Year of release: September 6, 1975
Starring: Shabana Azmi
Written by: Vijay Tendulkar, Satyadev Dubey
Music: Vanraj Bhatia
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Edited by: Bhanudas Divakar
Running time: 143 minutes
Producer: Lalit M. Bijlani, Freni Variava
Directed by: Shyam Benegal
With Nishant-Night’s End, as his third film, Shyam Benegal raised the issue relevant with the Telangana Movement where the peasants and population revolted against the Nizam of Hyderabad, who tried to suppress the rebellion by them against the feudal lords or landlords.
Nishant is the story of a village in Andhra Pradesh where an influential and tyrannical landlord(Amrish Puri) rules the village and has three younger brothers played by Mohan Aghase, Anant Nag and Naseeruddin Shah. Vishvam(Naseeruddin Shah) unlike his brothers does not indulge in alcohol and women and do not create nuisances for the villagers by his dictatorship and uncontrolled rule like his other brothers. He is married to Rukmani(Smita Patil) but is not very much interested in his wife but never shows it overtly. One day, a new schoolmaster arrives in the village with his wife Sushila(Shabana Azmi), and a kid. Vishvam when sees Sushila, becomes unable to take his eyes off Sushila. Sushila notices it but tries to ignore. On a fateful day, Sushila gets abducted by two brothers(played by Mohan Aghase and Anant Nag) of Vishvam. Schoolmaster when initially doesn’t get success in rescuing his wife, tries to forget the whole issue but soon, when he comes across his wife in a temple gets enraged and instigate the villagers for rebellion. As a result, one day, the whole village break into the landlord’s house and they slaughter the whole family of the landlord along with Sushila for whom the whole rebellion was carried out and the the innocent Rukmani.
The story of Nishant is inspired by a real incident that took place in a village in Andhra Pradesh where a despotic landlord’s whole family was slaughtered by the villagers. It is based in an era when the Nizam of Hyderabad was not ready for annexation of Hyderabad. It was at this time when the peasants became rebellious against the feudalism which was being practiced hitherto. The movie has been directed perfectly by Benegal and above all, the writing of Vijay Tendulkar is so compelling here, that the violence shown in the movie doesn’t take away the real gist of the movie.
The outlook of Nishant looks very composed but it is evident that the subject of it is very depressing and disturbing. The death of both innocent Sushila and Rukmani leaves us blown away when we witness it. It was the innate ability of Benegal that the movie doesn’t go off track for even once. It is one of those movies which redefined the cinema in india.
Nishant is also a very important film as it marked the debut of many peerless actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Satyadev Dubey(as a priest), who has also written dialogues for Nishant and other Benagal movies. Proper introduction of Amrish Puri to hindi cinema and recognition of Smita Patil could become possible due to this movie. Naseeruddin Shah as a coy and shy Vishvam has done wonders in this very first movie of his career.
Shabana Azmi, with her effortless persona is once again magical in this Benegal flick. Smita Patil is decent in the small role she got to play in Nishant-Night’s End. Girish Karnad, Mohan Aghase, Anant nag, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Amrish Puri and Satyadev Dubey are decent in their roles and have powerfully enacted their roles.
Nishant does not have any song in it but the perfect background score of Vanraj Bhatia doesn’t leave any stone unturned.
In one word, i can call Nishant-Night’s End, perfect!
Review By: Shekhar Srivastava.