Corruption and Honesty was the relevant subject 50 years ago. Unemployment, continual poverty and rampant corruption are severely undermining institutions all around. This subject is more relevant today but no film on this subject is being made today. Satyakam is a classic movie on this subject released in 1969. This film was produced by Dharmendra and directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, based on a Bengali novel of the same name by Narayan Sanyal. The film stars Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Sanjeev Kumar, and Ashok Kumar. The film was scored by Laxmikant Pyarelal.
This is considered to be Dharmendra's finest acting performance of his career. This film also won the National Film Award For Best Feature Film in Hindi. Today we may laugh at the sarcasm contained in Rajinder Singh Bedi's acrid dialogue in the film: "Yeh aadmi (about dharmendra) bahut hi badmaash aur paaji hai. Rishvat vagerah nahin khaata
The film opens with Sanjeev Kumar's voiceover describing the plight of the mythical Satyakamjabala who takes on his mother's name because of his questionable fatherhood. While the drama begins in 1946, the narrative actually takes place in post-Independence India.
Satyapriya (Dharmendra) is raised in an ashram by his grandfather, Satyadarshan Acharya (Ashok Kumar), a staunch nationalist and a Sanskrit scholar. He studies engineering gets a job in United Paper Mill in a princely state soon after Independence but is disillusioned when repeatedly asked to compromise his ideals.
While struggling between his principles and conscience he meets Ranjana (Sharmila Tagore), daughter of a prostitute, who is pregnant after a criminal assault. Satyapriya marries the hapless girl, and soon a son is born. This relationship was not acceptable to his graHe moved He moved from one town to another, from one job to another because of his unwillingness to compromise his honesty. Destiny lands him a job where he has to work under Narendra's supervision. Narendra(Sanjeev Kumar) was his class fellow in engineering. Narendra's philosophy of life was that to succeed and survive one has to make adjustments.
Satyapriya and Ranjana also have their share of marital conflicts. She tries to lead a normal life and longs to forget her past. Satyapriya is constantly reminded of his failure and appears to make up for it by increasing rigidity about applying his principles in real life.
Struggling professionally, he is struck by an incurable and fatal illness. In the end, hospitalised and unable to even speak, Satyapriya is pursued by an unscrupulous contractor seeking approval for a badly executed civil project, in lieu of which the contractor would give him a substantial sum that would take care of Satyapriya's wife Ranjana and their child after his death. One moment he thought of accepting the offer but Ranjana, his wife does not want to see him falter at the end stage of his life. She tears apart the documents and finds him smiling at her. Although unable to speak, Satyapriya is clearly happy that he was able to convert at least one person to his idealist worldview.
On learning of Satyapriya's condition, his grandfather "Daddaji" comes visiting him.After his passing, the grandfather makes some excuses about not feeling responsible for Satyapriya's widow and child, and is about to leave for his Gurukula. At that moment, Satyapriya and Ranjana's child (Sarika) publicly speaks out saying the real reason is that the grandfather is unsure of his, i.e. Satyapriya and Ranjana's child's paternity.
Sanjeev Kumar shows all signs of an actor on the rise. He plays the sutradhaar, whose voiceover carries the entire movie till the end. Ashok Kumar in a strong cameo heightens the drama and brings justice to the irony of the climax.
The film was one of the best films of Hrishikesh Mukharjee, the only drawback of the film was it's music. The film didn't do well on the Box Office.Like a torch bearer of truth in the darkness of the present age, Satyakam will live on as long as the validity of truth will exist.