Welcome To Sajjanpur is a comic satire on the lives of people living in a village and their issues. It is directed by the National Award winning director, Shyam Benegal and stars Shreyas Talpade and Amrita Rao in the lead role. Also supporting them are host of talented actors—Ila Arun, Divya Dutta and Ravi Kishen, to name a few. The plot of the movie is well knit and neatly executed in the form of a story which keeps you bound till the end.
The story is about a graduate of B.A who is unable to get a job and thus is forced to make a living out of writing letters for the fellow villagers. His real ambition, however, is to become a novelist and he is searching for a subject. Though only a villager, Mahadev (Shreyas Talpade) has the potential to change the lives or people around him through his letters. How he can do this is shown in this satirical take on an Indian village. Mahadev’s childhood crush Kamla (Amrita Rao) is desperate for a word with her husband and a jealous Mahadev writes exactly opposite of what she tells him to write, also faking the response that the letters get. Other plots include a harried mother (Ila Arun) who wants to marry off her manglik daughter, a eunuch Munni Bai who is contesting the village elections and is threatened by an opposing candidate, and a love-sick componder who falls head over heels for a widowed daughter in law of an army man. Mahadev manages to get the compounder married, police protection for Munni Bai and nearly kisses Kamla. All is good till he learns a shocking truth about Kamla’s husband and Munni Bai is nearly killed. The story takes a new turn from here revealing a lot of truths not just in the movie but also about the society that we live in. The beliefs we follow. The corruption and the politics, even at the village level.
There are several incidents in the movie where one can see the dogmas prevalent in the society. The language and dialogues add to the rustic charm. The street play in the movie is one of the most direct attacks on the land purchase policies of big entrepreneurs at a meager price from innocent farmers. The message is loud and clear, however for that particular duration one feels a disconnection with the film. The movie in itself takes a mocking shot at various social issues, then the insertion of this street play seemed forceful and needless. Apart from this the movie runs flawlessly till the end revealing certain surprises and shocks. The performance of the actors adds to the credits of the movie.
The music in the movie is given by Shantanu Moitra of Parineeta fame. Songs, though not much of a hit, are quite light and hummable. The song ‘Sitaram’ is played throughout the movie in the background and is in a way the theme song. Apart from that all songs have a social message behind them. Cinematography is praiseworthy. The sets give you the feel of a real village and transport you to the pastoral or rather rustic life of the village. Cameras and lights are used very well to bring out a bright and colourful look in the movie. There is not a dark moment in the movie. If at all there is, it does not stay for long. The movie, though not inspired by any real life incident, does, however describe life as it really is. Indiatimes terms it as Shyam Benegal’s “most entertaining attempt, by far” and entertaining , it is.
[Image courtesy: http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/images/welcome-to-sajjanpur.jpg]