Mr. Sampat (1952)

14 Jun


Happy Birthday Padmini!

Mr. Sampath serves as a good show case for Padmini’s talent. She has lots of dances, from folk-lore to ‘semi-classical’ (whatever that means). Padmini, born on 12. June, had a long career of nearly 30 years as a leading lady, a record of sorts. I don’t know of any Indian actress, having such a long reign as a leading actress.

But all said and done the film belongs to the lead actor, Motilal. He IS Mr. Sampath.

The film begins with a scene in a IIIrd class railway compartment, where Mr. Sampath (Motilal) revels his listeners with his adventures and stories and boasts and thus manages to get something to eat and also evade the ticket collector.


Miss Malini (Padmini) is a stage actress and dancer in Kala Mandir (Art Temple), which is lead by the Director (Swaraj). In this Art temple, we come to know, only social relevant themes are dramatised. In the course of the film we will bombarded by lots of criticism of the society and the political system. Malini is in love with the director, but unable to put it in words


Mr. Sampath meanwhile talks his way through not only his troubles but also manages to profit by promising a restaurant manager (Agha) a meeting with Miss Malini.


He also promises Seth Makhanlal (Kanhaialal), who would like to stand for the elections, that Malini will campaign for him. He does all this even though he hasn’t even seen Malini. His first attempt at meeting Malini though thwarted by the director, he manages to get entry into her house as a press reporter. He persuades her to campaign for Seth Makhanlal. The irony of this fact is that in the evening she campaigns against people like Seth Makhanlal, who adulterate the food and are corrupt and the next day asks people to vote for him.


Mr. Sampath meanwhile opens a bank called Friends Bank, which gives 20% interest every month, reminding us of the present financial crisis.


He also makes Miss Malini its director and at the same time weans her away from Kala Mandir and starts a new Theatre Company.


To get more money for the bank, he tries to bring her together with Raj Mohan (Kailasnath), a local prince.


Will Malini agree to become the Raja’s mistress? What will happen to the Kala Mandir? What is to become of the new Malini Devi Theatre Company? Will Friends Bank bubble burst?


R. K. Narayan is credited for the story, but has hardly any resemblance to his famous novel Mr. Sampath. The only thing common to both is the main character Mr. Sampath. It I most probably a remake of the Tamil film Miss Malini (1949), in which Mr.Sampath makes an appearance as well. In the novel as well as in the film he is a dazzler. The culprit for these changes is most probably:


What I didn’t like about the film:

The too many songs, but I loved their cyncism and satire. The film gives one a feeling of watching a play. The Hindi at times sounds artificial.

What I liked about the film:

Motilal! Motilal is the life and soul of this film. What an actor! Kya ishtyle hai! Arre wah! He carries the film on his shoulders. If the film was a hit, he is at least entitled to 25% profit. The small satirical skits, though they do hog the show are quite lovely and have a character of street theatre (not inthe sense of Augusto Boal). One more plus point of the film is the complete lack of Sitagiri and it not only gives voice to problems of household problems of women but also of education and never being able to do the right thing by anybody.


Posted by on June 14, 2010 in Bollywood


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20 responses to “Mr. Sampat (1952)

  1. bollywoodeewana

    June 14, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Happy Birthday to a fellow dear Gemini, i have only seen her in mera naam joker which as i remember didn’t give her much to do

    • harveypam

      June 15, 2010 at 3:11 pm

      In Mera Naam Joker, though she had good songs to sing, didn’t she? And she was sort of a lead heroine of the three.

  2. Richard S.

    June 15, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Harvey, thanks for writing this up. I’ve been curious about this film and have posted most of its dances on YouTube (from clips originally sent to me by Tom) and I really hope I can see it with subtitles, someday, because, aside from starring my favorite dancer-actress, it looks like a really interesting film. And I feel I can take your word about Motilal, though I don’t know anything about him.

    Mr. Sampat was pretty early among the films in which Padmini starred. She’d had her film debut in 1948 (in Uday Shankar’s Kalpana) and hadn’t started playing the heroine until 1950, and by a few accounts I’ve seen, Mr. Sampat was where she got her first major role in Hindi films. I think she reached her most famous, classic days in films between the mid 1950s and late 1960s (as many of our Golden Age favorites did). I don’t think she was reaching her full glory yet in Mr. Sampat 🙂 , though she is nice in this.

    I believe Padmini also left films for about a decade in the mid ’70s (after having slowed down in her appearances for a while), when she moved with her husband to the U.S. and started a dancing school; then she had a few sporadic comeback roles in the late ’80s and ’90s (most famoulsy as a grandmother), so she didn’t have 30 continuous years of being the leading lady, though I wish she did.

    Bollywooddeewana, Padmini does have a couple of very good dances in Mera Naam Joker, and I think she has a substantial role, though other sections of the film star other women, of course.

    • harveypam

      June 15, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      I didn’t know that there were videos of the film on you tube. I hope you get a copy with subtitles. A Gemini picture with subtitles must be easy to be secured.

      Mr.Sampat is, I think, her second hindi film. IMDB shows that she had at least one release each year in the 70s, but they often mix up names. Though at least for Navarathnam (1977), I thought it must have been her. But if she opened her classical dance school in New Jersey in 1977, then it is most probably not her.

    • harveypam

      June 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      I could provide the subtitles for the song din control ke aaye. As reference I take the video from this site
      The translation is bound to sound silly at times. Well, I’m not a good translator!
      I hope you enjoy it all the same.

      Days of control have come
      how to take care of the household
      how to bear all this trouble..2

      My hearth is heartless
      it always has a cold
      all the wood is wet
      (she blows)
      my eyes are bursting at the smoke..2
      sister-in-law’s borther (her husband) shouts hai hai
      he has to go thirsty and hungry to the office
      how to bear all this trouble

      O milkmaid
      tell me how much water did you add to the milk
      Surreptiously by boiling the milk
      you’ve taken away all the cream
      now we’ll have to drink thinking it is milk
      this water from the tank

      o gardener, give me unripe cucumbers …2
      peas, tomatoes and onions
      plese give me, o gardener
      hurry up gardener!
      (her friend comes to her)
      what? only this much?
      just have a look

      her friend: for 3 annas one used to get 3 seer (1 seer = 0.93 kg) vegetables
      now even for 3 rupees the basket remains empty

      (The bus horn honks)
      Come on Chameli, the bus has arrived

      The bus conductor: no place!

      No place, no place!
      Such a long and wide world…2
      But still there is no place
      Chorus: It is housefull and no place!

      Chameli: On tram, bus and trian the conductor says there is no place

      (a tenant is thrown on the road)
      Tenant: What of a house, even for a small room, the owner say no place!
      Chorus: It is housefull and no place!

      Schoolchildren: Even in the schools and college, teacher says: no place!
      Chorus: yes the teacher says: no place!

      Lady with a wheelchair: To the sick people the doctor says: no place!

      Chorus: It is housefull and no place!
      Such a long and wide world…2
      But still there is no place
      It is housefull and no place!

      If one enters a hotel, the waiter says: no place!
      Even if one wants to go to the jail the jailor says: no place!
      I was even ready to go to hell, but God said: no place!

      Chorus: It is housefull and no place!
      Such a long and wide world…2
      But still there is no place
      It is housefull and no place!

      All great people are telling us
      good days have come

      Chameli: we searched a lot, but lost,
      to see when the good days came

      Chorus: Such a long and wide world…2
      But still there is no place
      It is housefull and no place!

  3. bollyviewer

    June 15, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Motilal! I’ve no idea why I think he’d make a great hero, because I’ve only ever seen him in character roles. But I’ve always wanted to see him do hero, simply because even as a character actor, he has enough charisma to overshadow the hero! He was superb in Bimal Roy’s Parakh and I’ve been tempted to dish out some hard-earned money to acquire Mr. Sampat – your review is just pushing me over the edge. 😀

    • harveypam

      June 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      Well, he is not the hero in the film, even though he has the title role. It is sort of a villainous role, him being a fraud and all, but he is a lovable rogue, though in the novel more lovable than here. And I don’t think he would ever have made a dashing hero, he had a bit of a problem with his drinks, I’ve heard/read. But he is a great actor!
      My VCD was a Moserbaer and didn’t even cost half a euro!
      By the way I’ve to get my hands on Parakh very soon.

  4. dustedoff

    June 15, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I’m with you re: Motilal in Parakh, bollyviewer! He’s superb in that. I have seen one film with him as hero – Ek thhi ladki, though he’s a sedate sort of office-manager (or owner? I’ve forgotten) hero. Must rewatch it and do a post on it someday… and I’m off to see if my DVD rental company has Mr Sampat! 🙂

    • harveypam

      June 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      As I said before, I’ve to get my hands on Parakh soon. I saw it some twenty or more years back on DD and have, except for the two songs, completely forgotten it.

      Looking forward to your review of Ek thi Ladki! Is it anything like Ek Hasina thi. BTw I just saw in IMDB that there was a film named Ji Chahta hai in the 60s as well and starring Motilal.

      • dustedoff

        June 16, 2010 at 7:37 am

        I haven’t seen Ek Haseena Thi (Saif and Urmila, right?), but from the synopsis I remember reading, it’s nothing at all like Ek Thi Ladki, which is sweet and part-humorous, part-romantic. Will watch it and do a review soon!
        I have Ji Chahta Hai too, but rewatching that is going to take some courage. I don’t remember Motilal in it, but it’s got Joy Mukherji, Rajshree, Rajendranath and Shyama. Again, the child marriage motif, but compared to Ji Chahta Hai, Chhoti si Mulaqat is positively progressive!

        • harveypam

          June 16, 2010 at 8:14 am

          Ek Haseena Thi (Saif and Urmila, right?) was great, should watch it. Is a sheldonesque story. Looking forward to your Ek thi Ladki review.
          Now, I remember you mentioning Ji Chahta Hai as an answer to a comment of mine to Agni Pariksha. Hands off it. Saw last evening Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and still angry about the child marriage thing.

        • harvey

          June 16, 2010 at 8:53 am

          Just saw: Ek thi Ladki is the ‘Lara Lappa, lara lappa’ film!
          that must be fun!

          • dustedoff

            June 17, 2010 at 7:43 am

            Yes, it’s the ‘Lara lappa’ film! 🙂 And the cast includes Kuldeep Kaur and a very skinny I S Johar.
            Okay, now I know which is the next film I’ll be reviewing…

  5. pacifist

    June 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Even I have seen Motilal only as a character actor in films like Parakh and Devdas. Must see this for all the lovely things you have written about it harvey, and also to see him as a hero.

    Too many songs? Is there such a thing? 🙂
    If they are not the usual ‘old’ songs then perhaps. I’m not aware of any song of this film, though I’m sure I’ll know quite a few when I hear them.
    Must pop over to Richard’s and listen/see them. 🙂

    • harveypam

      June 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      I think Motilal’s hero days were mostly in the 30s and 40s, though I’ve myself seen any of these films.
      After Shobana Samarth’s divorce they were together for quite a long time. Nutan and her sisters remember him fondly as is also to be read at bollywood deewana‘s site.

      Too many songs! Yeah, of course, there can be too many songs in a film! You should watch one of the ancient films with practically one song pro dialogue.
      Not every director would have good music for his film like Guru Dutt or Raj Kapoor or Bimal Roy.

      The songs here might not all be melodious (at least for my ears) but they have a certain wit and charm and are, without an exception, all sung on stage.

  6. sunheriyaadein

    June 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Happy belated birthday to Padmini!
    This sounds like a mast timepass movie! I don’t remember watching Parakh . Off to bollyviewer’s blog to read the review.

    • harvey

      June 16, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      if you are sensitive about hindi with an accent, it might trouble you a bit. But the scenes with Motilal are wonderful!

  7. Akash Raha

    April 30, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Hello Harvey,
    I am a student of CES doing Mphil in Jawaharlal Nehru University (India) and am writing a research paper where Mr Sampat, the movie, is one of the primary text. However, I have been unable to find the movie anywhere… Can you help me regarding this? Any help will be great help.

    Many thanks.


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