Review of Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda

“Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda” literally means “The seventh horse pulling the chariot of the sun.” It is one of the books of which I first saw the movie and then read the book. Movie by Shyam Benegal is brilliant so is Manik Mulla played by Rajat Kapoor. Usually in case of movie adaptations of literature movie is disappointing. But in this rare case both are brilliant.

The novel is in narration style where Manik Mulla (name is very suggestive Hindu and Muslim both) tells story of failed romance of three women, to his friends on seven lazy summer afternoons. There are three heroines Jamuna (a simple middle class homely girl), Leela or Lily (the intellectual, independent, strong, feminist) and Satti (a feisty lower class woman). All three were in love with Manik Mulla at different points of time. Jamuna couldn’t marry her lover Tanna, because he is a coward and subsequently married off to an old man who dies. Widow Jamuna finds solace and happiness in extramarital relationship with a tongewala. Leela is married to Tanna, the coward lover of Jamuna and she is dissatisfied because he is not strong and intellectual enough to be her husband. The third one, Satti love Manik mulla but she is raped and murdered by Mahesar Dayal, evil father of Tanna. This novel looks at the disappointments faced by these women when it comes to love and how they cope up with their lives.

Dharamveer Bharti initially was in Prayogawadi (experimentalism) camp. This was a movement in Hindi literature called Prayogawad (led by Vatsayan agayeya) which concentrated on human misery, depression, aloofness, loneliness, helplessness and was totally cut off from society. it was influenced by Kafka, Freud and all which concentrated mainly on psychological aspect of humans and ignored the social aspect completely. In fact this hindi novel is translated in English by Agyeya titled "The Sun's Seventh Horse" (see cover above). Its opposite of it was Pragatiwad (Progressivism) influenced by Marxist, Leninist philosophy and promoted socialism.

His earlier novel “Gunaho ka Dewta” (another classic) is experimental. But later on he realized the limitations of experimentalism. So in a course correction he wrote “Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda” which is progressive and experimental both.

Manik says:

“It is true that love is conditioned by economic factors; but that love is another name for economic dependence is, a travesty of the truth, for, though it can not be denied love touches the strings of beauty deep down in the recesses of soul and wakens them to music, it fills us with a sense of grace, light and moral upliftment.”

Something about the style of writing. It is very unique, ingenious, surreal, and original. Nowhere you will see such a lyrical writing style in prose which alternates seamlessly between present and past; real and imaginary; dreams and life. Manik says about style of narration:

“Oh technique! Emphasis on technique is merely a sign of immature, the experimenter, the man who has not yet mastered his medium”.

This book brings out the trial and tribulations of Hindu middle class which is grappling with the problems of caste, creed, conventions, financial constraints, unmatched marriages, unfulfilled desires, weak position of women in Indian society etc.

Although the novel ends on a positive note. As per Hindu mythology the Sun god is travelling in the sky in a chariot pulled by seven horses. The seventh horse is the horse of dreams, aspirations and future. In the end it is shown that other six horses are injured and the seventh horse takes the sun into a hopeful future.
Manik Mulla thus emphasizes this point in the end of novel:

"The Love which cannot contribute to social progress and individual development, is not love"......


  1. Rajan this is a very well written review. As a fan of both book and movie I love the way you explain it. There are so many symbolic references to seventh horse. One which I read mentioned it as the weakest one and the progress of the society depends on its weakest link.


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