Cast: Vidya Balan, Chunky Pandey, Gauahar Khan, Sumit Nijhawan
Director: Srijit Mukherji
1947, India and Pakistan decide to go separate ways like conjoined twins. Albeit without much luck. Radcliffe drew a line which only had geographical implications for life does not follow this subject, things are different. One line three nations and the life of people cannot be dictated by the lines. At least that’s what Begum Jaan, says and does. She runs a brothel and all inmates have a story. Her crumbling mansion on Punjab – Pakistan border is beautifully placed nowhere yet the world goes to her. She and her kingdom set in barren place surrounded by pristine nature, is a depiction of the life of these women amongst the well to do and well respected.
Begum Jaan she is called and manages her kingdom with her version of iron fist. She (Vidya Balan) and her girls have the local Kings patronage. She loves to tell the world about this connection. She takes no nonsense and the locals and the administrators fear her. She is all mush and all tears and emotions, but she has a business to run and her employees must always remember that loyalty runs the show. She cannot be made fun of . She sells bodies, she says, so what, it’s a product and rules have to be followed. Her rules. She won’t move and she gets into multi level fights with people who count her as a fringe benefit to the society and hence open to manipulation. Law enforcing teams lose a battle of evacuation with her. She fights the patriarchy with their own weapon. After all, she is there because of the men. So why should she be ousted now?
She and her hookah are image creators, she rules, sets rules, and rules her fate. She has women from all over the country and from various backgrounds, castes and religions. From riots to abandonments to bad marriages to cheating in love. She has a razor sharp tongue and sharper attention to details. Motto of her company is “Only men have freedom” and hence we shall not question and just do our duty. Since she is into the field of providing carnal service, she manipulates and can pick a fight basis the dirty secrets that all strata of the society coming to her hold.
Nothing has changed, it’s a give and take world and parallel stories of the characters prove this point and remind us that 1947, 2047 or 30147 some basics of society never change. Men will not change. There are several problems. People from political parties who are out to resolve world problems have their problems too.
It’s a brilliant attempt at bringing to screen a story which is fresh and will continue to do so till our delusional society changes. The movie has sharp dialogues and Vidya movie is never a let down. Exemplary support from Pallavi Sarda, Vivek Mushran, Gauahar Khan, Chunkey Pandey as a contract killer and Sumit Nijhawan will surprise you. The beauty of the film is that there is no end. It shows thematically that these things continue decade after decade and every generation it chips away at the morality of the race. It is a Vidya Balan film. That’s it watch it and infer.