January 19, 2012
It’s a story about a woman, her misfortune and society’s misjudgement. Young Indian filmmaker Ashtar Sayed’s debut feature âBijukaâ (Scarecrow) narrates the tale of a Rajasthani village belle, Lalli, whose husband’s physical and emotional impotence forces her to commit a fatal mistake.
Right after the wedding night, Lalli faces hardship at her in laws’ home. No one is nice to her. The worst part of her conjugal life — her husband is never intimate with her, showing no sign of love. Rather, he reprimands her all the time. Gradually Lalli’s frustrations turn into anger; she leaves her in laws’ and moves back to her parents’ home, refusing to go back to her husband.
Her husband asks for the help of Panchayet (village authority). As Lalli’s in laws are powerful, they ask the village authority for a favour. When the village headman is about to unjustly accuse Lalli, she reveals the truth about her husband. Confident of her innocence, a bold Lalli tries to prove her husband’s impotence in front of all. Unfortunately, the Panchayet is enraged by this public demonstration of defiance and Lalli pays heavily for her audacity. A group of people led by the headman abuse her. The shattered young woman ends up killing her husband.
The film is based on a true story that took place in a remote village in Rajasthan, India. The film informs that the woman — whom the protagonist has been modelled after — is facing a life sentence at present.
It’s a dark, bleak story without any shred of joy. The utter desolation of the story is further bolstered with the heavy use of low light. Arti Rautela plays Lalli, while Amit Purohit dons the role of her husband.
One of the most significant aspects of the film is: it reveals a darker side of India, which is speeding towards a global superpower status, yet fails to ensure justice for its citizens living in the remote areas.
âBijukaâ was screened at the Shawkat Osman Auditorium, Central Public Library, on January 17. The film is one of 17 entries in the Australasian section of Dhaka International Film Festival 2012.