Parinati (1989) – Fate and Greed in Rajasthan A Long Time Ago

This film is so small it would be easily overlooked, the Wikipedia page is small as well as the Imdb. And this is small, filmed in the 80s with what looks like a small but makable budget and still making the most of it. This film even won the National Award for Costuming which is a wonderful feat. The translation of Parinati is The Inevitable and that certainly hangs on this film like life itself. The story is based on a book by the acclaimed late Rajasthani writer Vijaydan Detha.

Summary:

In rural Rajasthan a long time ago a potter named Ganesh lives with his wife Kurja and young son Lachman. He decided to get Lachman married early to the young daughter of another village – the two are still children so after the ceremony the two still live with their parents. Ganesh is given responsibility to built a well for the wayfarers who go from one village to another and to be an innkeeper for the wayfarers as well. Kurja finds a silver chain in their new home and is worried. A traveller they meet wants to take Lachman with him to learn his trade as his word since the boy is clever. In to their inn comes different people, from mothers to wives, to gambling sons to old men on their last legs to be taken care of by Ganesh and Kurja.

 

This is one of director Prakash Jha’s early films, he would later direct classics like Rajneeti (2010) and Satyagraha (2013), all films with an important or political message and with a cast of the best of Hindi Cinema. In this film however the most notable actors of name are young Nandita Das in a small appearance as Lakha – Lachman’s wife and Surekha Sikri as Kurja – Ganesh’s wife who gets a good amount of screen time for her character, being almost more prominent than Basant Josalkar as Ganesh.

The inevitable comes from the destiny promised to Lachman played by Anang Desai. Lachman is almost constantly praised for his cleverness, how his forehead is wide and thus it is a sign of good luck and his palms show good fortune. Inevitable is in the end also the workings of life from the people passing by and their eventual departure from the inn. These people are but a moment there, but gone the next. Leaving behind the moment in their lives where they stayed in the inn and their troubles that they expressed there.

There is an element of money as well as greed in the film. Lachman is sent away with the hope that he will become rich, even after achieving a good amount of money Ganesh and Kurja are still tempted by the gold left behind by a traveller, Kurja wears the silver chain she found, the samaritan that asked Ganesh to move and help the travellers does so with all expenses paid since he just had the fortune of having a son born to his family – a first in 30 years. The greed and gold is however taken with innocent blood.

This film can easily be categorised as art house, same with Mirch Masala (1987), but with a much smaller budget. Though what I like about the Indian old art house scene – from what I’ve seen of it – that it’s filled with interesting stories and great performances. Yes its slow paced and the settings might be somewhat rural, but it has its own charm to it as well. The folk elements are a favourite of mine and this film filled them. These films might not be perfect, nor that interesting to those who prefer the mainstream films, but they are still a part of film history and as this film shows a director of a small film like this could in the end become something great with many hits under his belt.

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Thank you for reading!

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