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Night's End (1975)
"Nishaant" (original title)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 297 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 2 critic

Vishwam (Naseeruddin Shah) is the youngest brother of the powerful and influential village Zamindar (Amrish Puri). The Zamindar will not hesitate to do anything for the welfare and ... See full summary »

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(original screenplay), (dialogue) (as Pt. Satyadev Dubey)
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Title: Night's End (1975)

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An educated man spends his days writing letters for the varied inhabitants of his small, poor, and illiterate village, in this political and social satire.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Schoolmaster
...
Sushila
Anant Nag ...
Anjaiya
...
Eldest Zamindar
Satyadev Dubey ...
Priest (Pujari)
...
Rukmani (as Smita)
Mohan Agashe ...
Prasad
...
Policeman Patel
...
Vishwam
Sadhu Meher ...
Special Appearance
Savita Bajaj
Master Altaf
Suresh Bedi ...
(as Soresh Bedi)
Rukmini Menon
Sesham Raju
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Storyline

Vishwam (Naseeruddin Shah) is the youngest brother of the powerful and influential village Zamindar (Amrish Puri). The Zamindar will not hesitate to do anything for the welfare and protection of his family, which also includes bending the law to his own advantage. Vishwam is married to Rukmani (Smita Patil), and unlike his brothers, does not indulge in alcohol or women, nor does he have any bad habits. Then the village gets a new schoolmaster (Girish Karnad), who has a wife, Susheela (Shabana Azmi). When Vishwam sees her for the first time, he is unable to take his eyes off her, and unable to get her out of his mind. Susheela does not reciprocate his attentions. Then one night, Susheela is forcibly carried away in a car by the Zamindar's right-hand men (Mohan Agashe and Anant Nag). The schoolmaster's efforts to stop them are to no avail, and the several people present do nothing to stop this abduction. What will the schoolmaster do to get his wife back, knowing fully well that even ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Crime

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Details

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Release Date:

6 September 1975 (India)  »

Also Known As:

Night's End  »

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(Eastmancolor)
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Trivia

Actress Smita Patil's debut film. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Why this excellent social drama has received a low rating
29 September 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Shyam Benegal has a well-deserved reputation for making hard-hitting social dramas which tell true Indian stories in a realistic manner, so you'll find no concessions to Bollywood here. The plot is brutal and compelling, and the film features an all-star cast who give uniformly excellent performances.

Vishvam (Naseeruddin Shah) is one of four brothers who rule their feudal village in pre-independence India with an iron grip. They execute various criminal schemes to increase their own wealth at the expense of the villagers, with the village priest and constable powerless to stop them. However unlike his brothers he tries to lead a relatively restrained life, and at the start of the film we see him married and refraining from drinking and smoking.

His brothers regularly exercise their droit de seigneur, ordering villagers to send their wives and daughters to the haveli so that they can be raped at leisure. At first Vishvam, restrained by his wife (played by beautiful and brilliant but tragically short-lived Smita Patil), refuses to join them. However when the new school teacher arrives with his young child and lovely wife he finds himself tempted, and the brothers abduct her.

The rest of the film concerns the resolution of the abduction, with the villagers forced to make tough ethical decisions. The film ends in a shocking way which will leave audiences deeply disturbed, which is no doubt the cause of the low score that this film has received. However upon reflection the ending is thoroughly realistic, and provides a deep and unsettling insight into the human condition.

Shyam Benegal grew up in rural India and so this film, which is based upon a true story, draws closely upon his own perceptions of village India and the people that inhabit it. However the story has universal appeal, and reveals how people's lives play out in the many parts of the world where civilization is still primitive and brutal.

I am sad but unsurprised to see this film receive such low ratings. No doubt the viewers who rated it will have been expecting light Bollywood style entertainment, or at least some kind of feelgood resolution.

This is an excellent social drama in the tradition of Ankur and Mandi, and should be seen by anyone interested in compelling stories, excellent acting and the realities of village life in the developing world.


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