indian cinema heritage foundation

Sujata (1959)

  • LanguageHindi

Upendranath Chaudhury, a district Railway engineer and his wife Charu were blessed with an only child, their daughter Rama. Yet circumstances brought to their household another baby girl whose utter helplessness moved the couple to give her a temporary shelter. The infant had lost both the parents in the severe cholera epidemic that was raging in the area. Her father–an untouchable–had been a railway coolie in Upendra's department. 

Giribala, a rich family friend of ultra-conservative views, was a much respected figure in Upendra's family. Her coming on a visit at this time could not but create complications.

Giribala was horrified that an untouchable was being sheltered under the same roof, and she walked out demanding that the child be disposed off forthwith. Upendra and Charu sincerely tried to find a suitable home for the waif from amongst her own people, but the cholera had wrought such havoc on the coolie population that those who were spared had fled. Whether by choice or circumstances, the child grew up in Upendra's home. 

Her sweet nature won the hearts of her foster parents, and the little girl was called Sujata. Thus Rama and Sujata grew up together, now quarrelling, now sharing each other's joys and sorrows just as any loving sisters would be expected to do. 

When Upendra retired, he returned to his home town with Rama and Sujata, now grown to a charming maidenhood. Here, for the first time, it became apparent that there was some difference between the two girls. Rama was invariably introduced to the family and friends as their daughter ' but Charu would speak of Sujata as being just like their daughter It pained Sujata a great deal while Rama would often wonder why her sister was always referred to as such. 

The passage of years had not changed Giribala's views one bit, and she obstinately refused to tolerate the presence of an untouchable girl in Upendra's family. Giribala was hopeful of arranging a suitable match for Rama with her grandson Adhir but till Sujata was removed, she would not think in terms of such a marriage. Meanwhile, Adhir had become a regular visitor to Upendra's home. Both Charu and Giribala encouraged these visits being under the impression that he was interested in Rama. Little did they know that the handsome youngman had already fallen deeply in love with Sujata! 

One night, the whole family except Sujata went to a theatre, and Adhir found himself alone with the girl he loved. On the Gandhighat, by the sacred Ganga, Adhir confessed his true feelings for Sujata and they solemnly pledged to be united forever. 

Sujata's joy was short-lived, and her dream world collapsed around her when she learnt that Upendra and Charu were finalising plans for Adhir's marriage with Rama. 

What was Sujata's duty towards Rama—towards her foster parents whom she so dearly loved—and towards her beloved Adhir? No sacrifice could be too great for Sujata, and she would knowingly never be the cause of any unhappiness in the household that meant so much to her. Yet her's were no ordinary problems—for Sujata was an untouchable girl.

(From the official press booklet)

(From the official press booklet)