A man searches for his pregnant wife (Manisha Koirala) after she tries to escape from their feeble marriage.
Lajja [Translation: Shyness] is a 2001 Hindi drama film directed by Rajkumar Santoshi. The film is based on the plight of women in India. The movie recounts the story of four women, and stars some of the best known names in Hindi cinema, including Manisha Koirala, Rekha, Madhuri Dixit, Mahima Chaudhry, Jackie Shroff, Johnny Lever, Anil Kapoor, Samir Soni, Ajay Devgan and Danny Denzongpa. Urmila Matondkar and Sonali Bendre perform item numbers.
The movie satirises the honour with which women are placed in society and the restrictions on them. The fact that the four womens names (Maithili, Janki, Ramdulaari, and Vaidehi) are all versions of Sita, the ideal Hindu womans name, is a message in itself. Manisha Koirala is the protagonist of this film.
The film was a flop at the box office in India but was a commercial success outside India.
Rekha and Madhuri Dixit were nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award, while Madhuri Dixit won the Best Supporting Actress for her performance.
Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala) gets married to Raghuvir (Jackie Shroff), an NRI. Suffering the agony of an unhappy marriage, she decides to run away from him when she learns that she is pregnant and he wants to take the child away from her. In her pursuit for freedom, she meets Mythili (Mahima Chaudhury) a bride-to-be, Janaki (Madhuri Dixit) a theatre artist and Ramdulari (Rekha) a village midwife - all of whom are victims of male chauvinism. They however refuse to be put down and fight for their rights.
Vaidehi (Manisha Koirala) lives with her husband Raghu (Jackie Shroff). On the outside, she lives a sophisticated life, but behind closed doors, her husband is abusive and has extramarital affairs. When she takes a stand for herself, she is banished from the household. She goes back to her parents house but they too reject her. Vaidehi soon finds out that she is pregnant.
Raghu gets into a car accident, which results in him being unable to father a child. When he discovers that Vaidehi is pregnant, he calls her, faking remorse, and asks for her to return. Vaidehi agrees, thinking Raghu has mended his ways. Raghu and his father plot for the child to become their heir and if Vaidehi intervenes, she will be killed. Meanwhile, Vaidehi is informed by a friend about Raghus true intentions, and so she escapes from his henchmen. She is helped by Raju (Anil Kapoor), a petty, but kindhearted thief. He hears Vaidehis story and gives her money from his heist to help. To hide from Raghu and his henchmen, Vaidehi gatecrashes a wedding procession.
At the wedding, she meets Maithili (Mahima Chaudhary), a bride-to-be from a middle-class family. Maithili is marrying a man who hails from a rich background. The two women witness Maithilis father being hassled by demands for an opulent wedding, which he cannot afford, and is forced to pay dowry. Vaidehi tries to convince Raju to give his money from the heist. He initially refuses but changing his mind, he returns to give his heist money to Vaidehi. The grooms friend attempts to rape Maithili. As the wedding ceremony progresses, one of the guest recognises the heist money which initially belonged to him. Moreover, the grooms friend tells the grooms family that he spotted a man (Raju) in Maithilis room. Maithili is accused of having sexual relations with Raju in return for money, which leads Raju to accept his theft as the situation worsens. Having tolerated enough, Maithili insults the grooms family and they flee from the wedding.
Meanwhile, Vaidehi is found by Raghu, and forced into going with him. On the way, they encounter a protest mob. Raghu gets out of the car, which gives Vaidehi the chance to escape. She arrives in Haripur, a small town, where she meets Janki (Madhuri Dixit), a theatre actress in love with her colleague. Janki is pregnant, but not married. She doesnt care for societys norms. She is lusted after by the theatre director, Puroshottam (Tinu Anand), an older man who keeps his wife, Lata (Jaya Bhattacharya), confined to their house. Puroshottam talks against Janki to her lover, which creates a rift between them. She is asked to abort the child by her lover, as he suspects that he might not be the real father, indirectly accusing Janki of having sexual relations with the theatre director. Janki is outraged and messes up a scene during a performance of the Ramayan. This leads to an outcry from the audience and she is assaulted by the audience, leading to her having a miscarriage. Vaidehi confronts Puroshottam, who threatens to call her husband. However, Lata intervenes and takes Vaidehi to the station and puts her on a train.
The train is robbed by bandits but the passengers are saved by Bulwa (Ajay Devgan), a local dacoit. Vaidehi faints at the sight of blood, and Bulwa takes her to the local midwife, Ramdulaari (Rekha). Ramdulaari bravely opposes the village leaders Virendra (Gulshan Grover) and Gajendra (Danny Denzongpa) who exploit innocent women, young and old. When her educated son, who is trying to educate the villagers against the wishes of Virendra and Gajendra, falls in love with Gajendras daughter, Sushma (Aarti Chhabria), all hell breaks loose. Gajendra slyly locks Ramdulaari in her house and sets out to find her son. When her son runs away with Sushma, Virendra and Gajendra, along with their goons, rape Ramdulaari and burn her alive. In a fit of rage, Bhulva and his goons kill Virendra and his goons. Vaidehi escapes with Sushma and Ramdulaaris son.
Gajendra is making a move into politics, so when he is applauded by the local authorities, Vaidehi intervenes and exposes Gajendra as a rapist and fraud through a heart-wrenching speech, which drives all the women in the audience to assault Gajendra, who is later killed by Bhulva. The speech changes Raghus attitude towards Vaidehi and he decides to mend his ways. The two return to New York as a proper married couple. Vaidehi gives birth to a daughter who is named Ramdulaari. She meets Raju again, who is now a taxi driver and married to Maithili. She invites him to a charity dance show with Janki in the main role, wherein all the money from her shows goes to fund womens organisations in India.Ajay Devgan as Bulwa
Manisha Koirala as Vaidehi, protagonist
Anil Kapoor as Raju
Jackie Shroff as Raghuveer, aka Raghu
Madhuri Dixit as Janki
Mahima Chaudhary as Maithali
Rekha as Ramdulaari
Beena Banerjee as Vaidehis mother
Suresh Oberoi as Raghuveers father
Johnny Lever as Fakhruddin, Raghuveers stooge
Razak Khan as Francis, Raghuveers stooge
Anjan Srivastav as Nekchand, Maithilis father
Farida Jalal as Saroj, Maithilis mother
Sonali Bendre as Dancer, Special Appearance in song "Mujhe Saajan Ke Ghar Jaana Hai"
Urmila Matondkar as Dancer, Special Appearance in song "Aahiye Aajaiye"
Tinu Anand as Purshotam
Jaya Bhattacharya as Lata
Danny Denzongpa as Gajendra
Gulshan Grover as Virender
Aarti Chhabria as Sushma, Gajendras daughter
Sharman Joshi as Prakash, Ramdulaaris son
Asrani as Gulab Chand
Dina Pathak as Bua
Govind Namdeo as Hazarilal
Jagdeep as Bansidhar Chakkiwala
Ritu Shivpuri as Anita
Rohini Hattangadi as Mrs. Hazarilal
Sangmesh Biradar as Don
A. R. Rahman was initially signed in as the composer; but then he opted out; after he got extremely busy with his international assignment, Bombay Dreams. Then, the background score for the movie was done by Illayaraja and the songs were mainly composed by Anu Malik. Lyrics of all songs were also written by Sameer, except those of "Kaun Dagar Kaun Shehar", which were written by Prasoon Joshi. This song was also composed by Illayaraja and was sung by Lata Mangeshkar. The songs featured in the movie are as listed below.
The film received mixed reviews however the performances from the lead actors were highly praised.
Bollywood Hungama gave a rating of two and half out of five stars and said "On the whole, Lajja is a purposeful film within commercial parameters and the best part is that the Indian masses will be able to identify with the goings-on. An enviable star cast, a talented director and an excellent second half are amongst its strong points." The Hindu stated "Unfortunately, this colourful film is a black-and-white disappointment, particularly in the second half when Santoshi loses track of his story and in a blatant bid to get the tax-free certificate brings in bits about computer education, female literacy and infanticide.". The BBC gave a positive review saying "The film is well directed, excellent songs, although they should have had more realistic fights."Aa Hi Jaiye (6:42)
Saajan Ke Ghar Jaana Hain (6:17)
Kaliyug Ki Sita (5:58)
Jiyo Jiyo (6:33)
Badi Mushkil (6:03)
Kaliyug Ki Sita (7:18)
Saajan Ke Ghar Jaana Hain (2) (6:17)
Kaun Dagar (6:07)
Madhuri Dixit and Jackie Shroff appear in Lajja and Devdas. Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor appear in Lajja and Pukar. Anu Malik composed the music for Lajja and Fiza. Madhuri Dixit and Tinnu Anand appear in Lajja and Anjaam. Madhuri Dixit and Farida Jalal appear in Lajja and Gaja Gamini.
Lajja failed commercially at the box office in India due to high budget and distribution price. However it tasted success overseas. It ranked 14th on the British box-office chart, according to the International Movie Database.