(Image from here)
Starring: Sanjeev Kumar,Shatrughan Sinha, Ashok Kumar, Marc Zuber & Sarika Directed by: R.K. Nayyar
Year of Release: 1986
Qatl is one of the many films released post the death of Sanjeev Kumar (and is dedicated to him). It is an interesting thriller which gives a new definition to the concept that justice is blind. The film has excellent performances by Sanjeev Kumar as a blind man who commits the perfect crime, Shatrughan Sinha as a comedic and intelligent police officer and Sarika as an unfaithful wife.
Further, the film also stars Marc Zuber (Zubair Ahmed Siddiqi, it is said that he changed his name in order to get more roles on advice of his agents) and Ranjeeta Kaur in a small but important role as Sita the nurse. The film has a phenomenal cameo appearance by Ashok Kumar as a fakir who comes in at key points in the film. His character artistically and subtly punctuates the theme of the movie with a song “khuda kya usko chodega, kisi ka dil jo todega” referring to Sarika’s character of an unfaithful wife.
The Build Up
The film revolves around a visually impaired man (Sanjeev Kumar) who finds out that his spouse is having an affair. The husband then decides to kill his wife as he knows that Court will never believe that a blind man can commit a murder. It is just not the fantastic and different story of the movie but also its foreshadowing by dialogues and gripping one-liners that make it an evergreen classic.
The movie starts with Rohini (Sarika’s character) being caught shoplifting, wherein Rajneet (Marc Zuber’s character) comes to her rescue pretending to be her husband. Once, he gets to know she wants to be an actress he offers her a chance in his theatre wherein they also become intimate. However, the next day when she auditions she is rejected by the director. She is bluntly told that whereas Rajneet might be taken in by her beauty, the part needs an actress and not a model and that the director is only used to working with brilliant actors like Rakesh (Sanjeev Kumar’s character). Embarrassed on her way out Rohini runs into Rakesh, who understanding her problem decides to teach her acting.
During the course of Rohini’s training by Rakesh they both fall in love and get married. The acting in this segment is wonderfully subtle with Sarika doing full justice to the part of transitioning from an amateur actress to a professional one. However, during one performance while Rakesh and Rohini are on stage, the chandelier is about to fall on Rohini. Rakesh pushes her out of the way while himself getting hurt on the head in the process and losing his eye-sight. There is a surreal montage wherein the various roles of Rakesh as theatre actor are showcased, and it is in this segment you realise the true potential of Sanjeev kumar as an actor as you see the various roles he potrays.
It is in the hospital that Rakesh meets Sita (Ranjeeta Kaur’s character) a nurse, who takes care of Rakesh and teaches him how to read braille and takes care of basic requirements.
Rakesh starts to suffer from depression due to his visual impairment and starts to feel like a liability, however he finds solace in Rohini’s love and affection. Rohini retires to take care of Rakesh, or so it seems (as she is clandestinely having an affair with Rajneet and keeps Rakesh in the dark about it). She manipulates Rakesh to let her join back theatre and employs Sita as nurse to take care of Rakesh while she is away.
One day by chance Rakesh on a visit to Rajneet’s apartment finds out about the affair. However, instead of confronting them both, he decides to exact revenge.
This is where the thrill of the movie starts. Rakesh methodically learns to travel from him house to Rajneet’s house. In doing this, he is accompanied by Sita who does not know of his devious plan. First he acquaints himself with the streets and learns to zero in on the locations by the fakir who sings.
Then he learns to time the location in a taxi by timing it with his watch. He also buys a transistor and a toy gun and starts to practise shooting.
Rakesh also buys a tape recorder for the telephone to listen in on the conversation that Rohini is having through the landline with Rajneet. It is exciting to see how his plan comes together. However, to absolve Sita of the guilt he manipulates her into quitting the job and gets a guide dog.
As D-day arrives, Rakesh waits for Rohini to leave for Rajneet’s apartment after hearing their conversation on the telephone tape recorder and dresses up in one of his old costumes of a Pathan complete with a fake beard and moustache. Thereafter, he is able to execute his unfaithful wife with Rajneet’s revolver. However, he faces the challenge of getting back home.
However, with brilliant tactics he is able to convince the people on the way to help him without ever letting them realise that he is blind. There is an especially nail biting moment when he is caught in traffic and has lost his sense of direction and can be run over by a car any minute, but it is the fakir played by Ashok Kumar who comes to his recue unintentionally.
Rakesh makes it to his house in time, wherein his guide dog awaits (which people believe he cannot function without) giving him the perfect excuse.
However, this is where the problems for Rakesh start. Shatru am ill-mannered, ill-dressed, lazy, bad postured but brilliant police officer (played by Shatrughan Sinha) enters the scene.
Inspector Shatru suspects Rakesh. However is not able to make a case without any proof and with the burden of proof due to his blindness. He as a tactic falsely implicates Sita in the murder. However, not able to let an innocent go to jail, Rakesh owns up to his crime. The Court refuses to believe Rakesh.
However, the Court on consistent pleas asks him to show how he committed the murder step by step.
Can a blind person get away with murder?
Well a similar case did happen in USA around 1980. The accused was Rosemary Cox who was convicted of having shot and killed her boyfriend after finding out about his relationship with another woman. In addition to her blindness, Cox had asthma, diabetes, arthritis and could only walk with the aid of a cane. She was in her 80’s when she was convicted by the Court of having shot and killed her boyfriend. This was peculiar case and the fact that two courts upheld her conviction despite her plea for innocence shows that if the evidence is provided even a visually blind person can be convicted. However, after she was convicted of 20 years in jail, she was granted pardon by the Governor stating that she posed no threat to society. However, it does leave space for doubt as to whether she committed the murder deliberately thinking that she could not be convicted or would get a lighter sentence due to her blindness.
One of the most famous blind criminals in the world is Omar Abdel-Rahman, he was also known as the “Blind Sheikh”. Abdel-Rahman lost his eye-sight at 10 months old. However, that did not stop him from becoming the leader of Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya (also known as “The Islamic Group”), a militant Islamist movement in Egypt that is a terrorist organisation. The group was responsible for many acts of violence under his leadership which were all carried out when he was blind, e.g. Assassination of the President of Egypt: Anwar Sadat, Luxor massacre, in which 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed, a mass shooting outside the Europa Hotel, Cairo, killing 17 Greek tourists mistaken for Israelis in 1996 and also the 1993 World Trade centre bombing for which the “Blind Sheikh” was convicted and sentenced to life in Prison in Federal Medical Center, Butner in Butner, North Carolina, United States. He passed away in prison in 2017.
Closer home, the police were baffled when a prisoner by the name of Shaikh in the city of Rakhial who had been in prison for over two months for allegedly stealing five two-wheeler vehicles was declared blind. The man’s medical reports endorse that he is 100 percent blind. He had approached the Gujarat High Court to dismiss all five FIR’s lodged against him claiming that he is completely blind and therefore could not have executed the thefts. At the time of the arrest the police did not believe him but then were subsequently convinced when he was medically certified to be blind as the police had eye witnesses saying they had seen him ride a two wheeler. 
So, to the question are you prosecuted differently by the court if you are blind?
Well no, it could lead to the commutation of the sentence of the blind person. However, it would not allow any special privilege to be granted to the person in this regard as the Mens Rea and the nature of the offence committed.
Hence, as we note from the film that it is unlikely that Court would believe that blind man can commit a murder. However, since he proves he did commit the murder he is sent to jail for the same.
Author: Govind K. Chaturvedi: Law and Tech. Attorney, Trade Mark Prosecution Expert and Social Media Lawyer
 Transgender dance teacher, polio afflicted old man, a depressed drunkard, a rich pipe smoking Anglo-Indian, Rich Indian old man and another older gentleman.
 John Schard, “Governor gives clemency to blind murdered”, Chicago Tribune, available at: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1985-01-17-8501040181-story.html (last visited on 16th July, 2020)
 Ahmedabad shocker: 32-year-old blind man jailed for stealing vehicles, Mirror now Digital, available at: https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/crime/article/ahmedabad-shocker-32-year-old-blind-man-jailed-for-stealing-vehicles/564363 (last visited on 16th July, 2020)