Monday, January 02, 2006

Sati -1989 Bengali

Aparna sen's 3rd movie is a story set in the 19th century, even before the british raj abolished the inhuman act of sati.But this is not a movie about sati, but rather a look at the way women where treated at that time period.

The movie is the story of a mute girl uma(shabana azmi).Uma is an orphan who was bought up by her uncle. The mute uma also has problems in her horoscope.Who ever marries her will die for sure.Her uncle's own daughter is ready for marriage but uma being the eldest the problem of younger marrying before elder arises. So the men folk and the local priest decide to marry her to a tree, with the idea that her younger sister can get married without any issues.A human being married to a tree and the complications that arise out of it is the movie.

The groom

The Bride

The feminist aparna sen treads her favorite path.The movie shows how women where exploited during that time period.The movie actually starts with an act of sati being performed.The widow who is kind of unconscious is being taken to the pyre and two guys are talking one says that the widow is very brave she didn't even utter a word or protest against the sati.For that the other guy replies that is cause she was already given opium.

It is a time period when having a sati in the house is considered a great fortune and the bride that does not protest and burn in silence is considered an angel. But the movie is not about sati,it is about how women where treated during that time period. Aparna brings in various feministic issues into the main thread.Like Uma's brother who only has daughters does a second marriage just like that to arrange finances for her marriage and to have a son.The way a small boy in the family is given more preference over Uma to name a few incidents.

Mute Uma representing the 19th century women who didn't have any voice in the society marries another mute and unimportant thing of those days, the tree. But the Tree at the end turns out to be a better deal to her.

The movie is not the best of aparna, it could have been done a lot better, the script fails to put together the central theme well as aparna deviates into many issues. Added to it is the complex role of uma, which shabaha didn't play that convincingly. A different story.

shabhana and aparna

Shabhana is the assistant director for aparna sen's movie Guglel.

The rest of the story and what to make out of the ending.

Uma who is married to the tree, longs for human touch and she is used by a family acquaintance nabin. she becomes pregnant and the family wants to get rid of the baby.
The medicine woman who gives the abortion medicines says that they have to do that only as there is no one man enough in the village to step up and accept the child.
The medicine fails; uma and the family seem to be heading towards a disgrace.

But a stormy night ends the movie with the tree falling and killing uma. The symbolic meaning of it this that, in a village of coward men, the tree, uma's husband steps up and saves her dignity. The dead body of uma with blood in the forehead resembles the vermilion of the wife.Uma who died with her husband tree has symbolically become a sati, the virtuous woman who dies with her husband.

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