Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram pretends to question society’s beauty standards while it uses its leading woman to titillate the audience

We reside in the period of courting applications where swiping left or right on someone is largely decided by their looks. Even prior to technological know-how turned an critical section of our enjoy tales, an inordinate amount of notice was often compensated to what one appears to be like like, as if it is some sort of currency just one need to have in get to come across appreciate. But attractiveness is only skin deep, so what takes place when a single could not suit an individual else’s strategy of what constitutes as stunning but is a great individual if not? It was this dichotomy involving the concept of physical beauty and a beautiful soul that was most likely the seed of Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Even so, the way he interpreted it was surprising for a filmmaker who is thought of 1 of the pioneers of Indian cinema.

Satyam Shivam Sundaram tries to fake that it is the story of a female, performed by Zeenat Aman, who is perceived as ‘not-so-beautiful’ by the modern society thanks to an incident that scarred her facial area, whilst it regularly sexualises the identical lady. It looks like the intention here is to titillate the viewers and the gaze of the filmmaker comes throughout as incredibly disingenuous as the camera uncomfortably lingers on Zeenat’s physique. For the unversed, the plot of the film revolves about a girl named Rupa who is seen as unfortunate by her town folks as her mom died all through childbirth. When her experience receives scarred in an incident, she is designed to sense even even worse. The film tells us that Rupa’s largest talent is her mellifluous voice, which evidently is in full contrast with her ‘not-so-superior looking’ deal with. The movie is a total misreading of the concept that ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’.

Raj Kapoor defined this in his own phrases to Vir Sanghvi and the anecdote has been quoted in the latter’s autobiography A Rude Life. “Take a stone. It is just a stone. But you put some spiritual marking on it and it gets to be God. It is how you see factors that issues. You hear a beautiful voice. But only later do you explore that it will come from an unattractive girl…,” Kapoor stated. For a filmmaker who was attempting to make a story about how attractiveness goes past what a single appears like, he was incredibly rigid with the notion of what capable as wonderful. And while Kapoor might have pretended that he was trying to portray his foremost girl Zeenat Aman as the ‘ugly duckling’ of some sort, his digicam prompt or else. Correct from the begin, the movie focuses on Zeenat’s exposed again and the translucent garment that she is supplied to wrap herself. It feels like RK understood that the sexualisation of his top lady would attract a lot of nay-sayers, so he made her an particularly spiritual particular person – just to make the viewer truly feel like their mind was in the gutter even though he was casually currently being a sage.


Shashi Kapoor, who performs Rupa’s love interest in the movie, is revealed to be the variety of guy who appreciates a girl only for her appears to be like and as a result falls in really like with the singer who walks all-around the village with her deal with fifty percent-included. When he gets married to her and sees her facial area, he refuses to imagine that it is the exact same Rupa. Hence starts the most strange stretch of this film exactly where Shashi Kapoor believes that he is acquiring an affair with the singer Rupa who normally meets him with her face fifty percent-lined, though his spouse at property is a distinctive girl altogether. He refuses to think that these two are the similar lady even when Rupa gets expecting. His prejudice versus his wife occurs only simply because of her scarred face and that bias casually goes out of the window towards the close of the movie. In no way does Raj Kapoor’s story really reach what it intended to from the start out of the film.

At the time, Raj Kapoor had casually confessed that his film was “for the masses” and he has had to make some “compromises.” Satyam Shivam Sundaram was 1 of the most high-priced films of its time. “I have never ever been ready to cut corners and so the costs saved mounting,” he told Vir Sanghvi in a 1977 job interview. These types of was the sort of budget of this movie that one particular temple set exactly where Zeenat’s character is normally picturised was produced for more than Rs 7 lakh. So what compromise was he particularly referring to?

Kapoor had spoken about the nudity in the film, in particular with regard to how Zeenat’s character was picturised and the small blouses she was offered to dress in in the movie. He instructed Sanghvi in the similar 1977 chat, “But you really don’t see the nudity, it’s so tasteful. Some extremely conservative women instructed me that while they felt shaken to commence with, following a though, it appeared to recede and the theme grew to become the critical concentration of the movie.” He may well have stated that one particular doesn’t discover the nudity, he quite properly is familiar with what the film was banking. “Let them occur to see Zeenat’s t*ts, they will go out forgetting her entire body and bear in mind the movie,” he explained.

zeenat aman Zeenat Aman in Satyam Shivam Sundaram.

Actor-filmmaker Dev Anand, who was a person of RK’s contemporaries, and the person who gave Zeenat Aman her break in Hare Rama Hare Krishna, named this a “dirty film”. As he commented to Sanghvi, “It’s a soiled film. Did you see how the camera kept concentrating on Zeenat’s overall body? Soiled!” Not just Dev, numerous other modern day woman actors observed Rupa’s costumes a small objectionable. Vidya Sinha advised Rediff.com in 2015 that she refused the film because she “was not comfy donning the dresses that Zeenat Aman wore.” Hema Malini, as well, refused the film. In simple fact, RK’s daughter Ritu Nanda’s e-book ‘Raj Kapoor Speaks’ has the thespian stating that he required to solid Lata Mangeshkar in the function of Rupa and it is no surprise that Lata didi did not star in this movie.

The movie is continuously seeking to portray Zeenat as an object of drive and none of it feels as aesthetic as 1 would have hoped. It is somewhat clumsy when she is abruptly demonstrated in costumes that are totally covered up mainly because the character is now pregnant and sexualising a mother-like figure is seemingly harmful territory.

Satyam Shivam Sundaram introduced in 1978 and was projected as an bold undertaking for Raj Kapoor. The movie, of class, drew some robust reactions from the not-so-liberal viewers at the time but even right after 44 many years, the movie feels like it was striving to sexualise a woman in a ‘we are peeping as a result of the windows’ way that will always be awkward.

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