Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 MFF Film #7 - I Am Sindhutai Sapkal

India, 2010
Marathi with English subtitles
Director: Ananth Mahadevan

Though she strives to become educated, Sindhutai's traditional mother arranges her marriage at age 12 to an older man.  Sindhutai essentially becomes an indentured servant to her husband, producing children and trying to keep house, despite her continued desire to read and learn.  When her husband kicks her and their newborn daughter out of the house due to unfounded rumors, her struggle to survive manifests itself into becoming a caretaker of orphaned children, and eventually, a champion of the Indian people.

I Am Sindhutai Sapkal is based on a true story, and is a very well done film.  The story was interesting, and the pacing was decent, though there were some jumps in time that were abrupt; the film seemed to linger a little long during some time periods and then suddenly we were seven years later and she's suddenly an established caregiver.  Perhaps I missed a nuanced moment or something where this was explained, or justified, but it came across as somewhat abrupt.

I'm torn about the way the story was told for the first half of the film.  Director Ananth Mahadevan unfolded the story by having a present day Sindhutai flashing back as she was traveling on an airplane to make a speech in the United States.  I understand that it was a way to unveil her past in a non-linear way, but it seemed that every tiny thing that she saw would make her think about something from her past (which would drive me mad in about two hours I think).  Though not offensive by any means, this really is a hackneyed technique, and frankly it did become a little tiresome after a while.

Perhaps it is a tenet of Indian cinema, but I did find a few things to be pretty schmaltzy as well.  Some of the dialogue was over-the-top when it came to expressing adoration of Sapkal, even when it was a casual conversation between mother and daughter.  It just seemed really unnatural for such a gritty film based on real events, and I found myself chuckling a couple of times at the dialogue.  There were also about four dozen too many suffering and beatific looks on her part.  (See the picture attached to this review and then multiply it by about 85.)

Having just criticized the hell out of I Am Sindhutai Sapkal, I really do think it was a decent film that was, for the most part, beautifullyshot.  But it isn't a film I would recommend to a wide audience, nor do I really need to see it again.

MFF Ballot Rating: 3 out of 5

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