Srijit Mukherjee’s ‘RajKahini’ Review – Once upon a time…

Let me tell you a story…
Ali was busy stitching the cloth. He was in a hurry as he was already past the delivery due date. He had to deliver this to Dibendu babu, his neighbour of many years.
“Chacha… Is it ready?” A frail voice called him.
Ali looked up. It was Dibendu babu’s daughter, Moyna. 
“Almost ready Beta… You wait here for some time, I shall pack it up for you”
As he dragged a chair for her, he heard a commotion. 
A crowd was rushing through the market, laced with knives, swords and fire. 
“Chacha, everything is finished. Those kafirs, they finished everything. Our houses, shops all have been gutted down. They didn’t spare anyone. They raped and killed Zareena Chachi and Ameena. Chacha, Chacha… Are you listening??”
The world came crashing down for Ali. He was devastated. The only people who mattered to him the most were dead. As he looked down, he saw a scampering figure behind him.. 
“Isn’t she that doctor’s daughter?” Somebody had recognised her from the mob. 
“Why you are hiding her, Chacha? Give her to us, we’ll do the same stuff to her as her people did to our women.. That’ll be our revenge”
Ali dumbfounded, moved aside while the mob pounced on her. As she started screaming for help, she saw Ali chacha moving away from her and getting the door closed behind her. Slowly, her screams drowned…
All left was the burnt remains where once a house stood. He could see the charred bodies. Deeply seared with anger and hurt, he picked up a knife lying by and banged on the doors of his neighbour, Dibendu Babu.
After a series of knocks, somebody opened the latch.
“Are Ali… Come inside… Are you okay? We were so afraid ” Dibendu babu tensely asked. 
Already in rage, Ali pushed the knife into his chest, shouting ” This is for Ameena”
Dibendu babu clutched his chest and fell down. As he went down, Ali saw two figures gaping towards him, in horror.
Zareena and Ameena.
Blankly, he looked at Dibendu Babu… 
“Please.. Take .. Care of…Moyna”
Ali was still staring at him…
After all, he had already taken care of her…
This is one of many such stories and horrific events occurred during and after the infamous partition of 1947 which put humanity to shame. The rage among the public took the liberty to murder compassion and goodness in people. All in the name of religion and a godforsaken line. Srijit Mukherjee, a veteran of many soul-stirring movies, much loved and envied alike among the film fraternity of Bengal opens up an old wound in our history which is still raw, even after 68 years. Set in a brothel, built on the Radcliffe line, ‘RajKahini’ speaks about the pain, sorrow and the two-faced sordid tale of partition.

For the first time ever, I won’t talk about the technicalities or the acting. The brilliant actors have surrendered themselves to the director and the director is renowned for his passion towards his craft. Point made. What I would like to talk about is the audacity with which Mr Srijit weaves this tale in the unforgiving world of prostitution. It’s difficult, partly because the viewer needs to understand how this world functions. And thus we see a plethora of activities which involves the prostitutes being in business, cursing loudly and bickering over lost customers. Somewhere in between, we see a mothers affection and her craving for her true love, a love story between a prostitute and her pimp, two feisty untouchable girls in love with each other and towering over all, the queen bee protecting everyone. For a society which is infamous for its dagger-in-a-cloak mindset, I heard people sniggering in the theatre as the scenes rolled out. Some audacity Mr Mukherjee, for shaming these two faced people out in the open!

In my interaction with my peers as well as elderly people, I found a strong reservation for this film, for its explicit visual imagery and rawness of the language spoken. I neither advocate for nor am I against it. However, the true form of art sometimes leaps boundaries and is often uninhibited. If you agree to this, then please watch ‘RajKahini’. Otherwise, please continue being the mute spectator to the comedic saga called India.
The show’s always open !!!
The Cinemawala Rating: 4/5

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