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Swami (1), 1977
Basu Chatterje’s Swami swept the Filmfare Awards in 1978 with an impassioned story of love and duty. Shabana Azmi gives an emotional performance in this film as her character explores the complexities of arranged marriage and the traditional role of women in Indian society.
"In the battle between traditional ways and modernity, this film, based on a 1918 novel by Saratchandra Chatterjee, affirms the wisdom of traditional conventions. Played by Shabana Azmi, Saudamini lives in a village with her widowed mother who wants her to marry. Saudamini, however, only wants to read books and she falls in love with an urban man who brings her Victorian literature. Alas, she is forced to marry a man chosen by her mother. At first she doesn't like him but eventually grows to see him as tolerant, wise, and progressive.
In [Cat. no. 51], Saudamini gazes directly out at the viewer in a portrayal that emphasizes her strength as an educated village woman who willfully overcomes her desires, a position reflecting a modern female subjectivity. The blue colour reflects the calm mental outlook that she adopts in order to cope with her situation.
The film Swami (1977) was produced by Jaya Chakraborty of Jaya Sarathy Combine and directed by Basu Chatterji. Music by Rajesh Roshan. Colour, Hindi, starring Shabana Azmi, Girish Karnad, Suresh Chatwal and Dharmendra."
--Additional text by Dr. Deepali Dewan and Alexandra McCarter, based on Deepali Dewan, ed. Bollywood Cinema Showcards: Indian Film Art from the 1950s to the 1980s. Showcards from The Hartwick Collection. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum Press, 2011. Copyright of and reproduced here with the generous permission of the Royal Ontario Museum.
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