India have produced only a few great biopic movies. And when it comes to living personalities it is nearly nil. Each and everytime I watch such a biopic in a foreign language, for eg movies on Ray or Malcolm X, I have wondered why our film makers are a big failure in this kind of movies. Sindhutai Sapkal is a living legend from Maharashtra, often called Mother Teresa of this state. I had only little knowledge about her, but this movie is an excellent biopic of this living legend.
12 year old Chindi has to take care of buffaloes and try hard to attend any school in between. Her father wants her to study, but her mother manges to get her married off, even before she attains puberty to a young man. Soon she is daughter of 2 boys and is carrying another. When there is a local issue between the poor villagers and the land lord, She speaks out for the villagers. To avenge this, the land lord lies to her husband that she is sleeping with the land lord. She is expelled from the husbands' home and gives birth to a girl in a cow's barn. Even her mother is reluctant to support her. Sindhutai sings and begs to live. Soon she sets out on a fight to support orphans like herselves.
The story might look simple, but it takes us through a journey from '59 to the present. The life of the 12 year old Chindi especially, is so well told and many scenes during this episode of Sindhutai's life are brilliantly shot. There are so many wonderfully moments which will create an impression on any kind hearts. And the most touching is of course the elderly husband approaching a 12 year old girl in a small sari, in the first night. And thereafter as she grows up, her life until she gives birth to her third child, is detailed in a 'brief' way. I must repeat this brief here, as the script or director never goes over board with any scenes. By Indian standards, it is all shot quite subtly, never going over board even for the scenes which would have normally been shot with an over dose of emotion. There after the second half of her life, where Sindhutai is a social personality, protecting orphans and working for them is told with an advanced pace, so as to keep the movie quite short. But the message is quite clear. So a lot of applause should go for the script and director. Having said that I must say, the director has taken every care on how the characters perform and in creating the general ambience and setting for the villages in the 60 - 70's. But he hasn't cared that much to check on the minute details of this period. But that is not quite important and are pardonable.
Mr. Mahadevan deserves a lot of praise to make such a movie with the emotional content kept under check. Through this life saga, in fact many problems faced by the majority unfortunates of India, especially women are high lighted. The denial of education, the journey at a very young age to husband's home, the dis pleasure by the husband and his family when the wife seems to be learned than the husband and so on (all this is happening, even today in India, for a big majority of women). The first speech of Sindhutai, where she denounce Lord Ram, as he didnt take care of his wife, was simply good.
Its two different actors who have performed the young (upto around 40 years)Sindhutai and the old. The younger one, by Tejaswini Pandit, especially, has given a beautiful performance. Cinematography was excellent. In fact it was brilliant in many scenes.
The movie is told through flash backs, as Sindhutai meets a pilot, performed by Mahadevan himself, in a flight. This was nicely done, but at least in few stages, the moments for going back to the flash back, looked quite made up. Only a small hinge though.
A very good biopic, which I wish, all fortunate women of India should watch.