Year of Release: 2003
Starring: Tulip Joshi and Sushanth Singh.
A few weeks ago at the Cannes Film Festival Mallika Sherawat said something that shook the very foundation of India. She said, “India is a regressive nation to women“. People from all walks and drives of India were livid. “How dare she insult India?” “She’s a has-been. A wannabe”. Blah! blah! blah! “India is the beacon of hope for women where rapes and other horrific crimes against women are passé”. Popular actress and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra openly expressed her displeasure at Mallika. But what Priyanka and others don’t understand is that Mallika Sherawat had openly stated a fact. Something that neither Miss Worlds Priyanka Chopra or Aishwarya Rai (Indian media’s strong women apparently) have the courage to say.
Matrubhoomi (ironically, it means MOTHERland) is a movie which starts with a shamingly common ritual, female infanticide. A man drowns his new-born baby, unfortunately a daughter, in a tub of milk. This ritual, killing a girl child after she is born, continues on for many years until there are no women left in the village.
This movie focuses on two very important issues rampant in Indian society.
- Dowry – the act of extracting money from the father to a to-be-bride by a seemingly useless groom who does not have the balls to earn money and support himself, let alone his family. The dowry system is the quickest way to make loads of money. This leads to the next problem.
- Female Infanticide – The act of killing a female child or female fetus to avoid the whole circus of having to pay a hefty dowry to the above mentioned ball-less
The movie provides a raw outlook into a society where women are non-existent. Where they are not treated as equals but as a mere burden to parents. As an ill omen to the family they are born into. But it also emphasizes the loss of balance and sanity in a male-dominated world that borders on chaos and confusion. It is a shocking but honest portrayal of a system that ignores gender issues and brushes them off as insignificant instances. This is a film that has to be watched and understood by every man and woman.
This movie is one of those films that receives critical acclaim, awards at film festivals and applause from a section of the society but will never reach its intended audience. Its message will be muffled with its box office collections. This is not a 100-crore movie. It doesn’t have any high-profile actors. It does not have songs with cleavage baring girls running around the steroid pumped hero. It’s a movie about women and their importance. And it will be buried deep just like the issues it highlights and will be forgotten with time.