Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pinjar (Movie)

Director: Dr. Chandra Prakash Dwivedi
Starring: Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sanjay Suri, Sandali Sinha, Ishaa Koppikar, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Lillette Dubey, Farida Jalal, Alok Nath and Seema Biswas

Saw this wonderful movie yesterday. Based on well- known Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam's novel "Pinjar" (Skeleton), this visually beautiful, emotionally stirring and historically sound movie had me glued to the TV screen for the full length of the film (unusual for me, I usually take lots of breaks when watching a Hindi movie.)

It has been well documented that the Partition (the division of India along religious lines into India and Pakistan by the ruling British in 1947) was the single largest uprooting of people in contemporary history and where atleast a million people lost their lives, not surprisingly,it (the Partition) has perhaps been the most widely- explored subject in Indian cinema however, what makes the film "Pinjar" different is that it deals with a practice that unfortunately became quite common during the partition of India - the abduction of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh women (usually brides-to-be) , by men from religious communities other than theirs and being forced into marriage with these men. These abductions and forced marriages took place as a means to "settle scores" between enemy and aggrieved parties (religious strife was rife in the months leading up to the Partition of India).

Sleeping with the Enemy

The unlucky girl not only had to bear the misfortune of marrying her kidnapper and bearing him children, but also, she was made to change her religion to that of her husband's. After Independence, the authorities would try to arrange the repatriation of a rescued bride to her home, but the family of such a woman were very reluctant to take her back, for having borne the children of the "enemy" she was a "fallen" woman and could bring great shame upon the house. There are no reliable figures, but social workers at that time put the figure of abducted women at 75,000 to a 100,000.Scores of vulnerable women committed suicide or were killed by their own menfolk to stop themselves from falling into enemy hands.

The Film

The protagonist of Pinjar is Pooro, a Hindu girl. On the eve of her wedding she is abducted by a Muslim man (Rashid) who was pressured by his family to avenge the kidnapping and rape of his aunt by Puru's uncle many years before. Puru is devastated at first, but after being rejected by parents and realizing that she only has Rashid (who fortunately has fallen in love with her), she slowly settles down in her new life and becomes a kind of a woman's activist - taking up the cudgels for women weaker than herself. I won't give away anything more about the movie, except to say, be prepared to be moved.

The book:

I haven't read it yet, but here's the opening lines of the nouvella, courtesy Amardeep Singh

"The sky was a colorless grey. Pooro sat on her haunches with a sack spread beneath her feet. She was shelling peas. She pressed open a pod and pushed out the row of peas with her finger. A slimy little slug stuck to her thumb. She felt as if she had stepped into a cesspool; she ground her teeth, flicked off the slug and rubbed her hand between her knees.

Pooro stared at the three heaps in front of her: the empty husks, the pods, and the peas she had shelled. She put her hand on her heart and stared off into space. She felt as if her body was a pea-pod inside which she carried a slimy white caterpillar."

Nomadica suggested I watch "Khamosh Pani", a Pakistani movie with a similar theme and I am so glad I did. The movie explores the life of one of these abducted women - it's definitely well worth a watch!


beenzzz said...

Lotus. Wow! Those poor women. It's so sad that they are forced to live with a group of individuals that they don't even know, change their religion, marry the men, and have have children. But what gets me the most, is how the families of these women react to taking them back. They are damaged goods. How horrible! Now I want to see this movie out of sheer curiousity. Thanks for the recommendation.

angela said...

Wow, sounds very moving!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Beenzzz!

Yes, it was sad and one of the lesser-known evils of the Partition. Besides being damaged goods, these women were not taken back by their families because their kids were of mixed blood - a huge no-no in India at time. Books and movies on the Partition always interest me because my dad, as a Hindu, had to flee Lahore after it became a part of Pakistan - there, a little bit of personal history! :)

Hello, Angela and thank you for visiting :)

Foodie's Hope said...

I have watched that movie, liked it a lot! Little scary to imagine myself in that situation and time! But good to know!

nomadica said...

Lovely film. And very moving. I saw it a couple of years ago. It's the kind of film that really leaves you thinking about that part of history and how much people really suffered. Khamosh Pani tackles a similar subject, but in a different manner.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Asha!

True, it is always so nice when you come away from a movie learning something.

Hi, Nomadica!

I really want to see "Khamosh Pani" and perhaps the only way I can do it is to sign up with netflix Canada...I just hope they have a good selection of movies. I will go check them out now.

Lotus Reads said...

Oh, Nomadica, guess what? I found the DVD of Khamosh Pani at my public library, yeay! I have put a hold on it and should receive it in a couple of days! :)

Saaleha said...

Sounds like a book that I would love to read - soon. And a movie that will most likely watch. Thanks lotus

Susan in Italy said...

I sounds really inspiring that she's able to accept even that fate and to create something good from it.

Lotus Reads said...

You're so welcome, Saaleha! I'm so thrilled to see you back. I know you're off again, but really nice of you to have visited. Yes, I think you will enjoy Amrita Pritam.

Hi, Susan!

It is, it is (inspiring)! You don't have to be a victim of fate, you can rise above it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anjali:
This movie looks a "Must See" for me. I had not heard about it. I so love the Hindi Movies.Every Friday night in our house is what we call "Hindi Night" we watch a Hindi movie and munch take out from our favorite Indian restaurant. I will see if I can get this one for Friday.
BTW, Love your bookshelves, wonderful colours. The little altar you have is so pretty. Who are the gods you have there.
Take Care

Lotus Reads said...

hi, Sylvia!

Thrilled to see you here...I was going to e-mail you as I haven't seen you in quite a while.

Your "Hindi Night" sounds like so much fun! What's your favorite Indian take-out food?

Pinjar is a good movie, you won't be disappointed. I'm on a Hindi movie trip at the moment, so stay tuned! ;)

nomadica said...

Yay..I'm glad you found some good DVDs at your library! I hope you enjoy Khamosh Pani and In the Mood for Love!

Bookfool said...

Oh, wow, that sounds really powerful. We're studying the Biblical book of Daniel in my little Bible study group and I take it that forcing people to give up their religion and worship the enemy's has been a long-standing method of revenge as Daniel was a captive who refused to stop worshipping his God and was repeatedly threatened with death (but his ability to translate dreams saved him). It's really a very cruel thing, just the religion part alone - to have to marry the enemy and then lose acceptance in your own culture would be such a horror.

Lotus Reads said...

How interesting, bookfool! I guess the logic is, strip a man of his religion (same with language) and you rob him of his identity. I remember reading the story of Daniel long,long ago in Sunday school (I studied in a convent) and I absolutely LOVED the part about him in the Lion's Den. I'd like to go back to reading the Bible some day.

J said...

I'm thinking I would like to see this movie...thanks for the review. :) I'll add it to my Netflix, and maybe invite my MIL over to watch it with me. We like to see the Hindu movies together.

night vision said...

good site

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone

Perla said...

Hi everyone, I am from Perú and i want to say how much Pinjar is a nice movie, nice story, this movie makes my heart feels everything for that it is a good movie

Benudhar said...

Oh it is a nice story.puroo's character touches my heart.