The selfish acts notwithstanding, Sudhendu Roy's Saudagar stands out for turning out to be an engaging saga of hope and survival till the very end. Even though we hate Moti for all schemes, there comes a point of time when he does feel guilty for what he has done (and it is indeed worthy of him to suffer so). It is but obvious that he will start comparing Mahjubin and Phool, two women who are so different from each other. The former, a lonely woman who loved Moti and who did everything she could to make Moti prosper and the latter who though loved her man, could hardly help him prosper. Rather, even though she tried, no matter how reluctantly, she could never work her sweet magic on Moti's trade. Ironically, the love Moti connives so hard to get, turns out to be the sour reason for his downfall.
With a sheepish face he goes over to Mahjubin's and feigns love and loneliness during the long winter nights. Mahjubin too, a helplessly lonely woman falls into the trap and agrees to marrying Moti. But while Moti is doing all this with an ulterior motive, Mahjubin has actually fallen in love with her man. When she sings, Tera mera saath (very different music from Ravindra Jain), wonderfully sung by Lata Mangeshkar, she is actually praying for her togetherness with Moti, little knowing that the future holds bad news for the relationship. In Mahjubin;s halcyon moments there is a sense of foreboding from the knowledge that this happiness will be shortlived. In fact, the moment spring sets in, it will be all over for this woman who did no wrong but fell in love with the wrong man. Winter departs for the rest of the village but this is just the start of the season for Mahjubin.
This is a fantastic take about three humans whose lives are intertwined by a twist of fate. Had Moti not seen Phool and fallen instantly in love with her, he would not have had to marry Mahjubin. Had he not married Mahjubin, he would have become such a villain in our eyes for dumping Mahjubin so heartlessly. Had he not done what he did, we would not ave got an ending that reminds us that their is hope at the end of every bleak road. With hope comes the death of ego, with realisation of one's sins comes the road to redemption. And thereby the path to survival is revealed...
This is perhaps the only film where Padma Khanna gets to be one of the main protagonists. And boy! She does a splendid job. Why didn't directors tap her potential? She is lovely and so refreshing as the attractive Phool Banu. You cannot be angry with her for being totally in love with her carefree ways, not willing to grow up and take the responsibilities of the household. You live her for being such a spark in the film. And when towards the end when you realise that she is losing out, you cannot help but feel sorry for her. After all, she cannot help herself. Here is a woman who has had a pampered upbringing. You cannot blame her for not being able to rough it out. After all, that she cannot make jaggery is not her fault and she definitely does not deserve to be beaten up for that. She loves Moti and though she might irk you with her trophy-wife image, she does convince you with her histrionics.