A man shares some lazy memories about his friend, Manek Mulla, who had a knack for telling stories. On this particular afternoon, Manek narrates a 'unique' love affair with the help of different stories, various charac...展开ters' point of views and the social relevance of these stories. As these stories proceed, reality mixes with fiction.
Benegal's restlessness with narrative leads to this fascinating film based on Dharamvir Bharati's Hindi novel. Over three afternoons the raconteur Manek Mulla recounts stories to his friends who then analyse and assess them. The stories are interconnected and overlapping, shifting truths and points of view to break linearity. Benegal offers three fascinating women characters but ultimately the film examines male attitudes to love and romance. Made after a five year break from film-making, this marks a fresh repertory cast and is considered by many to be Benegal's masterpiece.
This film narrative takes place over seven days during which time Manek Mulla, a young man barely out of his teens, tells three stories about himself. These stories revolve around Manek's involvement with women. In each case one or another circumstance leads to his separation from his beloved. The tone of the stories is 'tongue in cheek' and sometimes borders on the fantastic and surreal. There is consistency and ambiguity - a blurring of distinction between the real and the invented.
For Manek Mulla, the purpose of telling these stories is to define the meaning of love. As it transpires, none of the stories Manek tells actually define Love… If they do, they define what love is not.
The film is a comedy but not without a twinge of pain and a sense of loss.
The first of Benegal’s films to receive state funding (NFDC), Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda’s resonance comes from a sophisticated use of narrative subjectivity. Comparable to Kurosawa’s Rashomon in its gradual and shifting points of view, this is a moving examination of the storytelling process and one of the rare occasions that Benegal has explored cinema as a construct. The narrator, Manek (Rajit Kapur), is not only unreliable but his perception of the truth concerning the three beguiling female centred stories he relays to his friends is questioned throughout, culminating in a genuinely cryptic ending that seems to unravel the entire film making process. Though Rashomon may serve as a direct inspiration, the cinema of Kiarostami seems closer if one was to contextualise Benegal’s masterpiece as it poses fundamental questions that concerns film making and cinema – whose truth is being represented, how is it constructed and how should we respond as a spectator? This is what academic Sangetta Datta has to say about the film in her accomplished appreciation:
‘The title is also a clue to the film. The seventh horse of the sun is the youngest; he moves perpetually towards the future, towards light. The title itself signifies the concept of time with the Hindu myth of the sun god riding in his chariot driven by seven white horses. Man will constantly be drawn towards love and imagination; lives will always be lived and stories will always be told.’
* Indian National Award for Best Hindi Film in 1992