Review: ‘The Silence’ Offers Moments of Quiet Passion
Here’s the review of marathi film, ‘The Silence’.
In a year of incessant rape-revenge dramas by Hindi cinema, Gajendra Ahirey’s The Silence arrives as a detour. While multiple films this year have tackled rape as a tool to kick-start a revenge tale, The Silence takes a strenuous look at rape and its reverberations, minus any blood thirst.
The film begins with young woman named Chini travelling in Mumbai local at night, and witnessing a horrific rape. It triggers the memory of an unalloyed horror, due to which she still wakes up with nightmares. Chini’s retention of her childhood in her pristine village consists of chasing birds with her buddy, and her lonesome father (played with wonderful humanness by Raghuveer Yadav), mourning his wife, and plunging into cheap liquor. For living, he sells cotton candies, and for food, he floats in a tire to catch fresh fish out of a water body. But the widowed father is at a loss when puberty brings menstruation cycle to his daughter leaving her startled, and hence she gets sent to her uncle’s house because his wife, the aunt would know how to deal with the ‘women’s issue’. And the horror occurs.
The story concerns three women, of different age groups, fighting the tall order of patriarchy, and the toxic system it entails. If Chini’s younger self (Vedashree Mahajan) is harmed by the one who is supposed to be her protector, her adult self (Mugdha Chaphekar) finds herself stuck in the quicksand of nightmares as a consequence. Chini’s sister Manda (Kadambari Kadam) is battling tongues and eyes that demand lowly sexual favours. But the raison d'être of this film is Chini’s aunt, played with surprising vulnerability and quiet resistance by Anjali Patil.
Patil who is having a great year post Newton exudes silent magnificence as an abused housewife, standing in stark contrast to fair maidens of Bollywood. Her amazing grace lends the film the much-needed heft. The uncle, played with a predatory aura by Nagraj Manjule is a telling sign that the filmmaker has a promising career if he wishes to explore the abhorred as an actor. There is a looming unease whenever he is on screen.
The reprehensible crime and its equally ferocious conclusion of The Silence remains off screen, and that’s more than welcome in the current climate of gratuitous violence. The Silence in totality is about women staging inaudible battles for everyday existence, and how one crime can have far-reaching ripple effects. But despite a well-intentioned effort, writer Ashwini Sidwani’s material never becomes a cohesive engager. There are other quibbles too.
If Manda’s scenes of casting couch in Mumbai carry a certain facetiousness robbing the picture of its sincerity, it’s a thing of marvel how a little girl continues to respond in Marathi when her father speaks only Hindi. The village shot in a picturesque hue is so wistfully distant that this tinge mars the immediacy of the crimes that follow.
Director Gajendra Ahire offers moments of quiet passion and tenacity, but never really maintains the cadence, resulting in a sometimes absorbed, sometimes cockeyed telling. Even though Chini’s past continues to consume her after years, a flood of compassion eludes us. And that’s a tragedy.
(The writer is a journalist, a screenwriter, and a content developer who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. He tweets @RanjibMazumder)
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