Ganga Jamna, (ISO 15919: Gaṅgā Jamunā ) also transliterated as Ganga Jamuna or Gunga Jumna, is a 1961 Indian crime drama film, written and produced by Dilip Kumar, and directed by Nitin Bose, with dialogues written by Wajahat Mirza. The film stars Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala and Nasir Khan in the lead roles. Set in a rural part of the Awadh region of Northern India, the film tells the story of two impoverished brothers, Ganga and Jamna (Dilip Kumar and Nasir Khan), and their poignancy and sibling rivalry on opposing sides of the law, one a dacoit criminal and the other a police officer. The film was also notable for its Technicolor production, use of the Awadhi dialect, and its rustic setting, and it is a defining example of the dacoit film genre.
After six months of delay, the film was finally released in January 1961. Upon release, the film was well received by the critics and the audience. It was one of the biggest hits of the 1960s and one of the most successful Indian films in terms of box office collection, domestically in India and overseas in the Soviet Union.
The film received critical acclaim and was regarded as one of the best films of all time. Critics praised its story, screenplay, direction, cinematography, and the music along with the performances of the lead actors Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala. Upon release it was nominated in seven categories at the 9th Filmfare Awards, including Best Film and Best Director for Kumar and Bose, respectively, while winning three, Best Actress for Vyjayanthimala, Best Cinematography for V. Balasaheb and Best Dialogue Writer for Wajahat Mirza. It also emerged as the biggest winner at the 25th Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards, where it won nine awards in the Hindi film category. In addition, the film also won Certificate of Merit at the 9th National Film Awards. It also won prizes at international film festivals, including the Boston International Film Festival and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
The film was a trendsetter in Indian cinema. Dilip Kumar's performance as Ganga is considered one of the finest acting performances in the history of Indian cinema, and inspired future generations of Indian actors, most notably Amitabh Bachchan. The film's plot also inspired screenwriter duo Salim–Javed, who wrote scripts exploring similar themes in later Bachchan-starring hits such as Deewaar (1975), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Trishul (1978). Ganga Jamna also had South Indian remakes, including the Tamil film Iru Thuruvam (1971) and the Malayalam film Lava (1980).
The film is set in Haripur, Uttar Pradesh (Gonda District) and is bases on conflicting characters of two brothers, Ganga and Jamna. HariPur eventually being controlled by an Evil landlord Hari Babu. When Ganga is framed by the landlord for a crime he did not commit, he escapes to the mountains with his girlfriend, Dhanno, and joins a band of bandits. His younger brother, Jamna, is sent to the city for his education and becomes a police officer. Years later, when Ganga is about to become a father, he decides to return to the village to ask for forgiveness. However, Jamna wants him to surrender to the police for his crimes and when Ganga refuses and tries to leave, Jamna shoots him dead. Ganga's death rendered more poignant by the fact that it was his money that paid for Jamna's education and allowed him to become a policeman.
Widowed Govindi (Leela Chitnis) lives a poor lifestyle in Haripur along with two sons, Gungaram and Jumna. Ganga spends his days working with his mother as a servant in the home of the zamindar's obnoxious family while Jumna, a promising student, focuses on his schoolwork. While Jumna is studious, Gungaram is the opposite, but has a good heart and decides to use his earnings to ensure his brother gets a decent education. After her employer, Hariram, accuses Govindi of theft, their house is searched, evidence is found and she is arrested. The entire village bails her out but the shock kills her. After their mother passes away, Ganga pledges himself to supporting his younger brother as they grow to adulthood.
The adult Ganga (Dilip Kumar) is a spirited and hardworking fellow, unafraid to take on the zamindar when necessary, while his brother Jumna (Nasir Khan) is more measured and cautious. Ganga sends Jumna to the city to study, and supports him with funds that he earns driving an oxcart and making deliveries for the zamindar. But things get complicated when Ganga saves a local girl, Dhanno (Vyjayanthimala), from the zamindar's lecherous assault. The zamindar (Anwar Hussain) gets his revenge by trumping up a robbery charge against Ganga, landing him in prison. Upon his release, Ganga learns that his brother has become destitute and attacks and robs the zamindar in a rage. Soon Ganga finds himself an outlaw, and, with Dhanno at his side, he joins a gang of bandits camping out in the wilderness. In the meantime, Jumna meets a fatherly police officer (Nazir Hussain) and becomes a police officer himself. It isn't long before Jumna's professional wanderings take him back to the village of his birth, where he must square off against his outlaw brother in a showdown between duty and family.
The film stars real-life brothers Dilip Kumar (real name Muhammad Yusuf Khan) and Nasir Khan in the roles of the brothers Ganga and Jamna, respectively.
The soundtrack for the movie was composed by Naushad and the lyrics were penned by Shakeel Badayuni. The soundtrack consists of 8 songs, featuring vocals by Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Hemant Kumar.
The film has received widespread critical acclaim in India as well as overseas. Karan Bali from Upperstall.com, call the film has "Gwell-structured and briskly paced film" adding that "notable of the use of Bhojpuri dialect, which helps make the film refreshingly real and gives it a proper locale and geography". Dinesh Raheja from Rediff called the film "What is also moving about Ganga Jamuna is its tragic irony[...]Of all the conundrums of human relationships that Ganga Jamuna explores, the most affecting is the one between Ganga and Dhanno --- an extraordinary love story between two ordinary people, handled with great thought and charm[...]Director Nitin Bose frames some excellent shots even while keeping a tight rein on the narrative". Deepak Mahan from The Hindu said "Gunga Jumna is a classic entertainer at its best with a powerful story, outstanding performances and riveting music[...]an eye-opener as to why good stories will always be the real “super stars” and why content must dictate the form rather than the other way round". Gaurav Malani from The Times of India gave it 3/5 stars and praised actor Dilip Kumar for his performance as Ganga. K. K. Rai from Stardust called the film "the story of two brothers on opposite sides of law repeated over and over again but never with so much power" and applauded Vyjayanthimala for her portrayal of rustic village girl Dhanno where Rai said "Vyjayanthimala’s Dhanno won her the best actress trophy[..]She played the village woman with such simplicity and grace; you’d forget she was one of the most glamorous stars of her time. She also spoke the Bhojpuri dialect like a native".
The film also gained good response from overseas. Philip Lutgendorf from University of Iowa said that "By focusing its story and its audience’s sympathies on the brother who goes astray, however, the film invites a critical and pessimistic appraisal of the state’s ability to protect the underprivileged, and its tragic central character thus anticipates the “angry” proletarian heroes popularized by Amitabh Bachchan in the 1970s[...]Linguistic coding is artfully used, with Gunga and Dhanno’s raucous arguments in colorful Bhojpuri dialect contrasted with Jumna’s carefully-measured pronouncements in Khari Boli or “high” Delhi speech. Rural life is also celebrated in exhuberant [sic] songs and dances[...]The sweeping landscape of the Deccan, with its arid mesas and lush green valleys forms a gorgeous backdrop to many scenes".
On 26 November 2008, Rediff ranked the film as one of the best 1960s Bollywood film in their "Landmark Film of 60s" list, adding that "Its massive success, not just in terms of business, but also vivid story-telling, endearing camaraderie, uncompromising technique as well as the concept of ideology at odds, has visibly influenced major motion pictures over the years, rural or contemporary backdrop, notwithstanding.".
In India, the film had a box office gross of ₹7 crore, with a nett of ₹3.5 crore, becoming the highest-grossing Indian film of 1961. IBOS Network gave its inflation-adjusted nett as ₹604.2 crore. Box Office magazine calculated its inflation-adjusted gross by comparing the collection with the price of gold in 1961, which gave it an adjusted gross of ₹736.4 crore in 2011, equivalent to ₹1,222 crore ($174 million) in 2016.
The film completed its Silver Jubilee theatrical run at Minerva Cinema Hall, Bombay and completed Golden Jubilee run at cinema. The film was listed at number 2 by Box Office magazine behind Mughal-e-Azam in their list of "Top 50 Film of Last 50 Years" which feature all-time highest-grossing Bollywood films by using the relative price of gold in different years to arrive at a hypothetical current value of box-office collections of past films.
Overseas, the film was a success in the Soviet Union, where it released as Ганга и Джамна in 1965, drawing an audience of 32.1 million viewers that year. It came number 11 on the year's Soviet box office chart, where it was the fourth highest Indian film, behind Dhool Ka Phool (number 4), Anuradha (number 8) and Jagte Raho (number 10). Ganga Jamna was one of the top 25 most successful Indian films in the Soviet Union. At an average Soviet ticket price of 25 kopecks in the mid-1960s, the film's 32.1 million sold Soviet tickets grossed an estimated 8.03 million Soviet rubles.[n 2]
The Hindu retrospectively criticized the 9th Filmfare Awards for snubbing Dilip Kumar from the Filmfare Award for Best Actor, which was awarded to Raj Kapoor for Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1961). The Hindu described it as "a strange travesty of justice" that Kumar lost out the award, after delivering "a magnificent role of a lifetime."
Its story of two brothers on opposing sides of the law became a dominant narrative motif in Hindi cinema from the 1970s onwards. It was a trendsetter, inspiring films such as Deewaar (1975), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Trishul (1978). It had a strong influence on screenwriter duo Salim–Javed, who took inspiration from Ganga Jamna when they wrote the stories and scripts of films such as Deewaar and Trishul.
Ganga Jamna's most immediate successor was Deewaar. Salim-Javed credited Ganga Jamna as the inspiration for Deewaar, which they described as a "more urban, much more contemporary" take on its themes.
Ganga Jamna was a defining example of the dacoit film genre. It went on to inspire Sholay (1975), which combined the dacoit film conventions established by Ganga Jamna and Mother India with that of the Western genre. The villain Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) is a dacoit speaking with a dialect inspired by Gunga, a mix of Khariboli and Awadhi, and a scene depicting an attempted train robbery was also inspired by a similar scene in Ganga Jamna.
Dilip Kumar's performance as Ganga is considered one of the finest acting performances in the history of Indian cinema. According to The Hindu:
Dilip Kumar is the “super star” as he essays a character that blends rustic comedy, romance, tragedy and villainy in a magnificent role of a lifetime.
The “Badshah of Acting” enacts each scene with such ease and finesse that you are left astounded by the sheer brilliance of his genius since his body movements and dialogue delivery change in tune with the development of the character and story.
His performance in Gunga Jumna inspired future generations of actors, most notably Amitabh Bachchan, who was inspired by Dilip Kumar's performance in this film. According to Bachchan, he learnt more about acting from Gunga Jumna than he did from any other film. Bachchan, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, was particularly impressed by Kumar's mastery of the Awadhi dialect, expressing awe and surprise as to how “a man who’s not from Allahabad and Uttar Pradesh” could accurately express all the nuances of Awadhi. Bachchcan's famous "angry young man" persona was modeled after Kumar's performance as Gunga, with Bachchan's "angry young man" being a sharpened version of Kumar's intensity as Gunga. Bachchan adapted Kumar's style and reinterpreted it in a contemporary urban context reflecting the changing socio-political climate of 1970s India.