It was not uncommon to see many Hindi films of the 1970s being set in the backdrop of the Bombay textile mills. Resham Ki Dori , directed by Atma Ram, is one such film, although its basic premise is the undying love between a brother and sister. As far as the film pedigree goes, Atma Ram was second to none, with the legendary Guru Dutt being his elder sibling.
The story commences with the turmoil of two orphans, Ajit (master Sachin) and his younger sister, Rajjo. By the time the credits are over, a grown-up Ajit Singh (Dharmendra), who won a Filmfare nomination for the best actor, is shown as working in a mill in Bombay, owned by a devious proprietor. When his sister (Kumud Chuggani) is sexually assaulted by the owner, an infuriated Ajit enters into a brawl in which the perpetrator is killed by his own pistol. However, Ajit is held guilty by the law, and sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment. During his absence, Rajjo is ill-treated by Ajit’s confidante, Bade Babu’s (Shivraj) wife, due to which she leaves Bade Babu’s house and takes employment at a construction site.
A desperate Ajit joins a dreaded dacoit in his successful bid of escaping from prison. But he is unable to go far as the police are on his heels. To escape the fast-closing dragnet, Ajit boards a running train. In the compartment, he meets Anupama (Saira Banu), who is the granddaughter of the owner of Deshpur Textile Mill. Through Banke Biharilal (Rajendranath), Ajit (using a pseudonym Vinod) gets employment in the textile mill. When he raises his voice against the mistreatment of workers by Dinesh (Sujit Kumar), manager of the mill, the mill is put under lockout, a move which is endorsed by Anupama, who is vicious in her anti-labour stance.
However, a chance encounter with an ageing employee in the workers’ colony changes her perspective, as the bearded man is none other than her father (who several years earlier was a meagre worker in Deshpur Mill, whom her grandfather had proclaimed insane and sent to an asylum for having the audacity of marrying a rich man’s daughter, a shock which led to her mother’s untimely death). Therein, love blossoms between Ajit and Anupama, who ratifies his proposal that the workers run the mill. In the midst of all this, the separated brother-sister are reunited, but not before Rajjo escapes another bid on her modesty .
A strong message in socialism follows, with pro-labour dialogues (written by Vrajendra Gaur) peppered in. Perhaps, these were inspired by Atma Ram’s own tryst with union activities in Calcutta (as Kolkata was known once upon a time).
This move is resisted by Dinesh, who moves in to set the mill on fire, and put the blame on Ajit. However, the grandfather sees reason in the nick of time and tells the truth to Inspector Ranbir (Ramesh Deo). At this stage, the long arm of the law catches up with Ajit, as he is once again presented before the court.
A strong point of the film is its music, composed by Shankar-Jaikishan. For ‘Behna Ne Bhai Ki Kalai Se Pyar Bandha Hai’ written by Indivar they used Suman Kalyanpur and for ‘Zohra Jamal Hoon Bemisal Hoon’, written by Hasrat Jaipuri, they used Asha Bhosle. Equally hummable are ‘Sone Ke Gehne Kyon Tu Ne Pehne’ (sung by Mohammed Rafi) and ‘Chamka Pasina Ban Ke Nagina’ (sung with verve and passion by the legendary Kishore Kumar) – both written by Indivar.