Same Ole Abala Naari Tale In New Bottle
2. 5 stars
Rajasthan is probably the heart of patriarchy land, and the villages hide many ugly tales. But three friends are there to support one another and they eventually learn to help each other fight the ugly reality that is their life. Shot beautifully, the film seems much longer than its running time because it is full of cliches about women and the feminist text seems to be borrowed rather than believed.
‘How come all the insults are connected to women? Why only ‘motherfucker’ and ‘sisterfucker’, why is there no ‘fatherfucker’ or ‘brotherfucker’?’
Such easy feminist rants have come and gone on social networks. So you wish the filmmaker had thought up of some other ‘clap because I’m saying cool things’ moments.
Shot beautifully in a Rajasthan village, this film is a story of three women frineds - Tannishtha Chatterjee, Radhika Apte and Surveen Chawla - and how their lives keep them thirsting for a better life.
Some will choose to be shocked at the lives they lead: women are ‘allowed’ to have cell phones, but no tv; women do all the work and put up with husbands who prefer whorehouses than home; not one woman expects tenderness from the husbands… Adil Hussain is wasted as a one night stand and the young girl who plays Rani’s daughter in law is made to cry all through the movie as a cardboard cutout. But others are no better. It’s just that the actors are talented and they bring their own personalities to the characters they play.
Tannistha plays Rani, a widow householder who is ready to get her son married to a girl barely fifteen. The son of course is a nasty piece of work called Gulab.
Radhika plays Lajjo, a wife who cannot have babies (hence cursed) and lies with her abusive husband.
The surprise package is Bijli, the dancer, the whore who is Rani’s friend (and therefore by association, a friend of Lajjo too!). Surveen Chawla is simply outstanding in her portrayal of a dancing girl who hankers for love under her natural outrageousness…
The connect between the three women is so amazing, you wish all the other domestic things they are shown involved in go on for too long. You wish the filmmaker had been inspired by Thelma and Louise and had learnt the art of brevity and precision from there.
The story wanders along the pains and the suffering so much you begin to groan each time the women are tortured by the menfolk. The violence is not new but there’s only so much of slapping across the face one can watch on the screen without cringing. Some moments are luminous, but you fail to understand why no one sits down to edit, edit, edit.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)