Many movies absolutely don’t get the attention they truly deserve. Regional Indian cinema and parallel Indian cinema can genuinely complain that they don’t get as many eyeballs as they should. Mainstream media also tends to overlook them. So, today I bring out a review of a movie from 1992 that had a renowned director at the helm, a breathtaking story to tell and a brilliant cast to accompany it. Here’s why you should book a date with this movie (NO SPOILERS!)-
Although this should be a sufficient reason in itself, it isn’t the only one. People usually associate Benegal with social cinema- the cinema with a reason besides entertainment. But, this is a Benegal movie with a major twist. It has all the masala, characters and heroes that you would normally associate with a mainstream Bollywood flick. So, we have Benegal’s understanding of cinema, coupled with the ingredients of a commercial Bollywood movie and believe me, it’s a mouth-watering recipe.
Rajit Kapur, Amrish Puri, Raghubir Yadav, Neena Gupta and a host of FTII and NSD actors-
The movie boasts of a multi-star cast led by Rajit Kapur (Byomkesh Bakshi fame) with all cast members having equally diverse roles without the movie appearing over-populated or loosely-knit. The casting is impeccable and you feel at the end that there couldn’t have been better people for the roles than those cast. In addition to the above names, you have Rajeshwari Sachdev, Pallavi Joshi, K K Raina (Byomkesh Bakshi fame) among several other familiar and talented faces. I assure you: the cast does not disappoint.
Dharamvir Bharati, Shama Zaidi-
The movie is based on a short novel of the same name written in 1952 by one of modern Hindi literature’s stalwarts, Dharamvir Bharati (author of the classic Gunahon Ka Devta- an adaptation of which is currently running on Life OK channel as a mini-series by the name Ek Tha Chander, Ek This Sudha). The novella was adapted for the big screen by Benegal’s long-time associate Shama Zaidi (Manthan, Shatranj Ke Khilari, Netaji, Zubeida among others)- who gives the story a very interesting twist towards the end that is completely different from the novella. The novella was a new experiment by Bharati in Hindi literature and is an equally interesting read. For those of you who would want to read it too, the book is available as a paperback and as an ebook.
The story and the social milieu it presents-
The story revolves around three ladies (Rajeshwari Sachdev, Pallavi Joshi and Neena Gupta) and their lives- as narrated by Manek Mulla (Rajit Kapur) on a lazy Sunday afternoon to his three friends. Each story has its own twist, its own masala, its own problems and solutions. Without revealing anything further, I suggest you don’t be misled by the simple synopsis and instead watch it right now! In addition to the elements above that make it unmissable, for those of you out there who belong to a generation that is not aware of what it was like in the 1950s, the movie highlights that part of our social history which you should know about. The social milieu of the 1950s is brilliantly captured by the movie (thanks to Dharamvir Bharati’s brilliant novella).
Oh! I forgot to mention one thing- the movie won the National Award for Best Feature Film in 1993!
Shashi Shekhar Misra
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