Pardes (transl. foreign land) is a 1997 Indian Hindi-language musical drama film directed, produced, and co-written by Subhash Ghai. Distributed by Mukta Arts, it stars Shah Rukh Khan, newcomers Mahima Chaudhry and Apurva Agnihotri, Alok Nath, and Amrish Puri in leading roles. The film was theatrically released in India on 8 August 1997. It received generally positive reviews, with praise for Khan, Chaudhry, and Agnihotri's performances. Pardes grossed over 490 million (US$6.9 million) worldwide, emerging as a commercial success, and was the fourth highest-grossing Bollywood film of 1997, behind Dil To Pagal Hai (also starring Khan), Border, and Ishq.

Directed bySubhash Ghai
Produced bySubhash Ghai
Written by
Music byNadeem-Shravan
CinematographyKabir Lal
Edited byRenu Saluja
Distributed byMukta Arts
Release date
  • 8 August 1997 (1997-08-08)
Running time
191 mins
Budget₹10 crore[1]
Box office₹34.83 crore[1]

The film received a leading 12 nominations at the 43rd Filmfare Awards, including Best Film, Best Director for Ghai, and Best Actress for Chaudhry. It won three awards: Best Female Debut for Chaudhry, Best Screenplay for Ghai, and Best Female Playback Singer for Yagnik.


Kishorilal (Amrish Puri), a wealthy businessman living in America visits his friend Suraj Dev (Alok Nath) in India. During his stay at the conservative traditional Indian household, he gets to know Suraj's eldest daughter Ganga (Mahima Chaudhry), a beautiful girl who shares her love for Indian culture.

Ganga's younger siblings are enchanted by him so they attempt to impress him with an English song. Unimpressed, he sings back a hymn-like song in a more traditional Indian style, "I Love My India." Ganga joins in this song, expressing her equal love for India. After this, Kishorilal asks Suraj to promise Ganga as a bride for his westernized son, Rajiv (Apoorva Agnihotri) because he believes she will be a perfect bride and revive their Indian values so they will be passed on to his Americanized family.

Kishorilal knows he will have a tough time trying to convince his son to meet Ganga let alone marry her. Back in America, he asks his foster son, Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan) (with similar values to him) to help his plan move along. Arjun spends most of his time working full-time in his uncle's garage and in the spare time he composes music.

Arjun flies to India ahead of Rajiv to set the stage for him to meet Ganga, unintentionally offending Ganga's family with a barrage of orders that includes removing farm animals from around the house and relocating their servants from residing inside the house to living outdoors. As a result of this Ganga dresses up with horn-rimmed eyeglasses and buck teeth, sending Arjun into a panic about the success of Kishorilal's plans. Later he gets a chance to meet the authentic Ganga, he is entranced.

To make up for his offensive behaviour Arjun promises to be a trustworthy friend and makes amends by returning the farm animals and the servants back into the house upon her request. She explains to Arjun that in her family, they love all who are a part of it, even animals and servants.

When Rajiv arrives, he also acts offensively; sometimes intentionally, and sometimes because he has no idea of what Indians consider rude or inappropriate. Arjun, despite his own attraction to Ganga, smooths the way for Rajiv to bond with Ganga, as per Kishorilal's wishes. In his determination to make Rajiv's marriage happen with Ganga Arjun deceives Ganga about Rajiv's character and habits; he assures her that Rajiv is a "nice guy" he also covers up for Rajiv, telling Ganga the cigarettes she found in Rajiv's room are his own.

Rajiv and Ganga both agree to marry each other thanks to Arjun's efforts. The engagement is set in India, but the families agree that Ganga should visit America before her wedding day. Soon after her engagement, Ganga arrives in the USA but her feelings are hurt as her traditional dress is despised by Rajiv's snarky mother. After a few weeks in the US, Ganga is home-sick. Her only true friend is Arjun with whom she begins to form a special bond. One day, she is invited to attend a very large and influential gathering arranged by Kishorilal and is also invited to sing. She sings the same "I Love My India" and receives warm, sincere applause.

Gradually Ganga realizes that Rajiv isn't the person Arjun had portrayed him to be when they were in India. Rajiv not only seems eager to leave her at home whenever possible, with little explanation or apology. When he does bring her out with his friends, he smokes, gets drunk and acts like a bully. At one party, he is drinking and flirting with other women while another man begins dancing too closely with Ganga. Rajiv ignores the situation, Arjun loses his temper and fights the man to the ground. Later, Ganga is shocked to discover pictures of Rajiv with his girlfriend that clearly show he has had a sexual relationship with her. She is also astonished to find that Kishorilal's family treats Arjun, a trusted member as a servant.

When Rajiv abandons Ganga for dinner with his girlfriend, Ganga confronts Arjun and demands an explanation. Arjun justifies Rajiv's behaviour, reminding Ganga that Rajiv lives like an American and that she should not make a fuss about such a petty affair. Infuriated that Arjun sees Rajiv's casual, unapologetic unfaithfulness as a "petty affair", she tells him that she needs "Love" – the kind of love he (Arjun) gives others. She further rejects being made into a "decoration" to fit into Kishorilal's palatial mansion. At this point, Arjun realizes that he has fallen in love with Ganga, but because of his immense loyalty to Kishorilal, he continues to encourage her to continue with the engagement and worry about changing Rajiv later.

The next day, it is Arjun's birthday and he is depressed, a thoughtful Ganga senses his frustration and asks Rajiv to accompany her to wish Arjun a "happy birthday". Rajiv refuses, so, Ganga visits the garage without Rajiv, throwing a surprise party to liven up Arjun's spirits. Rajiv's hostile aunt Neeta notices the growing friendship between Ganga and Arjun and warns Kishorilal. He arranges for Arjun to relocate urgently telling him he has been promoted and must start with attending a board meeting the following morning in another city far away. Kishorilal then plans a short outing vacation for Rajiv to be with Ganga in Las Vegas.

In Las Vegas, Rajiv gets drunk and reveals his contempt for his fellow Indians; he derides Indians as "hypocrites" and "stupid". Ganga heatedly responds that Indians hate America's drug-riddled, amoral alternative and slaps Rajiv. Furious, he tries to rape Ganga; after a violent struggle, she knocks him unconscious and flees.

Rajiv informs Kishorilal that Ganga has gone missing, who quickly starts looking for the missing Ganga. Arjun finds her crying at a train station with her clothes torn. He tries to persuade her to go back to Kishorilal's home, but she refuses. Arjun promises to protect her and help her get back to her family safely in India. After Arjun and Ganga arrive in India, Kishorilal informs Suraj that Arjun eloped with Ganga and Suraj quickly picks up a family sword that hangs on the wall. Arjun seizes that sword and swears to Ganga's faithfulness and chastity and leaves, intending never to return. Meanwhile, Ganga is not allowed to explain further and is locked inside a horse shed by her father. Ganga's younger siblings and grandmother secretly make their way to the horse shed and advise her to elope with Arjun. Ganga realizes that she is in love with Arjun, and with their help, manages to leave home unobserved. By this time, Kishorilal has arrived in India with Rajiv.

Ganga catches up with Arjun at a temple and demands that he express his love but Arjun, who is still loyal to Kishorilal refuses to marry her. Ganga is devastated but before Arjun walks away, Rajiv turns up with several thugs to kill Arjun but Ganga protects Arjun. However, Arjun and Rajiv eventually clash after Rajiv slaps Ganga.

In the ensuing fight, Arjun is beaten terribly before getting the upper hand. Kishorilal arrives with Suraj just as Arjun is about to kill Rajiv. Kishorilal furiously suggests that Arjun "honorably" kill himself with a gun, and demands Arjun "tell the truth" about how he came to be in India with Rajiv's promised bride. This leads to the second key monologue of the film.

Arjun confronts Kishorilal with "not wanting to know the truth; saying that people who want the truth, don't ask for it with a gun". He accuses Kishorilal of having become a true Westerner after all since his wealth has eviscerated his compassion and ability to examine the truth when it doesn't match what he wants it to be. Confessing that he does, in truth, love Ganga, he affirms that he never pursued her and has acted honourably, while Rajiv in every way rejected every honourable action and lied about how Ganga came to have returned so suddenly to India; not only was Ganga unable to merge with Western culture, Western values almost utterly ruined Ganga.

Ganga confirms Rajiv's attempted rape, which shocks everyone, then tells her father she is willing to die by whatever means he chooses; poison, fire, or hunger. Moreover, but realizing he has indeed heard the truth, Kishorilal affirms that Ganga will marry his son. Rejecting Rajiv, he embraces Arjun as his true son, and along with Suraj and his family blesses the upcoming marriage between Arjun and Ganga.



Soundtrack album
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelTips Zee Music Company

The soundtrack was composed by Nadeem-Shravan and the lyrics were penned by Anand Bakshi. Music directors Nadeem-Shravan received a Filmfare nomination for the album and won a Star Screen Award for Best Music Director.

Ghai wanted A. R. Rahman to compose the music of this film, but he didn't fit the budget of the film.[2] However, they collaborated on Ghai's next, Taal.

Track list

No Title Singer(s)
1 "Nahin Hona Tha" Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Hema Sardesai, Sabri Bros.
2 "Meri Mehbooba" Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik
3 "Yeh Dil Deewana" Sonu Nigam, Vocals by Alka Yagnik, Hema Sardesai, Sukhwinder Singh, Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani
4 "I Love My India" Kavita Krishnamurthy, Hariharan, Aditya Narayan & Shankar Mahadevan
5 "My First Day in USA" Hema Sardesai
6 "Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain" Kumar Sanu
7 "Jahan Piya Wahan Main" K. S. Chitra
8 "I Love My India" (Part 2) Kavita Krishnamurthy
9 "Title Music" Sapna Awasthi, Shankar Mahadevan


Planet Bollywood started their review by saying, "The music of Pardes is one of Nadeem-Shravan's best ever."[citation needed]

Box officeEdit

Pardes grossed 34.83 crore in India and $1.7 million (₹6.12 crore) overseas, for a worldwide total of ₹40.95 crore ($11.4 million), against its ₹10 crore budget. It had a worldwide opening weekend of ₹3.4 crore, and grossed ₹6.19 crore in its first week.[1] It is the 4th-highest-grossing film of 1997 worldwide.[3]


It opened on Friday, August 8, 1997, across 210 screens, and earned ₹61 lakh nett on its opening day. It grossed ₹2 crore nett in its opening weekend, and had a first week of ₹3.64 crore nett. The film earned a total of ₹22.83 crore nett, and was declared "Super Hit" by Box Office India.[1] It is the 4th highest-grossing film of 1997 in India.[4]


It earned $1.7 million (₹6.12 crore in 1997) outside India.[1] Overseas, it is the 2nd highest-grossing film of 1997 after Dil To Pagal Hai, which grossed $3.3 million (₹12.04 crore in 1997).[5]

Pardes worldwide collections breakdown
Territory Territory wise Collections break-up
India Nett income:
31.83 crore
Entertainment tax:
₹12 crore
Total gross:
₹43.83 crore
(outside India)
$1.7 million (₹6.12 crore in 1997)
Worldwide ₹49.95 crore ($11.4 million)[1]

Critical receptionEdit

Pardes received mixed reviews from critics. Praise was given to the music, however aspects of the script were criticised.[6][7][8]

India Today cites it as one of the first major Bollywood pictures to succeed in the United States.[9]

In their book, New Cosmopolitanisms: South Asians in the US, Gita Rajan and Shailja Sharma view the film as a dichotomous depiction of the good NRI versus bad NRI, with Khan depicting the good immigrant, who assists the rowdy Indian American playboy Rajiv (Apurva Agnihotri), the bad. Khan's character of Arjun is perceived as a metaphor for cosmopolitanism or Indian cultural nationalism in the wider sense, in direct contrast to Rajiv who represents wealthy Westernization and all its negative vices and connotations.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Pardes". Box Office India. Archived from the original on 7 August 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Top Worldwide Grossers 1997". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Top India Total Nett Gross 1997". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Top Overseas Gross 1997". Box Office India. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Planet Bollywood: Film Review: Pardes". Archived from the original on 3 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Pardes". ApunKaChoice. Archived from the original on 26 March 2013.
  8. ^ Maheshwari, Laya (25 September 2017). "How Bollywood Stereotypes the West". BBC. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Pardes (1997)". India Today. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  10. ^ Sharma & Rajan 2006, p. 126.

External linksEdit