Sau Jhooth Ek Sach, a 2005 film directed by Bappaditya Roy, starring Mammotty (in one of his rare non-dubbed / original Hindi movies), the DVD of which I had picked up on an impulse during my recent visit to Kochin (it could be the Mammootty-effect, or maybe even trying the ‘local-flavour’), but had not even removed the wrapper since then.

The reason of going into details about the treatment I had meted out to the film is to curse myself once again (this time, publically) for having missed out on this little-known gem for such a long time. The film is based on a famous English play ‘An Inspector Calls’ by JB Priestley, and has, apart from Mammootty, other assorted powerful actors like Vikram Gokhale, Lillette Dubey, and Joy Sengupta. Among the lesser known, there areAnjali Jathar, Kiran Jhangani, Neha Dubey (Lillette’s daughter) and Tisca Chopra. Fortunately, the director has given an official credit to the source material, so its easier on the conscience to praise the film for all its inherent qualities, even the borrowed ones from the original play.

It is most unlike a regular film, and the setting is entirely in the drawing room inside the bunglow of a rich business tycoon, Vikrant Pradhan, played with amazing nuance by Vikram Gokhale. He is in a mixed mood of celebration as well as hurt-ego, the former due to his daughter’s engagement to the son of another rich industrialist, and the latter due to his not-so-subtle derision in front of other guests by his son on the dinner table earlier in the evening. The way in which Vikram Gokhale has managed to convey both emotions at the same time without speaking anything has to be seen to be believed.

Late in the evening, while he is enjoying a drink, his wife (Lillette Dubey) is sulking in their bedroom for some bitter confrontation between them, his son (Kiran Jhangani) is out somewhere getting drunk and laid, and his daughter (Neha Dubey) is making out with her fiance (Joy Sengupta) in her bedroom, comes an unannounced and unexpected police inspector Vivek (Mammootty, with all his Malayali accent and mannerisms intact), in connection with the interrogation of an apparent suicide of an unmarried pregnant girl in a discrepit chawl room in another part of the city.

At first, Vikrant Pradhan is arrogant and dismissive with the inspector, but against the no-nonsense attitude of the inspector and certain bare truths later, he complies with the interrogation. As the story unfolds, all the characters, including the daughter, the son, the wife and the would-be son-in-law turn out to have had something to do with the suicide case, and all of them have their own skeletons to hide, their own demons to face. How the story unfolds further and how does it culminate has to be seen, not told, else I have to give away a lot of interesting details. However, trust the film to give you a few shocks and twists on the way.

Sau Jhooth Ek Sach

Those who have read the play or watched the two English film-adaptations would surely know the ending beforehand. Suffice it to say that the film has not tried to deviate much from the original except to set it up in the Indian mileu, and use some local references. The merit of the film is in the coherence with which the characters are coerced by the Inspector to introspect themselves. The film also reflects a lot on the inter-connectedness of our human-existence. It can also be merited with the concept of integrating “Chaos Theory” in a more believable manner, without trying to go over-the-top. The character of Inspector Vivek is a collective manifestation of our human-conscience, and the naming of the character signifies that as well.

The suicide-girl in question has been played by six different actors for the same character, maybe to reflect the significance of a common man(?), and the plight and class-injustice suffered at the hands of the capitalists. It may sound a bit serious and ‘arty’, but I would put it more in the lines of “12 Angry Men” / “Ek Ruka Hua Faisla”. I would strongly recommend it to those who like that genre.

Satyendra Jha