The story of a 'renamed' village, and the life through the lens of a letter writer. I found the movie absolutely brilliant - both - from a micro, as well as a macro perspective:
At a micro level, I loved the character of Mahadev - the letter writer. He puts his own emotions and feelings into the letters that he writes on behalf of others, which do both - good and bad in various situations...The character has a heart of gold, however, displays shades of grey (selfishness, etc.) which exist in all of us...
And at the macro level, there are deep-rooted social issues dealt with in the movie, in very subtle and humorous situations. Some of these being:
- Level of education in the state - Signing your name is taken as literacy
- Widow remarriage still taboo
- Elections (ballot with multiple votes by the same person)
- Selling your blood and kidney to send money back home
- Old mother yearning for her Son to send some money with his next letter
- Mother worried for her supposedly 'cursed' daughter's marriage
- Belief in customs to the extent that you are ready to get your cursed daughter married to a dog!
- Street play as a satire to industrialization and its repercussion on the poor farmers
- Female child studying only till a certain age at school
- A eunuch standing for elections, requesting the State to provide protection against the foreseen harm from the opponent’s criminal husband
There are definitely many more issues packaged in those two hours that Mr Shyam Benegal has touched.
However, it is the ease with which the protagonists are shown dealing with the issues that adds to the beauty of the movie.
With no picturesque locales, no designer clothes, the movie still manages to leave a smile on your face and a heart filled with hope!