A Bengali novel that saw multiple screen adaptations was Manilal Banerjee’s Bengali novel Swayamsiddha. The story of a courageous and determined young woman married off to a scion of a zamindar who had been forcibly oppressed into mental instability and her relentless struggle to make her husband become educated and self-reliant was first adapted in Bengali cinema in a film by the same name, starring Deepti Roy in the lead role (1947).
Shanta Apte played the lead role in the first Hindi screen adaptation titled Swayamsidhha (1949) followed by Mala Sinha and Guru Dutt playing the lead roles in Bahurani (1963). In the meantime, other regions were adapting this story too with Savitri playing the lead role in the Telugu version Ardhangi (1955) and its Tamil version too in the same year. The Telugu version especially adapted it to the Telugu social milieu. Mallammana Pavaada (1969), starring B Saroja Devi, was the Kannada version of this story that was sending a powerful message of women’s empowerment through the cinema medium. Ten years later, there was an Oriya film Gowri (1979) on the same theme starring Mahashweta Roy.
Hindi cinema came up with another adaptation in the Hema Malini-Jeetendra starrer Jyoti (1981). (Complete information on various adaptations of Swayamsiddha courtesy: Pakanati Lakshmi Priya)
The devil-may-care attitude and indomitable courage of the lead female character was an outright winner with the audiences all through the decades irrespective of the fact whether the film was in black-and-white or in colour
Originally written on 28th November 2017