Cast: Meenu Hooda, Ridhima Sud, Sumeet Vyas, Kuldeep Ruhil
Director: Madhureeta Anand
A thriller set in Haryana that explores the issue of female Infanticide, this one has been attempted as a fable with a ‘plot purposely constructed to reveal deep truths’ and it shows. The story harps about female oppression- prejudices, harassment and abuse and paints a devastatingly grim and unrelieved picture of the landscape that overrides humanity in favour of male supremacy.
This dramatic social thriller has its heart and mind in the right place but the execution and treatment, while not exactly unaccomplished, is a little too dark and unforgiving to be palatable to the larger audience base out there.
Writer-Director Madhureeta Anand puts-in a lot of grit to construct a believable set-up. The lead actors are from the broad region around which the story is set while the secondary cast consists of locals. Statistical data of female infanticide (ten million baby girls killed) since 1986 is used to justify the one-track causative nature of the story-telling. The treatment is minimalistic and the tone is vigorously harsh.
Societal Apathy, collusion of families, exploitative media in pursuit of sensational headlines, ineptitude of the law enforcement agencies come in for hard hits. Kajarya (Meenu Hooda), exploited as a child widow and then turned into an infant killer to propagate a counterfeit religious practice. In a drunken stupor she believes she is an agent of Goddess Kali, performing her duty to the goddess by snuffing out the innocent young lives of the new born baby girls brought to her for slaying.
Newly minted journalist Meera (Ridhima Sud), eager to see her own byline in print, scavenges for a front-page worthy story and conveniently stumbles on the village secret. She convinces Kajariya anonymity but reneges on that promise. Once that story is out, the law pounces on Kajarya- who becomes the convenient scapegoat for it all. Meera comes back to fire her final salvo asking Kajarya ‘if she would apologise to the victims’ families’ but it’s Kajariya who scores the hit by being unapologetic of her role. It was after all the families themselves who came to her with their newborn infants to be sacrificed.
There’s no doubting the cause and the hard hitting nature of this narrative but there’s not much attachment to be had here. The unrelieved nature of the story-telling doesn’t allow for much involvement and the distancing from neighborhood reality also makes the experience well short of involving. Performances are adequate but the background score is a trifle off-putting. This is definitely not an easy watch.