Cast: Nandita Das, Deepti Naval, Raghuvir Yadav,
Rahul Khanna, Laila Rouass
Director: Jagmohan Mundra
Music: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt
Based on the true story of Bhanwari Devi's rape in Rajasthan,
the film revolves around the larger issues of casteism,
exploitation and male chauvinism. The feudal set up
and the subjugative role of women in a State where child
marriages still happens is highlighted. To chronicle
the life of the saathin (a women's welfare worker of
the State), a certain amount of drama is added.
Amy (Laila Rouass) arrives in Rajasthan with her friend-cum-interpreter
Ravi (Rahul Khannal) to write about Savri Devi after
having read about her case abroad. They rake up the
case five years after the incident. Saviti Devi (Nandita
Das) belongs to potter's family of Dabri village. She
is married to Sohan (Raghuveer Yadav), a rickshaw-puller
in Jaipur, has two children and is a gutsy housewife.
On the behest of Shobha (Deepi Naval), Savri joins the
saathan programme to work for the welfare of women.
The upper caste men of the village the priest and the
Gurjars do not like this 'reformist' attitude and in
order to reach her a lesson gang rape her in front of
her husband who is also beaten up.
A courageous Savri goes to the police station to file
a FIR. The police officer (Ravi Jhanakal), a corrupt
man, wants her to produce a medical certificate. Almost
after two days with Shobha's help Savri manages a court
order with the help of which she gets the medical certificate
in Jaipur. About two days pass in this process. When
the case is filed, the upper caste men panic and get
the help of the MLA Dhanraj Meena (Govind Namdeo). The
case is transferred to the CBI.
In the meantime, a women's NGO, in Delhi on hearing
the incident, tries to help Savri. A Gurjar lawyer defends
Savri but the influence and reach of the upper caste
men is high. Amy and Ravi speak to the people involved
in the case.
The film projects the case of a rape victim who stands
up for justice. In this she has the unstinting support
of her husband (as he is a witness.). The bureaucratic
hassles the victim is subject to brings out the nature
o system where the victim has no immediate recourse
police machinery is depicted in sorry light. Besides
corruption, which is entrenched, the police is involved
in the falsification of evidence. Moreover, the police
officer is shown to be sexually perverted and frustrated
(imagine him gyrating in the victim's lehnga?). The
film also portrays the superficial attitude of the NGO
as well as other political parties which want to secure
mileage out of this.
The victim's case is glorified and she receives and
award from the Prime Minister. But her case meets a
negative end. The court language used in the investigations
The film is marked by excellent performances by the
cast. Nandita Das and Raghuveer Yadav are outstanding.
Shot in Rajasthan, the film captures the ethnic landscape
and the sociopolitical set up well. The local dialect
used is a bit difficult to follow.
The film exposes the maladies of the system where money
and influence still rule the roost. Some questions can
be raised from it. Is rape the tool and solution for
subjugation of women who want to make a difference in
society? Can they be silenced forever by this? Why is
the male ego hurt? Do men still want women to live in
the same feudal set up?
Why has director isolated this case for filming? Worthwhile
to probe. Justice delayed is justice denied goes the
dictum. Is Bhanwari Devi's case going to go the same
way? Wait and watch.