Garm Hava, Scorching Winds (1973)
The gendered effects of Partition, and particularly the place of Muslim women in the new nations, are critical to any discussion of Garam Hawa. Salim Mirza’s wife continually urges him to leave for Pakistan, as she witnesses the ethnic discrimination faced by her husband and son: their ancestral business in leather shoe making fails, their factory is burned down, and her son is denied all the jobs for which he interviews. Her pleas are ignored, and she becomes a mute spectator to the multiple forms of disenfranchisement experienced by them.
Further, Salim Mirza’s daughter Amina is heartbroken when her cousin and fiancee Kazim is taken to Pakistan by his father. Kazim manages to steal back to Agra to marry Amina; however, just as the wedding festivities are on, he is arrested and escorted back to the border because he unknowingly fails to register with the police when he arrives. Thus, although he had been an Indian resident and citizen all his life, his few months across the border in Pakistan transform him into a Pakistani citizen and an “illegal alien” in his own ancestral home. Amina’s dreams of marriage are thwarted; though she gives in, after much grief, to another arduous suitor, Shamshad’s, proposal of marriage. Shamshad too is forced to go to Pakistan. For the second time, Amina’s hopes for marital intimacy are foreclosed and she sees Shamshad off at the train station, much as her father had seen others off. When she finds out later that in spite of his promises to return, he has married someone else in Pakistan, she is devastated and commits suicide.
In this filmic narrative both of these Muslim female characters cannot constitute national and familial belongings as Indians. Further, Amina’s grandmother’s death reinforces the generational, gendered loss of female agency: in a very moving scene, the matriarch is taken to her ancestral home, the large haveli, for one last time as she is dying. The sequence shows Salim carrying her into the haveli from a tonga (carriage), thus underscoring her physical frailty and helplessness.
–Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India by Kavita Daiya