Saptapadi (1981 film)

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Saptapadi poster.jpg
Theatrical Release poster
Directed by K. Vishwanath
Produced by Bhimavarapu Buchhireddy
Written by Jandhyala Subramanya Sastry (dialogues)
Screenplay by K. Viswanath
Story by K. Viswanath
Starring J.V. Somayajulu
Allu Rama Lingaiah
Sabita Bhamidipati
P. Ravi Shankar
Music by K. V. Mahadevan
Veturi Sundararama Murthy (Lyrics)
Cinematography Kasturi
Edited by G. G. Krishna Rao
Distributed by Jyoti Art Creations
Release date
Country India
Language Telugu

Saptapadi (English: Seven Steps) is a 1981 Telugu drama film written and directed by Kashinathuni Vishwanath. The film garnered the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration.[1][2] The film is not only about the seven steps that one takes to become a part of the institution of marriage and a ritualistic exercise that completes the act of shedding the bachelorhood and entering a more stable state, but talks about an individual's journey breaking away from the shackles from the conservatism to finding a path of understanding, encompassing and enlightenment. The film was premiered at the International Film Festival of India, and the AISFM film festival.[3]


Saptapadi deals with the transformation of an individual so devoted to (mired in) the concept of rituals, that it takes an act of God (will be discussed shortly) for him to realize the true spirit behind the rituals and true meaning of the prayers. Yajulu is a man of great conviction. According to him rules and customs, that have been passed down generations thus standing the test of the time, are there for a reason and hence are immutable; traditions are trademarks of a culture and customs, its signature. He does not mind losing his daughter for his principles.

He is well into his twilight years which give him even more reason to not mend his ways. In his footsteps follows his Gaurinadha (grandchild from his son), gearing up to be a head priest at the local temple. Yajulu's will prevails over Hema's (grandchild from his daughter) wish and Gauri and Hema end up being married. However, Hema is secretly in love with a flutist, who is not of her caste. The brilliance of Viswanath comes full fore at this point, when on the first night, Gauri witnesses Durga devi in Hema, and walks out of the room completely shaken up. Gaurinadha, being an ardent devotee of the Devi, realizes that his wife is in love with another man, hence she is like a mother to him, nothing more, nothing less. This act of God triggers Yajulu's thought process to seriously question, for the first time in his life, the validity of his position on matters that involve caste, creed and religion, justifying the steps that Yajulu takes one a time, from the first one in trying to understand Hema's real interests till the last one, when he sees her off with her love interest on the boat.

The crux of the whole film is contained in a beautiful conversation that happens between the characters played by Allu Rama Lingaiah and J.V. Somayajulu. Is caste a necessary evil? Is it evil in the first place? If the original idea that "dharmam" (vrutthi dharmam in this case, than mano dharmam, meaning, nobody is born as one pertaining to a caste. It is his duties that make him one) dictates the caste of an individual, isn't it abnegation of one's own dharmam when one denounces his own caste? If structure (in the form of division of duties) was the primary reason why caste was created in the first place, isn't it working against the same individual to be caught up completely in the structure that he himself created? Which/Who controls what here?

If the duties of the individual cannot make him realize the ultimate purpose of the same, what good is it, if he belongs to the highest order bestowed with the greatest privileges. Consider a brahman diligently offering his prayers on a daily basis, totally immersed in the rituals that traditions and customs dictate. The class of brahman, according to the Smriti, was created to act as a mediator/representative between the rest of the populace and their beliefs, performing the rituals, on their behalf, for the greater good of the society. The class was to bring people closer, in the name of traditions, rituals, customs, and above all, belief.

Cleanliness and tidiness help him in concentrating on the task at hand. Now, if he is to stray away from the ultimate purpose of his duty (performing rituals for the greater good) and instead indulge in the practices of cleanliness and tidiness to the extreme degree, that he starts alienating people in the name of untouchability, he starts moving away from his "dharmam", defeating the very purpose of his existence, which brings back the original question - which/who controls what? Is the individual controlling the caste or the caste has a greater say over the individual?



All music composed by K. V. Mahadevan.

No. Title Lyrics Singer(s) Length
1. "Akhilandeswari Chamundeswari" Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. P. Balasubramaniam, P. Susheela  
2. "Ayigiri Nandini" Adi Sankaracharya S. P. Balasubramaniam  
3. "Bhamane Satyabhamane" Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. Janaki  
4. "Govullu Tellana" Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. Janaki, S. P. Balasubramaniam  
5. "Marugelara O Raghava" Thyagaraja S. Janaki  
6. "Nemaliki Nerpina Nadakalivi" (Peacock dance) Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. Janaki  
7. "Om Jatavedase" (Sri Durga Suktam)   S. P. Balasubramaniam, S. Janaki  
8. "Vrepalliya Eda Jhalluna" Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. P. Balasubramaniam, P. Susheela  
9. "Ye Kulamu Needante" Veturi Sundararama Murthy S. P. Balasubramaniam, S. Janaki  


Year Nominee/work Award Result
1981 Kasinathuni Viswanath Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration Won
1981 Kasinathuni Viswanath Nandi Award for Best Screenplay Writer Won
1981 Kasinathuni Viswanath Filmfare Award for Best Film – Telugu Won


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