Thursday, January 20, 2011


“The men of the village migrate to the city to work as craftsmen and artisans. They return once in three or four years to settle land disputes, marry or impregnate their wives. In cities cheap movies and visits to prostitutes relieve them of their frustrations but what about the women? Left alone to fend for themselves, eking out a living from the stony barren soil and tending to their children and old folk. When a gay Lothario lands in the village from Dubai, the cat is among the pigeons. He seduces a number of lonely women. When Taku, one of them, pregnant with his child decides to have the child, there is consternation. Rihaee (liberation) comes when an old woman, leads the village women to convince the men folk of their loneliness and needs and their wants.”
This is a synopsis of the movie ‘Rihaee’ starring Naseerudin Shah, Vinod khanna, Hema Malini, Neena Gupta, Rima Lagoo, Ila Arun, Mohan Agashe, Pallavi Joshi and many other great actors of parallel cinema. The movie was a random pick from an average video library of my town. I didn’t read the synopsis at the time I chose to buy it. What engrossed me was the star cast of the movie and of course the title of the movie which means freedom or liberation. But I read it before watching the movie and felt that I had made a good choice. And the viewing further substantiated my decision.
The movie is special, riveting, rebellious, and not the usual run of the mill type venture. The movie has taken leaps to raise the bar and establish new standards in the journey of Indian cinema. Arunaraje, the director of the movie has certainly made a very brave attempt to explore the starving sexuality of a group of lonely women and feed it with some solutions. One may call it a half hearted and incomplete attempt but the fact remains that it is an honest and tough attempt to begin with.
The movie highlights the core problem, the consequences, the repercussions and a possible solution for the turbulence. Here are few points which I gathered from the movie and feel that should be discussed in length.
•The men work in the city. Their women, left behind in the village, are lonely, sexually frustrated and desperate, amidst the ruthless living and working conditions of their place.
•The culturally backward and technologically deficient society in the village leaves them with nothing but groaning sexuality.
•Many a times, being promiscuous is the only option they have, to feed their sexual hunger and poverty, even if it is at the cost of their spiritual and individual integrity.
•Even the most honest and independent women of the village like Taku (played by Hema Malini) has no alternative left other than drooping down to the level of a concubine and get pregnant.
•But it’s a short treat. The men return to the village, celebrate the sexual extravaganza with their wives and sleep to peace. The tension results when Taku’s promiscuity and illegitimate pregnancy is revealed to her husband.
•Men can be dishonest and do whatever they want but cannot accept the same from the other sex, even if the circumstances explained are unavoidable and real.
•The rules are different. The verdicts are different. For both the sexes. Especially when sexuality is a matter of concern.
•A woman does have same instincts and similar sexual desire as a man does. If a man can be promiscuous, a woman can be promiscuous too, to satisfy her soul and desires of her flesh.
•Probably it’s the only movie to prescribe promiscuity a solution for the whole community, a community which has suffered a moral and spiritual disintegration in the heat of circumstances.
•The society has changed, people have changed, so has changed their morals and standards. Intelligence lies not only in accepting the change but also being the change we see around us.
•But a question arises. Can a single, wild, forceful penetration help a woman who is soiled with filth of loneliness and boredom for decades? May be it can help her someway. We shouldn’t be judgmental. But even the most forceful penetration would only provide some warmth to the upper layers of wound without tickling the core. The wound is deep, very deep. And the treatment is long, very long. The whole process is nothing but a wait and watch issue. The patient is critical. The prognosis is poor. Death knocks the door every second. Ghosts stare through the windows with mouths wide open. May the suffering ends soon.
•The things need to be addressed with an open mind. The social scenarios have changed and we are left with only few options. May be we would need to start from scratch, devise new methodology, and establish new norms. May be we need to do nothing at all. But we must consider this a warning, come out of our shelters and wait for the earthquake. Old structures would collapse. And new ones would have to be constructed.
•May be out of some womb, a Draupadi is born again…