Director: Avinash Das
Writer: Avinash Das
Stars: Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathy
Runtime: 1h 53min
Released: 24 Jun 2017
Storyline: Hailing from Arah in Bihar, Anarkali (Swara Bhaskar) is an item girl, famous for her vocals, suggestive dance moves and innuendo laden lyrics. She enjoys her stardom and revels in the lusty glances. The singer acknowledges that she is no saint and even makes peace with the hatred she evokes among civilised society but what she refuses to tolerate is being exploited in public by an influential politician (Sanjay Mishra).
Anaarkali of Aarah is an unexpected winner that stuns you with its authenticity. It is about a woman, who fights to uphold her right to dignity.
Given its risqué subject, the film could have gone awfully wrong if the execution had faltered or tilted on sleazy over substance. But writer, director Avinash Das’ execution lends gravitas to the proceedings, making you feel for the lead character.
Most importantly, this film finally gives Swara Bhaskar an opportunity to put her exemplary acting chops on display. She is a revelation as a pan-chewing, courageous woman, who won’t buckle under pressure. Ishtiyak Khan of ‘Tamasha’ fame is impressive too. The music compliments the film’s raw and rustic setting as well.
Giving you the other side of the picture, this captivating drama makes you think. Can we respect women, who perform Bhojpuri item songs? More often than not, you are quick to suspect if they are moonlighting as sex workers. They must be apologetic about themselves and if they aren’t, it’s the society’s ‘duty’ to slut-shame these audacious women on moral grounds. The film sheds light on this perception and reiterates what ‘Pink’ implied to the urban audience – No means no. Every woman has a right to say ‘no’, irrespective of who she is or what she does for a living.
However, what doesn’t work here is the absence of a strong antagonist. Sanjay Mishra’s comic villainry fails to unnerve you, making the climax look a tad convenient and underwhelming.
The patriarchal society has a way of holding women responsible for the atrocities they themselves face. This movie questions this very mind-set and offers a refreshing take on women and their sexuality.