If selective outrage is your cup of tea, then ‘Sairat’ is the right filmy destination for you. It is made by dalit moviemaker Nagraj Manjule. The dominant Hindu castes are of course the villains for him as they are for so many dalits. The film is typically a film that will be applauded by the politically correct crowd, for it shows the dominant Hindu castes as the evildoers- exactly what the politically correct crowd would like it to be portrayed. It was already selected by the Berlin film festival for screening, probably because it showcases what the western crowd would like India’s image to be permanently be etched as- as a land where the barbaric dominant castes tyrannise the lower castes all the time .
The director would like to create the image that the situation in India was always like this i.e. dominant castes ruling the roost and lording over the others. However while attacking the dominant castes for this tyranny , the director conveniently forgets one thing—India was ruled by foreigners for 1000 years until recently and during this time all Indians (including the dominant castes) were at the receiving end of tyranny. Barbaric Turko-Afghan invaders ruled the roost for 700 years and even the upper castes saw their temples demolished and their women raped. But this is the truth that the politically correct crowd would like to hide. The same critics who are praising ‘Sairat’ to the skies attacked films like ‘Phantom’ and ‘Welcome to Karachi’ because they were critical of Pakistan—a country which sees the barbaric Turko-Afghans as it’s ideals .
So what is it about ‘Sairat’ that the critics and the politically correct crowd would like to praise? It is particularly the last scene that must have made them like the film- for it shows the honour killing of a couple who has eloped. The boy is lower caste and the girl belongs to the dominant caste and they had eloped years ago and have a son now. Relatives of the girl come to meet the couple, look at pictures of the couple’s son, but still they do not waiver from their aim. The girl’s brother who kills his own sister and her husband knows that he is going to orphan his sister’s son but still does the gruesome act of murder. The awards are obviously going to pour in!!
Acting wise the heroine (Rinku Rajguru) has done a great job. She is the one who calls the shots in the relationship- initiating the relationship by inviting the boy to a walk in the fields and saying ‘ I love you’, telling her cousin who opposes this from backing off from beating her beau on pain of punishment, saving her boyfriend and his friends from being held by police by creating a scene in the police station, initiating the elopement by running away from home with lots of money and riding a powerful motorcycle in style!! She is dusky in complexion, a change from Bollywood heroines who are either fair in colour or are made to look fair if they are not (another PC).
The hero (Akash Thosar) is fairer in colour, the typical chocolate hero. But he is over shadowed by the heroine , both in the film and in the acting department.
The heroine is named Archana but is called Archie. The boy is named Prashant and is called Parshya. They speak Marathi in rural style. Archie is a Maratha by caste, not a true upper caste like brahmins, but the dominant caste in Maharashtra since the days of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Once again, I would like to point out that the Marathas themselves lived under the tyranny of the Turks until Shivaji taught them to fight for their rights and hence were victims themselves. But the director and the critics would like us to not remember this fact.
Love between the star crossed couple brings about savage beatings on the boy and his friends and he is saved only by the feisty heroine who fires a gun to ward off the attackers. They run away to Hyderabad and build a new life there. The couple fight and argue because they find it difficult to adjust there and the boy becomes jealous and insecure. Inspite of everything that happened, the heroine still remembers her father and brothers as good people and pines for them. It is her attempt to re-establish contact with her family which brings on the tragedy.
Photography of the film is really good, with wide shots of green sugarcane fields and magnificent sunsets over calm but mighty rivers. Songs are good too and so is the music. The flavour of rural Maharashtra is shown so well in the film. Acting is damn good by practically everyone .
The age of the couple is barely eighteen at the time of elopement-so they are kids, just teenagers. The climax is set deliberately to surprise you- it explodes suddenly. But I being experienced in seeing films could see it coming. Things were moving far to smoothly for the couple towards the end for something terrible not to happen.
Three and a half stars