Anarkali of Arrah Movie Review

Cast: Swara Bhaskar, Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra
Director: Avinash Das

This movie is all shiny purples, pinks, loud, crass, double meaning and kitsch. I Its all about the base. For every urban lounge and club we have a village equivalent of entertainment. It is also about the career choice of an under privileged girl. There are some careers where the world feels that it is wrong to seek dignity. This is movie is about one such job. The subject is also very uncomfortable and layered, much like not wanting to know where the meat comes from and what the heavily painted woman on the road does in the dark.

Life is tough for the orchestra singer Anaarkali (Swara Bhaskar) in South Bihar’s Arrah. Sings songs with double meaning, lyrics and hence is considered from the fringes of society and is treated as a sex worker.

Her audience and admirers include the rajas and the prajas. Dharmendra Chauhan (Sanjay Mishra), the Vice Chancellor of a prestigious university belongs to category 1. He is shady, alcohol  gets the better of him and he physically attacks and molests her. She does not agree with this turn of events. She seeks justice. Janata thinks she is wrong to ask for justice since she had chosen to work in such a field and molestation is a mild professional evil. The masses don’t understand , ahem ….actually don’t want to that when a woman says no it is a no. The victim cannot afford legal counsel. She is fighting a lonely war.It’s her fight and the men for the life of them can’t figure out why she is fighting. She wants her respect and wants to bring the perpetrator to book. The society is macho-chauvinistic and all these mundane things like respect, dignity don’t’ apply and are not seen as important for women.  The director rightly understands this and display that through the efforts of the characters to be social guardians with morals, however, inside they are the evil denizens of the world. Here male egos rule and nothing else matters. The world knows it, the audience realizes it and they start evaluating the situation and at one point may even forget this is Bihar. She has her tiny victory in a struggle riddled feminine existence. It’s a tiny island of success in an ocean of troubles.  With Swara Bhaskar as the main lead the movie is set to be counted in the list of must watch. She is unrecognizable as the cheap heroine and fiery as the woman wronged. Pankaj Tripathi and Sanjay Mishra form the other angles of this story and that’s enough to drive home the point.

The most crucial point is that we realize that orchestra singers, cabaret dancers, bar workers, street walkers are all doing a job they think will work and sort their lives. It’s time that the marginalized groups are counted in and as  part of the development. For that they have to be considered important and while a lot of movies have covered their existence movies like these are necessary to speak the truth. It gets them focus and helps support their battles and most importantly gives them immense respect. Here is the story of a woman who may not have a bank balance, but has lots of strength in balance.

This movie fought battles with the censor board who runs scared of reality. Talk about any publicity is good publicity and it packs a punch. The movie begins with a disclaimer but ends with a disturbing thought for some brethren who don’t seem to be counted among equals.


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