Monday, 2 April 2012

Sadgati (The Deliverance) [1981]

Depending on which definition one subscribes to, Sadgati, which runs at slightly less than 50 minutes, could either be called a feature film or a short film. Ray was commissioned by Doordarshan, India’s national television channel, to make a film for them that would fit within a 1-hour segment, upon which he adapted a short story by Munshi Premchand for the same (this was his second adaptation of the famed writer as well as his second film in the Hindi language after Shatranj Ke Khiladi). That Ray was a liberated person is well documented. In Devi he delivered a powerful indictment against blind religious superstitions, this trenchant social satire was aimed at caste system, and in Mahapurush and Ganashatru he made not-so-veiled commentaries on organized religion and its inherent hypocrisy – though humour and utter seriousness, respectively. Here, he directed his acerbic jabs through the tragic tale of Dukhi (Om Puri), a poor villager who belongs to the lower strata of the society, and the ironic fate of a respected village Brahmin and priest (Mohan Agashe). Dukhi wants to finalize the date of his daughter and goes to the Brahmin’s house in order to request him for the same. Sensing an opportunity to leverage his status and get some free work done in the process, he commands Dukhi to run some laborious errands for him. Unbeknownst to him, Dukhi is both weak (on account of recovering from an illness) and malnourished, and consequently, and when he tries to use his last remaining source of energy for completing one especially difficult task, he collapses and dies - and, in a darkly ironic twist of fate, this forces the Brahmin to do something beyond his wildest nightmares. This eloquent and disturbing film also has Smitha Patil in it playing Dukhi’s wife.

Director: Satyajit Ray
Genre: Drama/Rural Drama/Social Satire
Language: Hindi
Country: India

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