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.