Cast: Lalit Prabhakar, Bhagyashree Milind, Ankita Goswami, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Kshiti Joag, Yogesh Soman, Jayant Savarkar, Atharva Phadnis, Bary Jhn, Sonia Albizuri
Director: Sameer Vidwans
Rating: * * ½
This biopic about the first Indian woman to study medicine and become a doctor at an age (1800s) where such achievements by Indian women were rather against the grain, is a rather unaffecting trip down memory lane. Anandi was married at a very young age and her much older husband Gopal (Lalit Prabhakar) – for whom it was a second marriage, was a trailblazing warrior for gender equality. As the narrative depicts, it was Gopal’s coercion (both covert and overt) that got Anandi to achieve something that no other Indian woman had achieved and at such a very young age.
The narrative begins in 1857 when Anandi, a child still, is being married off to a widower, postmaster Gopal Joshi, who already has a son from a previous marriage. His one condition for the marriage is that Anandi promises to continue her education after marriage. Of course, it’s not an easy vow to keep as there are other pressures working against such a progressive mindset. The script by Karan Siddhant Sharma, with dialogues by Irawati Karnik aid Sameer Vidwans’ workmanlike narrative as it takes us through her grind – faithfully making us privy to the many challenges of her young life.
But the most intriguing aspect of this story is the brand of tough love that Gopal Rao displays in his obsession to make his young wife the stirring example of achievement that broke the backbone of Brahmanical tradition. The relationship between the husband and wife may not be an entirely pleasant sight given the almost despotic demands that Anandi has to live up to, but there is a strong surge of affection ameliorating the brutal aspects of their connection.
The camerawork and period accoutrements are pretty much believable here. The editing though could have been much sharper as the 134 min runtime gets a little too unwieldy. The music is a lot ingratiating and gets a little too overbearing in its efforts to yield emotion. Whatever the merits or demerits of this creation it’s heartening to see that Marathi cinema, at least, is focussing its might on telling stories from India’s unique past!