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Triple Talaq verdict: The 80s film which brought instant talaq, halala in sharp focus

As we celebrate the verdict as a step forward for the society, I am reminded of an old movie. Titled Nikaah, the Salma Agha film was way ahead of its times.

bollywood Updated: Aug 22, 2017 17:45 IST
Sweta Kaushal
Sweta Kaushal
Hindustan Times
Triple Talaq verdict,Nikaah,Salma Agha
Salma Agha in a still from Nikaah.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled triple talaq “against the Constitution and Islam”. The judgment came two years after Uttarakhand’s Shayara Bano approached the top court when her husband of 15 years sent her a letter with the word ‘talaq’ written thrice to divorce her.

As we celebrate the verdict as a step forward for the society, I am reminded of an old movie. Titled Nikaah, the BR Chopra film was way ahead of its times. This film puts the focus on the way women were treated by the society, family and even her lover/husband. Watching it on a black-and-white TV set, I was moved by the strength that Salma Agha’s character displays in the film.

Starring Agha, Raj Babbar and Deepak Parashar, the Muslim social drama traced a woman’s journey who has been divorced by her husband for irrational reasons. She finds a new life with another man till the former husband comes calling. He has realized his ex-wife’s worth and wants to get back with her. How the woman deals with the situation forms the crux of the story.

Based on Achala Nagar’s play , Nikaah is the story of two college friends - Afaque Haider (Raj Babbar) and Niloufer (Salma Agha). Afaque is in love with Niloufer but to her he is just a friend. Niloufer gets married to a workaholic Waseem (Deepak). She fails to get the love and respect in the marriage and he eventually gives her triple talaq.

Afaque and Niloufer meet again and fall in love. After they get married, Afaque realizes that Niloufer is still in love with her first husband. Waseem has also realized her worth by now and wants her back. Waseem meets Niloufer and tells her that they can get remarried as she has gone through Halala – marrying another man after her divorce and consummating her relationship.

The climax sequence of Nikaah is what sets the film apart from its contemporaries. The three lead characters are in the frame and her lover and former husband are arguing that the other should marry and have her. Salma delivers a powerful speech wherein she announces that she is no paper note that can be given away in charity.

The ultra modern, coming-of-age woman
Salma Agha gave one of her best performances in the film and also bagged two Filmfare awards that year. Way ahead of the typical Bollywood heroine of the 80s, Salma’s character, Niloufer refuses to run back to her first husband when he is ready to “take her back”. She does conform to the traditional role of woman but refuses to take domestic abuse in any form.

Also, in the last scene, she tells them, “Jo shaadi meri marzi ke bagair ho hi nahi sakti uske tootne me meri haa aur na ka dhakhal kyu nahi shamil? Inhone ne mujhe talaaq gaali ki tarah diya, aapne tohfe ki tarah.”

The evergreen songs
Be it Salma Agha’s Dil Ke Armaan or Ghulam Ali’s Chupke Chupke, all the songs of the film remain on the evergreen playlist of most Bollywood and ghazal lovers. Salma crooned most of the songs in the film that also had three songs by Mahendra Kapoor. While Dil Ke Armaan is a melancholic song, Chupke Chupke and Fazaa Bhi Hai are soft romantic numbers.


The film was initially named Talaaq Talaaq Talaaq.

Salma Agha made her onscreen debut with Nikaah and won a Filmfare award for playback in the film. BR Chopra reportedly spotted her at Rishi Kapoor’s wedding!

The film’s music director, Ravi Chopra, initially rejected Salma as a singer. However, when director BR Chopra convinced him that Ravi changed the scale and composition of the songs to suit her voice.

The film was a box office hit and went on to become one of the top ten grossers of the year.

Watch the entire film here:

Follow @htshowbiz for more

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 16:59 IST