Santha Shishunala Shareefa (1990)

 ●  Kannada ● 2 hrs 20 mins

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Hagiography of Shishunala Shareefa, a 19th C. mystic poet and singer from North Karnataka, whose songs, addressing both the everyday and mystical experience, were rediscovered in the 20th C. and remain popular among urban Kannadigas. The film emphasises Shareefa’s semi-divine status and adopts the conventions of the devotional film. Shareefa is apprenticed as a boy to Govindabhatta (Karnad), an unorthorox Brahmin teacher who defies several of the conservative tenets of his caste. Shareefa, a Muslim, is excommunicated by his own community, while the Brahmins object to Govindabhatta’s conversion of Shareefa to Hinduism. When he grows up (Sridhar), he marries, but his wife (Ranganath) dies in childbirth. In a long sequence, Shareefa and his guru, with divine assistance, defy Brahmin plots. When his teacher dies, Shareefa has a vision shortly after he is evicted from a mosque, signalling his ascent to the status of a visionary. Like other films of the genre (cf. Shri Venkateshwara Mahatyam, 1960), the end is a documentary with footage of pilgrims visiting Shareefa’s birthplace.

Cast: Girish Karnad, Hema Chaudhary, Suman Ranganathan

Crew: TS Nagabharana (Director)

Release Dates: 01 Jan 1990 (India)

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