माझा मराठाचि बोलू कौतुके।
परि अमृतातेहि पैजासी जिंके।

Sangte Aika (1959)

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Directed by
Anant Mane

Chandrakant ... Sakharam
Jayshree Gadkar ... Sakharam's Daughter
Sulochana Latkar ... Sakharam's Wife
Dada Salvi ... Mahadev Patil of Rajura
Suryakant ... Krishna Patil
Hansa Wadkar ... Chima - Tamashakarin

Sángtye Aiká ("I'll tell you, listen!") is the fictional story of a tyrant named Mahádev (Dádá Sál.ví), the rich landowner (pát.íl) of Rájurí village in Mahárásht.ra, India, and how his exploitation of poor and honest men and women ultimately backfires. The tragic events of the story are punctuated by songs with significant meanings, mostly romantic compositions (lávan.í) performed by the itinerant tamáshá troupe of a woman named Chimá Kad.laskarín. (Hamsá Vád.kar), which make the movie itself resemble a melodrama (vag).

The movie opens with a traditional invocation of Gan.esha, the God who removes obstacles: "Come quickly, Gan.esha the Accomplished. The essence is a sermon, with a veneer of tamáshá." After Chimá performs a milkmaid song (gavl.an.) in which Chandrával., the milkmaid, rebuffs the cowherd God Krishna's blandishments but quickly falls under the spell of his flute, Mahádev tosses a silver coin onto the stage and demands a certain lávan.í song-and-dance. Chimá refuses the coin, and also his paper money, and when he takes the silver bangle off his wrist to give her, she kicks it away and reminds him that eight years ago, he had her father (a low-caste mahár labourer) assassinated for refusing to give false testimony. As Mahádev moves to choke her, he is prevented by a young farmer named Sakhárám Shinde (Chandrakánt Mándre). When Mahádev mocks him, "You act like someone laid a hand on your sister!" Sakhárám's retort, "If not my sister, she's still a woman!" foreshadows the moral of the movie. Sakhárám also tells Mahádev that the silver bangle is a trophy from the annual bullock-cart race, and must go to the next year's winner. To Mahádev's indignation, Sakhárám even wagers to win the next race.

Mahádev storms off to his mansion, where his servant Rámjí (Vasant Shinde) assures him that his bullocks are the best in the village. After his saintly wife Jánakí (Ratnamálá) urges him to pardon the offences of a hard-working, honest man like Sakhárám, Mahádev goes to sleep next to his beloved son Kisná (Áhlád). At dawn, in Sakhárám's rustic homestead, his beautiful wife Hamsá (Sulochaná) awakens him with a reveille (bhúpál.í) that conveys her longing for a child, and tells him not to pick fights with rich people.

Mahádev finds Sakhárám prying the wheel of his bullock-cart out of the mud, and mocks him, but Sakhárám's cart quickly overtakes his. Apprehensive that he will lose face at the annual race, Mahádev invites Sakhárám and Hamsá to celebrate the birth-festival of the God Krishna at his house, at which time he instructs the low-caste dacoit Sávl.yá Rámoshí (Vasant Pahelván) to set fire to their homestead. Sakhárám rushes into the flames to save his bullocks, and Mahádev, pretending to attempt to drag him away, ensures that Sakhárám perishes. He then takes the destitute widow Hamsá to his mansion as a companion for Jánakí. When Sávl.yá shows up to collect his payment from Mahádev, the cunning landowner gives him money and jewelry from the safe, then accuses him of robbery and arson and has him arrested. Sávl.yá swears revenge.

At a private party in another village, Chimá sings a lávan.í about a lonely farmer-wife terrified that the bird tapping on her window is a rapist trying to get in. A patron apprises her of Sakhárám's death, which she intuitively attributes to Mahádev.

While Jánakí and Kisná are at her brother's home for the Gaurí festival, Mahádev becomes enamoured of Hamsá and pretends to be stung by a scorpion so that he can grab her. Hamsá escapes, and muses to Rámjí that it must have been a female scorpion, minding her own business when Mahádev stepped on her. "They say that a male scorpion stings a man who has committed his hundredth sin; a female scorpion waits for the hundred-and-fifth." When Mahádev hears of this, he sends the servants to keep watch at night, leaving Hamsá at his mercy. As Jánakí leads the women at the festival in the song of how the demon king Rávan.a lured the Goddess Sítá out of her hut with a golden deer, Hamsá tries to flee the mansion, but Mahádev corners her and rapes her. On her way home, Jánakí crosses paths with Hamsá, who is in a fugue state, and confronts Mahádev about the rape, but he easily subdues her.

Meanwhile, Sávl.yá has escaped from prison and visits Chimá, who has known him since childhood. He plans a raid of Mahádev's mansion and, following dacoit tradition, announces it beforehand by hurling a vermilion-smeared rock through the window. Sávl.yá narrowly avoids a police ambush when he finds Hamsá drowning, and retreats to his hideout with her. Full of remorse for his crimes against her, he adopts her as his sister and swears vengeance for the rape, but on his way to murder Mahádev, he gets shot and rolls into a ravine.

There is a comic-relief duet in which Rámjí, tired of Mahádev's empty promises to intercede in his marital rift, himself convinces his wife Sál.ú (choreographer Lílá Gándhí) to reconcile with him. Nine months go by as Sávl.yá hides out, nursing his injured leg and caring for Hamsá until she gives birth to a girl and dies. The funeral pyre attracts the police. On the run, Sávl.yá entrusts the baby to Chimá, who names her Hamsá. Hamsá grows up before Chimá's eyes and becomes a proficient tamáshá dancer (Jayashrí Gad.kar) by the age of fifteen.

The year is 1936 or shortly thereafter (as a poster advertising the movie Sant Tukárám indicates). Mahádev and Jánakí's son Kisná (Súryakánt Mándre) has grown up and married, but he neglects his wife (Nílam Bel.gávkar) to attend tamáshá performances in a nearby village. After Hamsá performs a lávan.í about a girl who sneaked out of her house at night on horseback, dressed as a man, to meet her lover, Kisná tries to make her acquaintance, but has to leave when his father arrives. Chimá accosts Mahádev, "You cannot escape from the snare set by Destiny. Look at this girl carefully. Do you recognize her? She's yours! As to where and how, ask your conscience. Have you figured it out? It's the bulge in Hamsá's belly - Hamsá!"

Confronted with the scandal that his daughter is in a tamáshá troupe and Kisná is visiting her, Mahádev has a nightmare about his mansion going up in flames. Jánakí reassures him that no one would set fire to their house because they haven't wronged anyone. Once again, Kisná has gone to the tamáshá, where Hamsá is performing the lávan.í "Oh no! I've lost my eartop on the way to Sátárá. Don't anyone tell my old man about my little mistake." Mahádev follows him, frantic with worry that Chimá has allowed his own daughter to seduce his son. The next day, he sends Kisná to market with Rámjí, telling him to be back at sundown, but Kisná finds Chimá and Hamsá on the road and visits their camp at night.

Even as Hamsá is telling Chimá that she won't sell herself to a married man like Kisná, Kisná arrives and Hamsá engages him in a game of question-and-answer (savál-jabáb). Hamsá: "Why does a young man remember love when he sees the moon?" Kisná: "When the moon appears, breaker waves rise from the ocean. Poets know this as the great display of love." Hamsá: "The waves are the ocean's daughters; only madmen think that they are in love with their brother, the moon!" Kisná: "What makes the moon the brother of the waves? Show me proof!" Hamsá: "In the olden days, the spirits of good and evil churned the ocean, and the jewel called the moon was born. From the same ocean spring the dark waves. What is their relationship but that of sister and brother?" Kisná offers Hamsá money, but she tells him to buy his wife a bracelet "from her sister-in-law" instead.

Mahádev demands to know whether Kisná has "earned his wife's curse" and is relieved when Kisná protests his innocence. He begs Chimá to take the girl and go away to preserve his honour in his old age, but she spits at his money and tells him that he doesn't deserve to die in peace. "You're afraid of your own shame, but had no fear when you shamed women. Coward! Get out of my house!" Chimá vows to shame Mahádev in his own village by showing off his daughter with bells on her feet. She returns to the stage with Hamsá to narrate a melodrama (vag) entitled, "The Landowner's Daughter." It is the full story of Mahádev's crimes against Sakhárám, Sávl.yá, and Hamsá (Sr.). When Hamsá (Jr.) hears it, she realizes that her namesake's tragedy was her own nativity. As Chimá laments that pious Hamsá's daughter has become a working girl, and exposes Kisná's passion for his sister Hamsá, Mahádev confronts her with a loaded rifle. As he is about to shoot her, Sávl.yá challenges him, and Mahádev shoots him, just as Sávl.yá hurls an axe into his chest. Mahádev accepts his death, seeking Jánakí's forgiveness and asking Kisná to look after her, and Sávl.yá dies rejoicing that he did one good deed by taking vengeance as he promised Hamsá's mother.

The movie's last scene shows Hamsá in the role of a sister to Kisná, tying a protective silver amulet (rákhí) on his wrist. "In the olden days, the spirits of good and evil churned the ocean, and the jewel called the moon was born. From the same ocean spring the dark waves. What is their relationship but that of sister and brother?"


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