Cast: Chetan Sharma, Tanima Bhattacharya, Harish Kumaar, Jagat Singh, Samarth Shandilya, Milind Gunaji
Director: Dedipya Joshii
Rating: * *
A threadbare salvo against the practice of marrying off mature women of legally marriageable age to young male progeny (as young as 7 and 8 years of age), Saankal meaning shackle, tries to give us a handle on this ill-begotten practice that has its roots in the Thar desert region, midst of the India-Pakistan border areas.
Unfortunately, the manner in which it is presented doesn’t quite educate or throw light on the real reasons why this practice came into being. What we get is a side-show about older men in the family needing sex-slaves because their wives have become unfit and therefore they marry their young male children to women who can be the receptacle for their shady desires.
Tradition, rituals, taboos, social obligations are just words bandied about in this farcical drama that sutures a love story into the narrative, dipping to murder and inevitable tragedy and finally, upliftment of a sort. Kesar (Chetan Sharma) the protagonist murders his father because he is enraged by the violation of his beloved wife Abeera (Tanima Bhattacharya). With no option but to go to jail, he abandons Abeera with their daughter and runs off to seek help from a photographer (Milind Gunaji) he befriended.
On his return to the village, a few years down the line he finds Abeera married off to another young child and the child’s father and uncles using her as their sex slave. He wants to rescue her but Abeera prefers death and exhorts him to save their daughter instead – which he does. The narrative takes the expected route but without any logic or legal sense. Performances are sincere, but the songs make the effort laden and the writing is pretty shoddy. The attempt here is noble enough but what’s the point if the work is not accomplished enough to matter?