This debut directorial film from Shyam Benegal, deals with social disparities and exploitation. The film focuses on power and privilege with careful thought and acute perception. The film won Bengal immediate recognition as a film maker of maturity and promise, both in India and abroad. The story deals with the boredom of a colllege student, Surya (Anant Nag), at his family farm and his attraction towards Laxmi (Shabana Azami), the comely wife of poor, deaf and dumb potter, Kishtaya (Sadhu Meher).
When Kishtaya is punished and humiliated for petty crime, he runs away. Alone and vulnerable, Laxmi succumbs to the advances of Surya, and becomes pregnant. When she is thrown out of the job by Saru (Priya Tendulkar), Surya's wife, she is totally alone and destitute.
The characters and their complex motivations are dealt with deftly, aided by a brilliant performance from Shabana Azmi, in her first film.
Purantapalli, a small town, which had seen better days when the feudal landlords used the town as a watering place, the bordello int he center of the town being one of the main attractions or the only attraction for them. While the madam of the 'establishment' on preserving the image of her house as a high class one, the girls seem bent on proving it otherwise. With feudalism giving way to the arrival of the rather hypocritical middle class, the bordello becomes the target. A smooth real estate developer, some self appinted, keepers of the morals and sundry others succeed in outsting the girls from their home, but with unintentional results. Wherever the bordello goes fame follows, forcing the smooth operating real estate developer to come to terms with the madame of the house. A captivating, film from Shyam Bengal, with some touching and sometimes funny moments.
Bhumika is the story of Usha. A sweet sensitive child, she lives an inner life of her own brightened only by music. When her alcoholic father dies, Keshav, a family friend steps in as the man of the house. Though a decade older than Usha, he has fixed his eyes on her. Keshav takes the family to Bombay, where Usha, spotted in an audition rises meteorically in the film world. Her success makes Keshav uneasy and he convinces Usha to marry him. Even then Usha feels suffocated and leaves home. She takes up relationships with a number of men, none satisfying. Years, later when she returns home, finds her daughter grown up and married does she realize that she has 'lived' a number of roles, but not, a life.
Vishwam (Naseeruddin Shah) is the youngest son of the powerful, and influential village Zamindar (Amrish Puri). The Zamindar will not hesitate to do anything for the welfare and protection of his family, which also includes bending the law to his own advantage. Vishwam is married to Rukmani (Smita Patil), and unlike his brothers, does not indulge in alcohol or women, nor does he have any bad habits. Then the village gets a new schoolmaster (Girish Karnad), who has a wife, Sushilla (Shabana Azmi). When Vishwam sees for the first time, he is unable to take his off of her, and unable to get her out of his mind. Sushilla does not reciprocate his attentions. Then one night, while the schoolmaster is returning home, he sees a vehicle pull up outside his house, and two men grab Sushilla and take her forcibly. Several people are present no one dares to raise a hand nor even a voice to stop this abduction. What will the schoolmaster do to get his wife back, knowling fully well that the Police patel (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) is one of the Zamindar's men.
The film is set in Goa just before the Indian Army liberated it from Portuguese rule. Ana the daughter of the Souza-Soares family is about to be engaged to Erasmo, when her beloved grand father dies suddenly. Her distraught grandmother tries to contact the spirit of her dead husband, but keeps raising the ghosts of people her family has wronged in the past! All the while Anna's real love has been hiding in the basement. As Anna and Erasmo's wedding draws near, Erasmo finds that Anna is pregnant!
Ruiz Pereira tells us the story in flashback. He is back in Goa after twenty-four years, but the events are still fresh in his memory. He was a visitor when all that happened.