Monday, December 7, 2015

Review of Kajarya

Image courtesy: Koimoi

Cast: Meenu Hooda (Kajarya), Kuldeep Ruhil (Banwari), Ridhima Sud (Meera Sharma), Shashi Bhushan (Shambhu), Sudheer Chobessy (Giridhari), Nasir Ali (Sub-Inspector), Manoj Bakshi (Police Inspector), Sumeet Vyas (Nikhil), Priyanka Tanwar Isha (Lady Constable), Shakeel Quereshi (Priest), Tanaji Dasgupta (Priest’s assistant), Savita Rani (Uma), Kamal Vinayak (Meera’s father), Raj Shree (Meera’s mother)
Direction: Madhureeta Ananad
Produced by: Tilak Sarkar, Madhureeta Ananad, Celine Loop, Quashiq Mukherjee
Written By: Madhureeta Ananad
Music: Richard Horowitz
Cinematography: Alok Upadhyay
Edited by: Anuradha Chandra, Shyamal Karmakar, Manas Mittal
Release Date: 4th December, 2015
Duration: 134 minutes
Language: Hindi

Kajarya is a film directed by Madhureeta Anand, which highlights one of the most vital social issues of saving girl child.  This film is definitely on a depressing note, but covers the truth brutally. The statistics of the female infanticide and foeticide in India is alarming and shocking. The film is disturbing, I kept wondering that who ultimately gives the right to kill the girls. The film ends with the statistics that almost 10 million girls are killed in our country since 1986, out of which 3 million are killed in the last decade itself. Kajarya is a film which talks about infanticide as well as foeticide. Silent slaughters happen and girls are buried deep inside graves. It raises a vital question that when would our country be a better place for girls and let them also live their lives which they deserve as a human being. The film shares the story of two women from different backgrounds, explores the condition of women both in rural and urban India.

Kajarya (Meenu Hooda), the titular character, lives in a village in Haryana, where she ends up being part of female infanticide. The film begins with Banwari (Kuldeep Ruhil) waking her up saying that ‘it is time’. Then she is seen taking drugs and further at the Kali Temple. Kajarya is believed to embody Goddess Kali, who ritually kills female newborns. Although the slaughtering is not shown through direct frames, it is shown by dripping of blood on Kajarya’s feet. Oh, what a horrible scene. Kajarya is shown as a woman who is surviving on drugs, alcohol and is very abusive. What makes her so abusive, is it her guilt or helplessness?

Another main character of the film is Meera Sharma (Ridhima Sud), a journalist, who is shown to be casual in the beginning in regard to her job. She does get an assignment to cover the ‘Puranmashi Pooja’ of the same village where Kajarya stays. When Meera reaches there, she finds that there is something mysterious about the Puranmashi pooja. She is not able to gather information in regard to this Pooja. She wanted to cover the event. She happens to meet Banwari, who somehow convinces her that there is nothing mysterious about the Pooja. She was about to return to her city that she comes to know in regard to the graves where girl children are buried. Developments happen in such a manner that Meera is able to grab an interview with the very Kajarya.

Kajarya opens up to Meera about her arrival in this village as a 13-year old bride to an old man, falling in love with Banwari, and later on getting exploited in the name of religion, customs and traditions. She treads the path of brutal killings of girl infanticides. Kajarya asks Meera to keep her name discreet from the media. But, once Meera reaches back her office, she does reveal the name of Kajarya. A dig at journalism is taken in the film, where, journalists are just shown to be interested in stories, which would boost their career. Ethics of the journalists are also mocked at. Meera preferred to betray Kajarya’s trust and save her job.  

Meera’s personal life is also shown, lifestyle though in contrast to Kajarya, the gender inequality is shown in her case as well. Meera’s relationship with her fiancée Nikhil (Sumeet Vyas) does explain the gender diversity issues in urban set up too.  

What happens in the film once Kajarya’s name is revealed to the media? How does Meera’s career boost up? What happens when Kajarya and Meera come face to face again? Does Kajarya get arrested? What happens to those people who were partners in crime? Both Kajarya and Meera experience the waves of guilt, which hurt their conscience, but certainly for two different reasons, what are they?

The cast have done absolute justice to their characters. Meenu as Kajarya and Ridhima Sud (Dil Dhadakne Do fame) as Meera Sharma are very good. Kuldeep as Banwari is so convincing. Rest of the cast have also acted really well. Shashi Bhushan as Shambhu has portrayed his grief, pain and care for Kajarya so well.

The plot is upon a very strong subject. A few scenes worth mentioning are the relationship between Kajarya and Shambhu’s daughter. Kajarya who is instrumental in female infanticide, is very much in love with this girl. A lady who is violent is shown here in a very innocent love with this girl. Even Shambhu’s pain with Kajarya’s deformed life is very well portrayed. A scene where Kajarya says about her killings: “Mere to bas hath hi the, Saza to unke ma-baap ne pahle hi suna di thi (it was my hands only, but the punishment was declared by parents much beforehand)’ is very much painful. Opium-induced and guilt stricken Kajarya’s make up with open hair and that of transformed Kajarya with tied up hais is very thoughtfully crafted in the film.

As far as the screenplay is concerned, I just felt that the transformation of Kajarya is not justified. Besides, a character like Kajarya agreeing to give the interview and opening up to a journalist during the first meeting itself is also not very convincing. The love-hate relationship between Kajarya and Banwari is not very clearly depicted. But apart from this, the screenplay is very gripping, disturbing, presents the real issue. Mughal-e-Azam’s song ‘Mohabbat ki Jhuthi Kahani’ has been recreated and sung by Shusheela Raman for this film; it blends with the screenplay so well.

Image Courtesy: Facebook Page of Kajarya

Kajarya, a hard-hitting film by Madhureeta Anand, is to get our attention re-focused on the real issue of female infanticide and foeticide. ‘Save the girl child’, ‘Well-being of Girls, Well Being of India’, ‘Girls’ lives matter’, ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, ‘Stop violence against women’, ‘Realize the girls’ power’ etc. are some of the key messages of this highly disturbing film Kajarya. Our country needs to get out of the shackles of gender inequality. Girls have the equal rights to live on this earth. Preference for male progeny still exists in many parts of our country. Although, not an easy film to watch, please Watch Kajarya. How appropriate the punchline of the film is: ‘Let the truth prevail’. Let the guilty be punished.            

Rating: 3/5 (Good)