A fascinating study of the intesection of traditional Indian customs, class and caste structures with with feminist issues is Kalpana Lajmi's "Rudali". Dimple Kapadia , a glamorous film star, plays the central role of Sanichari the bitter, ;lonley and hardened woman. She is a bonded labourer to the village landlord who, on his death bed, summons a professional mourner Bhikni (Raakhi). The two women form a bond and Sanichari relates her story ( told in flashback) of exploitation and deceit, relieved by moments of joy over her son, who has since abandoned her. Bhikani dies suddenly dies of cholera but her dying message for Sanichari is that she was the mother she was the mother who had abandoned her at birth. Sanichar, ho has never shedded a tear, cries for the first time in her life and becomes a Rudali, one who cries for her living .
Combining the social concers of the "art"cinema with elements of the mass appeal of Mumbai films, Rudali contains intrigung elements. For example, Sanichari is highly vulnerable to all sorts of oppressions. She resists many of them, but succumbs ro dominant discourses. As a woman she makes her own history, but not under conditions of her own choosing. There are a number of instances in the film where the essetialsied notions of what it means to be a woman are invvocked. When yoy are watching the film, what do yoy think of the male-protagonist ? Cinema tography is brilliant