Page Nav


Gradient Skin




'27 Down' – 50 years of a quiet gem

Based on Ramesh Bakshi’s Athara Sooraj Ke Paudhe, 27 Down by debutant director Avtar Kaul (ironically and tragically his only film) is a qui...

Based on Ramesh Bakshi’s Athara Sooraj Ke Paudhe, 27 Down by debutant director Avtar Kaul (ironically and tragically his only film) is a quiet gem that is yet waiting for its true worth and appreciation, even in its 50th year of release.  A tale of a nondescript ticket checker in a Bombay local train, whose dreams of being an artist are crushed by his dominating father, 27 Down is a beautiful exploration of the existential crisis that the protagonist, Sanjay, experiences. His brief love affair with a young girl, Shalini, who travels on the same train is aborted by his circumstances, mainly orchestrated by his father. 

Avtar Kaul’s film delves into several poignant themes that resonate on multiple levels. One of the central themes is the quest for identity and purpose amidst the complexities of urban life. Through the protagonist’s journey on a crowded Bombay local train, the film explores the alienation and disillusionment experienced by individuals in modern society. As Sanjay grapples with the monotony and routine of his mundane existence, the film depicts his frame of mind with a quiet sense of calm which is in brilliant contrast to the inner turbulence of his life. His romance with Shalini, his passionless loveless marriage to a girl of his father’s choice and the veritable surrender of his dreams to the harsh realities of life, are depicted through the sensitive vision of the director. The use of the train as a metaphor for life itself is brilliantly brought out throughout the film.

The film in essence is a tale of contrasts…trains seemingly going somewhere but going nowhere, the protagonist is travelling all the time and yet he has not moved an inch from the dreariness of his daily life. It also highlights the sharp divide between dreams and reality, as the protagonist confronts the gap between his aspirations and the harsh realities of life. Sanjay’s story is a tale of social inequality and the struggles faced by the marginalized in a rapidly changing society. Through its nuanced storytelling and rich character development, the film offers a thought-provoking exploration of life, inviting viewers to reflect on the complexities of the human condition.

27 Down is a great reminder of the promise that Avtar Kaul, its director had. His life was tragically cut short by a freak accident at sea, the same night when his film was announced as a National Award winner. The loss India suffered at the cruel hands of fate is undeniable, given the brilliance of 27 Down. It was a landmark film and a shining jewel in the crown of New Wave Cinema in India. And even 50 years later, it continues to remain so.  

- By Pratik Majumdar


No comments