Welcome to Sajjanpur poster

Welcome to Sajjanpur

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)

quick review:

Serious issues that plague the life of villagers are presented with clever sarcasm. The style of narration is a bit artificial but makes for an interesting watch.

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Director: Shyam Benegal
Running time: 140 minutes
Genres: Comedy, Social
More Movie Info

"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

34 reviewers(?) - 23 yays 7 so-so 4 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Sanskriti Media, AOL INDIA : ...The innocence of the villagers stands in stark contrast to the cunning attitude of the educated city.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhil Kumar, Apun Ka Choice : ...Amrita Rao is gracefully restrained. Ila Arun is perfectly cast. Divya Dutta is brilliant in a small role.... full review

Thumbs up, by Daliya Daspurkayastha, Bollywood Mantra : ...Songs are not so effective. The director can do without songs too.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rony D'Costa, BOXOFFICE INDIA : ...If you think good comedy is a film like Welcome then you are not Welcome to Sajjanpur.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sanjay Ram, Business of Cinema : ...a well etched satire of sorts about things on and gone in a land we call our own... full review

Thumbs up, by Aniruddha Basu, DearCinema : ...Truth be told when Benegal tries to get sentimental and serious the film stumbles... full review

Thumbs up, by Aniruddha Guha, DNA : ...you are left amused at the antics of Mahadev and other villagers, the fresh, witty dialogues and double entrendes that are presented in a sophisticated manner... full review

Thumbs up, by Shubhra Gupta, Express India : ...the film is saved from becoming the sort of dreaded preachy treatises that the director has been delivering of late.... full review

Thumbs up, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ...Never once does the actor go overboard, nor does the director take liberties with his creative freedom.... full review

Thumbs up, by Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times : ...the spine of Shyam Benegal’s Welcome to Sajjanpur is its rustic, colloquial dialogue.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...And what a colorful palette of characters Benegal serves up... full review

Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : ...Expect no glitz-n-glam here. In fact, it doesn't even have a strong plot since it's a character-driven film... full review

Thumbs up, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ...dialogues deserve a special mention for an authentic rustic feel of the countryside and simultaneously having a witty punch in almost every second line... full review

Thumbs up, by Janhvi Patel, indya.com : ...The sets, clothes and language lend authenticity to the film... full review

Thumbs up, by Meena Iyer, Mumbai Mirror : ...Ashok Mishra's screenplay is smooth for most parts; but there's a point when the tempo of the film dips a bit.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ...Benegal has a great affection for his characters—even the unwholesome ones have their share of memorable lines... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Now Running.com : ...In a film flush with accomplished performances, Talpade holds the plot together like a voluminous book's spine... full review

Thumbs up, by Phoenixnu, Passion for Cinema : ...Not sure when was the last time any hindi film made me laugh so much.... full review

Thumbs up, by Tushar, Passion for Cinema : ...nice to see the master break the divides we put so comfortably on cinema.... full review

Thumbs up, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...The film loses some values also i.e. the movie should have been without a song because the film does not need to have a song into the narrative... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...you do miss the stark realism and the social concerns of his earlier films. But hey, hasn't the national mood changed too?... full review

Thumbs up, by Spicezee Bureau, Zee News : ...explores the human mind with Mahadev’s change of heart and subsequent liberation.... full review

So-So, by Anand Vaishnav, Buzz18 : ...The rest of the supporting cast stay true to their characters with each actor delivering spirited performances... full review

So-So, by Amit R Agarwal, merinews : ...the climax seems to be a rushed up job... full review

So-So, by Jahan Bakshi, Now Running.com : ...People expecting too much out of Shyam Benegal, considering his past body of work are bound to be disappointed.... full review

So-So, by Ashok Nayak, Now Running.com : ...His experience and talent as a director is evident in his very first attempt in a new genre.... full review

So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Welcome to Sajjanpur didn't really need any songs, let alone so many of them.... full review

So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...While the entire film aims at making you laugh, very few scenes succeed.... full review

So-So, by The ThirdMan, Upper Stall : ...After a rousing crane shot taking in the village, the camera is thereafter largely static and plays very little role in effective story telling... full review

Thumbs down, by Angel Rani, Deccan Herald : ...the Benegal touch slowly loses its warmth. Songs with no sense of time don’t help either.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mr. Inkenti, Mr. Inketis Weblog : ...none of the characters or their stories are weaved well and they just keep coming and going... full review

Thumbs down, by rusted rick, Passion for Cinema : ...He could have easily made a thousand social campaign ads from the various stories, which might have struck the audience in a better way.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sulakshana Biswas, Passion for Cinema : ...I refuse to believe that Welcome To Sajjanpur is a film by Shyam Benegal;... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

1 readers - 0 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

So-So, by Consumer Goods

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

A village, it's inhabitants, their idiosyncrasies and the issues.

What Worked

  • The dig on lack of original ideas in the Hindi film industry.
  • The dig on media coverage.
  • The streetplay about the atrocities on the farmers.
  • The dig on power load-shedding.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • The 'bhabhiji' who is up for election and has allegedly murdered a girl, didn't at all look like she was capable of murdering anyone.
  • The accent of the snake charmer. It didn’t seem consistent. Once it sounded south Indian and at another time it sounded Nepali.
  • The whole village looked too artificial and made-up.
  • Shreyas and Amrita fluttering eyelids in the awfully designed biplane!
  • The awfully designed biplane even if it was intentionally shoddy to imply a villager's imagination of an aircraft.


This section lists things that I think are not important to the overall impact of the movie. In most cases, it could be explained away by something like, "we noticed the glitch after the scene was shot and there were schedule/budget issues and thus we could not re-shoot it". I like giving the makers the benefit of doubt, but I am amused nevertheless. Hopefully, they will tickle you too.


Parental Guidance:

  • 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 - Cast, crew, links

Background Score:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
140 minutes

Comments (4)

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@ Cinefreak, I try my best not to be inconsistent. I'm sorry, if I sound that way. I certainly liked the movie, and like always, despite its faults.
The village is squeaky clean, because it is Mahadev's idolized view of his village.
The letter-writer is not with a heart of gold. He is manipulating the life of the woman he loves to the best possible manner. He does things out of fear, he lies.
A romance that is half-broken, is that not real? Would have liked a hunky-dory happy ending?

"the scenes seem to be written for the lines and the message rather than the other way around"

Yeah because it is a novel written by a person from a village who doesn't have training in novel-writing. He's just writing where his emotions lie.

I'm not lauding it because it has a rural theme. The satire worked for me, especially because it wasn't preachy.

Every time democracy is mentioned it is very sarcastic.

@ Arpit, thanks! And yeah, for me one of the main reasons the movie worked is because of the concept in the climax. It was rushed, but it makes you rethink about what was fictional and what was reality in the last 2 hours.

@Paras, glad you enjoyed it!

cool Vivek, so what was your take?

Thanks, vivek!

And Ramkumar...what can I say man...I just don't like writing about the story!

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