Culture > Questioning Sairat’s politics
  • Ushma

    I don’t understand how,out of the thousands of people who watched this movie, nobody voiced their rage against the scene where Archie is physically abused by Prashya
    Is this how backward Indian mentality still is? We’ve all managed to overlook abuse because it’s a “cutesy” love story
    Thank you for this article. I’m glad someone else found it sickening too

  • Nandita

    Brilliant anslysis in the comment above by Angelina. Oddly, upon reading her comment, I experienced some closure about the ending. With many unsaid, unseen, unfinished statements about their life together, Archie & Parshya feel more real. Thank you Angelina for your comment.

  • Angelina

    This is a very interesting article. But there are few things that you are not taking into consideration.

    It is a work of fiction. Director himself agreed that he had amplified the assertiveness of his female character to get the points across. You can’t have too many alpha characters in a movie. It would have diluted the story. There are touches of feminine strength. Their protector is a single mother who was left by a man but who survived without becoming a cliché. Parshya’s mother or his grandmother don’t look to be weak. The only woman who seems weak is Archie’s mother. The fact that she has no visible means to support herself has made her overly dependent on her husband, although I wonder what her mom’s actual story is – whether the woman is really weak or she simply chooses to take a path of least resistance; I wonder what she felt about her son and husband who killed her daughter. I am also intrigued by her cousin’s motivation to help her in the end – was it to stop Archie from becoming like her mother and lose her spark? Her cousin seems to like her more than her own brother.

    The movie is female-oriented because the story moves around Archie. Perhaps it is the caste that gives her strength or her lenient father who seems to dote on her. It is immaterial. Archie takes the first step towards love; suggests elopement; saves her love from the beating; gets the money (her jewelry) to survive; and in the end she is the one who makes most of the decisions. She is the one who learns another language; moves to a managerial position; and works with an agent to get a good house. When she moves to the city for the first time, she is disoriented. She is staying with a person who is essentially a stranger. Puppy love does not equate to family. Stolen moments are just that. They don’t have depth. She is moving from a good, settled life to attempt the big unknown. It is an enormous change for her. She is very young. It takes time for her to cope with it but she does that. Archie is shown to have lots of say in her married life. Parshya seems to agree with most of her decisions. She drives the motorcycle with her husband and the son in the back seat – a symbol of her control over the family decisions.

    The truth is, by having a strong female character, the director had to make his hero a ‘beta’ male. No bhaigiri. His so-called attributes are important to show his future loss. You can’t have a person, who lives in a village shanty, have problems when he has to live in an urban slum. There is no difference. His loss is more subtle. For what it is worth, in the village, he had loving parents and awesome friends; he himself was a good sportsman on whom his friends depended and was a good student. He had an identity – people liked him. He had a chance of securing a better future. Even if he was from Paradhi family, he would have made it. Caste prevents Parshya from hitting upper caste males of course but is he really violent by nature? He is not asserting his rights as a man who can hurt women but as someone who is struggling to hide his fear — he still believes Archie’s parents will take her back. With each successful step she takes, he feels like he is losing her. For him Archie is the most unique thing he got, lost and got back again. He is truly in awe of her. By subverting his fear of losing her, she gains upper hand in their relation. It also melts away any hard edges he may otherwise have developed. His loss while not visible is very deep. Without her, he is truly alone. He has zero contact with his parents.

    They are both immature when they run away. The devastation that comes out of this ill-planned elopement is too big a step for kids of their age. For Archie, it is surviving in a place that she never thought she would live in. For Parshya being male, he is now held responsible for both their upkeep. Both are now made aware of the limitations of their love. It is when they get back together after the first tiff do they realize that they will have to really work together. Their puppy love is not enough. The fact you don’t see them getting married and having kids till they are in twenties (I am assuming 5-7 years have passed) shows they have gained real maturity. Their goal is to uplift themselves. The fact that they watch a couple get beaten up without helping shows how insidious the class-caste system is and how difficult it is to break it. As time progresses, Archie and Parshya become mere spectators. Their story has become mute by the struggles that has taken some stuffing out of them. They are aware of class and caste system too well to feel outrage. Their child is a symbol of their future. If he is given better life, they feel they will have assurance of having made it.

    Tatya may be Parshya’s tormentor. But enough years have passed for Parshya to remember the man only as Archie’s father. Tatya did not become villain in Parshay’s life till Parshya fell in love with the man’s daughter. Caste along with class is present in the village but it is not omnipresent like in Fandry. In Parshya’s mind, there is guilt of their elopement having separated daughter and father. Archie loves her family acutely. She misses her father every day. Now that Parshya is a father, he understands the longing. Besides, Archie is only one who can contact her parents. Parshya has no knowledge about his parents. There is a feeling in him that at least his son will have one set of grandparents.

    If Nagraj Manjule’s story seems unilateral it could be because he is looking at the story from the perspective of a backward class person. He cannot sympathize too much with people who look down upon him. All the stories spread regarding his wife should have been warning about smear campaign. There is no reason for anyone to wait so long if they need justice. Nagraj was already becoming famous for his Fandry. The whole timing is suspicious.

  • Rahul

    What a terrible article! The author seems to make a “mark” by going against the stream and I don’t blame her for that. She assumes so many things and finds her own conclusions.
    Why would she want Manjule to make a film about every character in this movie? He chose the story and just trying to tell- just finding fault in a work of art just for the sake of criticism- is preposterous.

  • Moses Tulasi

    After I got over the initial euphoria over the reversal of gender roles and the refreshing female gaze, something started to bother me with Archie’s characterization. Then came the news about the director Nagraj Manjule’s ex-wife’s inhuman mistreatment by him and the family. At this point, I went and watched the film again and there it was – although the film dares to take up caste, it does it in a very uni-dimensional way and as I was struggling to articulate my thoughts around it, Firdaus Soni so eloquently lays down point by point, the questionable politics of the film. MUST READ!

  • Helen

    Working several years with Maratha dominated villages, I have one thing to say – not all girls adhere to the patriarchal dominance in the same way. Some grow very assertive and confident. I know many of them. Similarly, from the same context, I know of young Dalit boys with confidence and intelligence, belying the discrimination they face. Nothing is monolithic. Caste, class, gender politics are not uniform. It expresses itself in varied forms. However, what I found similar is the intolerance in any given society that exerts power and violence – something that is troubling and needs change. Sairat surely has opened up debate on various issues of discrimination, domination, and layers of patriarchal control – something needs to be taken into our classrooms and push discussions for a humane society.

  • manan bhondekar

    Firdaus has made quite an apt criticism.

  • Dipak Barkhade

    With regard to the seeming humbleness of Parshya, isn’t he rather transformed into a less resistant but more vulnerable identity in the symbolic sense? Unlike Parshya, Jabya, in Fandry, unearths the reality as he confirms total indifference from Shalu and throws a provoked fit of anger. Do they introspect about their caste or is that identity an inseparable part of their reality at any point of time? Jabya knows this and confirms a clear picture of society unlike Parshya who is ready to die by falling in love with an upper caste girl. Where is the anger that Jabya represented in Marathi cinema any more?

  • Dr. Suguna Rao

    A very interesting analytical review of Sairat. Gender issues are not satisfactorily dealt with unless it includes women’s voices.

  • Karen Miranda

    The movie does not focus on purity and pollution — if one recollects the bathing scene, the female, upper-caste character uses the same well as the lower caste community. So the entire movie represents femininist agency clashing with caste, class, power and its politics.

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