Starting life as a routine B picture, the film made history by becoming one of the biggest hits of the year (with Sholay and Deewar), and made a little-known mother goddess into one of the most popular icons esp. among the urban working-class women who started observing the goddess’s ritual fast on 12 consecutive Fridays and made offerings of chick-peas. The foremost earthly disciple of the deity Santoshi (Guha) is Satyavati (Kaushal). When Satyavati marries the itinerant Birju, the wives of the celestial trio Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva feel envious and create a series of problems intended to test Satyavati’s devotion. After Santoshi has made the heavens literally rock with her rage, Satyavati emerges from her trials with her faith untarnished and so allows Santoshi to be accepted into the cosmic pantheon. The movie was lucidly analysed by the anthropologist Veena Das in her essay ‘The Mythological Film and its Framework of Meaning’ (1980). I. Masud noted some revealing differences between this mythological and its classic predecessors, showing this film to be far closer to ‘daily preoccupations’ than its generic models (e.g. gods also engage in frenetic quarrels).
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After the success of the film, Anita Guha was treated with much reverence for portraying the goddess Santoshi Maa. People would visit her home to seek her blessings and would touch her feet when they spotted her in public. Read More