Defeatist message

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 13.01.06
  •  

Defeatist message

devaki

Director: Bappaditya Bandopadhyay Cast: Perizaad Zorabian, Suman Ranganath, Ram Kapoor, George Baker, Arvin Tukker

4/10

Based on a newspaper report about a woman ‘sold’ in Madhya Pradesh sometime back, Devaki tells parallel stories of two women from disparate backgrounds connected by a similar plight. Devaki (Suman Ranganath) is a rustic Dalit who’s married off to an old man with three wives in a ‘deal’ to free her father from debt. She is eventually ‘auctioned off’ in the village square as punishment for falling in love with a younger man. Nandini (Perizaad Zorabian) is an urbane NGO activist trying to make a difference in the lives of illiterate adivaasi girls, but in her own life has to compromise with a married lover (Ram Kapoor) and a selfish father (George Baker) who compels her to sleep with a client in order to further his own ambitions.

Do Indian women across the urban-rural divide, who’re trying to break out of patriarchal shackles, need another film telling them their efforts are futile because ultimately they must surrender to a structural male dominance more powerful than they are?

Director Bappaditya Bandopadhyay’s intentions were probably noble. And, sure, he shows actual realities of Indian womanhood, but surely a film can do more than that decades after the heyday of ‘consciousness raising’? But Devaki ironically does little else but send out a terribly defeatist message that women are inevitably disempowered helpless victims of the system. As depicted in innumerable uninspiring films on ‘women-oriented’ subjects which only stigmatise and ghettoise them further. So what exactly is the director’s take here?

Mandira Mitra

Senile, maddening

Jawani Diwani

Director: Manish Sharma Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Celina Jaitly, Hrishita Bhatt, Tiku Talsania, Mahesh Manjrekar

Rating refused

What pretends to be one of the trendy ‘sex comedies’ is neither sexy nor comic, not even crazily juvenile. Or, the bare dozen of viewers (among them three couples looking for a cozy corner in an empty hall) would have at least sent up a token titter when a cock crows as the ‘voiceover’ each time Emraan sights a cleavage.

The question to be asked is not whether such films should be reviewed at all, but whether such films should be given a censor certificate at all (grounds of mental torture) or allowed to be made at all. How different is Jawani Diwani from the tattered Malayalam dubbed prints which used to be screened at Society cinema or now at Regal or Khanna or the like? And how much worse could have Dev Anand’s Mr Prime Minister been?

If Manish Sharma and his cast and crew do not personally apologise to the handful of viewers, the viewers should sue them for compensation. Or, for a refund at least, with a packet of pop corn and a cola. Someone actually objected to a mobile ringing in the hall, saying, it was disturbing his sleep! Zzzzz...

Anil Grover