I was no big fan of Mr.Shyam Benegal, till sometime back. I only knew that he is a director who makes off beat, serious, art movies. But when I saw a simple yet captivating movie made by him - Welcome to Sajjanpur, which is a satire on rural life and its tribulations, I could not help but admire his craft and talent. Instead of investing huge amount of money and wasting time running around so called big stars, he did magic with a lesser known ensemble cast. The movie has comic moments and some good humour. All characters are well defined and their personalities clearly outlined. But more than anything else, he did a commendable job of highlighting so many social issues in a matter of three hours.
Mr.Benegal is a true genius, and he has made a wonderful film, which I have seen at least seven times till date. And today I was compelled to write about it. Just a humble attempt to list down some of the many issues dealt with in the film. For the benefit of those who would care to know what still ails our society, here it goes
- Gender issues like girl child education, Rights of women, remarriage of widows, injustice meted out to rape victims by the society
- One of the biggest problems faced by India today is that of clean drinking water
- Changing of city names by regressive and opportunistic people for their political motives
- Prejudice against Muslims
- Criminalization of our political system, with money and violence as the basis of success in elections rather than a good manifesto
- High rate of illiteracy in a country run by a bunch of illiterate greedy politicians
- Freebies and reservations
- Still looming large is the evil of superstition, outdated rituals and blind faith
- Migration of rural population to crowded cities, where the poor & unscrupulous people in absence of employment avenues are forced to sell their organs and blood
- Ill trained doctors endangering the lives of people.
- With changing times and advent of technology, there are some new forms of less harmful but equally distracting trends like the chain mails/sms ' forward this mail to 100 people or you will have bad luck'
The list above is not exhaustive; I have only mentioned the ones that I could recall. This film hits you hard and forces you to think about bigger problems in life than just ' I am stuck in a wrong job, I cannot buy the latest mobile phone, I do not have a big car, my friend bought a new house, my life sucks...'