Directed by Ajoy Kar, Saptapadi (1961) is loosely based on Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay’s novel of the same title. With the Second World War and India’s struggle for independence as its background, the movie unfolds as a tale of love between a Bengali Hindu, Krishnendu, and an Anglo-Indian Christian, Rina.
The film opens with Reverend Krishnendu cycling around the villages of Bankura to treat his patients. One night an unconscious drunk woman is brought to the hospital. Krishnendu is shocked to recognize her as Rina Brown, his old lover from whom he had separated some time ago.
The rest of the narrative is revealed in flashbacks as Krishnendu recalls their relationship in college. He remembers how they both struggled against their growing admiration for each other during the staging of Shakespeare’s Othello as they played the protagonists, and their eventual capitulation to their feelings. Their blissful enjoyment of their love is soon disrupted by their religious and familial differences.
Krishnendu realizes that Rina’s family will not let her marry a non-Christian. His staunch Hindu father is also opposed to their marriage. Despite Rina’s protestations against his decision to do so, Krishnendu converts to Christianity. Meanwhile, his father intervenes and requests Rina to leave his son for his own good. She complies and Krishnendu is left with neither family nor love. Rina Brown eventually joins the army. Regretting his interference, Krishnendu’s father writes to his son expressing his consent to their union. Following many travails, the two unite in the midst of a war-torn landscape.