Manthan

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Manthan
Manthan.jpg
Directed by Shyam Benegal
Produced by Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.
Written by Kaifi Azmi (dialogue)
Screenplay by Vijay Tendulkar
Story by Verghese Kurien & Shyam Benegal
Starring Smita Patil
Girish Karnad
Naseeruddin Shah
Amrish Puri
Music by Vanraj Bhatia
Cinematography Govind Nihalani
Edited by Bhanudas Divakar
Release dates
Running time 134 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi

Manthan is a 1976 Hindi film made by Shyam Benegal, based on a story written jointly by Verghese Kurien (the Father of the White Revolution in India) and director Shyam Benegal. It is set amidst the backdrop of the White Revolution of India (Operation Flood) which started in 1970, ushering an era of plenty, from a measly amount of milk production and distribution. Aside from the great measurable success that this project was, it also demonstrated the power of "collective might".

The film went on to win the 1977 National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and National Film Award for Best Screenplay for Vijay Tendulkar, and was also Indian submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 1976.[1]

The title song (whose lyrics go Mero gaam kathaparey) was sung by Preeti Sagar. She won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for that year. The song was later used as the soundtrack for the television commercial for Amul.[2]

Overview[edit]

Main article: Amul

The word manthan literally means deep contemplation, churning of facts, analysis aimed at solution or conclusion. The film traces a small set of poor farmers of Kheda district in Gujarat who had the vision and foresight to act in a way that was good for the society and not for the self alone. Under, leaders like local social worker Tribhovandas Patel, who took up the cause of farmer, lead to the formation of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union. Soon the pattern was repeated in each district of Gujarat, which in turn led to the formation of Amul, a daily cooperative in Anand, Gujarat in 1946, which is today, jointly owned by some 2.6 million milk producers in Gujarat, India.[3]

Eventually this led to the initiation of White Revolution of India in 1970, by creating a ‘Nationwide Milk Grid’, and setting up of ‘Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.(GCMMF) in 1973, whose 500000 members, jointly financed the film, by donating Rs. 2 each.[4][5] Upon its release, truckloads of farmers came to see 'their’ film, thus making it a box office success.[4][6]

Plot[edit]

The film traces the origins of the movement through its fictionalized narrative, based around rural empowerment, when a young veterinary surgeon, played by Girish Karnad, a character based on then, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) chief, the 33 year old Verghese Kurien,[7] who joined hands with local social worker, Tribhovandas Patel, which led to the setting up a local milk cooperative, in Anand, Gujarat.

Dr. Rao (Girish Karnad), a young veterinary doctor with his team of Deshmukh(Mohan Agashe), Chandravarkar (Anant Nag) and others comes to a village in Kheda district,Gujarat. The village is inhabited by poor people whose chief occupation seems to be cattle-rearing and producing milk, which they sell to a local dairy owner Mishra Ji (Amrish Puri). Mishra Ji pays them ridiculously low amounts for their milk. Dr. Rao and his team have arrived with the purpose of setting up a co-operative society dairy which will be owned collectively and managed by the villagers themselves. As Dr.Rao and his team grapple with village politics, rigid casteism and general distrust of the village folk, they face planned hostility from the local Harijan community's leader Bhola (Naseeruddin Shah) who harbours deep anger and resentment against the higher caste Panchayat Head (Kulbhushan Kharbanda). Local village women are led by a feisty young woman Bindu (Smita Patil), mother of a young child whose husband has supposedly left her. Dr. Rao wins the trust of Bindu and other villagers by testing their milk and paying them fair amounts for their high fat-content milk and this irks Mishra Ji. Deshmukh is worried by the caste politics and divide between the higher castes and Harijans in the village and repeatedly warns Rao against getting involved in it. Chandravarkar gets attracted to a local Harijan girl and has a few rendezvous with her in secret. The Harijans don't want to join the co-operative as they feel that the higher caste Panch and his cronies will usurp the society as well. Rao and his associates talk sense into them and organise for an election for the post of the head of the co-operative. Bhola begins to trust and believe in Rao's ideals when Rao fires Chandravarkar for having fun with the Harijan girl on pretext of marrying her and bails Bhola out of jail when Panch gets him arrested for rowdy behaviour. Meanwhile, a mutual admiration and liking develops between Rao and Bindu which is cut short when Bindu's husband returns home suddenly and Rao's wife comes to visit him in the village. In the election, the Harijan representative Moti defeats the Panch in a tiebreaker and the Harijans erupt in joy. The Panch takes the loss terribly on his ego and joins Mishra Ji, also aided by Bindu's husband. Together, they force Bindu to put her thumb impression on legal papers that claim Dr. Rao has raped her. Dr. Rao is extremely agitated when the allegations are brought against him and starts to wonder whether or not he has bitten off more than he can chew. His wife also falls sick to Typhoid. Dr. Rao finishes the setting up of the board and leaves with his wife. This greatly troubles Bhola as he considers this cowardice on Dr. Rao's part. Bhola, however, continues to carry on the work of the co-operative with support from a few villagers and notably, Bindu. Both of them have been inspired and churned as new, brave individuals by the work of Dr. Rao.

Cast[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

All music composed by Vanraj Bhatia.

No. Title Playback Length
1. "Mero Gaam Katha Parey"   Preeti Sagar  

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1976 Amul National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi Won
Vijay Tendulkar National Film Award for Best Screenplay Won
1977 Shyam Benegal Indian film for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film Not nominated
1978 Preeti Sagar (for song Mero Gaam Katha Parey) Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer Won

Trivia[edit]

  • It was the 1st film in the world to be produced not by a single production house, but the farmers of the Gujrat Co-operative Milk Federation who contributed Rs.2 each for the production of the movie.

Further reading[edit]

  • Shyam Benegal's the Churning (Manthan): Screenplay, by, Vijay Tendulkar, Shyam Benegal, Samik Banerjee. Seagull Books, 1984. ISBN 0-86132-070-0.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Nishant
National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi
1977
Succeeded by
Junoon