Monday, September 29, 2008

Welcome to Sajjanpur

If you have read my blogs, you’d know that I analyse critically the movies I see. I highlight the bloopers in the movie, and sometimes even suggest what could have been done to make the movie better. But this time I have no criticism and no suggestions. Welcome to Sajjanpur is a welcome respite from the senseless, meaningless movies releasing like people from projects in IT companies.

Welcome to Sajjanpur uses humor (as opposed to misuse, as done by a lot of movies these days) to tell grave realities of our society. Shyam Benegal, intricately weaves - a political saga, a child-widow problem, a human organs business, harassment of girls due to superstition and aspirations of an educated average village youth - by humour. Most comic sequences in the movie not only tickle you but also pose some thought provoking questions about the society we live in. The hegemony of the illiterate, Hindu MLA candidate, the helplessness of the Muslim opponent and the pains of the eunuch who finally wins the election – all points to the problems prevalent in the political space. Another heart throbbing story was that of a child widow who got a decent suitor. Both the families were more than happy with the relation but the couple was hung alive from tree by the society who took widow remarriage as a crime. The story of a woman whose husband goes to the city for work, not only describes the emotional trauma a woman (and more so a man) separated from her (his) spouse for four years go through but also hints at the organ-sale racket when her husband writes her that he is going to sell his kidney to buy a house for them. The most humouros of the stories, the story of a girl who was not getting a suitor because she was a “mangalik”, hints at the superstition of which our society is a victim. The girl, diagnosed as mangalik was prescribed to marry a dog born on a Saturday!

The movie ends in an overall positive note. The letter writer turns into a novelist. The manglik gets married (to this writer). Munni wins the election and is influential in the parliament (though Benegal doesn’t say whether the influence was good or bad). However, the hanging of the couple sensitizes the audience about the backwardness of our society.

I have purposely avoided using the names of the character or actor which played the roles. The characters represent average villagers – not only of Sajjanpur but of any place in India. All the actors did full justice to their characters. Sreyas Talpade, Amrita Rao, Rajeshwari Shachdev, Illa Arun, and all the others did an amazing work.

The music of the movie is good – not outstanding. The lyrics of the songs are really meaningful and add to the overall flow of the movie. I, especially, remember one song sung by the eunuch while campaigning. The song goes something like – “Pehle raja aye, phir rani aayi – ab munni jitegi”. It means – first there was the kingdom of “kings” – probably hinting at the Mughal rulers – all male. Then came the Queen – probably hinting at the British Queen and now Munni (the eunuch) is going to win.
If I still had to find one thing in the movie which I liked comparatively less was the dripping of nose instead of eyes of Illa Arun. But, still I think, it did good job in lightening the issue at hand. See, I still cannot find one clear “flaw”. The light but realistic treatment given to such heavy, grave subjects is really amazing. I had not seen such an amazing movie with such varied shades and colors in recent times – some part of the movie being painted with bright, cheerful colors, some with grim, dark ones and some with obscured colors whose myriad shades pose serious questions to the audience. You must have guessed by now (given the number of times I used the word ‘amazing’) that I found the movie, well, amazing :)

1 comments:

oli September 29, 2008 at 11:40 AM  

I agree with Prashant,WELCOME TO SP is a relief from a lot of things that recent movies seem to suffer from,
1.flawed storyline,2.slapstick comedy,3.excessive violence,4.mediocricity in general and last but never the least endless overpromotion.
SP deals with social issues in an almost cheerful manner but I personally feel that it somewhere takes the gravitas off the issues at hand.But then these are things we are all so painfully aware of that may be all we need is just a gentle reminder.It has an almost innocent story telling air to it that renders itenjoyable.It also shows how the majority of India is still illiterate where the hindu ex sarpanch doenot know how to write whereas munni knows only how to sign her name.It also brings into light that letter writing is indeed an art as the compounder who is educated seeks the favour of the narrator to write a love letter for him.But all in all Sajjanpur leaves you with a soft smile on your face ,a small ache in your heart and some strong thoughts in your mind.The movie though light is not inconsequential and thank god for Shyam Benegal.

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