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Directed byBalu Mahendra
Produced byRaj N. Sippy
Romu N. Sippy
Screenplay by
  • Balu Mahendra
  • Gulzar (dialogue)
Story byBalu Mahendra
Music byIlaiyaraaja
CinematographyBalu Mahendra
Edited byD. Vasu
Release date
  • 8 July 1983 (1983-07-08)
Running time
141 mins

Sadma (Hindi: सदमा; English: Trauma) is a 1983 Indian romantic drama film, written, directed and filmed by Balu Mahendra. It stars Kamal Haasan and Sridevi in the lead roles along with the music composed by Ilaiyaraaja. The film tells the story of Nehalata Malhotra, a young woman who regresses to childhood as result of retrograde amnesia after suffering a head injury in a car crash. Lost, she ends up trapped in a brothel before being rescued by Somu, a lonely school teacher who falls in love with her. The film was initially released on July 8, 1983 and then 2 weeks later released on July 22 in Delhi and other areas.

The film was a remake of Mahendra's own 1982 Tamil film Moondram Pirai, which also starred Kamal and Sridevi. Sadma was widely acclaimed by critics for its direction, screenplay, music and performances. Sridevi's performance as an amnesiac woman was widely praised and is considered as one of the finest performances in Indian film history. Although a commercial failure upon release, Sadma over the years has gained a cultural following and cult status and is considered to be one of the finest Indian movies to be ever made.[1]

At the 31st Filmfare Awards, Sadma received three nominations : Best Actor (Haasan) Best Actress (Sridevi), and Best Story.


Nehalata, a young woman, has a car accident while returning from a party and is hospitalised with severe head injuries. When she recovers, she is diagnosed with retrograde amnesia and she fails to recognise her own parents. She mentally regresses to the state of a child. While she is undergoing treatment, she is kidnapped and sold to the madam of a brothel. Somprakash also known as Somu comes to meet his old friend. Together, they visit the brothel to relax. The madam sends Nehalata, renamed Reshami, to his room. Somu realises that she is mentally still a child and pities her. He learns that she was kidnapped by some criminals and forced into prostitution.

Somu returns the next day and takes Nehalata out, supposedly on a pleasure trip. He takes her away to Ooty, where he is working as a school teacher. He takes her to his residence, where he protects her. Reshami, as she is called by Somu, has completely forgotten her past and becomes very close to him. When Reshami accidentally spills ink over Somu's documents, angering him, their relationship is threatened, but they reconcile. Later, a local woodcutter named Balwant lusts for Reshami and nearly assaults her, but she manages to save herself. When she tells Somu about it, he becomes livid with rage and almost kills Balwant, but is stopped by his neighbours who were informed of the incident by Reshami. Meanwhile, the wife of Somu's headmaster is attracted to Somu, though he does not reciprocate her feelings.

Reshami's father who was searching her through the police, releases a newspaper advertisement about his lost daughter. A co-passenger who had travelled with Somu and Reshami to Ooty by train gives them a lead. Somu takes Reshami to a medical practitioner and leaves her there for a day's treatment. In his absence, the police come to his house searching for Reshami. Finally, the police learn that Reshami is getting treated at the doctor's place and reach there. Somu is unable to come as he is afraid of police action. The treatment goes through successfully. Reshami regains her memory and completely forgets about the period between her accident and recovery. Nehalata father and his wife are happy and decide to leave. From the doctor, Nehalata father learns that the person who had brought her there had been taking good care of their daughter; he withdraws his police complaint and they begin their journey home with Reshami.

After the police leave, Somu comes running after the car in which Reshami is travelling. He follows them to the railway station and tries to gain Reshami's attention, but she is unable to recognise him. Somu acts like a dancing monkey that Reshami developed a liking for, but Reshami, unable to comprehend, thinks he is insane and begging for food. Somu continues his futile attempts to gain her attention, and the train eventually leaves with Reshami not recognising him. Somu, who was injured while chasing her car and trying to get her attention, is left alone, heartbroken.



Soundtrack album by
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelCBS Gramophone Records & Tapes (India) Ltd.
External audio
Official Audio Jukebox on YouTube

The music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja, and the lyrics were penned by noted lyricist Gulzar.

[2]With Sadma, Raja made a glorious splash in bollywood. Aye Zindagi …, with the grandeur of its orchestration, rages on till this day. It has been re-mixed in male & female versions, by Amit Trivedi in 2018, in Dear Zindagi. However, such re-mix has been achieved by Raja, with his characteristic flourish, in 1996 itself, in Aur Ek Prem Kahani. Aye Zindagi … has been used by Raja as En Vazhvile ….. in Thambikku Entha Ooru - 1984. Those who have nurtured the listening ear, could well perceive, that Raja has slightly changed the instrumentation for all the hindi versions here, which sound slightly tinnish. Comparatively, the tamizh versions sound richer and warmer. While Vaan Engum … is less than 4.5 minutes, Yeh Hava ….. is close to 6 minutes, which is an aural treat. It’s not just the magnetic vocals that shimmer with passion, even the orchestration in O Babua …, reverberates & resonates, with as much allure. In Kanne Kalaimane …. there is some discrete instrumentation, which isn’t there in Surmayee Ankhiyon ….., which though, could be perceived only by those with the listening ear, i.e., in Kanne Kalaimane …. there is a solo violin playing alongwith the KJJ’s vocals, throughout the song. It’s not known if it actually was part of the song’s instrumentation and orchestration or it was to merely serve as a guide for the vocals, which was later forgotten to be removed, in the final approved version. Aye Zindagi Gale laga le was remade for 2016 film Dear Zindagi. It was sung by Arijit Singh.

Sadma (1983) Original Soundtrack
1."Aye Zindagi Gale Lagaa Le"GulzarSuresh Wadkar5:30
2."O Babuaa Yeh Mahua"GulzarAsha Bhosle4:22
3."Surmayee Ankhiyon Mein"GulzarK. J. Yesudas4:36
4."Ek Dafa Ek Jungle Tha"GulzarKamal Haasan, Sridevi7:09
5."Yeh Hawa Yey Fiza"GulzarAsha Bhosle, Suresh Wadkar6:03
6."Surmayee Ankhiyon Mein (Sad)"GulzarK. J. Yesudas1:18
Total length:28:58


  • 'Sadma' marked Ilaiyaraaja's debut in Bollywood.
  • Music director A. R. Rahman worked as an keyboard player for this film.[3]
  • Ilaiyaraaja retained two of his compositions from the original Tamil version.
  • The song "Vaanengum Thanga Vinmeengal" was tuned differently for the Hindi version as "Yeh Hawa Yeh Fiza".
  • The song "Narikkathai" was replaced with the song "Ek Dafa Ek Jungle Tha" in the Hindi version.
  • The cult song "Poongatru Puthithanathu" was replaced with slightly different "Aye Zindagi Gale Laga Le" which itself went on to become a cult song in Hindi after which it was used in 1984 Tamil movie "Thambikku Entha Ooru" sung by SPB.

Critical reception[edit]

Sadma received widespread critical acclaim with major appreciation drawn towards Sridevi's performance. On IMDb, the film has a high score of 8.5/10. It is included in iDiva's list of '10 Must Watch Movies That Weren't Blockbusters'.[4] Sridevi's performance as a child-woman suffering from amnesia was called by Indian Express "a milestone in her illustrious career".[5] Sridevi also featured in the Mid Day list of 'Challenging Roles played by Bollywood Actors' describing her act in the film as "her best performance ever".[6] In 2012, Adil Hussain, Sridevi's co-star in English Vinglish revealed that he became a fan of the actress after watching her in Sadma.[7] The Sridevi-Kamal Haasan pair also appeared on the CNN-IBN list of 'Greatest Romantic Couples on Celluloid'.[8] The climax of Sadma is included in the CNN-IBN list of 'Bollywood's 50 Most Memorable Scenes of All Time'.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Filmfare Awards[edit]



  1. ^ Biswas, Soutik (15 July 1993). "A creative flowering". India Today. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  2. ^ Joseph Dias
  3. ^ "Gulzar on his first meeting with A.R. Rahman |". Tanqeed. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  4. ^ "10 Must Watch Movies That Weren't Blockbusters".
  5. ^ Indian Express. "The Forbidden Love".
  6. ^ Mid-day. "Challenging Roles played by Bollywood actors".
  7. ^ "Adil Hussain: I became Sridevi's fan after watching SADMA".
  8. ^ "100 Years of Indian Cinema: The greatest romantic couples on celluloid". CNN-IBN.
  9. ^ "100 Years of Indian Cinema: Bollywood's 50 most memorable scenes of all time". CNN-IBN.

External links[edit]