Matrubhoomi- A Nation Without Women


Written on 1:23 PM by Hemanth Kumar

Title: Matrubhoomi- A Nation Without Women
Language: Hindi
Year of Release: 2003
Director: Manish Jha
Actors: Tulip Joshi, Sushant Singh
Awards: Fipresci Award in non-competitive section at the Venice Film Festival 2003, Audience Award for Best Film at the Kozlin Film Festival 2003, Poland, Audience Award for Best Foreign Film at Thessaloniki Film Festival, 2003, Audience Award for Best Film at Florence Indian Film Festival, 2003

An unlikely story being produced by unlikely producers, Boney Kapoor and SriDevi....I am so damn sure that this flick directed by Manish Jha, who later came up with another movie named Anwar, would have struggled to make a mark in this mainstream film's era in India. What equally unlikely is a person appreciating the concept...even at college, most of the reviews that I had got's so Gross! Perhaps...but it's that very same concept which is narrated so dramatically makes its point very clear!

The film opens with a scene of a village in North India, where a just born girl child is killed when her father places her in a vat of milk offering her to God in return for a baby boy the next time. Then after some years, there's a situation where there are no more girls in the village and everyone's worried about their own marriages. The story revolves around a family of a father, his five sons and a servant. One day, a friend of the eldest son tells him that he's about to get married and invites him for the occasion. Out of rage, he convinces his father to look for a bride for him and his brothers. When the father tells about his son's friend's marriage to his family purohit, he suspects some foulplay and challenges that it cannot be possible since he's responsible to find a bride for almost everyone in the village. When they go to the marriage, this purohit reveals the secret that it's not a bride, but a boy disguised as a girl!....Then one day, while going around another village, the purohit, happens to see Kalki, a girl in her 20's and comes and meets her father. Then he tells the girl's father about the family in the other village; the girl's father asks for a "kanyashulk" of Rs.1 Lakh since he is the only one left with a girl child in the neighbouring villages. The Purohit goes back and tells about this to his master; who at that time, takes the youngest son along with him as the eldest isn't at home. When they meet the girl's father, he shows the picture of the eldest son...Kalki rejects saying that he looks too scary but wouldn't mind marrying the youngest son who has come with his father. This disappoints the guys' father and while going back he realises that this is the best chance for him to get his sons he goes back and offers a sum of Rs.5 Lakhs with a condition that Kalki should marry all his 5 sons. Kalki's father agrees and she gets married to all of them. On the eve of the first night, the eldest son is too drunk and all of them discuss how they are going to share her and who should go into the room first. All of them agree to send the eldest one first, but the father screams at everyone for having neglected him!!!....Then it is decided that the father would go in first and each one of them would get a day to sleep with Kalki and also that Kalki would have one day for herself!
As time passes by, each of the brothers except the youngest don't care about Kalki, she's just treated as a sex-object. Only the youngest son treats her with respect and she inturn genuinely begins to like him. Over the time, she doesn't let the other brothers come near her in bed; but is very playful and enjoys the company of the youngest son. When the other brothers come to know about this they hatch a plot. One day, the father insults the youngest son for scoring less marks in English and on the same day, out of jealousy the other brothers kill him outside the village. He's declared to have committed suicide for having scored less marks..this shatters Kalki completely. With the help of the servant boy, who's very nice to her, she plans to run away from the house to meet her father. But, the servant boy is shot dead and she somehow manages to send a message to her father pleading him to meet her soon; her father who now owns a house and a car in the nearby town, upon knowing that her father-in-law has also been sleeping with her demands an extra ransom of 1 lakh for the act!...and he simply leaves the house.

The family beats up Kalki and throw her in the cowshed by tying her to a pole. The servant boy's brother who lives in a nearby village hears about his death and is determined to take revenge. He along with another friend enter the cow shed and are on their way to kill the brothers. But they see Kalki lying down there and change their mind and come to a conclusion that if they rape her, that would be equivalent to taking revenge. A new servant boy is appointed and he takes pity of Kalki and feeds her every now and then and takes care of her. Day after day, the brothers and the father who have vowed to not have any kind of intimacy with Kalki, rape her in the cowshed and so do the two men who sneak in almost every night. One fine day, she becomes pregnant and the debate in the family is who's the father of the child! On the other hand, the two guys in the nearby village come to know about this and they think, one of them is the father of the child. When they go to the family to claim their child, they are driven away. Then a severe battle follows where the entire village from where the two guys hail from ravages this family and in the end almost everyone's killed. The father somehow manages to escape and he comes near Kalki to harm her, the servant boy upon seeing this, kills him! Finally, Kalki gives birth to a girl child....and there's eternal silence all around.

It seriously is an unusual story which deserves all the attention for the honesty with which it makes the point of gender inequality and its possible consequences. Although, it seems unlikely that such thing might happen, you really cannot rule out the possibility. It's a shocking film indeed, which might not go well with everyone...but when you hear someone talking how gross it was, well, you can be sure that the message go through!...The film also tries to address other issues like Sexual abuse in families and the socio-economic conditions on the lifestyle of people. The acting by the principal cast is good...Tulip Joshi excels in her role as an person who's silenced by almost everyone around and her only moments of joy are with the youngest son....esp when she is tied in the can so feel the pain and agony....A well shot, carefully handled movie which deserves much more from everybody.

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