Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Devaki - inspired from a true story

If you have watched movies like Banwandar or Bandit Queen, then Devaki is no different. All three films have been inspired by real-life incidents of female villagers and turned to films. Devaki was playing in film festivals and getting critically acclaim recognition.

Knowing what type of genre I was getting into, I was not expecting a masala movie. Instead I knew I was going to see a low production film that was depressing and real. How I got into Bollywood films was the unrealistic aspects of them -- falling love at first sight, singing/dancing to each other, parents changing their minds for you to be with the one you want to be with, etc.

Devaki is the story of two women's lives. Although both have different backgrounds, their fate ends up in the same path.


The character, Devaki, definitely is inspired by true events. However, I think the director, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay, added Nandini for an extra touch.

Devaki is a dalit, an untouchable, living in the village who wanted an education and to get married. Who would've thought her dreams would be shattered when she is forced to marry a 70-years-old man, in order to pay her father's debt and live the life of misery?

On the other hand, you have Nandini, an educated modern young woman who wants to change society and fight for what's right. Leaving for the city, she and Devaki keep in touch by writing to each other. Little did she know she has to take care of her life, which she has been running away from -- not being with the man that she loves, yet she is sleeping with him, even though he's married and has a child on the way. On top of that, she wonders why her father abandoned her mother and her for 15 years, resulting in her mother being in a mental insitute.

What really impress me was Devaki was played by Suman Ranganathan. I did not recognize her at all! What also impress me about the role of Devaki is she hardly have any dialouges and narrates what is going on. Suman acted through her emotions, eyes, facial expressions, and body language. Best I've ever seen her in! I'm so used to seeing her as a sexy avatar.

The urban girl who has her share of misery. Although she wants to help Devaki, she has to help herself first. Perizaad Zorabian spoke mostly in English for her character, Nandini. This pretty Parsi girl has appeared in a few Bollywood movies but most of them, she's been a supporting cast. But you may have seen her in Bollywood Calling or Jogger's Park.

Devaki's father. He has a debt to repay but can't. Therefore, he must marry his daughter off to a guy that is his age!!! It saddens me that this movie happened to someone. Fathers are suppose to protect their daughters. Instead, the daughter is being punished and abuse and the father can not do anything.

Devaki's 70-years-old husband and brother. Both brothers abuse and rape her.

Rahul (Ram Kapur) is Nandini's ex-flame. Yet she can not stay away from him. He's married and has a child on the way. He tells Nandini that he's still in love with her. Why can't she let him go?

Rahul's pregnant wife. She knows about his affair with Nandini. But why does she still want to be with Rahul?

Returning back to the city, Nandini ends up working for her long-lost father (George Baker). She doesn't tell him who she is.....yet. And learns the hard way that her life is heading down the same route as Devaki. One of her job is to get a client to be a part of her father's firm, persuading him in every way possible, even sleeping with the old man.

Devaki falls in love with Eepal (Arvin Tucker), a low caste runaway. She finally knows how it feels to be in love.

The villagers caught Eepal and Devaki making love. Both were taken to see the Panchayat for a form of punishment.

While deciding, Devaki is forced to hold a heavy stone over her heard. Her punishment is to be auction off.

The film is definitely disturbing. No happy ending. Plus you know it's based on true events. It saddens me because you would think we all have evolve and become better. The story of Devaki only happened in 2003. Ending credit shows stills from the real Devaki.

The well-known stone over head torture.

I find it ironic that she is named Devaki, which is also a Hindu God.

Two songs were featured in the film.

"Dil Naiyo" could have been removed from the film. It was just a dance number, in which Nandini was involved with making.

"Tore Bhaiyan" featured Eepal and Devaki falling in love.

I did not know the significance of an unknown man dressing up as two of the Hindu Gods since he did not do much. At first I thought it was an "imaginary" illusion but I was wrong. Anyone who can help me identify them? This part of the movie really made me go "WTF?"

Although Devaki was low budget and released to film festivals, there are some moments captured beautifully in the film.

The film is 1.5 hours long, definitely not a long film. However, some parts could have been deleted. Again, definitely a sad and depressing movie.


Anonymous said...

Re: "I did not know the significance of an unknown man dressing up as two of the Hindu Gods since he did not do much. At first I thought it was an "imaginary" illusion but I was wrong."

They're shown in other Indian/esque films too, e.g. Hava Aney Dey and Slumdog Millionaire. I'm guessing that there's a metaphorical meaning to it that god is omniscient. People, mainly children dressed up as deities are quite a common sighting in India, particularly during Hindu festivals.

So, did you like the film overall? If so, I think you'll be interested in Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003).

Bhargav Saikia said...

I never knew that a film of this name even existed!? Thanks for sharing! I would like to watch it sometime.

I guess the film's promotions were pretty low key?

Nicki said...

Hi Anonymous - I did see Slumdog Millionaire and knew what that reference meant. Not in the case with Devaki though.

Good question. I'm not sure if I liked the movie or not. Mainly cause it's more of a documentary. However, the way the film was shot, you could tell it's a very low budget film.

thanks for visiting and for telling me about Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003).

Nicki said...

No problem at all Bhargav. Even I never knew about it. One of my friends sent me the movie.

ajnabi said...

Wow, what a downer. I got into Bollywood for the same reasons as you; I don't know if I can bear this one.

BB said...

I can handle unhappy, but is this movie even half as disgusting as Bandit Queen? I mean, stuff like Bandit Queen, it strikes me as being 50% message, 50% shock value, and I hate it when movies are really graphic just for the shock value.

And isn't he dressed as Krishna?

Anonymous said...

offbeat, non-commercial movie.. never got to know about this one!!

Nicki said...

ajnabi - I know, it did take me a while to actually watch this film.

BB - Nope, the film isn't as graphic as Bandit Queen. It's more of a message-type of movie.

I don't know much about the Hindu gods so I can't say that he is dressed like Krishna or so.

Loud Beats - thanks for stopping by.

dunkdaft said...

There is one another movie like this one. Bawander starring Nandita Das. Do watch it.

I am missing Perizaad. She was lovely in whatever small small films she did.

Nicki said...

Darshit -Bawander is mentioned on review. Just that Bandit Queen was pointed out.

I do like Perizaad too

BB said...

I haven't seen the film, but it's probably Krishna, or some other avatar of Vishnu. Vishnu is described as being "the color of clouds," so he and his avatars are usually some blue color.

Nicki said...

BB - I just didn't to mislabel the Hindi Gods on the blog and hope that someone will let me know.

Unknown said...

nice post..
see more at:
Eetti (2015) Tamil Movie Review