Review: THE SILENCE (Marathi)

Predictable Rape Victim Tale.

1.5 stars

Mini Review:

A rich commodities trader who beats his wife and sexually exploits women labourers rapes his very young niece. This traumatised child grows up and witnesses a rape. Will she speak up? Why does the aunt not speak up against her trader husband? Why do common people not defy the exploitation?The film is award winning, and despite the stunning cinematography of the countryside, it remains an extended TV show like Crime Patrol and Savdhaan India. Who also claim their stories are based on true incidents.

Main Review:

The screenplay sets the story back and forth between Mumbai and the village and a small town. Even though it’s a good use of flashback, the characters we see on screen are mere tropes: a lascivious film casting director in Bombay, movie extras (Junior artists) who given in because ‘such is life’ and ‘you have do such things to survive’, a defiant young girl who knows she will get into trouble but still raises her voice, the village bumpkin who sells candy floss in order to make a living for his daughter and himself, the innocent daughter, the exploitative trader who is rich enough to buy a hundred sacks of chillies and rice and what have you, his pathetic sad wife who he beats up ever so often, the women labourers who are raped and then their wages given…

There are so many stereotypes, you are so frustrated as you watch the film. Great shots like the little girl watching her candy floss seller dad fish in the lake are stunning and will soothe your disappointment. But is it enough?

The story of the exploitative trader reminds you of all the rapist zamindaar stories you have seen in Hindi movies with Ranjeet, Amrish Puri and other villains cast in similar roles. In Marathi films too Nilu Phule and his ilk have raped and pillaged women from the villages. So what’s new here? Even the drumming monkey toy that the child uses in the godown where she is raped is a such a tired device.

Amruta Patil plays the browbeaten wife of the trader (played Nagraj Manjule) who toys with the idea of adding rat poison to her husband’s tea. Even this is not unique. And she thinks about it so much you wish you could reach into the screen and dump the poison in the tea yourself.

Raghubir Yadav plays a simple village bumpkin who sells candy floss to send his little girl Chini to school (grows up to be Mugdha Chaphekar). He is earnest in his portrayal too.

The trouble with this film is the subject. It is so tired, that no matter how much the actors give of themselves to the roles, the result is boringly predictable.

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