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Jason Hinterweger
Jason Hinterweger

Sooraj Ka Satvan Ghoda: A Masterpiece of Metafiction and Parallel Cinema


Watch The Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda




If you are looking for a unique and engaging film to watch, you might want to check out Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda (The Sun's Seventh Horse), a 1992 Hindi film directed by Shyam Benegal and based on the novel of the same name by Dharamvir Bharati. This film is considered a masterpiece of parallel cinema, a movement of realistic and issue-based filmmaking that emerged in India in the 1970s. It is also known for its innovative use of metafiction, a technique that involves breaking the illusion of reality and drawing attention to the process of storytelling. In this article, we will explore what makes this film so special and why you should watch it.




Watch The Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda



Background




The novel Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda was written by Dharamvir Bharati, one of the pioneers of modern Hindi literature, in 1952. It is a metafictional novel that presents three related narratives about three women: Jamuna, Lily and Satti. These stories are narrated by Manik Mulla, a friend of the author, to his friends over seven afternoons, in the style of Hitopadesha or Panchatantra, ancient Indian collections of fables. The novel explores the themes of love, marriage, class, caste, gender and politics in post-independence India. It also challenges the conventional notions of heroism and romance by subverting the "Devdas" syndrome, a trope that depicts a tragic lover who suffers from unrequited love and self-destruction.


The film adaptation of the novel was made by Shyam Benegal, one of the leading directors of parallel cinema, in 1992. Benegal is known for his films that depict the social realities and struggles of ordinary people in India, such as Ankur (The Seedling), Nishant (Night's End), Manthan (The Churning) and Bhumika (The Role). He has also made films based on historical and biographical subjects, such as Junoon (The Obsession), Kalyug (The Machine Age), Mammo, Sardari Begum, Zubeidaa, Bose: The Forgotten Hero and The Making of the Mahatma. He has received several accolades for his work, including eighteen National Film Awards, a Filmfare Award, a Nandi Award and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema.


The film Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda features Rajit Kapur as Manik Mulla, Amrish Puri as Mahesar Dalal, Rajeshwari Sachdev as Jamuna, Pallavi Joshi as Lily and Neena Gupta as Satti. It also has Raghuvir Yadav as Shyam, a contemporary artist who serves as the narrator and frames the story as a flashback. The film has a rich musical score composed by Vanraj Bhatia, who also collaborated with Benegal on many of his other films. The film was produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) and Doordarshan, the public service broadcaster of India. The film was critically acclaimed and won two National Film Awards: Best Feature Film in Hindi and Best Supporting Actress for Rajeshwari Sachdev. It was also screened at several international film festivals, such as the Locarno Film Festival, the London Film Festival and the Singapore International Film Festival.


Plot summary




The film begins with Shyam, a painter, visiting Manik Mulla, a civil servant, at his office. Shyam tells Manik that he has seen a painting of Jamuna, one of Manik's old flames, at an art gallery. He asks Manik to tell him the story behind the painting. Manik agrees and invites Shyam to his house, where he has a group of friends who regularly gather to listen to his stories. Manik then narrates three stories of three women he loved at different stages of his life: Jamuna, Lily and Satti. These stories are interwoven with each other and reveal the complexities and contradictions of love, society and human nature.


The first story is about Jamuna, a beautiful and educated woman who is married to Mahesar Dalal, a rich and powerful landlord. Mahesar is much older than Jamuna and treats her as a trophy wife. He is also involved in illegal activities and has many enemies. Manik meets Jamuna when he goes to work as a tutor for Mahesar's nephew. He falls in love with Jamuna and tries to rescue her from her unhappy marriage. However, Jamuna refuses to leave Mahesar, saying that she has accepted her fate and that she owes him loyalty. She also reveals that she is pregnant with Mahesar's child. Manik is heartbroken and leaves the town.


The second story is about Lily, a lively and spirited woman who works as a nurse. Lily belongs to a lower caste and faces discrimination and harassment from the upper caste people. She is also in love with a man named Tanna, who is from a higher caste and is married to another woman. Manik meets Lily when he goes to work as a journalist for a local newspaper. He becomes friends with Lily and admires her courage and optimism. He also tries to persuade her to give up Tanna and find someone who can truly love her. However, Lily refuses to listen to him, saying that she loves Tanna and that he will eventually leave his wife for her. She also reveals that she is pregnant with Tanna's child. Manik is disappointed and leaves the town.


The third story is about Satti, a simple and innocent woman who works as a maid. Satti belongs to a very poor family and has no education or prospects. She is also married to a man named Badri, who is abusive and alcoholic. Manik meets Satti when he goes to work as a teacher for an adult literacy program. He feels pity for Satti and tries to help her improve her life. He also develops feelings for her and proposes to marry her. However, Satti rejects him, saying that she cannot betray Badri and that she respects him as her husband. She also reveals that she is pregnant with Badri's child. Manik is shocked and leaves the town.


As Manik narrates these stories, he also reveals the connections and twists among them. He tells his friends that Jamuna's child was actually his, not Mahesar's; that Lily's child was actually Mahesar's, not Tanna's; and that Satti's child was actually Tanna's, not Badri's. He explains how these secrets were kept and how they affected the lives of the women and their children. He also reflects on his own role in these stories and how he failed to understand or help the women he loved.


Analysis




The film Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda is a remarkable example of metafiction, a literary device that exposes the artificiality of fiction and invites the audience to question the nature of reality and truth. The film constantly reminds the audience that they are watching a story within a story within a story, as Shyam narrates Manik's narration of his own narration of his love stories. The film also plays with the conventions of storytelling by using unreliable narrators, multiple perspectives, flashbacks, flash-forwards, intertextuality, irony and humor.


The film also subverts the Devdas syndrome, a common trope in Indian literature and cinema that depicts a tragic hero who suffers from unrequited love and self-destruction. The film shows that Manik is not a typical Devdas figure, as he does not wallow in self-pity or alcoholism after losing his love interests. He moves on with his life and career, and maintains a friendly and humorous attitude. He also does not idealize or romanticize the women he loved, but acknowledges their flaws and complexities. He respects their choices and agency, even if he does not agree with them. The film shows that the real Devdas figures are the women, who are trapped in unhappy and oppressive marriages, and who sacrifice their happiness and dignity for the sake of social norms and expectations. The film challenges the patriarchal and feudal values that create such situations for women, and exposes the hypocrisy and injustice of the society.


The film also offers a social and political commentary on the post-independence India, as it depicts the changes and conflicts that occurred in the country during the 1940s to 1960s. The film shows how the issues of class, caste, gender, religion, education, culture, democracy, development and nationalism affected the lives of the people, especially the marginalized and oppressed sections of the society. The film also shows how the ideals of freedom, equality and justice were often betrayed or compromised by the corruption, violence and exploitation that prevailed in the society. The film questions the notion of progress and development, and asks whether they have truly benefited the people or not.


Reception




The film Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda was well received by the critics and audiences alike. It was praised for its brilliant direction, screenplay, acting, music and cinematography. It was also appreciated for its originality, complexity and depth of its narrative and themes. The film won two National Film Awards: Best Feature Film in Hindi and Best Supporting Actress for Rajeshwari Sachdev. It was also nominated for Best Director for Shyam Benegal and Best Actor for Rajit Kapur at the Filmfare Awards.


The film was also screened at several international film festivals, such as the Locarno Film Festival, the London Film Festival and the Singapore International Film Festival. It received positive reviews from foreign critics as well, who admired its artistic merit and cultural relevance. The film was also selected as one of the 100 best films of Indian cinema by a jury of experts in 2013.


The film has also left a lasting impact on Indian cinema, as it inspired many filmmakers to experiment with metafictional techniques and to explore the themes of love, society and history in their films. Some of the films that have been influenced by Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda are Maqbool, Omkara, Haider, Trapped, Masaan, Tamasha and Lust Stories.


Conclusion




Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda is a film that deserves to be watched by anyone who appreciates good cinema. It is a film that combines artistry, intelligence and emotion in a captivating way. It is a film that challenges the conventional modes of storytelling and invites the audience to think critically and creatively. It is a film that reflects the realities and complexities of India's past and present. It is a film that celebrates the power and beauty of love in all its forms.


If you are interested in watching this film, you can find it on various online platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar. You can also read the novel by Dharamvir Bharati or watch other films by Shyam Benegal to get more insights into their works.


FAQs




  • What does Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda mean?



Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda literally means "The Sun's Seventh Horse". It is a metaphor that refers to an imaginary horse that is supposed to pull the sun's chariot across the sky. It is also a symbol of creativity, imagination and storytelling.


  • Who is Dharamvir Bharati?



Dharamvir Bharati was one of the most prominent writers of modern Hindi literature. He was also a poet, playwright, critic and editor. He wrote several novels, short stories, poems, plays and essays that dealt with various aspects of Indian society and culture. Some of his famous works are Sooraj Ka Satwan Ghoda, Gunahon Ka Devta, Andha Yug and Kanupriya. He was awarded the Padma Shri, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contributions to literature and arts.


  • Who is Shyam Benegal?



Shyam Benegal is one of the most influential and respected directors of Indian cinema. He is known for his films that depict the social realities and struggles of ordinary people in India, especially the rural and marginalized sections of the society. He is also known for his films that explore the historical and biographical subjects related to India's freedom movement and cultural heritage. He has made more than 30 feature films, several documentaries and television series. He has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award and the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.


  • What is parallel cinema?



Parallel cinema is a term used to describe a movement of realistic and issue-based filmmaking that emerged in India in the 1970s. It was a reaction against the mainstream commercial cinema that was dominated by formulaic and escapist films. Parallel cinema aimed to portray the authentic and diverse aspects of Indian society, politics and culture, and to address the problems and challenges faced by the people. Parallel cinema also experimented with new forms and techniques of cinematic expression, such as realism, neo-realism, new wave, art cinema and documentary. Some of the pioneers of parallel cinema are Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Govind Nihalani, Aravindan, Girish Kasaravalli and Ketan Mehta.


  • What is metafiction?



Metafiction is a literary device that involves breaking the illusion of reality and drawing attention to the process of storytelling. Metafiction challenges the conventional notions of fiction and reality, author and reader, truth and fiction. Metafiction often uses techniques such as self-referentiality, unreliable narration, multiple perspectives, intertextuality, irony and parody. Metafiction also invites the audience to participate in the creation and interpretation of meaning, rather than passively accepting the author's authority. Some of the examples of metafiction are The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne and The Princess Bride by William Goldman.


  • What is the Devdas syndrome?



The Devdas syndrome is a term used to describe a trope that depicts a tragic lover who suffers from unrequited love and self-destruction. The term is derived from the name of the protagonist of a novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, which has been adapted into several films in different languages. The Devdas syndrome typically involves a man who loves a woman but cannot marry her due to social or familial obstacles. He then resorts to alcoholism or other forms of addiction to cope with his pain. He also rejects or neglects other women who love him or try to help him. He eventually dies of his misery or illness, leaving behind a legacy of sorrow and regret. The Devdas syndrome is often seen as a symbol of romanticism, passion and sacrifice, but it can also be seen as a sign of weakness, selfishness and cowardice. b70169992d


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