Satyam Shivam Sundaram (English: The Truth, The Good and The Beauty) is a 1978 Indian Hindi romance film starring Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman, directed by Raj Kapoor and written by Jainendra Jain. It is a social drama about the differences between physical and spiritual love.
The story is set in a village where Roopa (Zeenat Aman) lives with her father, the village priest. As a young child, the right side of Roopa's face & neck were burned by a pot of boiling oil, leaving part of her face disfigured. Henceforth, Roopa keeps her right cheek hidden under the cover of her Sari. Despite the terrible accident, Roopa remains religious and goes to the village temple daily, singing hymns and devotional songs.
The protagonist Rajeev (Shashi Kapoor) is a dashing engineer who arrives in the village to oversee the operation of a major dam. He abhors anything that is ugly. He hears Roopa's religious singing and meets her, but somehow doesn't pay attention to her disfigured side, and falls in love with her. He then asks her father permission to marry her.
After the wedding, he discovers the truth, and thinks that he was cheated and forced to marry someone else, at which point he disowns Roopa and drives her out of the house. Roopa decides to meet him at night, using a veil to hide the charred side of her face. Rajeev spends his days hating his wife, and his nights loving his mistress, not knowing they are both the same woman - Roopa. During one of their nights together, they make love and Roopa gets pregnant. When Rajeev finds out that his wife is pregnant, he suspects her of infidelity and still refuses to believe this his "mistress" and wife are one and the same. In the movie's climax, a terrible storm ravages the village, breaking open the dam which Rajeev had come to build. In the swirling waters of the flood, Rajeev realises how shallow he had been, and saves Roopa from drowning.
Laxmikant-Pyarelal's music won the Filmfare Best Music Director Award. Lata Mangeshkar lends her voice to the main theme song "Satyam Shivam Sundaram", which was among the chart-toppers of the year, and still remains a chartbuster. Various recent music groups from both India and the United States, such as Thievery Corporation and Sheila Chandra, have re-done the theme song from the movie. Also, many variations of the song have been made (e.g. the original version is considered, in Indian music, a Bhajan, but Lata Mangeshkar has also made a bhangra-like version, a different style).
Mangeshkar at the time of recording the main theme song was in dispute regards royalties with Raj Kapoor. She has conveyed that she came for the recording, practiced the song for a short while, sang the song in anger in one take and left.
Song "Satyam Shivam Sundaram" was listed at #6 on Binaca Geetmala annual list 1977
Song "Yashomati Maiya Se" was listed at #7 on Binaca Geetmala annual list 1978
Song "Chanchal Sheetal Nirmal Komal" was listed at #24 on Binaca Geetmala annual list 1978
Rakesh Budhu of Planet Bollywood gave 9 stars stating, "Satyam Shivam Sundaram is still a soundtrack that shines more amidst L-P’s many melody accomplishments."
Awards and nominations
Best Music Director - Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Best Cinematographer - Radhu Karmakar
Best Director - Raj Kapoor
Best Actress - Zeenat Aman
Best Lyricist - Pandit Narendra Sharma for the title song "Satyam Shivam Sundaram"
Best Male Playback Singer - Mukesh for the song "Chanchal Sheetal" (Posthumous)
In her book Raj Kapoor Speaks, Ritu Nanda reveals that Lata Mangeshkar was the inspiration behind the film, and that he wanted to cast her in the movie.
"I visualised the story of a man falling for a woman with an ordinary countenance but a golden voice and wanted to cast Lata Mangeshkar in the role, the book quotes Raj Kapoor as saying."
Zeenat Aman was not the first choice as a leading lady for the film. Hema Malini, Dimple Kapadia, Vidya Sinha were previous choices, but they refused because of sensual content and body exposure in the film.
Satyam Shivam Sundaram was released on the day of Holi in 1978.