Smriti Pictures' BAWANDAR is based on a true story.
Sanwari (Nandita Das) is the wife of rickshaw-puller Sohan (Raghuvir Yadav) and a mother to two kids. Sanwari is approached by 'Saathin' worker Shobha Devi (Deepti Naval) to take up cudgels against the prevalent system of child marriage. She does so with dynamism and in the course, invites the fury of the villagers.
To restrain her, they rape her in front of her husband, after beating him up and holding him captive. With Shobha's help, a distressed Sanwari manages to register her case, which creates a sensation in the country.
Against all odds, she maintains her dignity and courage as a woman and from a rape victim becomes a rape activist.
The best part of the film is its clarity and focus; never does once it deviate from the main plot. Though well shot, a film like this holds appeal only for a select few or those who believe in constructive cinema.
The narrative moves at a brisk pace and several sequences leave an indelible impression on the minds of the viewer. The storytelling is simple, but forceful. Though the film tells a sensitive story, not once does the viewer feel dejected or do the goings-on look morbid.
The Rajasthani setting ? the sand dunes and the colourful attires ? give the film an unsullied look, although the fact cannot be ignored that the dialect may restrict its appeal to a certain section of cinegoers. The background music and cinematography are up to the mark. Editing is tight; there are no loose ends in the film.
Director Jagmohan Mundhra deserves full marks for handling a sensitive story with utmost care and without resorting to clich?gimmicks. The film inspires the viewer to fight against injustice, which is a strong point. Sanwari and her husband, who stands by her throughout the ordeal, are potent characters.
Nandita Das delivers a power-packed performance. Only an actress of stature could've carried off this role with aplomb and it must be said to Nandita's credit that she doesn't let you down one bit.
Raghuvir Yadav enacts his part with maturity. Deepti Naval is quite alright. Laila Rouass is fair. Gulshan Grover is first-rate.
On the whole, BAWANDAR has already had its share of international awards and recognition. On the home turf, the film will meet with mixed reactions. Those who appreciate quality cinema will go for it, but the many awards in its kitty will not tempt the hoi polloi.