Samskara (film)

name = Samskara
starring = Girish Karnad P. Lankesh Dasharathi Dixit B. R. Jayaram Lakshmi Krishnamurthy Snehalatha Reddy
director = Pattabhi Rama Reddy
producer = Ramamanohara Chitra
editing = Steven Cartaw
released = 1970
runtime = 113 mins
language = "Kannada"
cinematography = Tom Cowan
writer = U. R. Ananthamurthy, Girish Karnad
music = Rajeev Taranath
country = flagicon|India India
imdb_id = 0066324

Samskara (Kannada:ಸಂಸ್ಕಾರ) is a 1970 film in the Kannada language which is based on a novel of the same name, written by the renowned writer and Jnanpith award winner, U. R. Ananthamurthy.cite web|url=|title=End of a path-breaking journey|work=Online Edition of The Deccan Herald, dated 2006-05-16|publisher=The Printers (Mysore) Pvt. Ltd.|accessdate=2007-08-08] The film is said to have been a path-breaking venture and is supposed to have pioneered the parallel cinema movement in Kannada. Pattabhi Rama Reddy was the director of this film and it was produced by the company, Ramamanohara Chitra. The word "Samskara" means "ritual" in the Kannada language. The film was based on sensitive caste issues and was hence controversial. It was initially banned by the censor board for portraying caste-based politics but after being released, it went on to win the President's Gold Medal for the Best Indian Feature Film of 1971.cite web|url=|title= Renaissance Man|work=Online Edition of the India Today, dated 1999-04-12|author=S Kalidas and Rehmat Merchant|publisher=Living Media India Ltd|accessdate=2007-08-08]


The story was written by U. R. Ananthamurthy in 1965, when he was studying at the University of Birmingham for his PHD. After he saw the film "the 7th seal" by Ingmar Bergman and was deeply moved by it. His tutor Malcolm Bradbury suggested him to write about his experiences in India concernig the multilayered Structure of Time in indian society [Ananthamurthy, U. R., "How I wrote Samskara" in: Boral, Rao, Rath: "Samskara, a critical reader", Delhi, 2005] .cite web|url=|title=Fruits of labour|author=Muralidhara Khajane|work=Online Edition of The Hindu, dated 2005-02-18|accessdate=2007-08-08] After completing the story, he sent the manuscript to Girish Karnad in India who got in touch with Pattabhi Rama Reddy and came up with a film script for the same. Samskara was the first Kannada film to be directed by Pattabhi Rama Reddy who had mainly dealt with Telugu films earlier. A visiting Australian cameraman, Tom Cowan was selected to shoot the film. The film was shot in a village in the Shimoga district of Karnataka.


The story is set in a street in a small village called Durvasapura in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. Majority of the people who live in the street belong to the community of Madhwas (a Brahmin community).cite web|url=|work=Online Webpage of |author=Chandra Holm|title=Samskara|accessdate=2007-08-08] The people who stay here have a traditional mindset and strictly follow the rules defined by their religion. Two of the main characters in the story are "Praneshacharya" and "Naranappa". "Praneshacharya" is a devout Brahmin who has completed his Vedic education at Varanasi and has returned to Duravasapura and is considered as the leader of the Brahmin community of his village and also of the surrounding villages. His main goal is to attain salvation and he is willing to go to any length to achieve it. In order to remain focussed on his goal and as an act of self-sacrifice, he marries an invalid woman and hence remains celibate. The other main character is that of "Naranappa", himself a Brahmin by birth but one who has rejected the set rules of Brahminism by eating meat and by keeping the company of a prostitute named "Chandri". Once "Naranappa" along with his friends catches the sacred fish in the temple tank, cooks and eats them. This causes the Brahmins in the villages to rise up against him and they approach "Praneshacharya" to throw him out of the village. "Praneshacharya" decides against taking this extreme step and he believes that "Naranappa" can be convinced to get rid of his immoral acts. Once "Naranappa" visits Shimoga and he returns back to Duravasapura with high fever and dies. The Brahmins are left in a piquant situation because according to Brahmin principles, a person who dies should be cremated as early as possible. None of the Brahmin's want to come forward to cremate the body since they feel that by cremating "Naranappa's" body, they will become polluted themselves as he was against the Brahmin principles during his lifetime. However, the Brahmin principles also stipulate that a non-Brahmin cannot cremate the body of a Brahmin. "Praneshacharya", being the leader is responsible for finding the answer to this difficult problem. He reads the holy books but they do not provide any solution. He then goes to a temple to pray to God and spends a whole day there. Disappointed at not being able to solve the problem, he trudges back home and on his way, he encounters "Chandri". He gets mesmerised by her beauty and when he wakes up in the midnight, he finds himself lying on "Chandri's" lap. "Chandri" rushes back home, finds that the body of "Naranappa" has started to rot, gets it cremated in secrecy and leaves Durvasapura. "Praneshacharya" is left in a piquant situation on whether he has to reveal his immoral act to the people of the village or keep quiet about it. Feeling guilty, he leaves the village but the guilt never leaves him. Finally deciding to own up his act, he returns to the village and the story ends here. Its left to the imagination of the viewer on whether Praneshacharya finally owns up the guilt or not.


Girish Karnad as "Praneshacharya" and P. Lankesh as "Naranappa" were the main characters. The role of Chandri was played by Snehalatha Reddy, the wife of the director Pattabhi Rama Reddy.


* President's Gold Medal for the Best Indian Feature Film (1971)cite web|url=|title=He set new directions|author=Jangveer Singh|Online Edition of The Tribune, dated 2006-05-14|accessdate=2007-08-08]
* Bronze Leopard at Locarno International Film Festival (1972)


The film was initially banned by the film censor board because it was felt that the strong anti-caste message being conveyed by the film could spark tensions among the public.cite web|url=|work=Online Edition of The Frontline, Vol. 16 :: No. 03 :: Jan. 30 - Feb. 12, 1999|publisher=The Hindu|author=Parvathi Menon|title= The multi-faceted playwright|accessdate=2007-08-08] However it was released later, and went on to win awards both at a national as well as at an international level.


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