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Sajjanpur is just a name. It could have been as well Durjanpur. One among the several trivial issues, which dot our lives. The movie starts with a punch, when it says, that at the whims of a politician, no less than Pandit Nehru, the name of the village was changed to Sajjanpur after Independence. However name change didn't bring much change to the village, as even after 60 yrs, the majority of villagers are illiterate. Another shot at our definition of literacy campaign success, when reality is starkly different.
Move to our protagonist, Mahadev, who took to letter-writing as a profession by accident, who is privy to personal information of all. Sometimes, falling to human traits, he can't help manipulate situations to his favour. He almost manages to win a girl over by reading her letters to her husband, working in big city (think about urban migration issues dogging India), where he is struggling to earn his livelihood and has to think of selling his kidney to get some space to live in.
Then, there is politics and superstition in the village. While someone tries to get her daughter married off to a dog and the whole village is witness. Criminals holding positions in election, while the drama with murder of a candidate before the polls are all stories taken from our daily lives. The street play within the movie talks of current debate between agriculture and industry related to land acquisition. Some scenes like the one with snake charmers, where they show plastic snakes or, are looking for their missing father are quite funny, also touching upon animal welfare laws, taking away professions, which have been livelihood of communities for long time.
It seems, nothing is quite working in favour of the village or country. However, in the end, goodness prevails when Mahadev gives up on his devious plans and the girl, the administrative machinery swings into action and elections are conducted in a fair manner.
There is certain goodness and innocence in all the characters, including the ones playing the negative roles which make them all so genuine. Welcome to Satire, Mr. Shyam Benegal. Look forward to more.