Satyajit Ray’s 1981’s Hindi television film Sadgati is Doordarshan’s first colour outing. Based on a short story of the same name by Munshi Premchand, the film starred Om Puri and Smita Patil in the lead roles. Although the stiry was almost 100 years ago and the film was made 40 years ago, its storyline still holds relevance in today’s time. It portrays the story of the evil shadow of untouchability and caste crimes that hover over us.
Satyajit described this 52 minutes story of a poor Dalit “a deeply angry film …not the anger of an exploding bomb but of a bow stretched taut and quivering.”
The film is a vicious indictment of the Indian caste system which still holds true in 2021. It is a story of a poor and low-caste village cobbler, Dukhiya (Om Puri), who lives with his wife Jhuria (Smita Patil), goes to the village Brahmin (Mohan Agashe) to fix the date of his daughter’s marriage, the Brahmin asks for unpaid labour in exchange. The cobbler is made to sweep the Brahmin’s house and cut wood for him.
Dukhi does all of this work without having eaten since morning. The ensuing events turn the tables against the priest, who in the end has to forgo the lofty traditions, including that of untouchability, that he has held so dearly all his life.
Unfortunately, even today, the underprivileged face the wrath of poverty. They struggle for basic amenities and fight for their rights almost on daily basis. It’s high time that we as a collective community come forward and take a step to shred casteism.