Friday, August 12, 2005


Dharan Mandrayar’s Shwet (White Rainbow) is another one of those well meaning efforts, that take up a suitable social cause, and turns it into a film so painfully laboured, it sets your teeth on edge.

Priya (Sonali Kulkarni), educated and wealthy, is widowed, and suddenly she realizes that a widow’s fate is worse than death (she actually says that in a TV interview, while trying to create awareness about the plight of widows). Her in-laws loudly suggest she go to Vrindavan, a friend’s husband stares lecherously at her in the shower; in a haze of booze and pills, she concludes that since a widow is vulnerable to all manner of human vermin anyway, she must “do something.”

So, without a clue, she lands up at Vrindavan with a huge wardrobe and an irritatingly patronizing attitude to “help” widows. It would take a real retard not to know about a common social phenomenon in India, but Priya goes about it like Alice in Wonderland. The audience is shown the ‘touristy’ sights too—pathetic living conditions, financial and sexual exploitation, and the heart-wrenching sight of white clad widows singing bhajans all day to earn a measly sum, while they wait like zombies for deliverance.

She forms a gang of four with feisty old Roop (Amardeep Jha), the disfigured Mala (Shameem Sheikh), and the mousy Dipti (Amruta Subhash), to fight for widows’ rights. Just one high-pitched sermon at an apathetic bureaucrat hands over their pension. A few emails and a doctor (Gaurav Kapoor) with a vague NRI accent, lands up to offer free medical care and moral support. The solutions are as quick fix, as the unfolding of the problem is trite.

Still, there are a few high points—like when the women set up their own ashram, when Priya beats up the Panda (Virendra Saxena) who ill-treats Dipti, and slams a smug minister on a TV show.

Maybe a bit more research and better understanding of the issue, would have made the amateurish film bearable, but apart from the earnestness of the actors (Sonali Kulkarni could have been a little less chirpy), there’s not much else in the film.


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