Satyakam is a 1969 Indian Hindi film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The film stars Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Sanjeev Kumar, and Ashok Kumar. The music for this film is given by Laxmikant Pyarelal.
After the success of Anupama (1966), Hrishikesh Mukherjee got together the same team of actors: Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, David; dialogue writer: Rajinder Singh Bedi; lyricist: Kafi Azmi and cameraman: Jaywant Pathare.
This is considered to be Dharmendra's finest acting performance of his career. In addition its director Hrishikesh Mukherjee names this film as his favourite film. This speaks volumes of the film considering that the renowned director has made several memorable movies like Anand, Bawarchi, Abhimaan, Chupke Chupke and Khoobsurat.
The story begins in the year 1946, just a year before India’s independence. Optimism, euphoria, goodwill and a genuine anticipation of positive change are filling the emergent nation’s mind and soul. Some, including Satyapriya (Dharmendra), are more enthusiastic, and for them India’s forthcoming independence is not a run of the mill event: it is a watershed, an epistemological rupture, a paradigm shift. It would be a triumph of sympathetic-rationalism that will sway India’s populace – from rags to riches. His conviction is guided by his grandfather's world views, whose thought-pattern has reached its non-realistic pinnacle due to the constant and isolationist pursuit of truth – informed by prevailing rigid customs and rituals – in a Gurukul. Armed with an engineering degree, Satyapriya ventures out to build HIS new India. On the way, he mostly encounters characters who hold diametrically opposite ideals and life styles. During his first assignment he meets Ranjana (Sharmila Tagore) who is about to be sexually exploited by a debouched Prince, the employer of Satyapriya. Despite the obvious awareness that Ranjana loves him, Satyapriya hesitates in rescuing her, letting her become prey of the morally corrupt Prince. The incident shakes the moral foundation of Satyapriya who has betrayed his conscience, feelings and ethical demeanor. To redress the mounting guilt he marries Ranjana, but their lives are never the same again.
Later Satyapriya takes up a number of jobs, but due to his convictions he can not settle at one place. A chain of intra/inter struggles goes on within/between Satyapriya and Ranjana. Ranjana tries to lead a normal life and longs to forget her past. Satyapriya is constantly reminded of his mistake (dishonesty of feelings) and tries to rectify it through his unflinching uncompromising stance; rather he appears to derive energy from his guilt. In his post-mistake life, he ruthlessly follows a rationalist obsession to eliminate the difference between a fallible human being and infallible God, which drives him more and more into egocentric dispositions at the expense of everybody around him, including Satyapriya himself (as a person).
In the later part of the film, it appears more and more that it is not the truth-pursuit that has taken Satyapriya as hostage but vice versa. He becomes the protagonist of absolutist entrapment of truth. All types of relativism are mercilessly excluded; no thought is given to the service of truth for long term goals. In the end, Satyapriya, as often happens in such conditions, breaks down. He sacrifices himself for the contradictory ideals of his grandfather, who believes in worldly rituals and scripture supported inequalities to achieve cosmological goals. Unfortunately, only his death exposes the dogmatic and paradoxical conceptual foundations of his grandfather.
This film was made in 1969. By this time, disillusionment with post-independence expectations had begun to take root. Unemployment, continual poverty and rampant corruption were severely undermining institutions all around. In a way, the film underlines a gradual disappearance of the followers of absolutism – whether in terms of truth, non-realist stances or practices of all kinds of discriminations.
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