Director: V. Shantaram; Writer: V. Shantaram, Narayan Hari Apte; Cinematographer: Keshavrao Dhaiber; Cast: Chandramohan, Keshavrao Date, Nalini Tarkhad, Sureshbabu Mane, Shanta Apte, Kelkar, Kulkarni, Varde, Budasaheb, Desai
Duration: 02:26:25; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 286.141; Saturation: 0.004; Lightness: 0.330; Volume: 0.362; Cuts per Minute: 8.353
Summary: Based on Narayan Hari Apte's novel Bhagyashree.
Shantaram's classic opens with a sensational low-angle circular track movement as Chandika cult followers meet in a dungeon of flickering lights and deep shadow. As the more rationalist King Krantivarma (Varde) banned human or animal sacrifices from the increasingly fanatical festivals dedicated to the goddess, the cult's high priest (Chandramohan/Date) orders the hapless Vishwagupta (Kelkar) to kill the king. He obeys but is then betrayed by the perfidious priest and caught. His son Madhavgupta (Mane) and daughter Sumitra (Apte) together with the princess (Tarkhad) and the people finally overthrow the priest. There are several famous scenes, including the twice-told legend of the churning of the seas, once by the priest to show how evil must be exorcised, and again by a good general to show how demons often appear disguised as gods. Although invoking divine intervention when Madhavgupta is about to be sacrificed, the film's strongly political thrust has the people rise in revolt. Shantaram had just returned from Germany and used several techniques from that expressionist cinema, including the systematic recourse to artificial light, even bleaching the film in places, and, in its most famous shot, the telephoto lens focused on the priest's right eye in his opening declaration. Prabhat's first all-India hit introduced names later associated with several of the studio's productions, with screen debuts from both Date in the Marathi version and Chandramohan in the Hindi. Date perhaps gives his best performance ever, while Apte plays her first adult role. It is composer Bhole's first professional film. Fattelal and Damle are responsible for the art direction and the sound.