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Nov 18, 2003 10:41 AM 4726 Views
(Updated Nov 18, 2003 10:49 AM)





“Is yug mein ladki ka janam lena hi sabse bada paap hein” avers Puro. No matter how strongly you would like to disagree, you cannot help but accept that bitter truth and all associated helplessness conveyed in those words. And these very words keep reverberating in the subconscious for a long long time posing questions.. Has 50+ years since country’s Independence really changed anything for its women folk? Have times changed at all? Is marriage and related events everything in a lady’s life? Is it not true that a girl child is still looked upon as a liability by parents?

Pinjar, as most of us know, is a period drama based on a Punjabi novel by Amrita Pritam. On surface level it seems another recital of the tumultuous time during partition of India, employing stories of different persons and families. But the essence of Pinjar is in its ingrained depiction of women’s standing in a society then, and apropos today.

~~ Storyline ~~

Puro, a daughter of well to do traditional Punjabi family and affianced to an educated boy in the neighbouring village, is full of dreams and zeal for her imminent life. The heart-wrenching story unfurls with her abduction by a hot-blooded muslim youth Rashid as a payback for some old family feud & his obsession for her. Subsequently, her own family apprehensive of the associated social stigma severs her totally leaving no option but to marry Rashid and a dysphoric conversion to Islam much to her dismay and angst. Reduced to a zilch, Puro’s deplorable life as a living skeleton - filled with disdain for Rashid and a sad yearning for the unattainable – is still full of brio to aid other similar ill-fated girls during horrid times of religious clashes and partition furor. Finally, she finds solace in reuniting her sister-in-law with the family and her own acceptance of ever penitent Rashid.

~~ Images ~~

This well-crafted movie touches you at more than one level. In Puro we find a forsaken girl ignominious of her new existence, aching at her misfortune, pining away for things beyond her reach, yet compromising with life and standing against dire circumstances when most needed. Even in her own misery, the vim and vigor with which she bounces back to support others is commendable and illustrates the never to give up on life attitude. Rashid portrays the other face of human side. Forever repentant of his single irascible misdeed, his lovelorn anguish and forbearance towards a hostile Puro strikes a chord of sympathy and exculpation. In Puro’s parents, we glimpse the strong bearing the society has on its people and their thinking; in her anxious brother, a genuine hankering to locate her but hopelessly pinioned by other elements; in her fiancé, a sense of tacit commitment; and in her sister-in-law, a ray of hope for a wishful new beginning.

~~ Inferences ~~

As mentioned earlier, Pinjar sheds light on the inequitable position of women in the society, the shame and brunt they face, even today, for no faults of their own. The forfeiting of women and heartless sacrificing of all their tender feelings, emotions and goodwill in the name of family honour, false prestige and pseudo norms of the society is inordinately showcased. At the same time, the gratification is in the strength of the women to stand above all odds and wage a never-ending struggle with cruel destiny to attain the miniscule position of being considered a human being.

The movie, besides depicting hypocritical nature of the society and its predisposition against women, also brings forth the detrimental consequences cast on individuals by ephemeral inflammatory insurrections that were so characteristic of that sensitive era. It’s very depressing to note that irrational chain of thoughts and inherent fear of loosing grounds in social circles makes people so callous, inhuman and almost savage. It somewhere makes you realize the futility of uncalled-for riots and division of society on communal lines, when no religion is greater or more worthy than humanitarianism.

~~ Highlights ~~

The highlight of this movie is undoubtedly its adept Direction. Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi maintains a fine balance between realism and melodrama while eliciting exalted performances by Urmila Matondkar (as Puro) and Manoj Bajpai (as Rashid). Similarly, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sanjay Suri and Sandali Sinha surprise you with their admirable work. Dr. Dwivedi excels rekindling latent patriotism without usual gimmicks of cheap sloganeering, glorifying good samaritans as God sent messiahs or unmindful siding with any particular party/ religion/ community. He also gives that just enough effeminate touch to the story treating it with a definite sensitivity while doing full justice to its original literature.

If story and performances are the soul of this movie, it’s the rustic Punjabi flavoured music by Uttam Singh that breathes new life. Outstanding lyrics by Gulzar (esp. in Charka chalati maa, Watana we, Choot gaye sab yaar) and soulful renderings bring lumps to the throat many a times. Art director Muneesh Sappel’s recreated sets and very authentic representation of the bygone era leaves you spellbound. A thorough credibility is seen even in the minutest details of costumes, settings and ambience of the yore.

~~ Some lingering shots ~~

Rejection of Puro by her parents citing what seems valid arguments and true-till-date reasons.

Discomfiture the family undergoes before the weddings of Puro’s brother and sister.

Puro scouring away the tattooed inscription of her muslim name on her forearm in complete distress and chagrin mirroring her inner refusal to accept the mortifying state-of-affairs

Her implicit admiration for Ramchand and accidental confrontation with him.

Her acidulous scorn for Rashid even in the most vulnerable times of her carrying his child.

Laajo’s innocent languishing for her husband’s attention.

Rashid’s reasoning with his family after the crops were burnt down.

Puro’s unrelenting efforts as rug vendor to locate Laajo in seized households.

The reuniting of brothers’ & sisters’ and finally mollified Puro in reconciliation with Rashid

May be serious cinema, may be for the classy and may be a little too misty-eyed.. but Pinjar is a must-see nonetheless.

Additionally, you wonder.. haven’t we all taken our Independence for granted.. indulging in communal riots and sundries till date.. without an ounce of realization for hardships, sacrifices and stakes people then put in? How does it even feel to be brutally uprooted from one’s motherland, his/ her own being and the very existence in the name of religion and to be forcibly evacuated as refugees elsewhere with no idea whatsoever of what future beholds? Why are we Hindu, Muslim, Sikh etc. first and human the very last?

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