Shyam Benegal?s Welcome to Sajjanpur is a welcome aberration.? In a?cinematic age teeming with urban narratives, beefed-up heroes and?curiously synthetic heroines, Sajjanpur takes us to a village.??
Instead of dates in malls and aggressively sexual dances in nightclubs, we have a hesitant romance depicted by a bicycle ride in the?fields and a quick press of the shoulders.?
The hero, Madhav played by?Shreyas Talpade, gets his power not by virtue of his looks or bank?balance but only because he is Sajjanpur?s lone college graduate.? The?wannabe novelist writes letters for the whole village and ends up?controlling their lives and destinies.
Working from his own story, Benegal creates a sweet and quietly funny?film with textured characters and poignant moments.?
He uses the?letter writer to comment on a plethora of social issues from widow?remarriage to religious superstitions but Welcome to Sajjanpur works?because Benegal doesn't preach or pontificate.?
He directs with a?light-hand and even in the darker moments, keeps the tone evenly?comic.?
Benegal has a great affection for his characters?even the?unwholesome ones have their share of memorable lines.?
The actors are?in form?Shreyas Talpade sparkles as does Ila Arun playing a?perpetually harassed mother, who insists on marrying her manglik?daughter to a dog.?
What doesn't work well are the songs, which?seem unnecessary and random.? The plotting also gets bumpy in the?second half ?there are way too many sub-plots vying for our attention?and in the end, the threads are tied up too briskly.?
But despite?these flaws, we recommend that you see Welcome to Sajjanpur.? It has?qualities that you don't find in movies too often these days: a heart,?charm and grace.