On World Post Day, we pay tribute to the endangered breed of good ol’ postmen and the diverse ways they have been represented in Hindi cinema
Films and postal services have one thing in common — public anticipation. And incidentally, postmen are one of the few categories of public servants who have found adequate representation in films.
The 2014 Marathi film, Tapaal, is about the developing emotional bond between a postman and a village kid. Directed by Laxman Utekar, Mangesh Hadawale turns producer with this film
The cheer that a letter from a son who’s away brings, the anticipation of a girl waiting for her boyfriend's letter and the tragic letter that brings a flood of tears, the postmen is witness to a gamut of emotions.
Naseerudin Shah played an out-of-job postman in the 2014 film, Finding Fanny. The film revolves around a letter undelivered by him
Rajesh Khanna in Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein (1977)
Directed by Meraj, this Rajesh Khanna starrer was lauded by critics but failed to shine at the box office. Kaka played Ravi Raj Sinha, an educated young man who takes up the job of a postman in Sitapur village due to his inability to find a job in the city. Hema Malini was the leading lady of the film for whom Ravi eventually develops romantic feelings. However, the two don’t unite and the film ends with him trying to accept the reality of unrequited love. The song Dakiya dak laya became an anthem for postmen across the country. Though the role had romance, Khanna portrayed it subtly, which was a far cry from his flamboyant persona.
Ashutosh Rana in Dushman (1998)
Actor Ashutosh Rana become a household name overnight with his powerhouse performance as Gokul Pandit, a psychotic postman who rapes and murders helpless young women. In his debut performance, Rana nailed the role of a sex maniac who chooses his targets as he delivers mail from door to door. He’s spine chilling in the sequence where he murders his nurse-girlfriend who discovers his alter ego. If there was one postman, you did not want to open the door to, it would be Gokul Pandit.
Dilip Kumar in Babul (1950)
The second-highest grossing film of 1950 starred Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Munawar Sultana. Dilip Kumar played the role of Ashok, a postmaster with a passion for song writing and music. In this love triangle, Bela (Sultana), the daughter of a poor postmaster is in love with Ashok, who believes they are just friends. He is attracted towards Usha (Nargis) who comes from a wealthy family. This film was akin to a Shakespearean tragedy with its dose of jealousy, guilt, depression and remorse. The film helped in creating Dilip Kumar’s doomed lover image, which made him the perfect king of tragedies in Bollywood.
Nazir Hussein in Parakh (1960)
Though he did not have much screen time, actor Nazir Hussein as Postmaster Nivaran was pivotal in this satirical film on Indian democracy. The film set in a village had an ensemble cast with actors like Sadhana, Leela Chitnis, Durga Khote and Keshto Mukherjee. The story unfolds when Nivaran gets a cheque of Rs 5 lakh, which he is supposed to give to anyone who does something worthwhile to benefit the village. As a simple man caught between his job, ailing wife and the wishes of his daughter, Hussein gave a commendable performance. The film is best remembered for the song, O sajna barkha bahaar ayi....
Naseeruddin Shah in Finding Fanny (2014)
The veteran actor was brilliant in the role of Ferdie, an old postman in the village of Pocolim, who discovers that the letter he wrote to the ‘love of his life’, Stefanie Fernandes aka Fanny had remained undelivered for 46 years. Naseer added his own touches to the old lovelorn character making it equally quirky and endearing. His reaction when he finally sees Fanny is hilarious.
Rajesh Vivek in Swades (2004)
The village postmaster was one of the first persons, Mohan Bhargava, (Rajesh Vivek) encounters while travelling to Charanpur where his nanny Kaveri Amma (Kishori Bilal) lives. Vivek who played the astrologer Guran in Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Lagaan returns here as a curious postmaster with a passion for wrestling. Incidentally, Parakh and Swades have postmasters with the same name, Nivaran.
Il Postino: The Postman (1994)
The film tells the fictional story of a simple postman who learns to love poetry from Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. Late Italian actor Massimo Troisi played the role of Mario Ruoppolo, a postman in a small Italian village. The actor, who postponed his heart surgery to complete the film, suffered a fatal heart attack a day after the filming got completed. He was one of the nine actors who were posthumously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
The Postman (1994)
This film also released at the same time as Il Postino. Actor Kevin Costner plays the role of a nomad who becomes a postman in this post-apocalyptic and adventure film. Unfortunately, the film tanked at the box office and Costner who was both the actor and director of the flick got nominated for the Razzies.
Postman Pat: The Movie (2014)
This animated film is about Postman Pat, a veteran postman who has been delivering letters to a village called Greendale in the UK. The film was based on a children’s series by the same name. The main protagonist is a hard-working postman who wants to take his wife on a delayed honeymoon with his yearly. However, his bonus gets cancelled and he ends up on a reality show. While the series was a huge hit, the film got mixed reviews.
Letters of love
Likhe jo khat tujhe sung by Mohammed Rafi in Kanyadaan (1968)
Pal pal dil ke paas by Kishore Kumar in Blackmail (1973)
Yeh mera prem patra padkar by Mohammed Rafi in Sangam (1964)
Humne sanam ko khat likha by Lata Mangeshkar in Shakti (1982)
Chitthi aayi hai by Pankaj Udhas in Naam (1986)
Kabootar ja ja ja by Lata Mangeshkar and SP Balasubramaniam in Maine Pyar Kiya (1989)
Sandese aata hain by Roop Kumar Rathod and Sonu Nigam in Border (1997)
Khat maine tere naam likha by Kumar Sanu in Bekhudi (1992)
Chitthi na koi sandesh, na jaane kaunsa des by Jagjit Singh in Dushman (1998)
Pyar ke kagaaz pe by Abhijeet and Sadhana Sargam in Jigar (1992)
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