Pinjra is the tragic story of a school teacher and a dancer. The 'cage' here is a metaphor for life. The dancer dies as she falls for the teacher and is unable to save him. The teacher prefers to die under mistaken identity, rather than live as a man who has lost respect. This is a story of how death frees them from their cages. The film is a loose adaptation of the first major German sound film "Der Blaue Engel".
A "Mastar" named Shridhar pant(guruji) (Marathi version of 'Master') is an upright school teacher; a man of high morals. Unfortunately, the Maharashtrian village where he teaches does not value these qualities. A Tamashagroup comes to the village. The lead dancer of the group, Chandrakala (Sandhya Shantaram) steals the heart of every man in the village. The teacher is righteously infuriated by their lack of morals. He vents his anger on the dance group in form of a speech and by demolishing their temporary dwelling places.
The dancer is hurt by this and decides to take revenge by staying and performing. Gradually, even adult school students start skipping class to see Tamasha. The teacher decides to confront the dancer after a performance. During a performance, she is badly injured and in humanity and humility guruji helps her. During this period, he is overwhelmed by lust that he had never before encountered. Horrified he asks her to keep it a secret. Later, the son of the landlord (Bajirao), who is against the teacher, finds him visiting Chandrakala on a daily basis. He calls his father (landlord) and all people to see, but they don't find guruji there. Guruji is deeply hurt as he deceives the villagers. Bajirao tries to frame guruji in a molestation case. A villager (milkman) who tries to save guriji is murdered by Bajirao, who implicates Shridhar. Chandrakala asks him to flee. She also misguides villagers by saying that the murder victim was, in fact, guruji. The dancer hides guruji as a tamasha worker in disguise. Here, he learns to drink and chew tobacco. As the police investigation proceeds, the teacher is arrested for his own murder.
- Genre: Romantic
- Runtime: 175 Minutes
- Awards: 1972: National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Marathi
Pinjra (Marathi: पिंजरा; English: Cage), is a 1972 Marathi film, directed by V. Shantaram, starring Shriram Lagoo and Sandhya in lead roles. In 1972, the film was also released in Hindi with the same title. Set in Tamasha folk musical theatre of Maharashtra, the film is about a morally righteousness school teacher, Lagoo, who wants to reform a Tamasha performer, played Sandhya, but ends up falling in love with her. It was an adaptation of Josef von Sternberg's German film, The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel, 1930) starring Marlene Dietrich, which itself was based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat ("Professor Garbage", 1905). The film is known for its music and dance numbers with music by Ram Kadam, and picturized on the lead actress Sandhya, known for her dancing prowess. It was also the film debut of noted theatre actor actor, Shriram Lagoo. The film was also remade by Shantaram in Hindi with same cast and title, even the songs like "Mala lagali kunachi uchaki", which were a big hit in Marathi version, were re-recorded in Hindi version.
The film was one was last major film by veteran director, who had made classics like Duniya Na Mane (1937), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957) and Navrang (1959). Produced in colour and replete with catchy dance numbers sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar. Prior to its release, one reel of the film was test-screened in the theatres, to check colour reproduction. It went on to become one of biggest commercial successes of its time. This also lead to the introduction of colour films in Marathi cinema. In 1973, it won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Marathi for the year 1972.