In 1975, the same year in which Sholay released, a small-budgeted film titled Jai Santoshi Maa released in theatres and took the nation by storm. The film, based on the story of a young woman’s devotion for Santoshi Maa, turned out to be one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. People flocked to the theatres in large numbers with their families to watch the film multiple number of time and that resulted in the film becoming a mammoth success. People would come all the way from the villages to watch the film.
Since then, many films which explore the devotion of a man or a woman towards God, have been made and most of them have been received well by the audience. Maa Santoshi Maa, released in 2003, was one such film. Though this film was based on the devotion of a young woman towards Maa Santoshi, its storyline was completely different from that of the 1975 film. The film, featuring Bhagyashree, Rajesh Tandon, Jyoti Mukherjee, Alok Nath and Navin Nischol in principal roles was a good success.
Talking about the success of the films made in this genre, Jatin Kumar (director, Maa Santoshi Maa) says, “These films talk about devorion towards God, the importance of family values and why it is important to stay close to your culture of the land you belong to. In a country like ours, films play a huge role in shaping people’s thoughts and beliefs. It is important for filmmaker to be responsible and create content that brings a positive change in the society.”
It has been seventeen years since Maa Santoshi Maa released but it is still fondly remembered by people watched it upon its release.
“I remember the film running at full capacities in several theatres for weeks. Something like this happens when you have a big superstar in your film but I guess, such films do not need superstars and run on the merit of their content. It is very strange to see films with devotional or religious subtext no longer being made. While such films are important for the society, they are also safe from a business point of view as all the films made in this genre have done exceedingly well”, remarks Ashissh Saraf of Ashissh Filmcraft (now called Mrinank Films) whose company produced the film.
With filmmakers emphasising on the need and importance of devotional, social films aimed at the family audience, guess it is a matter of time before such films make a comeback.