On this weekly column, we revisit gems from the golden years of Hindi cinema. This week, we revisit the 1959 launch Sujata.
Mainstream Hindi cinema has not often addressed caste discrimination successfully. So when a movie talks a couple of love story that’s destined to doom due to the distinction in caste, it seems that the makers have disguised a tablet that’s exhausting to swallow with probably the most palatable flavour of the films – a love story. Bimal Roy’s 1959 movie Sujata, starring Nutan within the titular position, is the story of an orphan who was born in a lower-caste household however has been introduced up in an upper-caste family and continues to be struggling to seek out her identification in a world that doesn’t see past caste.
As a new child, Sujata loses her dad and mom to an epidemic and a well-meaning couple, who’ve a daughter nearly Sujata’s age, resolve to take her in quickly. The daddy Upen, performed by Tarun Bose, is variety in the direction of the woman, and treats her like a daughter however the mom Charu, performed by Sulochana Latkar, is well-aware of society’s guidelines that gained’t allow them to settle for the infant. For the primary 40 minutes of the movie, it’s firmly established that Sujata is from a “neechi jaat” and society sees her as an untouchable. Upen is a person of motive so he treats Sujata like one other human however what of this world that will not deal with Sujata like an individual?
In a stunning scene in these early minutes, we see Lalita Pawar’s character holding child Sujata in her arms however as quickly as she learns of her caste, she actually flings the infant in one other path. A visiting upper-caste visitor leaves their home as a result of the household has a “neechi jaat ki ladki” of their home. It sounds preposterous when he tells Upen that “science has confirmed that individuals from the decrease caste emit a sure sort of fuel that pollutes folks from the higher caste.” When Upen tries to motive with him, he offers a “scientific” clarification that’s as weird as flat-earth concept.
We meet a grown-up Sujata, performed by Nutan, and the efficiency is a delight. She is what was as soon as believed to be the “excellent woman” in Hindi cinema – the one who places her head down and is nothing greater than an obedient slave. Via numerous dialogues, it’s evident that Sujata takes care of each little element of the home and the members of the family, all whereas she is “beti-jaisi” and never the “beti.” When she learns that she isn’t the identical because the household, she asks her adopted mom, whom she calls Ammi, “Fundamental kaun hun?”, and her existential spiral begins. It’s in moments like these that the awe-inspiring craft of Bimal Roy comes alive. In a major sequence, Sujata is considering suicide, however we don’t hear her say any dialogues. The quick cuts between the violent rustling of timber, the stormy waves of water and Sujata’s face with some sharp shadows say all of it.
Each jiffy, Roy reminds his viewers that the story you might be watching is that of a lower-caste lady and the way the society sees her in a different way so we get a sequence the place she is rejected for a wedding proposal, a sequence the place Sujata is unnoticed of birthday celebrations, so on and so forth. However the narrative makes a major shift when Sujata falls in love.
We meet the charming Adheer, performed by Sunil Dutt, and together with his delicate seems and arresting character, he wins over Sujata and the viewers in a swooning second. “Tum mujhe itni achi kyun lagti ho Sujata?” he asks her as they sit on the banks of the river and also you realise that each one the poetry on the planet is pointless when such easy phrases can convey one’s affection. The glances they alternate with one another in a crowded room, the romantic rigidity between them is executed in an unconventionally sensual means that takes your coronary heart.
As Adheer sings “Jalte Hain Jiske Liye” from a rotary cellphone and expresses his love, you see the heartbroken Sujata on the opposite finish being totally conscious that her caste doesn’t permit her to take part on this love story. Not like many different well-liked songs, this one has the 2 lovers in several settings related through a cellphone however the lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri flip it into probably the most romantic love songs and the filming by Roy makes the gap seem intimate.
SD Burman’s music with songs like “Kaali Ghata Chhaye”, “Bachpan Ke Din” and the evergreen “Nanhi Kali Sone Chali” make Sujata a traditional album. Songs like “Suno Mere Bandhu Re” make up Sujata’s world with the proper ambiance.
With Sujata, Roy picks up a difficult topic and as a lot because the movie tries to deal with it delicately whereas preaching the message that caste discrimination is dangerous, it resolves the battle at hand just a little too simplistically. The opposition to Adheer and Sujata’s alliance involves an finish after a somewhat filmy sequence. The movie continuously repeats the truth that people needs to be handled as people, regardless of the caste however the movie finally ends up projecting Sujata in a subservient gentle by way of its run. After all, one movie doesn’t change the world and in 2021, after we are nonetheless residing in a world the place caste turns into the bottom of 1’s identification, Sujata continues to be related. The movie understands the plight of Sujata however doesn’t do a lot to unravel her issues, which bothers you since it’s fairly efficient in conveying her issues.
Bollywood Rewind | Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje | Jagte Raho | Baazi | Bees Saal Baad | Dosti | Mughal-e-Azam | Mom India | Anari | Chaudhvin Ka Chand | Boot Polish | Do Bigha Zamin | Devdas | Baiju Bawra | Shree 420 | Pyaasa | CID | Madhumati | Naya Daur | Awara | Sharada | Do Aankhen Barah Haath | Bandini | Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam
Sujata is streaming on ZEE5, ShemarooMe and YouTube.