Art & Culture

Rustom and Ye Rastey Hain Pyar Ke: A case for the cheating wife

Deepa Gahlot
Deepa GahlotAug 16, 2016 | 14:03

Rustom and Ye Rastey Hain Pyar Ke: A case for the cheating wife

Rustom, directed by Tinu Suresh Desai, and starring Akshay Kumar in the title role, is based on the sensational murder case that rocked the country in 1959.

Making the film now, meant researching and recreating period details, a problem that RK Nayyar’s Ye Rastey Hai Pyar Ke didn’t have, since it was made soon after the cause célèbre, in 1963.

Ye Rastey Hai Pyar Ke (1963) Photo credit: www.theartsedge.com

Naval commander Kawas M Nanavati shot dead his English wife Sylvia's lover Prem Ahuja. Such was the sympathy for the Parsi man in uniform that the public supported him, with opinion whipped up in his favour by fellow Parsi Russi Karanjia, editor of the popular tabloid Blitz.


In the film he is named Eruch Billmoria and seen to approach a patrician industrialist, JJ (easy to guess who) for funds to run the pro-Nanavati campaign.

Opinion was whipped up in Nanavati's favour by Russi Karanjia, editor of the popular tabloid Blitz.

Nanavati was found not guilty by a jury in the Greater Bombay sessions court, but the judge referred the case to the Bombay High Court, which found Nanavati guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment. But he was granted a pardon and left the country to settle in Canada. This was the last case to be tried by a jury in India, after which this system was abolished by the government.

Nayyar altered the story to suit the tastes of the Indian audience, who in that period, would not have been able to stomach the plot about an unfaithful wife.

In the film, starring Sunil Dutt (who also produced it), Leela Naidu, Rehman and Shashikala, the wife, Neena is lonely after her husband Anil, a pilot, goes out of the country on work and befriends his pal Ashok, not knowing that he is a playboy. His jilted girlfriend (Shashikala) cautions Ashok against trying to seduce a decent married woman, but one day at a party, he gets her drunk and rapes her.


She is so shocked and ashamed that she spends most of the film after the incident dressed in a white sari looking mournful. Anil ends up shooting Ashok, and the case goes into a high-profile trial with defence lawyer Byomkesh Mukherjee (Ashok Kumar) and prosecutor Ali Khan (Motilal) matching wits in court. There is a very filmi twist towards the end, and then a melodramatic climax, in which it turns out that Anil is genuinely not guilty.

Leela Naidu was gorgeous to look at, but a bland actress. Rehman carried the film with his suave charm. The film carried a disclaimer stating that it was a work on fiction, but in spite of the alterations, it was clear where the idea came from.

Rustom adds a conspiracy angle to the story, to paint the hero as a patriot. There is little change in the character of the wife, however, even half a century later. There is great build up — storm and all — for her single aberration, and all she does after the murder is weep. In the earlier film, the wife dies of guilt, in the new one, she is pardoned by her noble husband.

Last updated: August 16, 2016 | 14:03
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