Truth, Godliness and Psychedelic Mushrooms
So, I officially don’t care about chronology anymore - right now I really need to do a post about my favourite Shashi film, or rather my favourite film ever. I can’t count the times I’ve watched it and yet I never really know what to say about it. But I’ll give it a try …
[ag]Raj Kapoor[/tag]’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram is the story of Rupa, a lovely girl who just happens to be the most unlucky girl in her village. Her mother died while giving birth and as if that wasn’t enough half of her face is horribly burned because of an accident in her childhood. That doesn’t really make her the most popular girl in town, as you can guess. Quite the opposite: She’s shunned by everybody, especially her father. It also means that she doesn’t get proper clothes - she has to walk around in the flimsiest bits of clothing 70s Hindi cinema had to offer.
Enter the hero - well, the male protagonist: Ranjeev, hotshot engineer from the big city, comes to town. He’s charming, sophisticated and good-looking. His only flaw? An almost pathological fear of ugliness. Soon after his arrival he hears someone sing and falls in love with her voice. The singer is of course Rupa, who manages to conceal her scars, and the two fall madly in love.
Often, reviewers mainly emphasize that fact that Zeenat Aman walks around wearing hardly anything in SSS. And yes, she is. He clothes are more than revealing - and often wet. It’s easy to reduce the film to a kind of skin flick and many do that stating how hypocritical they find it. After all, the film’s main message is that true beauty is not just physical and it uses Zeenat Aman, one of the sexiest women ever, to illustrate that point.
I don’t really think it’s hypocritical. Yes, she is portrayed in a highly erotic way but it’s never cheap and it doesn’t contradict the message at all.
Besides, Zeenat Aman is never simply eye-candy - instead she exudes innocence as well as sensuality and dignity. Her anguish over her fate and the moral dilemma she faces later on always seem tangible and real.
This was my first film with Shashi Kapoorand I have to admit that, while I thought he was really good-looking and a fine actor, I thought his character was quite an idiot - I believe I called him “Vollpfeife”, a complete moron. But in the end he sort of charmed me into forgiving him for that …
The narrative is rather like a fairy tale, especially in the second half and the dramatic ending. So don’t expect the characters to always behave real logic - they are fairy tale characters and behave accordingly.
What I love most about the film is that through this fairy tale, Raj Kapoor speaks about really serious issues, mainly the double standards society applies to the behaviour of women and men and the way people who don’t fit into expectations of normality become outcasts. The film is firmly on Rupa’s side and what I liked most is the way she moves from suffering in silence to actually standing up against the one person who treats her worst of all. (And boy, does she show him some girl power …)
Raj Kapoor packages this message beautifully - and I’m not (only) talking about Zeenat here. The film is shot very beautifully and seems sort of dreamy in places.
What about the mushrooms, you ask? Well, I’ll let the images speak for themselves - you can guess why I really fell in love with the film … :
Well, the pictures don’t really capture the amazingness of the song, so here’s the clip (with much more bright colors than my Yashraj-DVD …):