Thursday, June 13, 2013

Open Jail in Delhi: Hark back to the movie Do Ankhen Barah Haath

I was attracted to the news item in The Times of India that an open prison was being started in Delhi.
Those prisoners who were  serving a sentence for five to ten years would be eligible to stay in it. Another requirement was that prisoners should have displayed model behavior during their time in jail. They should not have been a part of any organized gangs outside the prison or inside.

These prisoners will be allowed to take up jobs outside the prison and will go to work from 9-5 like other regular folks and will come back to their cells in the evening.

What a novel concept! But is it really that new?

My mind went back to a beautiful black and white classic from Indian Cinema, Do Ankhen Barah. Haath (1957).
An idealistic jailer tries the Open Jail experiment with six hardened criminals who look so scary that one would not want to be an enclosed space with them. He is discouraged by all but refuses to give up his idea.
The jailer represents the Do ankhen (two eyes) and the six prisoners represent the barah haath (twelve hands).
Initially the criminals try all stunts but cannot shake off the two eyes watching them. Slowly, they are transformed into normal, social beings who take responsibility and prove that the jailer was right.
People can transform themselves when they really want to.
There was a scene in the movie where the criminals turned farmers go to the farmers' market in a near by town to sell the farm produce. The sheer joy of that unsupervised visit is heaven for these hardened men.
The classic song 'Ei maleik tere bande ham' that we have all sung in school assemblies is from this beautiful movie.

It is funny how something jogs your memory and leads you to a different world altogether.

 References: Wikipedia, Youtube


  1. Will this open jail concept works? Thanks for sharing that beautiful movie Madhu....

  2. here is that beautiful song you are talking about...

  3. Hey..remember the movie and love the song.It was a beautiful concept, one that is based on trust, even on criminals but not sure if it can be adopted to any degree today...World has drastically changed!!

    1. Yes,I agree. But as they say in Hindi," Umeed pe duniya kayam hai". The world exists because there is still hope.


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