A girl coming back from school, shocked to see the mourning at her home, she was a bit startled. Suddenly someone asked Do you remember getting married? Girl, aged 10, replies No. A man responds, Your husband is dead.
So now what is her future? What will she do? Whether she will be able to live a happy life there after or will be eschewed for her husband’s death whose even face she don’t remember? During old time in India (and in some places even now), widows have three alternatives to choose after their husband’s death– to be burned with their husbands (as a Sati), to live a life of solitude and confinement in Brindavan or Kaashi (shaving heads and devote their lives to prayer in an ashram) or marry the husband’s younger brother if he is willing and to live on his mercy. In India Brindavan and Kaashi are the cities having widow houses or Vidhwa Ashram that house a lot of widows. In fact, Brindavan is also called as the city of widows, because of the numbers of widows that stay there. Though, they got place to live but still it was never guaranteed that they would now lead a better life and they still are susceptible to sexual and mental abuse, poverty and illness. This twinge and plight of the widows was the theme of movie White Rainbow.
Movie: White Rainbow was released in 2005 and was directed by Dharan Mandrayar. White Rainbow displays an appalling description of widows stripped of their seemliness and dispatched to a life of abject emptiness in a sorrowful city of widows. This movie was said to be inspired from the life of V. Mohini Giri, who guided the social improvement of Vidhwa Ashrams and the rights of Indian widows and was Daughter-in-law of Late V.V Giri.
Plot: White Rainbows was set in the pre-1971 socio-economic problems of widows and tells the story of four widows and their struggle for overcoming the ignominy and vindictive veracity of widowhood in Indian society. Priya Giri, a well educated and well-off young woman is tragically widowed. After her husband’s death, her superstitious in-laws started seeing her as inauspicious and in the mean time some of her friends and in-laws try to sexually abuse her. Totally dejected, depressed and anxious, she finally seeks succor in Brindavan, as other widows of India. But instead of finding solace, she finds a more cruel world filled with viciousness and there her life takes a new turn when she meet Roop, who was rejected by her own children and forced to make her way on the streets and was surviving in the temple town from last 30 years keeping her secrets at her heart, Mala who was brutally disfigured by her mother-in-law who thinks that she was the reason behinds her son’s death and Deepti, a young widow who was forced in an underground prostitution racket run by the pandas of the city. With time there bonding keeps on growing and they started seeing the power of their confidence taking charge of their fates.
Together, this incongruent group confronts the folklore and customs of society that affects not only the treatment of widows but also the widows’ own acquiescence to their misfortune. But, their voyage through a society subjugated by male who always see woman as source of entertainment is not without privation and tragedy. At last, Priya finally realizes that, "Her destiny was to change their fate!"
Are they able to save Deepti from flesh-trade racket?
Will be they able to fight against the myths of society??
And above all will they be able to save themselves?
Watch the movie.
Acting: Sonali Kulkarni as protagonist Priya has given a sincere performance showing the pain of an educated widow who was well off initially but later have to suffer the hardship with right combination of confidence, sophistication, and vulnerability that the central character needed. Amardeep Jha (also known for her role in Naina, Lajja and Zakhm) as Roop, has brilliantly played the role of a rejected widow who is surviving on the money earned by beggary. After giving splendid performance is Shwaas, Amruta Subhash again give a performance of life time as Deepti, a young widow forced in prostitution. Her cries and the pain in her eyes were strong enough to melt the toughest of the heart. Shameem Shaikh as disfigured Mala was back again in a superb performance after playing the role of Shabbo in Chandani Bar. Besides, Virendra Saxena as lewd Pramod Panda who runs a sex-trade racket and Gaurav Kapoor as Dr. Vikram and others as the TV host, the child artist has done a brilliant job in maintain the pace of the movie.
Direction: Before directing White Rainbow Dharan Mandrayar has directed Ele, My Friend in 1992 and won several prestigious awards. After around 13 years he came back with White Rainbow, a movie based on the plight of the widows of Brindavan. White Rainbow brilliantly tackles the topic of widows in India, which has been addressed impassively, unemotionally and plainly; and personified it by focusing on the story of four women who are envoy of many. The best thing about the title White Rainbow, why so? For Indian women, Color is an essential part of their being (in form of Chudis, Bindis, Sindoor and colourful dresses) but when widowed, they are forced to strip of all colors, jewelries and Bindis and are forced to wear white but still they have a countless colors within their hearts and they are like White Rainbow which is colorless, mostly unidentified (to a passing eye, they will look like beggars but still one can see anguish in their eyes) and blending in with the regular clouds or better to say with beggars. A well narrated and handled story without hurting the sensitiveness of the issue.
My Take: White rainbow tells hideous and poignant veracity of yet another essential part of our society–widows, who are considered not only as inconsequential and useless, but also as objects of abhorrence and lust. It provided a platform to a theme that often gets swept under the rug. Through gleaming cinematography and mesmerizing direction the grime and meanness of Brindavan’s streets and ashrams was brusquely shown. Brindavan is a quite dirty city (as i have seen) and to see widows sitting on the dirty streets or lying in some corners was disturbing but still that is the truth. The filth and hideous crimes over there was marvelously contrasted with the immaculate character of lovable and submissive widows who are rejected by their own (not only by their in-laws but also by their children) and constantly abused and totally despondent. But, still one can bond with them, love them, can feel their anguish, hope for them and believe them. White Rainbow also gives a message that we all have the power to change our lives and fate; All we have to do is to just do it!! In spite of being a non-commercial film and a bit slow at places, this movie has the power to hold the viewers attention as ray of light in a bleak world!!!
A worth watch.