Review - Welcome to Sajjanpur: A refreshing refresher on the situation in rural India
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"Knock-knock" "Anyone there?" "You...you the multiplex cine-goer...yeah, yeah you - we've made this for you...a collage of the horrors that the interiors of the country suffers from... "Worry not dearies, we've masked it with a dose of humor to make it palatable."
Yes, Welcome to Sajjanpur is here to educate us of the situation in rural India, with a slightly patronizing tone. And it does a good job of it too. The seriousness is toned down with wit albeit slapsticky at a few places. It tries to sensitize without being overtly sensitive. Which is why villagers might find their issues being trivialized. Issues that they have to grapple with in on a day-to-day basis. Without any qualms, the movie refuses to offer solutions. "That's not our job", it says. We have just taken it upon ourselves to let you know this is what's happening in there.
Look here, a mere signature is literacy in the census, animal rights are taking precedence over human livelihood, "widow remarriage" is a privilege. Sure, you knew that superstition and blind faith seep through the country's veins, that 'politician' is synonymous with 'goon' and farmers sell organs to keep afloat. But, might as well reinforce their existence. Oh, by the way, while we are at it, let us remind you that there is no need to shake off a eunuch with disgust! You know what, though, all these things don't necessarily have to end badly, there are alternative outcomes.
That's a whole lot of ground to cover. Using one or two colorful, relatively well-etched out characters each, Benegal highlights issue after issue to form the montage of a village, Sajjanpur. The narrative tone topped up with a border-line loud Shreyas Talpade started getting to me in the first 10 minutes. And throughout, I was wondering, "why this tone?" Why are characters disappearing? My suggestion, don't be fidgety like me, there's a reason for that and you'll know when you need to know.
Similarly, the songs add to the unrealistic feel. Besides doing their bit to maintain the light tone of the film, they are the way they are for a reason. I'd just enjoy the rhythm that adds to the mood of the village - this group of people who don't lose their smile despite the trying circumstances.
Flipside, of course, is that they add to the length of the movie. And that's one place where Welcome to Sajjanpur misses the mark big time. It needed to be at least 15-20 minutes shorter. And this is despite the climax being rushed up. Maybe they were just trying something different in the narrative style, but it felt like a quick fix.
The other thing was the accent. For some reason, it came across as forced. One reason could be that Rajeshwari Sachdev and Amrita Rao have a city-bred image that is difficult to shake off. Add to that the fact that they show up in non-village-like attire every once in a while. While Amrita was charming as the wife pining for her husband to come back to her, Rajeshwari looked really uncomfortable in the whole set-up.
Smart-alec with a heart, Mahadev (Shreyas Talpade), keeps you curious throughout. How is he going to put his emotions in the next letter he writes for one of the villagers? You want his dreams to come true, however murky the morals behind them be. Am I the only one who thinks Shreyas does an Amol Palekar every once in a while? Each of the other cast members too adds his/her flavor to the village ambience. But, one who stood out was Ila Arun. I can so imagine her as one of my aunts from my native village.
You read the newspaper and go on with your day. You'll, in all probability, watch this movie, maybe applaud the effort, and go on with your life. There will be no long-lasting impact, but maybe, just maybe the stories will stay with you.
- meeta, a part of the audience
- Violence: Two gory scenes.
- Sexual content: Nothing too sensuous.
- Concept: The movie tries to touch upon all the burning issues in rural India with a lighter vein. So, it might be a good way to introduce the issues to young minds above 10 or so.
- General Look and Feel: The attempt is to keep the ambience light, colorful and playful.
Welcome to Sajjanpur - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website Facebook Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: UTV Motion Pictures, Howard Rosemeyer
- Producer: Ronnie Screwwala
- Director: Shyam Benegal
- Lead Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Amrita Rao
- Supporting Cast: Ravi Kishan, Rajeshwari Sachdev, Yashpal Sharma, Divya Dutta, Ila Arun
- Story: Shyam Benegal
- Screenplay: Ashok Mishra
- Dialogues: Ashok Mishra, Ashok Mishra
- Cinematography: Rajen Kothari, Rajan Kothari
- Editor: Aseem Sinha
- Background Score: Shantanu Moitra
- Music Director: Shantanu Moitra
- Lyrics: Swananda Kirkire, Ashok Mishra
- Costume Designer: Pia Benegal
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 140 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Comedy, Social