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Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) - An important, thoughtful film which tries to define, What's real beauty? (Movies To See Before You Die - Love Theme)

08 May, 2012 | Movies To See Before You Die / Love Theme / Articles on Cinema

Satyam Shivam Sundaram - Bobby Talks Cinema.comHonestly, this should not be considered as just another write-up on a must see Bollywood movie from the visionary director Raj Kapoor. Because classics such as “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” are not mere films but they are those truthful mirrors of our society which reveal the ugly faces behind the purest emotion of human existence called LOVE. So here instead of writing about the film, its storyline or its performances, I would like to begin with a bold but realistic question asked from our own conscience.
Suppose a group of young boys is shown a photograph of a beautifully dressed girl in a colourful revealing outfit, with a shining appealing body standing in a decent posture. Without any doubt they would see it with great interest since a girl with a gorgeous body always catches the eye of men as a must. And that’s why we logically see stunning models in almost all the advertisements selling goods ranging from toothpastes & shoes to lavish cars. Now assume another photograph of the same girl placed before those boys with more of her curvy body in fewer clothes without showing her actual face. Unarguably this will result in an increasing lust in their eyes with a pinch of desire and fantasy. Further their imagination would surely cross the next levels with each new photograph of the girl without revealing her real face. Now as their excitement is reaching its crescendo, suppose we suddenly expose the original face of the girl, which is disgustingly ugly & majorly burnt from its one side, reminding them of an evil spirit as shown in all those low budget Horror movies.
Now What happens? Where all that excitement vanishes? Where the desire to take her in arms goes? Why all those fantasies simply fizzle off like an instant plane crash? Why they suddenly don’t want to look at those photographs anymore? And What is the logic behind this abrupt change of emotion in their heart, mind and body?
The reason is that our whole concept of feelings, lust, sex and love revolves around just the FACE and nothing else in those first moments of encounter with the opposite gender. Our entire perception of beauty starts and stops at the ‘Facial Attraction’ only and if that is not able to impress us, then we don’t want to give it a second thought ever. Studying this from a different angle just seriously think for a moment that on what basis all the major decision in a man’s life are taken related with his love & sex life.
What is the first thing in the mind of a man who is searching a girl for his arranged marriage? What does the family visiting for the ‘Traditional Girl Exhibition” actually has in mind for their future daughter-in-law as their first requirement? What essential quality, all the Rich Families are interested in, while they are searching the match for their ‘Born with the Golden Spoon” sons?
Even in the concept of love, on what factor is the “Love at First Sight” based? What is actually “Love at First Sight” and why does it happen? Why do we feel more biased or fascinated towards the most beautiful girl or boy in our class or office? What is the foremost factor based on which a model or an actress gets selected? And in more blunt words, on what foundation the whole business of Prostitution operates? Or On what basis there is a difference of fees charged by the prostitutes in the market?
Eventually, the answer to every single question mentioned above lies in only the FACE and the beauty blessed to that FACE by the ALMIGHTY. And this is only the important, thoughtful question raised by Raj Kapoor in his film “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”.
Through this brilliantly directed film, the showman bravely puts these logical queries before the society that “Is the Facial Beauty always necessary for arousing those tender feelings of love, care and affection in your heart for another person?”
Particularly talking from a man’s perspective, “How much percentage of the population (women) can be called beautiful? And if all are not Born Beautiful’ then do they don’t have the right to be loved and be in a tender relationship? Isn’t that major part of the population not worthy enough of experiencing the same feeling of Love as experienced by all those ‘Born Beautiful’?”
Moreover if you eventually don’t get an exceptionally beautiful face as your life partner, then will you not love her ever throughout your life just because of the reason that she cannot be called beautiful?
And if God forbid, your beautiful partner goes through an accident and loses all his/her facial beauty then will you suddenly become a different person not caring for him/her anymore just because of that?
Raj Kapoor’s “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” tries to remind us about this hidden aspect of our human persona which forgets the “Inner Beauty of the Soul” and bows down completely to the fake world of facial attraction. It showcases the real truth wherein we don’t have the time to see beyond a face, beyond the physical appearance of a person, moving into the inner depth of his/her loving soul and just like to make our love-selections by only looking at the shells.
It is a hugely important film in today’s time where majority of our relationships are simply falling apart because they were all actually conceived on the basis of facial beauty only. The young hearts and minds are only interested in the outer beauty to remain by their side as their “Show Windows”. In their youthful & energetic years, both the girl and the boy want to showcase their beautiful & gorgeous partners as their “Proudly Possessed Trophies” in front of everyone. And this passion of owning a beautiful trophy continues at the back of their mind while selecting their life partners too.
But as the time progresses, the allotted shelf life of those ‘Bought Trophies’ gets over and Life reveals its realistic face making you realize the emptiness in absence of any ‘Inner Beauty’ around……….to hold you tight in those difficult moments. And that’s the time when one accepts the need and importance of a beautiful soul, which stays by your side till the last.
“Satyam Shivam Sundaram” tries to make us feel those tragic times through the life of its lead characters Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman who are the two souls trapped in this futile search of superficial beauty. Zeenat has got a desirable curvy body but she hasn’t got an equally beautiful face which is what Shashi Kapoor is looking for in his life partner. So the conflict here is between the body and soul, between the love and desire (lust) which ends on a tragic but positive note well handled by the maestro.
Apart from this valuable theme, the original soundtrack of this film can easily be included in the BEST EVER MUSICAL SCORES in the history of Indian Cinema. It has magical songs such as “Bhor Bhaye Panghat Par”, “Chanchal Sheetal Nirmal Komal”, “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”, “Woh Aurat Hai Main Mehbooba” and ”Yashomati Maiya Se Boley Nandlala”, melodiously composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal as a key milestone of their illustrious career and beautifully sung by Lata Mageshkar, Manna Dey, Mukesh & Bhupendra Singh. Besides its soundtrack is also a unique example of using expressive Bhajans in an otherwise love story exceptionally written by Pandit Narendra Sharma, Anand Bakshi &  Vithhal Bhai Patel.
Particularly I simply loved the lyrical beauty in the simple words when Shashi Kapoor says:
“Main Kaise Usey Pasand Karun, Main Kasey Aankhen Band Karun,
Woh Aurat Hai Tu Mehbooba, Tu Sab Kuchh Hai Woh Kuchh Bhi Nahin,
And to this Zeenat Aman replies:
Tum Aisey Usey Pasand Karo, Mil Baitho Baatein Chand Karo,
Woh Aurat Hai Main Mehbooba, Woh Sab Kuchh Hai Main Kuchh Bhi Nahin”
Truly mesmerizing!

However the sad irony of our Indian Cinema is that till date “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” is widely seen, recommended and discussed within the bollywood fans circles…..more as a Soft-porn movie and less as a thought-provoking emotional drama with a soul stirring musical score. The revealing outfits of Zeenat Aman and his eye catching body movements are watched more keenly than the important subject of the film by the majority of film buffs. In fact I sometimes really wonder that how can one forget to enjoy the lyrical & musical ecstasy of “Bhor Bhaye Panghat Pe” by indulging more in the bathing Zeenat instead. Incidentally Raj Kapoor also faced this wrath at the time of its release as he was widely criticized for using Zeenat’s beauty to bring in the viewers into the theater and the film was also tagged as “More body than soul” by many critics.
But as I see it this response to the film itself was quite self-revealing as far the viewers or society was concerned. Moreover the choice of Zeenat Aman as his heroine was a perfect example to prove that Raj Kapoor was a Genius film-maker who not only understood the medium of cinema, but who also understood the actual hidden psyche of his audience, especially men. Now he chose Zeenat for the lead role, because he very well knew that in those years she was the only girl in the film industry who could portray the element of sex and lust on the screen exactly in the way Raj had conceived. Her sex-appeal was ideal to play ‘Rupa’ who could easily bring in those “Twinkling Stars of Desire” in the eyes of men watching her performing in those sensuous outfits.  
In few words, Zeenat just had the perfect appearance to represent the Physical Beauty of a person and her character in the script was aptly written to depict the Inner Beauty behind that ugly face. No doubt RK might have gone overboard in few deliberate scenes wherein she is shown wearing a white see-through costume repeatedly. But that doesn’t take away the credit which should be given to the director for coming up with such a sensible film made on a socially relevant subject which sadly couldn’t reach the people as it should have been.
Truly speaking “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” is a film which was made to enlighten the viewers about the value of Inner Beauty in a person. And for that Raj Kapoor used the ravishing beauty of Zeenat Aman and her desirable body. But unfortunately even after 3 decades of its release, people are still watching it for that BEAUTIFUL BODY only and continue to miss its actual message behind the tragedy.
As a matter of fact that reveals a lot about how we see and enjoy films here in India or Why in India films are still majorly seen just as a medium of entertainment and nothing else. So, in my opinion “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” can easily be used as a separate chapter in all the “Film Appreciation Courses” taught in Film Institutes. So if you haven’t watched it yet, then do it at the earliest to experience the mystery.
Produced & Directed By Raj Kapoor
Music by Laxmikant Pyarelal,   Lyrics by Pandit Narendra Sharma, Anand Bakshi &  Vithhal Bhai Patel.
Starring : Shashi Kapoor, Zeenat Aman, Kanhaiyalal & A.K. Hangal

Tags : Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Raj Kapoor's Controversial Masterpiece, Movies To See Beofre You Die List by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema Movies To See Before You Die List, Zeenat Aman in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Movie on Inner Beauty, Thoughtful Movies from Bollywood.
08 May 2012 / Comments ( 10 )
harmohan singh

Yeh Jo Aapne Kaha Real Hai Jo Lagu Hota Hai Har Teenagers Pe Ya Young Boys Pe.
Jab yeh film aayi thi tab mein 17 years old tha.
I saw this film in Amritsar chanda theatre, opp bus stand.

Bobby Sing

Thanks Harmohan Singh for your honest respose.

Keep Visiting, Cheers!

Jagroop, Canada

How are u Mr. Bobby. Long time No see.
Man I don\'t know what is your real profession but I admire your commitment of writting as it takes a lot of energy to write on regular babsis, especially if it not your job.
I like ur article about Satyam Shivam Sundaram....

By the way http://www.punjabiportal.com/articles/mirza-movie-review is ur site or someonen elses....

Bobby Sing

Hi Jagroop Canada,
I am fine and was here at my site always but you didnt write in from many months so that is the reason we coudnt connect.

Thanks a lot for your kind words and regarding my profession you can just chek my profile in the link below, which I am sure would interest you being in the same media with your nriprodcutions (as I guess).


Writing has become a new developed passion in the past years which is now being recoganised by few publications and sites.

However the article you have mentioned is not mine and you should have guessed it from the first line itself.
For my movie review of MIRZA - please see the following link :

MIRZA (Punjabi) - With more style and less content its path-breaking for sure but further ruins the already negative image of Sahiba. (Review by Bobby Sing)


And I would love to read your comments on this too.


Bavani Srinivasan

Hi Bobby,

You always make me think and destroy the thinking process(unlearning) like Osho by your deep thoughts in the cinema canvas. As i didn\'t see the film but the story, i just want to say about the core point of this beautiful article. What you have asked is about " transcendence"!

Lets forget about the practical thing,"The thing of beauty is a joy forever". Here you mentioned about the inner beauty which is the higher point of the unconditional love ladder.Sensual,sexual love is also love but the lower form.Venus love is always conditional. But how we handle that is the question.If not handled properly the vanity will destroy the beauty of love. Vanity is Satan\'s favorite sin. The evil always comes in tempting form not in the dangerous form.We all yearn for the unconditional love but we are tempted to follow the beautiful, sensual love which is very shallow and not allowing us to rise in love.

Of course its only human to fall for beauty but where it leads ...thats the question. If one is conscious enough to understand this , they are aware of the blessing given in subtract form. In Tamil there are no. of movies which deals the same. Ya. I want to see this film to understand the hidden message.

In our old tamil literature there are poetess who are ready to shed their beauty by asking the God to do the miracle of getting old instantly just to continue their path of enlightment . So they surpassed the temptation. To live means to grow. It is sad that Our evolution process of our mind is still stagnant.

Anyway, Thank you for your nourishing thought to meditate upon.

Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot Bavani for your enlightening comment which tells us about our Indian Literature in the other brotherly languages having the depth which is missing in the current times.......I feel great to think that my thoughts remind you of OSHO who undoubtedly was one of the key persons causing the transformation and sudden existence of deep thoughts in the mind.......And I really hope and pray that the existence enables me to continue putting them on pen on a regular basis for my own growth and for all the like minded friends here.

First and foremost I must pat your back for thinking always between the lines as well as out of the box. This virtue of you shall be one day be well awarded by the Stars of Performing Arts and Film Fraternity as well.

The basic difference between the man and the woman is same what is lies between a Desire and An Object of Desire. I was almost blown off by the list of questions your bombarded on my every state of Mind Bobby. Last night I was thinking as an absolute male and came out with a quote.....\" If I lack being handsome I will seduce you with my intellectuality.....and if I lack in riches I will seduce you with my spirituality. \" Yes this is what I feel we all men do. And I do not find it absurd, irrational, UN-natural and Guilt. Its a fact of life. If lust missed out all its extreme pleasures, births would have been most avoided by all for its most death-threatening process. Now coming back to the topic Bobby.........

My answers shall be counter-questions now........here I share one more most visible and most obvious observation about females.....you choose any illiterate or well litterateur female from any corner of world and the common factor in both of them you will find is that both love excess shopping as well as regular make-ups. You take any stupid or wise girl, and you will find that both are Looks-Conscious........not because all men wants to see them beautiful.....but because they cannot think beyond that. Indeed exceptions are there but I am pointing things among generals. It has become most fashionable to blame male for every thing by usng terms as Male-Chauvinism or Its Male\'s world. Fact is, males and females are just providing each other what they desire from each other. If man always want girls to be attractive, seductive and beautiful, females too want their men to be tall, dark and handsome with all richness.....for they beauty is far more demanding than brains. Its not just a fairy tale but a fact that beauty can get easily married with beast too.

People often treat males as dirt and blame them for adultery..........I fail to understand this......as I never found in any case of adultery where males are gay. They always have a female partner to partnership this incidence or process. No one blames females for that, why?

Now, I will share a small incidence here...a true incidence which took place when Mahatama Gandhi ji was a guest for few days in Shanti-Niketan with Robindranath ji. They had a habit to go for morning walk together. One morning Gandhi ji came bit early and knocked the door of Robindra ji and found it open. He peeped inside and saw Robindra ji singing and combing his hair while admiring his beauty in mirror. Gandhi ji got amused and gave a big smile. Robindra ji saw his smiling face in the reflection and understood the reason. He questioned \" Mohandas which is most violent act on this Earth ? \"

\" Ofcourse to take someone\'s freedom and enslave him. \" was most obvious answer by Gandhi ji.

\" No Mohandas, most violent act on this Earth is to stay ugly. It brings instant disgust in the eyes of a looker and yet we blame him for being a beholder. \" Robindranath answered.

Gandhi ji agreed ......for he understood the undercurrent.

Now coming back to the movie review of \" Satyam Shivam Sundaram \" ..........I am so glad that you gave most attentive, intelligent , must disguised and wrongly referred because of mind-set of masses, reviews. Its most honest, and true and I congratulate you to point out in most comprehensive manner.

Bravo and Kudos to you brother.
Vinay Ved
Bobby Sing

Thanks Vinay for your detailed comment and you are very right in observing as today both men and women have found a new pride in treating their partners as "Precious Beautiful Trophies" to be taken along with in the outer world....and thats what The Great Showman tried to show more than 3 decades ago.......


Aman Rajveer

Movies To See Before You Die. Agree

Bobby Sing

Thanks for your agreement Aman as its indeed a not to be missed film.

Keep Visiting.

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