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  • Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Satyakam was a veritable lesson on how to pull the viewer's emotional strings. Dharmendra was gifted his career's finest role (those of you who scoff at "Garam Dharam", visit his past with movies like Anupama, Chupke Chupke, Ankhen and innumerable others). He plays Satyapriya, an individual who values lofty ideals of truth above all else; his career, family and life itself. This movie could so easily have degenerated into a soppy melodrama, but Hrishikesh Mukherjee's skills are at the forefront. Satyapriya and his friend Naren (the inimitable Sanjeev Kumar) finish engineering college, and set out on different career paths. Sanjeev Kumar remains honest, but practical, and works hard to become successful. Dharmendra remains in his world of idealism and resolute resistance to compromise, and struggles through every step. Yet, not for a moment does he waver from adherence to truth.

    In his very first job, he works for a debauch prince (this was set in the pre-independence/ early independence era). The prince desires to "own" Sharmila Tagore (the illegitimate daughter of his manager, David). Through chance occurrences, Dharmendra lands in a situation to protect Sharmila, but in a moment of weakness, wavers. The prince rapes Sharmila, and the idealistic Dharmendra then marries Sharmila.

    How is this different from any other sixties flick, you ask? It is here that Hrishikesh Mukherjee's talent in portraying human nature, and developing characters shines through. Dharmendra, though the supreme idealist, is unable to accept Sharmila or her child completely, and even through his idealism, his completely human nature shines through.

    Later Naren (Sanjeev Kumar) reappears, and beautifully personifies the every-day man, one of us, who would compromise (but only so slightly) in order to move ahead in one's career. Yet the compromise would be "practical", never something that would weigh on one's conscience. The contrast between the two characters is one of the movie highlights. Dharmendra is unable to accept these compromises, and the conflict is beautifully wrought out. Dharmendra eventually dies of cancer, and the film leads to its incredibly moving climax.

    Ashok Kumar (Dharmendra's father) wants Sharmila Tagore's son to light Dharmendra's pyre. Sharmila (who is not accepted by Ashok Kumar) in a moment of stark honesty, says that the child is not Dharmendra's son, but is illegitimate. Satyapriya's honesty lives on.

    It is one of those touching climaxes where it is far easier to let tears flow, than hold them back.

    Satyakam is another Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic. Dharmendra is the main protagonist who gives the performance of his career in this film. We see no shades of the action man we get to see in later blockbusters like Sholay or Dharmveer. Here Dharmendra underplays a soft righteous man treading on the path of truth at every step despite conflict and hardship. Sanjeev Kumar plays the supporting lead extremely well, he had only done 17 odd films before this one.

    Great performances and worth a watch!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Satyakam' can be described as a different Hrishikesh Mukherjee film. Set during the end of the British Invasion of India, it tells the story of Satyapriya Acharya, a simple yet idealistic young man who follows by the strict moral to always tell the truth, no matter what. He doesn't believe that honesty is best policy because it shouldn't be a policy but a duty. However, in a world of corruption, where progress relies on lies, there seems to be no place for someone like Satyapriya and this even takes a toll on his relationship with his wife and best friend.

    Hrishikesh Mukherjee's strength has always been to tell stories of the common man with sincerity. His characters are portrayed as humans. Even an idealist like Satyapriya is shown as a flawed human being when, at a moment of weakness, he doesn't rescue Ranjana from being raped or when he's unable to consummate his marriage with his wife because of the trauma.

    There aren't many songs but the few they have are beautiful. The background score works well too. It only gets melodramatic towards the end. The editing is quite good. The dialogues are well written. There's only one sequence that I found a bit out of place. The scene where Ranjana's sleazy uncle, who knowingly sent her off to the businessman that rapes her, all of a sudden is willing to sacrifice all for his niece, when Satyapriya proposes marriage.

    Dharmendra is at his best. This is easily one of his finest performances. Ditto for a spellbinding Sharmila Tagore. Sanjeev Kumar is no stranger to great performances and he easily turns in a natural performance.

    'Satyakam' is yet another winner from Hrishikesh Mukherjee. In a world built on lies, truth has its costs but in the end it always prevails.
  • prashants178 January 2007
    This is movie making at its best, perhaps one of the finest Indian movies of all times, but surprisingly relatively unacknowledged and unknown even amongst movie lovers. Hrishikesh Mukherjee has done what he does best, evoking minimalistic everyday emotions throughout the movie, no overkill or overload of emotional jargon no overacting. Sharmila Tagore is supereb as usual, Sanjeev Kumar as good as ever, Ashok Kumar does justice to his small role, but the surprise package is Dharmendra he has out done all of them and by a mile, I never knew Dharmendra had done such excellent work in the past, upon more research have found some other good work by him in Jevan Mrtityu & Anupama, its a shame he got stuck in B grade work later on in his carrier much like the immensely talented Mithun(mrigya). Overall this movie is A+++ by all standards a must see for movie lovers, a masterpiece by Hrishikesh Mukherjee.
  • Satyapriya grows up on lofty and noble ideals. His blemish-less heart pursues the difficult and rocky path of Truth. His nobility is further accentuated by the presence of his best friend, the good and sincere Naren who adopts an attitude of compromising on Truth when it cannot be accommodated.

    The greatness and brilliance of the movie comes from a daring attempt to derive a message from a story of defeats rather than successes and in doing so it succeeds. Satya is defeated on all accounts in life. He is unable to make peace with life and save himself from falling into helplessness against the corrupt society and ultimately turning cynical. On the other hand, Naren though successful in life is defeated as he accepts the compromise of Truth that his profession forces on him. He is defeated when his good intention to support a helpless Ranjhana is challenged by his family. Satya's grandfather Satyasharan who shaped the character of Satya is defeated when he compromises on Truth and lies to save his good name and stature.

    The narrative brilliantly unfolds the defeat one faces in both the paths, the one of ardent pursuit of Truth and the other of compromise when Truth conflicts self-interest. It nudges the viewer to delve deeper into the real nature of an Absolute Truth that is beyond the duality of noble Ideals and their compromise. It pleads one to find this path that Satya longed for but never succeeded. Most striking is Hrishikesh Mukherjee's uncompromising narrative and the audacity to tell the story of utter defeat with life of all the main characters. Through this he opens a search for a higher, undiscovered meaning of Truth and the pursuit of such an existence. In the stark story of defeats he brilliantly succeeds in producing an effect exactly as he intends to.
  • This classic Hindi movie directed by the legendary filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee starts with the assertion that the most sacrosanct quest is the quest for truth. One should strive for getting the truth, reaching the truth. But pious intentions do not and cannot ease out the difficulties, hardships and pains to be faced in this regard. The hero of this movie named as Satyapriy Acharya is determined to follow his family ideals in his practical life. Like Mahatma Gandhi, truth is God to him. And he sets out in pursuit of truth only after obtaining an engineering degree.

    The story starts in the period when India was on the verge of getting political independence from the colonial rule and the princely states were, in all likelihood, going to lose their existence in the sovereign republic of India. The common psyche of the Indians was filled with enthusiasm, optimism and hope for a better future. Our hero whose the only relative is his grandfather Satyasharan (Ashok Kumar) living in isolation, away from the practical (and cruel) world,also shares this psyche with his countrymen.

    The movie tells Satyapriy's journey towards truth. He speaks truth. He lives truth. However the thing that he forgets that in this practical world, truth also needs the worldly might to survive. A man like Satyapriy may be able to pursue truth through sheer inner strength but if he is not living in isolation and has to survive among those who are not like himself, day-to-day life may become hell for him. Following truth only in his life, he is likely to find that gaining worldly comforts, peace of mind and a normal life has become a mirage for him.

    And that's where the real inner strength is required. The path leading to truth can never be flowery. It's bound to be thorny and the traveller of this path should be mentally prepared to sustain all the resultant wounds and the pain emanating from them. The hero of this movie, i.e., Satyapriy is such a person only. He sustains everything and lays down his life in the end while treading the path of truth only. Does his death matter for anybody ? Yes, for his wife Ranjana (Sharmila Tagore) and her kid whose biological father is not the hero but a rapist (Manmohan). And through them only, the aged grandfather of the hero realizes what it takes to follow truth in the real sense.

    According to a Hindu mythological tale, Lord Vishnu had taught a similar lesson to Sage Naarad who was proud of his devotion to Vishnu but could not utter his name even once during the execution of an assignment of carrying a brimful container of oil on his head in which he was not allowed to spill even a single drop of oil out. Similar is the test for the follower of truth. Following truth while living in isolation or in your comfort zone is no achievement. You are a proved a genuine truth lover only when you are able to follow it amidst the worldly life in which this love of yours is tested on almost every step. Once realizing it like Sage Naarad, the hero's aged grandfather adopts his daughter-in-law and her kid and takes them to his place while earlier he had not allowed the kid to ignite the pyre of Satyapriy (the Hindu custom of Mukhaagni) owing to the kid's not being the biological son of Satyapriy.

    It's a pain-soaked movie rendering a message to the residents of politically independent India that their real test lies in maintaining their inner strength to follow the ideals of the freedom struggle in free India which was (and is) a much more difficult task than to gain political freedom from the foreign rulers. When this movie was made, the Indian masses had started feeling disenchantment from the words of the leaders and the ideals propagated for decades with the promise of a better future, better life to the commoners.

    Satyakaam is based on a novel of eminent Bangla author Naarayan Saanyal telling a heart-piercing story. How a person who is determined to follow the path of truth only, suffers in the hands of the greedy, biased and cruel world; is shown realistically in this story. As said earlier, truth also needs tangible might to take on its worldly adversaries and survive their onslaught. However, asserting quite pessimistically, the genuinely truth loving, non-compromising people seldom gain such a might. Ruination only is their destiny. Hrishi Da, one of the greatest film directors of India, has done complete justice to the spirit embedded in the novel.

    The writer and after him, the director has presented the truth-loving hero as a normal human-being only with the human weaknesses of hesitation and momentary cowardice in him. Besides, it's also underscored that maintaining a normal conjugal relationship with a raped woman is even more difficult than to marry her as the hero is never able to be normal with his wife in their intimate moments and the wife deeply feels the pinch of it.

    Performance wise talking, all including the heroine - Sharmila Tagore and child artiste Saarika who used to play the roles of a boy child those days (credited as Master Suraj), have done pretty well. Sanjeev Kumar who plays the role of Dharmendra's close friend Narendra who only is the narrator of this story, is also perfect.

    However the movie belongs to Dharmendra and Dharmendra only. He did not get any award for his role in this movie but it seems that he has not acted but lived Satyapriy on celluloid. This is perhaps the best performance of his career.

    Late Hrishi Da himself had termed Satyakaam as the best movie ever made by him. This masterpiece is not meant for the regular entertainment seekers. It's for the audience of profound, well-meant cinema only.
  • Known for his bigger hits like Golmaal and Abhimaan, Hrishikesh Mukherjee is not credited much for this master piece. But this is truly a classic. Not the routine 'time pass' movie. It hits you. The cast is very good. It exposes the human weakness. A true "truth speaking" person does not muster courage to protect the exploited Sharmila only to later marry her. However, its later and she has been abused the prince. The predicaments shown are so common and so is the acceptance or compromise, hiding our weakness as 'being practical'. And yet SatyaPriya keeps fighting. Some of the scenes are so difficult to forget: - The big politician coming to Dharmendra's house and blessing him and when he leaves the pride with which Sharmila sees Dharmendra. - At the deathbed, when she fights with him to sign on the tender, and he signs it silently and then she realises her mistake and tears and it and he only smiles with satisfaction. - The scene where the son scolds the grandfather (Ashok Kumar) that he is telling a lie and the grand father realises the folly.

    Don't watch for entertainment, this is for self introspection.
  • nsbumb5 September 2020
    Very good story. Powerful message of sacrifice by a young Engineer who never allowed himself to compromise on truth. The movie greatly influenced my life.
  • A fine movie by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and undeniably has his trademark - brilliant depiction of characters. Even an idealistic character like Satyapriya is shown to be human - indecisiveness when faced with the choice of saving Ranjana when she is forced to go the Prince's room, timidity when initially posed the question if he would marry her and face the society. The dialogues are excellent, a couple specially stand out - honesty is not a policy, it is a duty and right at the end when the grandfather admires how the mother Ranjana uttered the the truth, without any reservations, just as it stood. Dharmendra has given his one of his finest performances and Sanjeev Kumar is brilliant as usual. Sharmila Tagore looks beautiful but and her acting is decent. The movie overall is a must-watch for all Hrishida fans.
  • My Rating : 7/10

    The maker of Bollywood classic movies such as Anand, Chupke Chupke, Anupama, Abhimaan and many more said that 'Satyakam' was his most favourite of his works. Often heralded as one of the greatest Indian filmmakers Hrishida (as he was popularly called) blends mainstream extravagant Bollywood cinema with arthouse sensibilities with an emphasis on the social middle-class of India.

    'Satyakam' is almost reminiscent of Satyajit Ray's style of making movies where idealism and truth are given utmost importance and letting go the mainstream expectations of what a Bollywood movie should be. It is rare to find a movie which is so simple in Bollywood cinema that deals with middle-class struggle against the wealthier sections of society. This is not a sloppy melodrama but a genuine portrait of the times.

    Fine acting from all especially Dharmendra who gives a fine portrayal of a man who believes in adherence to truth above all else.

    A beautiful, simple, quiet film - extremely rare for mainstream Indian cinema - Kudos to Hrishida!
  • Many great men have exhorted the importance of following the path of truth, however arduous, in amazingly simple words (almost nonchalantly in many cases). Our holy relics, our Upanishads, and our two most significant historical texts- the Ramayana and the Mahabharata- too have averred vehemently that there is nothing greater than reveling in the knowledge and the spreading of truth. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, in his 1969 feature Satyakaam, pays homage to these thoughts by means of depicting the journey of a man who never wavers from this formidable path of truth.

    Hrishikesh Mukherjee chooses a very complex subject and treats it in an unconventional manner. The movie is definitely a critique on our society and how we tend to ignore a lot of things while leading our lives. Through the ordeals of Satyapriya he makes a defining statement on how difficult it is for an honest man to live with his head high in today's materialistic and insensitive set-up. But at the same time through the dissonance and irritability of Satyapriya, he makes the point that it is futile to stop appreciating the life around us by becoming a cynic and seeing the worst in each and every thing. By the end of his life, Satyapriya becomes so obsessed by his ideals that he even started ignoring the interests of his own family. In a way God decided to end his trials and tribulations by giving him the lung cancer, after having given him enough time to fall in love with life. So Satyapriya can be seen as both a loser and as a winner. In my view he was more of a loser than winner, but I am sure people will form quite diverse impressions if they decide to watch this movie.

    Because of my above view, I see don't see this movie as a perfect film. Although the narrative and story as such is unique and the intentions are definitely quite honest, I didn't like Satyapriya's character and was left disappointed by him- and it was his story. Of course it was how Hrishikesh Mukherjee must have intended it to be, but because of the way the story was treated, the movie failed to either inspire or educate or educate. It is lengthy and has many unnecessary sequences that don't really add up to the central theme. Also, Satyasharan's (Ashok Kumar) character is shown as caught between his Dharma and his traditions. He is neither here nor there- and so is the film in its entirety. The performances by the lead cast otherwise are indeed praiseworthy- Dharmendra especially more because he was Satyapriya- and he was the entire film.

    Parting Note: More than a film, Satyakaam is a comment on the society in the form of a biopic of a fictional character. It is most certainly an important film and showcases the range of Hrishikesh Mukherjee as a director. But overall the film is not the classic that it promises it to be.