8 user 3 critic

Boot Polish (1954)

Preteen brother and sister, abandoned by their father to care of an abusive prostitute aunt, survive life in an Indian squatters' camp, aided by a friendly cripple, by learning to shine shoes instead of begging.


Prakash Arora


Bhanu Pratap (dialogue), Bhanu Pratap (photoplay) | 1 more credit »
4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Kumari Naaz ... Belu (as Baby Naaz)
Rattan Kumar Rattan Kumar ... Bhola
David Abraham ... John (as David)
Chand Burke Chand Burke ... Kamla Devi (as Chand Burque)
Veera Veera
Bhupendra Kapoor Bhupendra Kapoor
Shailendra Shailendra
Mohanbali Mohanbali
Nissar Nissar ... (as Master Nisar)
Bhudo Advani Bhudo Advani ... Pedro (as Budho Advani)
Prabhu Arora Prabhu Arora
Learn more

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Toddlers Belu and Bhola share an uncertain future when their mom dies in the plague, and their dad is imprisoned. They are then left in the uncaring care of Kamla, their aunt, who moonlights as a prostitute. She is cruel,abusive and forces them to take to a life of begging on the local trains, on beaches and crowded areas in Bombay. This is how the toddlers grow up, they want to lead a respectable life, and with the help of bootlegger John, they get a shoe-shine kit and start shining shoes on busy sidewalks and railway platforms. Their circumstances face more uncertainty when Kamla finds out about their new-found profession, beats them up and throws them out of the house. They temporarily seek shelter with John, but when he is arrested, they have to fend for themselves. Things become bad to worse when Bombay enters the monsoon season, when people do not get their shoes shined; then the duo are separated - with Belu ending up with a rich family, and when she asks about Bhola, she is ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | girl | poverty | slum | child beggar | See All (43) »


Comedy | Drama | Family


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Did You Know?


Remade as Morad and Laleh (1965) See more »


Main Baharon Ki
Music by Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi & Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal
See more »

User Reviews

Badalega Zamaana Ye Sitaaron Pe Likha Hai ...
9 February 2013 | by jmathur_swayamprabhaSee all my reviews

Boot Polish tells the story of two orphan children - Bholu (Ratan Kumar) and his younger sister, Belu (Naaz). The fostering aunt of theirs is a wicked lady (Chaand Burke) who forces them to beg on the streets. They feel that begging is wrong but don't have any other option. Destiny brings them into contact with a kind-hearted bootlegger - John Chacha (David) who inspires them to lead a life based on hard-work and earn self-respect for them. The innocent children save money and buy a shoe-polish kit . Now they don't beg but earn money by polishing the shoes of the people. Their villainous aunt expels them from the house. The poor children are now under the sky to support themselves by all means. The ill-fate strikes them when first the rainy seasons arrives and people no longer approach them to get their shoes polished. And thereafter, John Chacha gets arrested when he tries to sell liquor to get some money to buy food for these hungry kids. Then starts a chain of heart-piercing incidents bringing about the separation of the brother and the sister. As times change, their fate also takes a twist and they get reunited to lead a better life now.

Boot Polish is a very touching movie and able to move the spectator deep within his / her heart at several places. Any emotional person will find it hard to stop his / her tears while watching this movie. The writer - Bhaanu Prataap, the director - Prakash Arora and the ultimate visionary - Raj Kapoor all have worked in harmony to make it a memorable movie. The movie does not bore at all any place and it can be watched many times. Though more Bollywood movies based on children came later also, this movie is definitely in a league of its own.

However, I have some reservations about this movie, mainly its script. Begging and moreover the begging of the children (who are actually forced by the grown-up ones behind the sight) has always been a great problem in India. It was there when Boot Polish was made and it is there when this review is being written. Frankly, several boot-polishing children found on the railway stations and the scavenging children seen in the train are no different from the beggars. This is the real, ugly face of the so-called shining India. And when this movie was made, India was not shining even on paper. Hence the script-writers could have done better by focusing the story on this issue only. However the track of first begging and then shoe-polishing of the children is short and the major footage has gone to the other happenings in their life. I, therefore, felt that the filmmaker's motive was more to exploit the sentiments of the audience and less to draw attention to a burning issue. The problems of the children have been resolved in the climax in an utterly filmy way which seldom happens in real life.

All the same, I have no hitch in admitting that quality-wise this black and white movie is by all standards, a very superior movie. True to the repute of the R.K. Banner, this movie scores in all the departments - may it be the art direction or the cinematography or the acting or the background score or the music- everything is superb. Just superb ! The movie belongs to the child artists - Master Ratan Kumar and Baby Naaz and both have delivered performances of a life time. They make you smile, they make you weep. Mainly, it's them which makes this movie a winner all the way. The viewer is bound to lose his / her heart to these innocent faces and their innocent mannerisms. Among others, seasoned artist - David deserves a special mention. He never acted badly throughout his career and Boot Polish is a showcase of his abundant talent.

Raj Kapoor's permanent music directors - Shankar Jaikishan have composed memorable melodies including Chali Kaun Se Des Gujariya Tu Saj Dhaj Ke (Talat Mahmood - Asha Bhosle), Lapak Jhapak Tu Aa Re Badarwa (Manna Dey), Tumhaare Hain Tumse Daya Maangte Hain (Asha Bhosle - Mohammad Rafi), Raat Gayi O Raat Gayi Phir Din Aata Hai (Asha - Manna Dey), Theher Zara O Jaanewaale (Asha - Madhubala Jhaveri - Manna Dey), Taaron Ko Dil Ki Baat Sunaaye (Asha), Saari Duniya Hai Mujhpe Deewaani (Asha) etc. with the beautiful lyrics penned by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. But the song which is definitely immortal is - Nanhe Munne Bachche Teri Mutthi Mein Kya Hai.

I recommend this great movie to one and all who are interested in watching socially relevant quality cinema. I hope against hope that things will improve for the innocent unsupported children in our country with the efforts of us all humming the following lines of the song Nanhe Munne Bachche Teri Mutthi Mein Kya Hai - 'Aane Waali Duniya Mein Sabke Sar Pe Taaj Hoga, Na Bhookhon Ki Bheed Hogi Na Dukhon Ka Raaj Hoga, Badalega Zamaana Ye Sitaaron Pe Likha Hai...'

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Release Date:

20 August 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mendigar o morir See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

R.K. Films Ltd. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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