Nikaah (1982) or Talaq! Talaq! Talaq! and ABBA in Hindi

When I saw Nikkah (1982) which means an Islamic marriage contract, I thought it really should have been called Talaq, Talaq, Talaq! So in my post movie online research, I found that it originally was to be titled Talaq Talaq Talaq (divorce). I thought, “Hey that’s what I thought it should be titled too!”

Nikaah is a 1982 Hindi film produced and directed by B. R. Chopra. The film stars Raj Babbar, Deepak Parashar and Salma Agha in her Hindi movie debut role. The film also had Asrani, Iftekhar and Gufi Paintal in support roles. The films music is by Ravi. The original name of the movie was Talaq Talaq Talaq, but was renamed Nikaah on the insistence of Islamic clerics. (wikipedia)

No one wants to get on the wrong side of an Islamic cleric. The movie begins with a series of rather sensual oil painting in the background. Some of the paintings are nudes!

As the paintings flash by, a woman recites the following:

I am a woman the daughter of Eve
Sent down from the heavens pure and sacred
I’ve bloomed the flowers in this world
I give birth to a man and train him to walk
As a sister I tell him amusing stories
As his beloved, I make his life melodious
I sacrifice the precious pearls of my life
In a need I walk along with him
By serving him like this I lose my entity
The story of my sacrifice is in all the holy books
All that I have said is an illusion
I’ve always had one fear after many centuries
I may be pushed into some brothel
I don’t know when I may be bet in gambling
I may be compelled to prove my chastity
I may be put to death just after my death
I may be auctioned in the flesh markets
I may be accepted as a wife after marriage
I may also be divorced and rejected
My chastity may be ravaged by the same men
This is all because I am a woman

Off to a dramatic start with that opening poem, right? That’s followed by some subtitles I’d never seen before using the word buttock, not buttocks, just buttock:

That’s Haider Raj Babbar and his college buddies talking about Nilofer (Salma Agha). Haider is actually a good guy and is a real Ghazal expert. Haider and Nilo had a bit of an attraction in college, but Nilo was set to marry the fancy Nawab Wasim (Deepak Parashar) who immediately gets a business deal for a 5 star hotel! I love how often the term “5 star hotel” appears in Bollowood movies. I’ve seen enough Bollywood to know that the 5 star hotel theme is quite ominous and those involved in the deal will eventually fall from their greedy quest for power. 5 star hotel = bad guy. 5 star hotel = bad scene.

And sure enough, the 5 star hotel deal interrupts the celebration of the honeymoon. While Nawab Wasim meets with his business partners, poor Nilo sits on the rocky Mumbai beach, watching other honeymooners as she scrawls “honeymoon” on a rock, the word eventually being washed away by the crashing waves.

As may be predicted, since Nilo and Wasim’s marriage starts of with a rocky honeymoon (sorry couldn’t resist) it only continues to have highs and lows like the waves of the ocean. Eventually things take a nasty turn when Wasim gives Nilo a tight slap to the face, and the highs are gone. Nilo spends most of her time waiting for her workoholic husband, and when he finally appears after standing her up repeatedly, he’s often in a foul mood. Although Nilo dedicates herself to the marriage, she realizes that it’s not working.

But fear not ladies, Nilo is a strong woman and doesn’t take this abuse and the next time that arrogant nawab raises his hand to her she puts him in his place!

Macho Wasim has to have the last word. In fact he has the last 3 words and says “Talaq! Talaq! Talaq!” Giving her the triple talaq = D-I-V-O-R-C-E! I warn you if you see this scene and are prone to seizures, this may trigger one as it flashes back and forth between these 2 pictures at a rapid rate of about 100 times in 30 seconds.


Nilo gets her talaq and goes on to marry Haider, who thinks she may still love Wasim. Haider then trys to reunite Nilo and Wasim in an act of sacrifice. Nilo’s not having that! These men making all the decisions and not consulting with her at all drives her to the edge and she declares the truth:

What I loved about this movie:

  • More adabs and Subhan’allahs per scene than any movie ever!
  • 5 star hotels mentioned
  • Tight slaps to the face
  • Johnnie Walker consumed by a bad guy
  • Women triumph in the end

The most interesting part of this movie to me was the fact that Salma Agha was her own playback singer for the tune “Dil Ke Armaan” and won the Filmfare Best Female Playback Award for the song.

Thanks to anupkumar07 for the video.

LYRICS with and English translation by Madhu.

Even more interesting than Salma being her own playback singer is the fact that she was discovered at Rishi Kapoor & Neetu Singh’s wedding. And it gets even better: Salma was already famous for recording the hits of ABBA in Hindi with her sister Sabina:

AGHA – Salma and Sabina Agha sing ABBA hits in Hindi. (wikipedia)

Listen to Salma and Sabina work their magic:

Mamma Mia, Super Trooper, and Dancing Queen

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24 thoughts on “Nikaah (1982) or Talaq! Talaq! Talaq! and ABBA in Hindi

  1. Nice review! That adab shot is classic!

    That opening poem reminds one of the song ‘Naari’ (i.e. ‘Woman’) from Sonu Nigam’s latest solo album titled ‘Classically Mild’. Although Naari talked about the strength of a woman’s identity, not the losing of an entity or fear of trade. Dear.

    Salma Agha was very popular in South Asia, especially in Pakistan, and through the 1980s. My introduction to ‘Dil Ke Armaan’ came in a Pakistani comedy show, the day they lost an important cricket game!

    PS: Now that I think of it, some of the clerics probably had a point. There are sects of Islam in which a husband or wife can divorce by simply saying ‘I divorce you’ thrice. Don’t know how that came about (it’s certainly not a fair representation of the procedure for divorce for all Muslims — not even close), but maybe the clerics were trying to avoid this:

    Wife: Let’s go see a movie today.
    Husband: Oh, yeah? Which one do you want to see?
    Wife: Talaaq, Talaaq, Talaaq
    Husband and wife: Ooooops :P

    Either that, or they’d rather talk of unity than separation. :)

  2. Adab!

    EXCELLENT point about the title theBollywoodFan! LOL! :D
    I never thought about how a husband and wife dialogue could result in an accidental talaaq! Very smart for you to catch that! For sure it was a misrepresentation & simplification of the process, (I think) but it would be a nice feature in some instances. Wasim was such a hot head and a very passionate man with low impulse control, so I did feel a little sorry that he took a step that was so drastic and final. There’s a scene where Wasim is at the mosque conversing with the cleric about how he can get Nilo back and the cleric breaks down the rules: She has to get married (I think consumating the marriage was heavily implied) and only THEN could he un-talaq her and then re-nikaah her. Maybe a cleric will respond with the most accurate version of what the authentic process really is. This process did make for a rather dramatic movie though.

  3. BollywoodFan that is hilarious!

    So Sitaji, she had to marry someone else in order for Wasim to then be able to un-divorce her???? Would she then be thrown in jail or have her breasts cut off for bigamy???

    Urgh. A husband who hits me or Raj Babbar. Sophie’s choice!

  4. Thanks for bringing back both those memories, the Salma Agha sensation: though she didn’t get anywhere much.
    Her style was singing was raved about in the Indian press, because India & Pakistan were very isolated from each other and at about this time, the first big name cross-border cultural visits took place.
    For those of living near the border, and hence with access to PTV, Salma Agha sang pretty much in the style of the Pak film songs, but they had better exponents in not only the great Noor Jehan, but also Nahid Akhtar, or Mehnaz. e.g.

    But the play on AGHA & ABBA was really good…

  5. sorry meant to also add these examples, for those of you who really enjoy following up every lead
    Noor Jehan:


  6. Adab Sitaji and friends!

    You’re right about the oversimplification of the process — ‘I divorce you’ versus ‘divorce’ are different, of course. The way it seems to have been portrayed in the film is extraordinary. Not surprising, given the number of interpretations out there.

    See, thanks to your review, I feel motivated to update my understanding of the constitution of marriage in Islam!

    It really is simple. Sometimes I can’t help but think that clerics make it a lot more complicated than God intended for it to be :)

  7. Omg- those songs are SO insane! I love em- thank u so so much :D id have never beleived it- im seriously rofl.

    I saw this when i was v v young- how does it end? I dont remember that. Does she walk away from both of them? (i hope so)

  8. Dosto, sukriya for you interest in this film, and the Nikaah/Talaq process, and Salma.

    I thought of you when I added the AGHA/ABBA links of Salma because of your post:

    You’d be surprised at Raj Babbar’s likability in the film. :) on Sophie’s Choice, LOL. Here, this may help:

    As far as the reversal of the triple talaq, my take on it was the cleric wanted Wasim to feel the impact of his poor decision and having his wife go to another would be the only “fair” thing to do. Make him pay for his carelessness and insure he’d not do that again if they did reunite. I may be wrong though. *SPOILER ALERT* In the end she chastises both men for making decisions without her consent and says something like, “I’ll make this decision easy and decide to walk away from BOTH of you!” GIRL POWER. I do think they did both love her though and Wasim became a total Devdas after she left.

    Thanks for the links to the Pakistani singers. All 3 are wonderful! Lovely voices. I read that Salma’s range was “too low” but the director insisted that she sing the tunes in her style. I love following the maze of the WWW so I appreciate the information.

    Adab theBollywoodFan,
    Yes, I am certain you’re correct about clerics making it more complicated than need be. It happens in all religions, complicating the simple message to love one another. Insha’Allah you will learn more about the Islamic marriage process and share it with us here. I am reminded of the movie “Not Without My Daughter.” Remember that?

    Glad you enjoyed the songs. *SPOILER ALERT* :) She does walk away from both, but then goes back to Haider, the ghazal spittin’ yaar, but with her pride completely intact!

  9. TALAQ! WordPress for all your Talaq needs. Look what I found right here at WordPress:

    “Desperate to put it all behind him, Abdul Rehman then entered into a fresh agreement with his bride but was informed by clerics that the marriage would not, could not be recognised by Islam. Why, you may ask? It’s simple really. Shariat law demands that such a marriage is possible only if the wife, in the interim period, gets married to another man, consummates the marriage and then gets divorced by him (also referred to as the intervening marriage). Only then can she remarry her ex.”

  10. Ajanthan, thanks for stopping by. :)

    ajnabi, me too! I think there’s often a message of women’s empowerment that comes through, but I often have to wait for the very end of the movie.

  11. oh good- im not sure WHY i am so relieved that a fictional female character shows backbone, but i am. At least she didnt go bk w/ the “5-star” hotelier :B

  12. Yes shweta, and to make it even sweeter, the 5* hotelier has guilt and self destrustive behavior (becomes a drunk who listens to maudlin love songs on his record player) and eventually seems to have some degree of redemption and wants her to be free and happy.

    And thanks for reminding me of the term hotelier, I’d forgotten all about it and it just may replace “industrialist” as my favorite as one of my favorites. I do like hotel tycoon though too. :)

  13. Loved the songs from this movie – they were such a delightful throwback to the 50s with Salma’s nasal singing and soft gazhals. Absolutely adored Samaan bhi hai jawaan and ofcourse, Dil ke armaan was great too.

    It was certainly a feminist movie and I loved the fact that she doesnt forswear men altogether! ;-)

  14. Hey bollyviewer,
    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I agree, it’s certainly an empowering and she does not become bitter. I actually think much of bollywood portrays women positively if you stick with the movies until the end. I find that the mistreatment of women is eventually punished and the women rise like the phoenix from the fires of opression.

    I was just over at your fantastic blog and posted on your “The 2 Parineetas” entry. Sorry I accidently addressed you as “bollywoodviewer.” in that post :)
    Love your blog, adding it to my blogroll.

    I look forward to checking out your posts regularly.

    All the best

  15. Pingback: B.R. Chopra died today. « Bollywood Food Club

  16. I really like this movie, and it’s nice to see its strong message getting the appreciation it deserves. I bought it just for chehra chupa liya hai and instead got a wonderfully progressive anti-misogyny film. I wonder, though, if it is a sure sign that I’ve watched too many films that I reacted to this comment: “Johnnie Walker consumed by a bad guy” by first thinkng, “who ate Johnny Walker?” then “wait a minute, was he even IN this movie?” then finally, a minute or two later, “Oh, D’Oh! you mean the drink, not the actor!”

  17. Stuart-ji,
    Hey thanks for stopping in. I love all the links that you have on your page by the way, quite wordy! I’m so glad you enjoyed this film as I did. I love that the internet provides us with a way to communicate about these movies. LOL on the Johnnie Walker confusion. I do look for BOTH Johnnie Walkers in my Bollywood viewing, and I keep extra special track of the whiskey version, though ironically, often Johnnie Walker seems to have consumed Johnnie Walker for many of his characters. Visit again friend!

  18. I have this movie, but I cannot find subtitles for it. I have found other subtitles, but it has different words from your post. I like the subtitles in your post better than the ones I have downloaded. Do you know where I can find these subtitles you have?

    Please Email me!!!

  19. I really loved this movie. Do you have the lyrics of the Dailogue in this same movie ‘ Mein ek aurat houn’? by Salma Agha( Nilo)

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