He is a prolific Indian director and screenwriter. With his first four feature films Ankur, Nishant, Manthan, and Bhumika, he created a new genre, which has now come to be called the "middle cinema" in India. After dwelling so deep into serious cinema, Shyam Benegal made his first comedy film, Welcome to Sajjanpur that has been now invited for the prestigious London Film Festival 2008 that starts on October 15 and ends on October 30 in London. The film has been selected for World Cinema Category. London Film Festival showcases the best new films from around the world.
Welcome to Sajjanpur starring Shreyas Talpade, Amrita Rao, Divya Dutta, Ila Arun, Ravi Kishan and Rageshwari Sachdev is a delightful satirical take on a contemporary Indian village. The film is set in a make believe world of Sajjanpur, something like the 'Malgudi' of R. K. Narayan. Says Vikas Bahl, the producer, UTV Spotboy, "We made a film that is from the heartland of India narrated in a very light hearted manner. To me, a subject like this selected for such a big festival is very encouraging and interesting. We didn't make the film with an intension of taking it to festival circuits but such news is really encouraging."
Shyam Benegal, the director of the film was happy to hear the news and said, "London Film Festival is like an annual affair for me now. Almost all my films have been showcased there. I am happy and honored that like every year this year too I will be a part of the festival with Welcome to Sajjanpur. It is a nice platform to display the film to larger audiences. I hope everyone would like the film."
Welcome to Sajjanpur is a story of Mahadev (played by Shreyas Talpade) who is one of the few educated young men from Sajjanpur. His ambition is to be a novelist but finds it easier to make a living by writing letters sitting next to the post office. His ability to write persuasive letters makes him popular with the largely non-literate population of the town. Aware of this power, he soon uses his talent to manipulate people with amusing and sometimes not such amusing results.
The film is slated to release on September 19, 2008.