and captain of his soul…

So, in this iconic scene, the impeccably-dressed mafia-chief (Iftekhar) with his associate (Sudhir) land up at the boot-polish stand for their shoes to be polished… When little Vijay has done with Chief’s associate, the latter throws a coin on the ground. Instantly, the little boy stands up and declares, “Saab, , hum boot polish karta hai, koi bhik nahin mangta… Paisa utahke hath me do.”

Our mafia-man on the receiving end is rattled and says to his Chief, “Did you hear that?”

“Yes, I did,” says the Chief, “Pick up the money and give it in his hand.”

In a while, we get to know the moral of the story from the Chief’s mouth: “Yeh lambi race ka ghoda hai”… Meaning, "He's gonna go far.”

For decades, this scene has inspired young and old alike. There is something to take home from it… something we all can connect within:  We do not like our hard-earned money to be given to us like this… We do not like people treating us like this… We have our self-respect… our dignity and pride and we expect people to recognize that, honour that…

And, many of us, learning from episodes like this – in fact, we do not need a movie scene like this one to teach the value involved in it – do not treat others like this.

Decades ago, when I was new to this city, an autowala insisted that I gave him his fare with my right hand. Yes, I was a bit rattled by his tone… But, I have been extremely conscious ever since… I am aware of the dignity of the other man… and I offer him what he deserves with my ‘right’ hand… respectfully, gracefully and gratefully.

What about the world? Do others do the same to me? Do people throw money on the table – casually, indifferently, mechanically, and disrespectfully - or give it in my hand while I am at  shops, banks, cash counters, ticket counters, shcools, or while I travel in buses and autos etc?

“Annadata sukhi bhava”… “May the one who helps me earn my meal be blessed with happiness”… What a prayer that is!

Well, all said and done, how others treat me may not be in my hand… and, I may not choose to stand up and express my disapproval yelling: “Hello, main pheke hue paise nahin uthata.”… Yes, I may not do all that…

But, at the same time, let me do what is in my hand: Let me give the other man what he rightfully deserves with my ‘right’ hand… yes, gracefully and gratefully…

It is for my own self-respect, you see!


Pic.: Avinash Mantri
Video: YouTube

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