The hero of Sadanander Mela is undoubtedly its story – a tale of rudderless characters who bond together on the basis of simple, uncomplicated humanity.
Film: Sadanander Mela (Sadananda’s Fair)
Cast: Chhabi Biwas, Suchitra Sen, Uttam Kumar, Pahari Sanyal, Tulsi Chakraborty, Padma Debi, Shyamali Chakraborty
Director: Sukumar Dasgupta
The story revolves round Sadananda, a person who takes things always cheerfully as they happen and enjoys every moment of his life with whoever comes to be a part of his amity fair.
Chhabi Biswas plays the leading role of the protagonist. He serves as the catalytic agent who without changing himself changes all other beings that come in his contact.
One day he returns home to find his home demolished in a storm. A policeman prevents him from entering what was so long his sweet home.
Unperturbed he moves on. His eyes fall on a hapless kitten in a lonely place. He picks it up as something whose condition is similar to his own but feels encouraged to give it away to a little girl on the roadside who is just as helpless as the kitten but is eager to give the little creature shelter and milk – a strange sight of one destitute eager to protect another with care and love.
As Sadananda moves on in search of a shelter, he walks into a shop of musical instruments but before going into the shop he plays his own violin tenderly for a little while and asks the shop owner for some money against the violin as security.
The shop owner knows the true identity of Sadananda, as a well known musician who can earn a fortune if he so wills. Although the shop owner is ready to give the money without security but Sadananda refuses to take it as a grant.
Sadananda bumps into the little girl again who has carefully kept the kitten with her. The girl’s brother Ajit (Uttam Kumar) is desperately looking for a shelter for his sister and mother as they are practically on the road without a roof over their heads.
Sadananda happens to pass by an imposing mansion owned by the millionaire Dakshinaranjan Majumdar and when he finds that the mansion is unoccupied, he takes it as a chance to find some shelter for himself and the homeless family of the little girl.
He enters through the front gate with such confidence and dignity which can befit only someone just as aristocratic as the owner. The guard and the mansion’s manager unsuspectingly believe him to be their master’s close friend when Sadananda refers to Dakshinaranjan as his chum with a petname “Dukhi”.
Needless to say, neither Dakshinaranjan as ever heard of Sadananda nor has the latter had any acquaintance with the millionaire.
But his effortless familiarity with “Dukhi” convinces the guard and the manager so much so that the manager actually leaves the mansion to Sadananda’s care and goes on a long pending leave to his village.
Sadananda’s easy and caring demeanor charms the people he meets and he makes them part of his extensive family.
Sadananda brings the girl’s family over to the mansion but insists that they all must enter through the back door and that they must not touch any object in the mansion that does not belong to them. So they start a home with the meager possessions, utensils, etc and mutually share the daily expenses.
The owner of the mansion Dakshinaranjan, on the other hand, is dogmatic, autocratic and unable to appreciate other’s views or needs. His wife lives separately in Varanasi, his daughter Sheila (Suchitra Sen) lives in a hostel and he finds himself alienated from his family. He loves his daughter but would not accept her own decisions to live her life the way she wants. That puts him in a head-on collision with his daughter.
Frustrated, Sheila leaves the hostel to find a place for herself in the big city of Calcutta. But when she walks into her father’s unoccupied mansion she is surprised to find the makeshift family of Sadananda living in peaceful tranquility without permission and within their own set of rules.
Intrigued by their bonhomie, Sheila does not reveal her true identity and pretends to be just as homeless as they are.
Sheila dreams of making a career and would love to practice on the grand piano that’s lying idle in the mansion. But Sadananda and Ajit make it clear that the one of the rules of living in this house is to strictly refrain from using any of the articles that belong to the landlord.
Amused by their audacity to break in to a house that does not belong to them and yet sincerely stay away from using any of the items, Sheila plays along, and even agrees to contribute her bit towards the household expenses!
Sadananda becomes fond of this “homeless” girl and helps her to get an audition at a music recording company using his influence as an established and well known musician. Now it’s Sheila’s turn to be surprised at this man’s simplicity and humility wherein he never exerts his fame and authority to secure undue benefits and is happy living with a makeshift family in a mansion he has broken into without permission.
Dakshinaranjan’s troubles start when he finally locates his daughter living in his own home as a “homeless destitute”. Sheila convinces him to join the “family” as her old teacher who is just as “homeless”. Poor Dakshinaranjan ends up in a peculiar situation of asking for permission to stay in his own home as a destitute from a person who had no business being in the mansion in the first place!
Sadananda’s mission to give shelter, security and happiness to some hapless souls reaches a successful end but he will never tie himself down to the bonding of a home or family.
The hero of Sadanander Mela is undoubtedly the story – a tale of rudderless characters who bond together on the basis of simple, uncomplicated humanity.
As the story moves, you can’t help yourself get involved with the characters as start feeling as if you are part of the extending family too that is trying to find joy and contentment in the small but significant things of life.
Chhabi Biswas as Sadananda is superb in portraying the role of the protagonist. The film is among the early hits of the Uttam Kumar Suchitra Sen romantic pair.
Uttam Kumar did not have much to show except when he proposed to Sheila but Suchitra Sen did have an opportunity to show her skill in magnificent persuasion to reorient her self-concerned millionaire father towards being a responsible father and a caring husband to her mother, who had for long suffered his neglect.
The film’s script is tight and the dialogues are witty and crisp. The songs in the film are not impressive but the performances of the lead actors are definitely worth a mention.
Sadanander Mela is a good movie for family viewing plus it gives us something to think about in our own behavior towards fellow human beings in day to day life.
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