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A tale of one village aka Sajjanpur
Oct 01, 2008 03:09 PM 2345 Views





Earlier this village was called “Durjanpur”, but most of the people were saintly. Like Bombay became Mumbai, Calcutta became Kolkatta, Madras became Chennai, “Durjanpur” has been re-christened to “Sajjanpur”. But such is the irony of life, that now the number of sajjan’s has drastically fallen.

These are the opening lines of the main protagonist: Shreyas Talpade aka Mahadev, whose the sole educated person in Sajjanpur village. Though aspiring to be a novelist, he’s currently content with his self-professed job of a “letter writer”. This reminds me of the time when I had so many pen-friends and letter-writing was my hobby, but now it's been ages since I wrote my last letter. Even with the rakhis, we get beautiful rakhi cards, so letter writing has undergone a slow death. Coming to Mahadev, he was known far & wide for his writing. He became so complacent that he started using his skill for satisfying his own whims and fancies. My main attraction was the Dada Saheb Phalke award winning director – Shayam Benegal and truly he’s made a masterpiece. Please don’t rate my review NU right away, give me a chance to justify my statement.

In almost 3 hours, the story touches so many relevant issues that it has more contemporary feel and sensible detailing than many other films being churned out nowadays. Let me talk about a few issues here:-

1. In small towns and villages, people are realising the importance of education slowly and steadily. But dearth of jobs in big cities brings them back to their roots.

2. At the same time the emigration rate from villages is higher. They leave behind their elderly parents and kids behind and for daily dough do all kinds of menial jobs, at times succumbing to sell their blood or worse still selling their organs.

3. “The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act” gave widows the right to remarry in 1856, but it’s still a taboo in major parts of our country.

4. A “snake charmer” cannot posses a snake, a “madari” cannot own a monkey, a “bhallu wala” will be put behind bars if seen with a “bhalu”(bear) – this reminds me of just one name – MANEKA GANDHI. I realised that she has really gone places in her fight against cruelty to animals. I can also recall, the punch line: "Be a vegetarian, Acha hai, ting tong !!!"

  1. If you don't land on planet earth at the right time or your planets were out for a party and were not properly aligned, you can save your would-be partner’s life before hand by marrying a plant or worse still a ‘kukkur’(dog). Hope you have heard the rumour that Aishwarya Rai was also married to Tulsiji, before taking the rounds with Jr B.

  2. We talk about getting legitimate status to same-sex marriages, but a transvestite is still treated inhumanly by most of us. The general opinion is – “STAY AWAY, we are not like you!!!”So we even get down to taking their right to live, leave apart giving them a chance to contest elections.

7. Suppose I murder Mr. XYZ, but till I am proven guilty by the court of law, I am a free bird and can contest elections – fair and square….WOW !!!

8. You don’t have to be qualified to run a nation. But if it pinches you to own up this, you can always buy a BA degree by shelling out a meagre 300 rupees….Anyone game for it ???

Many of the above enlightening events have been brought to light by media since they were based on real-life incidents. This film has interwoven them beautifully into sub-plots and dished out an eye-opener for us. The appeal of this movie lies in its simplicity. Definitely the makers have wanted to drive home many crucial messages, but nowhere does the movie get preachy or serious. Infact it’s a laugh-riot. It’s entertaining to the core.

PERFORMANCES: Shreyas was the solid rock in the film. His acting skills are unquestionable. Amrita Rao suited the role of a simple, homely, lonely wife perfectly. Ila Arun was the surprise package, very apt. Though I dislike Ravi Kishen, I think he was playing himself in the film, so no comments. I adore the multi-talented Rajeshwari. In her short role of a widow she was adequate. Divya Dutta* was given very little screen space, but she managed to make a mark for sure.

MUSIC: Music has been composed by Shantanu Moitra and lyrics penned by Ashok Mishra and Swanand Kirkire. In my opinion, music is not the strong point of the film. There is one hummable bhajan-like song: “Sita Ram Sita Ram” giving the album the rustic feel and which also works as the background score. “Bheeni Bheeni Mehki Mehki' is a romantic number that might appeal to your ears. The most energetic one is “Ab aayi munni ki baari” in the voiceover of an eunuch.

To cut the long story short, this movie is a must-watch for *all those who are looking out for entertainment and at the same time don't mind getting exposed to a few facts of life. It's a sattire in the true sense of the word.

I would give the movie 3.5 on 5.

*Ram Ram.


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