Upon walking out of Shyam Benegal’s Welcome to Sajjanpur you will not be able to contain the smile on your face. That’s the experience of this great film! Mr. Benegal graces Indian cinema with one of the best films this year and analyzing this exhilarating experience will be both enjoyable and immensely difficult at the same time. This is mainly because the movie is so impressive as a whole that it makes it very difficult to pin point the exact thing or things that make it impressive.
To begin with, let me tell you what to expect when you walk into a cinema near you to experience this masterpiece. Firstly, like I’ve just stated, expect to walk out with the biggest smile. Secondly, expect a truly genuine gesture by a filmmaker to explore and display a meaningful genre of cinema. Lastly, expect the unexpected. That is because Welcome to Sajjanpur is not an ordinary experience. It has a coating of a comedy but is essentially a satirical take on rural India. This lays the foundation for Benegal to tackle some of the most contemporary issues and to top it all off the conveys a few extremely valuable lessons.
Mr. Benegal returns to comedy after perhaps two decades and returns to the silver screen after the Karishma Kapoor starrer and critically acclaimed Zubeidaa which struck chords all over. He’s known to make socially relevant movies and rumour had it that Welcome to Sajjanpur would be an out and out comedy. However, because the movie has so many layers, even Benegal’s trademark genre is incorporated. This time joining him on this adventurous journey is the immensely talented Shreyas Talpade and the inimitable beauty Amrita Rao.
Welcome to Sajjanpur is the story of a gaon (village) by the name of Sajjanpur, as you may have guessed. In particular, it is the story of Mahadev (Shreyas Talpade) who is the letter writer of the gaon. Mahadev is very intelligent and well-educated but as fate would have it, he was never able to find the job he’s most suitable for. Thus, he soon became the letter writer for his village. But Mahadev doesn’t just write the letters. He indulges in people’s secrets, controversies, and most importantly, their emotions. With his magic words and desire to write novels, Mahadev entwines his emotions within the letters and leaves a piece of his heart with each person’s problems. Unconsciously or conciously, he begins to manipulate and influence the situations that he handles within the letters. The consequences of his actions are what Welcome to Sajjanpur is all about!
In a day and age in cinema where it is considered a virtue to tackle difficult subjects, Shyam Benegal goes beyond the regular ‘art house’ style of cinema and brings us an experience that is more than eye-opening. He challenges a wide range of issues, ranging from democracy to freedom and even homosexuality. To everyone’s surprise, he pull this off with unimaginable