Little Bo Peep lost her sheep. If you're the everyday bloke, this should be your
syllabus for the kindergarten boards, but if you were the inveterate seeker that
looked much beyond the obvious, you'd say she did it for the insurance. Bawandar
is a movie that must be dealt at both these levels - for those who believe cinema
to be a medium of entertainment, and for those who prefer to call it an influential
but artistic medium.
Sanwri Devi (Nandita Das) is the intrepid wife of a rickshaw-puller, Sohan (Raghuvir Yadav), living in the rustic neighborhood of Rajasthan. Nominated by a friend, Sanwri is approached by a social worker Shobha Devi (Deepti Naval) to battle against the atrocities of the customary child marriages.
Amy (Laila Raouss) looks good enough to eat and more, so when you come to know that she's actually writing a book on Sanwri, it's no surprise that the movie's pace reminds you of that best seller 'Hit On The Head' by I C Starrs. And the accent convinces your deportment to Kutch. But wait, Laila might appear again...
Sanwri does her bit with spirit, and in turn reaps the rage of the influential people belonging to a higher class. To tame her, they rape her while her captive husband mourns in despair. Though this scene is short, it leaves a highly disquieting affect on us. What the...? A hero who cannot kick butt to save his love? That's like a pedestrian hitting you and going under your car. God! If we wanted pathetic reality, we'd rather watch the buns rising in a bakery than this upsetting ordeal.
Sanwri's grit to fight for justice causes the case to create a nationwide stir. She gets a reward of Rs. 1 lakh for her bravery. But even with a mileage of that intensity, she doesn't win the case in the tribunal court, depicting the chauvinistic feudalism in India. However, she does not accept defeat, and continues her work with Saathin (the government women development program) as well as her fight for justice.
How many incapable good men can a man take? First the husband and then Pratap Chauhan (Gulshan Grover), whose arguments in court would make you feel capable enough to do the Star report yourself. And the supposedly grotesque scenes of the film are as grotesque as the spontaneous generation of amphibians from reptiles. The only refuge you can find is with the stupendous performance of the police inspector. And the P V Narsimha Rao look-alike is a real roar.
An art film is meant to have brilliant performances and this is no exception. But if Jagmohan was looking for a message then he certainly shouldn't have let Shobha's marriage break off. The music suits the mood perfectly.
Dr. Jekyll surely will be a changed man after this.